'Already emotional' Penguins-Flyers even moreso with high stakes meeting
They could play on a sleepy Tuesday evening in November, or they could meet when the stakes aren't much more than a battle for sixth place – Penguins-Flyers still would have some extra juice to it.
So when they meet in Philadelphia for an 8 p.m. faceoff Wednesday with a possible chance that the winner will be in first place with less than a month left in the season?
"It's always an emotional game anyway," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said, "so that adds to it. We'll have to be ready."
Heading into the Washington Capitals' latenight game Tuesday in Anaheim, the Penguins (80 points) and Flyers (79 points) were each within striking distance of the Capitals (81) in the race for the Metropolitan Division title.
Not that the Penguins and Flyers need any extra excuse to bring the intensity in games against each other.
"It's an exciting environment to play in, a great rivalry," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "Two teams that have long histories and storied traditions, and so there's always a heightened level of emotion associated with the games, which are the most fun to be a part of.
"The standings and where each team sits in the standings this time of year just heightens the intensity and emotion involved."
The Penguins are 2-0 against the Flyers this season, beating them 5-4 in overtime Nov. 27 and winning the lone meeting in Philadelphia so far, 5-1, Jan. 2. The teams' final meeting will be March 25 at PPG Paints Arena.
At least two players in the Penguins' projected lineup for Wednesday, Derick Brassard and Dominik Simon, have not experienced the Penguins-Flyers rivalry firsthand.
Defenseman Olli Maatta easily can recall his introduction to the game – Oct. 17, 2013, at Wells Fargo Center, a 4-1 Penguins' win.
"It felt like something more," Maatta said. "More in that game. And definitely, there's some fire in there – and that's what you enjoy. These games are always awesome to play."
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.