The rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins may be the best in all of hockey right now. It has been on the rise for years now, ever since Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin made Pittsburgh into the powerhouse that they are today.
The individual rivalry between the teams' captains, Crosby and Claude Giroux, has also blossomed into one of the league's best as well.
While Crosby is off to a hot start, ranking second in the NHL with 24 points, Giroux has underperformed in his opening stint as Philadelphia's captain.
The Flyers as a team have underperformed so far, although their most recent victory, a 7-0 thrashing of the New York Islanders, could give them confidence heading into this nationally-televised matchup.
The Flyers are just 3-8-0 on the road this season, and will be heading into Pittsburgh to face a raucous crowd ready to back their team in pursuit of vengeance after last year's playoffs.
In those 2012 playoffs, the Penguins were a Stanley Cup favorite, but ended up losing to the Flyers in six games in a wild series that saw Pittsburgh unravel a bit in the face of some serious pressure and physicality from Philadelphia.
But the Penguins have certainly gotten off on the right foot this season, currently holding an 11-5-0 record against the Flyers' 7-9-1 start.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who took a lot of the heat after that playoff series, has had a solid start to the season. Along with Fleury and Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin have also helped lead Pittsburgh to a solid start.
The Flyers, on the other hand, have been dealing with injuries and slow starts from individuals which have ravaged the team.
Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros have been out for weeks now, and Wayne Simmonds missed a little time due to a concussion.
Giroux, Max Talbot, and Braydon Coburn have all been disappointing thus far, while goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has been surprisingly steady between the pipes.
Forwards like Tye McGinn, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Jake Voracek have all tried to pick up the team a bit, but their efforts just haven't been enough to supplant the losses at this stage.
The Flyers and Penguins met in the season opener just one month ago, with the Penguins outplaying the Flyers in a relatively sloppy game and coming out with a 3-1 victory.
For tonight, if the Flyers can build on their big win against the Islanders, they may be able to go into Pittsburgh and grind out a win. We know both teams will be firing on all cylinders for this one.
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