Shelly Anderson: I can't argue with that. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the one player the Penguins need more than anyone in the playoffs, and not just because it's the Flyers. Of course, you could say that about most No. 1 goalies this time of year.
Roy: What do you think the lines will be for Game 1?
Shelly Anderson: Dan Bylsma indicated today he will go with that we saw before the last couple of games, when some players were rested. It's also what he swore for a couple of weeks that he would use:
Chris Kunitz-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal
Steve Sullivan-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams
JamesinNYC: Four or Five forwards on the PP?
Shelly Anderson: Looks as if defenseman Kris Letang will be out there with four other forwards. That's what Bylsma has hinted at. The team worked on five-on-five drills today.
Chris Tamer: Do the Pens need Asham, Vitale, Cooke, etc. to step up their "agitating" against the Flyers to get guys like Jagr, Giroux, and Briere off their games a bit or will they leave the antics alone?
Shelly Anderson: I don't see this being a series of "antics." That line isn't so much set up to agitate by the standard definition, but the way they play can frustrate opponents. That line skates hard, plays tough physically, cycles the puck and is capable of producing a few scoring chances. That probably won't change just because it's the playoffs or the Flyers.
Roy: How about the Defensive pairings?? I am curious who Martin plays with?
Shelly Anderson: Paul Martin was paired with Kris Letang today at practice. Brooks Orpik is and has been with Zbynek Michalek. Deryk Engelland was paired with rookie Brian Strait, but I would expect Matt Niskanen or Ben Lovejoy, whoever is healthy first, to take Strait's spot. At this point, I don't see Martin and Michalek reunited as shutdown pair or Orpik-Letang back together, although I like that latter pairing.
JamesinNYC: What do you make of all the badmouthing of th Pens from NYC and Philly folks? I read the article in the Post and have to wonder if he was just playing to the audience or if he truely believes that the refs look the otherway for the Pens and they never miss calls on other cubs? They can have Hines Ward give the pregame speach at this rate, Pens vs the world.
Shelly Anderson: I'm sure there was some real frustration on the parts of Peter Laviolette, John Tortorella, etc., but these men also know how to play the word game.
Zach: Jagr has been a thorn in our side this year, would you think it would be wise for the Pens to take a page from Hal Gill's book and have Orpik all over him or will they rotate assignments on Jagr?
Shelly Anderson: I can't say for sure. You can't blanket Jaromir Jagr, though, and not pay attention to his linemates, Claude Giroux in particular. That said, Jagr seems to have slowed some the past month or two. Maybe he was pacing himself for the playoffs, or maybe he's feeling 40 and away from the grind of the NHL season the past few years. We'll see. He certainly has a good working knowledge of what the playoffs are about.
Pete: Is Neal's "lower body injury" anything to worry about or has his absence the last few games been more about giving him a few days off to get it right?
Shelly Anderson: James Neal practiced today and said the week of rest -- he did not play the final two regular-season games -- left him just fine. He fully expects to play Wednesday and be good for the series. Same with winger Steve Sullivan, who said he could have played Saturday if needed.
Chris Tamer: This matchup just exudes hatred...the last rivalry that I can remember that had this much animosity between the teams were the Avs-Wings battles in the late 90's-early 00's...can you think of many other contemporary rivalries that involve teams/cities that just hate each other?
Shelly Anderson: We tend to be a little myopic when it comes to this sort of thing, but there have been times when the Penguins-Capitals or even the Penguins-Red Wings have gotten heated. Boston-Montreal goes back decades.
Pete: Giving the Flyers any sort of momentum would seem to be the last thing the Pens want to do. With that said, are the stakes in this Game 1 higher than they would be had we faced another team?
Shelly Anderson: No, I don't think so. Still takes four wins to advance, regardless of the emotions or how tightly matched things are. Winning the opener at home is always helpful, but isn't necessarily a determining factor in who will advance.
Zach: In regards to the rivalry question, do the players harbor the same ill-will that the fans seem to have or are they detached from the emotional side that we, as fans, tend to get caught up in?
Shelly Anderson: The players are emotional. It's part of their competitive side. And the dislike they feel for the Flyers is real. But they realize an obligation to keep things under control so it doesn't hurt them in games. We saw in an earlier game in Philadelphia that the Penguins let the Flyers get under their skin and reacted rather than skated away. That was a lesson remembered.
Shelly Anderson: A few more questions?
Shelly Anderson: Last call....
sam: Who is the Flyer the Pens should worry about the most?
Shelly Anderson: Probably Claude Giroux. He's a really good young player. Not that they can overlook Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr, etc.
Shelly Anderson: History has taught me not to do those, although I wouldn't be surprised if this goes six or seven games.
Shelly Anderson: OK, looks like that's it. Please join us next Monday and we can chat about the first few games of the series.
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