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Roenick: Pens-Flyers a "perfect" weekend matchup

Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 8:45 AM ET / News
By Corey Masisak
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Roenick: Pens-Flyers a \"perfect\" weekend matchup
Jeremy Roenick isn't a big fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that doesn't mean he doesn't recognize the impressive nature of the franchise's accomplishments.

The Penguins will face their bitter intrastate rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, on Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena (12:30 ET on NBC), and they are one of the hottest teams in hockey.

"I don't have any good memories from playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I didn't like them very much," Roenick, once a member of the Flyers and now an analyst for NBC, told NHL.com. "They beat us [the Chicago Blackhawks] in the '92 Cup finals and I've never had good memories about them.

That said, I do admire them and respect their dominance and what they've accomplished. I respect everything Mario Lemieux has done for that franchise, and I love watching them play right now."

The Penguins won their 10th consecutive game Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, soundly defeating the Eastern-Conference leading New York Rangers. It was also the first game back from concussion-related absences for captain Sidney Crosby and No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang.

New York was missing three key players, including Vezina Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist, but Roenick agrees with the overwhelming number of pundits who have anointed the Penguins as the team to beat the conference -- and maybe the entire League -- now that they are at full strength.

"Yes, I do think [they're the favorites]," Roenick said. "Look at how they just manhandled the New York Rangers. Getting Sid and Letang back makes them a scary team.

"Teams want to rate themselves at this time of year, and this a "rate yourself" game for the Flyers. If the Flyers can beat Pittsburgh with the way they're playing right now, they have to feel good about their chances of competing for the Stanley Cup."

The Flyers have also been playing well of late, especially since the arrival of defensemen Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina near the trade deadline. Roenick said Grossman might be Philadelphia's best defensive defenseman, and those additions have helped goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov rediscover his elite form -- though Bryzgalov had a lot to do with it as well.

"Bryzgalov isn't worried about what everyone else thinks, and now he's playing better," Roenick said. "He isn't worried about the stars or the planets or the solar system. He's just worrying about stopping the puck."

The Flyers and Penguins have two more matchups in the final few weeks of the season. Pittsburgh has closed the gap on the Rangers for the top spot in the East, but Philadelphia is closing fast as well.

"It's the battle of Pennsylvania, and having Sidney Crosby back is probably the most exciting news in the NHL right now," Roenick. I'm sure Philly hates everyone saying Pittsburgh is now the team to beat and would love to put them in their place.

"It is the perfect game to have on NBC this weekend. It is a great rivalry and both teams are battling for playoff position. They might also see each other in the playoffs. It should be exciting."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Gostisbehere 6 1 1 0 2
B. Schenn 6 0 2 2 2
W. Simmonds 6 0 2 -1 2
S. Gagner 6 0 2 1 2
J. Voracek 6 1 0 -1 1
M. Raffl 6 1 0 0 1
R. White 6 1 0 0 1
C. VandeVelde 6 1 0 -1 1
A. MacDonald 6 1 0 0 1
B. Manning 6 0 1 -2 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 2 1 0 .981 0.67
S. Mason 0 3 0 .852 4.09
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