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Vitale may face Flyers' wrath for hit on Briere

Chris Harlan
| Saturday, April 7, 2012

• Penguins center Joe Vitale considers today's game a "fresh start," but the Flyers might not so quickly forget his hit on Danny Briere that sparked fights last Sunday. Either way, the Penguins are prepared. "We really don't know what there is (waiting) for Joe," Penguins forward Craig Adams said, "but I don't think Joe should worry about anything. He didn't do anything wrong, and he's going to have a lot of guys watching his back." Among them will be Steve MacIntyre, who was recalled Friday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound forward is known for his fighting skills. "I expect a hard-fought battle," Vitale said. "Both teams are not playing for much, but (we can) set a tone for the playoff series." Regardless of today's outcome, the Penguins will be a No. 4 seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Flyers seeded fifth. They'll begin a seven-game series next week at Consol Energy Center. With little to gain, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma could sit some of his top players. The team's lineup — including the starting goalie — won't be announced until just before the game, he said.

• The NHL did not discipline defenseman Brooks Orpik for kneeing the Rangers' Derek Stepan in Thursday's third period. Bylsma said after practice yesterday that league officials had not spoken with Orpik, and the coach did not believe they would. Rangers coach John Tortorella wanted the NHL to punish Orpik.

• James Neal, Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham and Matt Niskanen did not take part in yesterday's practice at Southpointe. Neal (lower-body injury), Sullivan (lower-body) and Niskanen (upper-body) did not play Thursday. Bylsma provided no update on their injuries, but none of the three was expected to return before the playoffs. Asham's absence was not explained.

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