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FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
FLYERS (47-25-9--103pts) at PENGUINS (50-25-6--106pts)
1. THE FINAL GAME
The Flyers will wrap up the 2011-12 regular season today, their 44th season of play in the NHL… With 47 victories, the Flyers will be looking to beat their win total from last season, which had been the most victories in a season since 1985-86 when they had 53 wins. Should they reach 48 wins with a victory today, it would match the eighth most wins in franchise history.
2. SEASON SERIES - PLAYOFF PREVIEW
The seeds are locked in - Flyers (5) will be playing the Penguins (4) in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals set to begin next week… The Flyers own the season series, having won four of the five meetings so far, averaging four-goals per-game against Pittsburgh… The Flyers have earned at least a point in eight of their last nine games against the Penguins and have won all five games in Pittsburgh's new arena, the CONSOL Energy Center, since it opened last season.
3. ONE FOR THE ROAD
The Flyers can break their all-time road record today with a win… They have 25 wins on the road this season entering today's game, which ties a franchise record set just last year. Their 25 road wins also are tied for the NHL lead (Boston), which they could take sole possession of with a win today.
4. Player to watch PENGUINS: Sidney Crosby
Crosby comes into today's game with a four-game point streak in which he has three goals and 10 points in that span… Since his return to the Penguins on Mar. 15, he has 23 points (5G-18A) in 13 games.
5. Player to watch FLYERS: Wayne Simmonds
Simmonds has recorded goals in five of his last six games, posting six goals and seven points in the process… He also has three goals and six points in five games against the Penguins in the season series.
Last 10: Philadelphia 6-3-1; Pittsburgh 6-4-0
Season Series: This is the sixth and final regular-season meeting between the two teams, who will square off again in the playoffs. The Flyers lead the series 4-1-0. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have led the way for the Flyers combining for three goals and 12 assists, while Evgeni Malkin has paced the Penguins with two goals and five assists.
Big Story: Not long ago, this looked like it might be a showdown for home-ice advantage in the first round, but the Penguins have already locked up fourth place in the Eastern Conference, meaning that the Flyers will start the playoffs back in Pittsburgh next week. The Flyers are coming to Consol Energy Center for the second time in seven days; Philadelphia rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 6-4 win on Sunday in a game that featured a verbal confrontation between Flyers' coach Peter Laviolette and Penguins' assistant Tony Granato.
Flyers: The Flyers pulled three points ahead of the sixth-place New Jersey Devils and locked themselves into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. The Flyers, who trailed 1-0 after two periods, got third-period goals from Marc-Andre Bourdon and Matt Read for the win, which eliminated Buffalo from the playoff race..
Though there's nothing to play for in terms of position in the standings, the Flyers don't plan to ease off.
"We're going to go in there and play the game," Laviolette said. "We're here to win hockey games, I don't think that changes anything. There'll be no juggling in the standings. Given the choice to beat the Penguins or lose to the Penguins, we wanna win. The objective remains the same."
Penguins: The Penguins locked up the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference for the fourth consecutive season by beating the Rangers 5-2 on Thursday.
Center Richard Park's seventh goal of the season went as the game winner, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves to tie Tom Barrasso for the franchise record for wins. The game also featured a knee-on-knee collision between defenseman Brooks Orpik and Rangers' forward Derek Stepan that resulted in some scathing post game comments from Rangers' coach John Tortorella.
"Yeah, a lot of it," captain Sidney Crosby said when asked if Tortorella's comments were gamesmanship. "I don't know when this all started, if this is part of the new tactics in the playoffs, but it's garbage. The games played on the ice."
Who's Hot: Flyers' forward Claude Giroux has a goal and six assists in his last three games, while forward Wayne Simmonds has notched six goals and one assist in his last six. … Penguins' forward Pascal Dupuis is riding a 16-game scoring streak, in which he has picked up nine goals and 12 assists. The streak is the longest in the NHL this season.
Injury Report: The Flyers' Ian Laperriere (post-concussion syndrome), Chris Pronger (post concussion syndrome), and Andrej Meszaros (lower back surgery) are all out for the season, James van Riemsdyk (left foot surgery) is expected to miss another couple of weeks, Tom Sestito (groin surgery) is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, Nicklas Grossman (lower back) is expected to miss 1-2 weeks, Danny Briere (upper back contusion) are both out indefinitely. … For the Penguins, Ben Lovejoy is out after having arthroscopic knee surgery, Matt Niskanen (upper body) is probable, Steve Sullivan (lower body) and James Neal (lower body) are questionable.
Stat Pack: Read scored his 24th goal and 47th point of the season Thursday night against the Sabres. Read is the first Flyers' rookie to hit the 20-goal and 40-point plateau since Jeff Carter did it during the '05-'06 season. He is the 16th rookie in Flyers' history to score 20-goals and is just the sixth in the last 20 years to do so.
Puck Drop: The Penguins and Flyers will meet for the sixth time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flyers took the first four postseason meetings, while the Penguins have won the last two -- the most recent of which came during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2009.
"There are some familiar faces," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "You feel like they're a part of the same team. From year to year every team is different and every feeling is different. I know this group of guys going into the playoffs, we know we're playing a team that we respect a lot. We know they're really good. Going into this round we know that's what we're facing right off of Game 1 Round 1 of the playoffs."
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