Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Email Travel Subscribe SI About Us NHL Playoffs
  Playoffs Home
Other Hockey News
East Semis
Phi. vs. Pit.

Tor. vs. N.J.
West Semis
Dal. vs. S.J.

Col. vs. Det.
Daily Schedule
Prev. Rounds
Team Histories

 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Multimedia Central
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide
 Work in Sports GROUP
 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia

Series at a Glance

Penguins-Flyers rivalry should spark statewide debate

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Thursday April 27, 2000 01:14 AM

By Jamie MacDonald,

Pennsylvania's leading products may be milk, poultry, eggs, a variety of fruits, sweet corn, potatoes, mushrooms, cheese, beans, hay, maple syrup, and even Christmas trees (our thanks to; but through early May, the state's most celebrated export will be playoff hockey.

Owing to the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between Pittsburgh's Penguins and Philadelphia's Flyers, we'll hear a lot of references to the Keystone State over the next few weeks. Steeltown vs. the City of Brotherly love, Western Pennsylvania vs. Eastern Pennsylvania, Mayor Tom Murphy vs. Mayor John Sweet, vs., that kind of thing. Hockey fans from Altoona to Allentown to Ambridge will have to pick a side.

This is the Battle of Penn's Woodland.

Truth be told, though, these Penguins-Flyers meetings recently have been less battle and more beating for the Pens.

Here are some alarming particulars: Philadelphia went 4-0-1 in five regular-season games against Pittsburgh and prior to the series, the Flyers had won 16 consecutive home games against the Penguins (13 during the regular season and three more during the 1997 playoffs).

Welcome to the Battle of Pennsylvania.

Storylines We're Following

Another distraction?

Many specific questions were asked of the Flyers before the playoffs began, but generally speaking those questions all wondered the same thing: What is going on over there? Now the announcement of Roger Neilson's renewed contribution to the team and his obvious disappointment with it ("I don't think they want a cancer patient who is a friend of Eric Lindros behind the bench right now," he told a radio station), promises to raise still more questions.

And yet with another would-be distraction, Flyers players insist they are unaffected by any news they hear these days. They seem hardened, almost. Going into their series with the Sabres, we heard the same things. Maybe it's time to start believing them.

Pipe dreams

Between 1996 and 1999, the Flyers used four goaltenders in the playoffs (Ron Hextall, Garth Snow, Sean Burke and John Vanbiesbrouck) and none were lock-solid choices. But this year they appeared to have settled on Brian Boucher (and even that wasn't a gimme until now). Poise has been Boucher's greatest asset in these playoffs and continued focus will be necessary against the Penguins. Pittsburgh is a much sharper shooting team than Buffalo -- not to mention more opportunistic -- and the Penguins have a much better power play. Not only will Boucher be tested more often, but he'll be tested by more snipers.

Man of the Hour

You can debate the topic of his being the best player in the world, but you'd be hard pressed to argue against him as the best player in the first round. Jaromir Jagr averaged two points per game (three goals, seven assists in five games) and he seemed to make nearly all the right plays with the puck. He's contributed more than points for the Penguins, who may not see the second round without his puck-control game in such its current form.

Man on the Spot

Certainly defenseman Chris Therien (who will most often face Jagr coming down the right wing) is a man under the microscope. But Ron Tugnutt may have a greater impact on this series. After the first round, Tugnutt's .950 save percentage was tops in the playoffs and his goals against average of 1.58 ranked third behind Martin Brodeur and Chris Osgood.

Matthew Barnaby Ex-Sabre has a goal, six assists and 32 PIMs in 10 playoff games against the Flyers -- and he he can't wait for the death threats to return
Jan Hrdina Sat out the final two games of round one with a strained back, but has cleared himself to play in Game 1
Jan Hrdina, according to Herb Brooks Pens coach is practicing as if Hrdina will not be in the lineup
Simon Gagne Rookie posts five points in five games (including Game 1 winner) vs. Buffalo
Ulf Samuelsson Cog in the Pens' Cup runs is expected to miss the series with torn ligaments in his right knee
Rene Corbet One game (Game 5, round one) in five weeks, but he's feeling better
Fans in Philadelphia We saw the dousing of Lindy Ruff, but we're optimistic
Refundable Prediction

Whether he plays well or poorly, Brian Boucher will abandon his effort to grow a playoff beard, he'll listen to his wife, and he'll shave the thing.

Related information
Out of the frying pan (Hasek), into the fire (Jagr)
Penguins wonder: Where's the (brotherly) love?
Neilson isn't thrilled about coaching situation
Series Breakdown: Flyers-Penguins
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day

Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

CNNSI Copyright © 2001
CNN/Sports Illustrated
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.