I love the Flyers, and no other team. I want us to win a Cup, and there is no other team that I accept as an alternative. There are 29 other fanbases that feel the same way about their own club. We all have one goal, and we all have an effect on one another. Since our Fansided Network is doing a 30 day preview to get ready for the 2011-12 season, I’ll be looking at how much of a threat each team is to our own Cup hopes. Today, we have the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins didn’t make any big moves in free agency or through trades. And really, if they’re healthy, they don’t need any large scaled changes. Last year, when Crosby and Malkin went down with injuries, everyone wrote them off. How can a team compete with their top two centers shelved? Well, they reinvented themselves, changed styles, and kept winning. The almost made a push for the top spot in the East. Pittsburgh switched from an attacking style to a much more defensive team, which turned out to be a great strategy with the personnel that they had. This cemented two things that most people already agreed with: 1)Dan Bylsma is a brilliant coach; 2) MAF is a really, really clutch goalie. Now with both of their superstar centers inching towards a full recovery, the Penguins are as dangerous as ever.
Last year, the Flyers handled the Pens 4 out of 6 times. This year, it’s sure to be a lot harder. The teams play 6 times, but they’ll have to wait a while for the first meeting on December 8. Three weeks later, on the 29th, they’ll meet again, before taking another break from one another. Thank you, schedule makers, for setting up the last 4 games in the last 3 months of the season, during the playoff push (February 18, March 18, April 1 and 7). Anyway, how do the Flyers match up against the Pens? On paper, they’re step behind. But a lot of that relies on the health of the two big centers in Black and Gold. Because there are so many chemistry issues surrounding the Flyers, and health issues surrounding the Penguins, it’s really hard to gauge this matchup this far ahead. Based on what Pittsburgh did last year without their big guns, I expect them to be one of the best teams this year with those two back in the fold. If those guys have a few setbacks, then the Pens will need another miracle run, or else they’ll be left out of the playoffs. Regardless, every game will be a battle, simply because it’s a division rival.
Also of note, two former fan favorites from the Steel City are now in Orange and Black. Jaromir Jagr may or may not have spurned Pittsburgh. He says their offer to him was a joke, and there’s no reason for the fans to be mad. As if they’ll listen to ya. I’m sure he’ll have a bit of fun sticking it to his old club if he gets a chance. Maxime Talbot is a grinder who won their hearts with his worth ethic, and a few timely goals. But it came time to move on. It’s a surprise that he came to a team that he had hated and battled so hard against over the last few years. In his case, I think the fans won’t boo him for switching sides. But then again, that can’t last too long, especially when he lays a few hits on his former mates. All in all, the 6 games against Pittsburgh should be a whole lotta fun.
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