Everyone loves an in-state rivalry. It is one of the greatest events in all of sports, no matter what level it happens at, no matter what game the players are playing. Wednesday night offers another such match-up when the Philadelphia Flyers cross the state to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers have had troubles getting their offense going this season, but they are coming off of a game where they exploded for seven goals against the New York Islanders. It was the type of output Flyers’ Captain Claude Giroux was looking for when he took his team to task for laying down against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Giroux backed up his harsh words to his teammates with actions, starting the scoring spree just 26 seconds after the puck dropped against the Islanders.
The verbal lashing and consequent performance may have been just what the Flyers needed to get back to the offensive prowess they displayed just a season ago when they were second in the NHL in scoring. Philadelphia will need all of that skill as they head into Pittsburgh to take on one of the leagues hottest teams.
Pittsburgh has been on a roll, winning eight of their last 10 games and taking over the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Sidney Crosby has been re-establishing himself as one of the greatest players to ever take the ice, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been playing lights out with a 2.34 GAA. His save percentage is a respectable .914 and he has been extremely stingy during the Penguins’ current hot streak.
The Penguins won the first meeting between the two by the score of 3-1 despite the game being in Philadelphia. Prior to the Flyers latest performance, the Penguins would be the run away favorites on Wednesday night, but there is something to be said for a team that gets called out and then responds like the Flyers have. A challenge like the Penguins may be just what the Flyers want and need at this moment in the season. A win in Pittsburgh could boost the 10th place Flyers confidence and thrust them into contention as the rest of the season plays out.