The NHL is back, and there is no better way to celebrate the return of hockey in Pennsylvania than to have its two bitter rivals battle in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel to Philadelphia for a 3PM show down at the Wells Fargo Center. The arena will be filled to capacity with nearly 20,000 orange-and-black-clad Flyers fans, with a little yellow sprinkled in the mix.
The 2013 NHL season is no longer an 82 game marathon, but instead is a 48 game dash to the finish line.
Will teams that had multiple players skating in Europe fair better? Will veteran squads win because they will have fresh legs all season long? Only the next few months will tell.
Here are my Eastern Conference power rankings.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – A healthyEvgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will lead Pittsburgh deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. The addition of veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun gives Coach Dan Bylsma a solid option if Marc-Andre Fleury falters.
The Trenton Titans improved to 5-1-0-0 on the season Friday night as they downed the Toledo Walleye 4-1 in Trenton.
As has been the recent story for the Titans, timely goaltending and strong starts paced the win.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have shipped defenseman Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for left-winger James van Riemsdyk.
The trade isn’t a big surprise considering van Riemsdyk has been on the market since the trade deadline. At that time, it was believed the Leafs would have to ship Schenn as well as additional assets to land the 22-year-old forward, but things have changed, and the Flyers may be looking to acquire Bobby Ryan in his place.
Van Riemsdyk is by no means a punishing forward, despite his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, but he injects some skill into the Leafs’ lineup and should find a spot on the top-six unit. The move could also light a fire under Nikola...
Lost in the shuffle of the Flyers injuries on defense is someone who has been missing for a long time, Andrej Meszaros. Since he’s been targeting a return to the lineup sometime during the second round, now is a good time to look at where he would fit into the lineup.
Meszaros would seem to be best served on the third pair taking Erik Gustafsson’s slot in the lineup. The reasons behind this move are simple; Meszaros and Gustafsson both bring the same skill set with Meszaros having a few more years of experience, but is it the right move? To find out, let’s analyze the production of the Flyers defensemen.
The Islanders' season may be done but the hockey season remains, and as a die hard hockey fan I will milk this season for all that it has. The playoff seedings this season came down to the last weeks, days, and games of the season moving teams all around the standings some for the better (Phoenix Coyotes) and some for the worse (Buffalo Sabres). The final seedings were decided and the 2011-12 playoff matchups were set. (Photo Credit: Ice Insiders, Ryan Boyd)
The Eastern Conference matchups are as follows the New York Rangers (1) vs. the Ottawa Senators (, the Boston Bruins (2) vs. the Washington Capitals (7), the Florida Panthers (3) vs. the New Jersey Devils (6) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (5). So far three of the four series are tied at one game a piece and the game that is not tied is quite possibly the bigges surprise in the Easern Conference.
Josh Bailey has been an incredibly inconsistent contributor for the New York Islanders. Bailey is playing in his fourth season with the Islanders, he played his first game back in 2008-09. He missed the first fourteen games of his rookie season with a lower-body injury; he would play his first NHL game on November 11, 2008 at home versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Josh recorded his first NHL point just one game later on November 13 in Ottawa when he assisted on Kyle Okposo’s game tying goal. The Islanders went on to win the game 3-1. Bailey recorded eight more assists on the road to his first goal, which came on January 2, 2009, in the same game as Doug Weight’s 1,000 point, against the Phoenix Coyotes. The game was bittersweet for Bailey, who was enthusiastic about his first goal, but disheartened by the 5-4 loss. He went on to record 25 points in his rookie campaign finishing with 7 goals and 18 assists. (Photo Credit: thehockeyjunkies.blogspot.com)
The Islanders, who have been struggling more than usual as of late, will play host tonight for their sixth and final meeting of the season with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders go into tonight's game on a four game skid, blowing leads in the three most recent losses, the Flyers however come to Long Island with a 6-1 record in March, the first of those wins came against the Islanders on March 1st. Philadelphia leads the season series 3-2, including wins in both previous trips to the Coliseum. (Photo Credit: CSN Philly/Sarah Baicker)
The Islanders are 11 points out of eighth place with only twelve games left to play meaning that a playoff bid is looking highly improbable for the young squad. They lack a key component to being a playoff caliber team, consistency. That was evident in their last three losses, they had the lead in all three games and only managed two points, losing once in overtime and once in a shootout.
Both the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings are racking up the injuries. Absences on both teams are taking their toll. The Wings have fell out of first place in the league and in the Central Division, so it is very important for the Wings to rack up the points.
The Wings are missing many defensemen, including star Nicklas Lidstrӧm. Jonathan Ericsson is still out from a fractured wrist. Jakub Kindl left the game against Chicago early due to an upper body injury. Pavel Datsyuk is still missing from the line up. Jimmy Howard and Todd Bertuzzi both have groin strains. Danny Cleary did not practice due to some issues with his knees, but is said to be fine to play against the Flye...
Matt Donovan is currently in the second half of his first full season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 50 games played, the 6 foot, 202 pound defenseman has registered six goals and 25 assists for 31 points while maintaining a +11 rating.
Donovan has quickly become one of the Sound Tigers most reliable and contributing defenseman, playing with others such as Aaron Ness, Calvin de Haan and Ty Wishart. Selected 96th overall in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Donovan has been developing nicely. He had spent two seasons with the University of Denver before making his transition from college life to that of a professional hockey player. His best year with Denver came in 2011 where he scored 32 points from the blue line in 42 games.
On the depth charts, Donovan looks as if to be one of the most well polished blue liners that the Islanders organization has groomed through their farm system. If he continues his play, this could be the last time Connecticut locals will see him in a Sound Tigers jersey.
He and I talked about that possibility this afternoon over the phone.