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Roenick: Pens-Flyers a "perfect" weekend matchup

Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 8:45 AM / News
By Corey Masisak
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."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. MacDonald 1 1 0 1 1
S. Hartnell 1 0 1 1 1
K. Timonen 1 0 0 -2 0
V. Lecavalier 1 0 0 0 0
A. Hall 1 0 0 0 0
M. Streit 1 0 0 0 0
B. Coburn 1 0 0 -2 0
N. Grossmann 1 0 0 0 0
C. Giroux 1 0 0 1 0
J. Voracek 1 0 0 0 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Emery 0 1 0 .889 4.00
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