Pens-Flyers rivalry never gets old
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - So you want to boost TV ratings, eh?

Well, NHL, this is your lucky day. I've got an idea.

I notice that there are 12 games on the schedule for Saturday.

Cancel them.

You heard me, every last one of them. Who needs 'em?

Now, what we're going to do is this. Replace those 12 games with one Flyers/Penguins game.

Scratch that, let's make it two Flyers/Penguins games. You know what, let's make it three.

A Flyers/Penguins triple-header is just what the doctor ordered. Leave em' out there until Sidney Crosby can't skate anymore.

Or if you really want to go all out, how about creating a new channel? The station would show a constant 24-hour loop of old Flyers and Penguins games.

I'd gladly pay $13.95 a month for that.

Trust me, this is what NHL fans really want to see.

ESPN's Barry Melrose, the Silver Mullet himself, declared the battle of Pennsylvania the best rivalry in hockey.

Anything else you'd like to add, Captain Obvious?

Seriously though, when these teams play, magic happens.

Take Wednesday night's thriller in Pittsburgh, for example.

The Flyers held a 3-2 lead heading into the third period. Seven-and-a-half minutes later, Philadelphia stretched its advantage to 5-3.

Some of you probably thought that would be a good time to grab a beverage or sneak in a quick game of Fruit Ninja on the iPad.

Big mistake.

In the amount of time it would take to finish reading this sentence, the score was tied again.

In the final plot twist of the night, the Flyers took back the lead on a Jakub Voracek goal with 1:31 left in regulation. Final score: Flyers 6, Penguins 5.

Come on Jake, I thought we had an agreement? No more goals until the shootout.

Here's another proposal. When these two teams play, it should be a requirement that they have to play to overtime. There's just no way 60 minutes of Flyers/Pens is enough to satisfy my unquenchable thirst for hockey awesomeness.

Since the beginning of 2009-10, Pittsburgh and Philly have met 26 times. The Flyers have won 14 of those contests with the Steel City handling the other 12. Four of the games have gone into overtime, with each team claiming two victories.

Twelve of these matchups have been decided by one goal. And the combined score of those 26 games? Philadelphia 91, Pittsburgh 91.

It's gotten physical, too. The two sides have spent a combined 1,003 minutes in the penalty box over those 26 contests (64 penalty minutes were recorded in Wednesday night's contest). You could watch the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy twice in that span and still have time to watch 87 minutes of another movie (that would get you about halfway through the first Godfather movie).

Epic film trilogies aside, the Penguins and Flyers score a lot of goals. Last year when these rivals met in the playoffs, Philadelphia put up an eight-spot in back-to-back games before giving up double-digits in an embarrassing 10-3 defeat at the Consol Energy Center in Game 4.

Four players have been especially prolific during these contests. Their names are Danny Briere, Crosby, Claude Giroux and Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin's goal Wednesday was his 11th in his last 23 games against the Flyers. Over that span, he's contributed 21 assists for a grand total of 32 points.

Giroux has been just as good, tallying 31 points in 25 meetings with Pittsburgh since the start of 2009-10. Six of his 14 goals over that time frame came in last year's playoffs, when the Flyers defeated Pittsburgh in six games.

Briere has rewarded his fantasy owners with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in his last 24 meetings with Pittsburgh. Similarly, Crosby has made the most of his 21 contests against Philly over the past four seasons, having amassed 10 goals and 19 helpers over that period.

The rivalry hasn't been nearly as enjoyable for the goaltenders. Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled to an .879 save percentage versus Philadelphia since the beginning of 2009-10, compiling a 3.37 goals against average over that span. Though Ilya Bryzgalov carries a 7-3 record against Pittsburgh since the start of 2011-12, he hasn't looked particularly sharp either (.884 save percentage, 3.47 GAA).

While other rivalries have gotten stale, the Penguins/Flyers grudge match gets better with each game. It's a shame Philadelphia and Pittsburgh only play each other twice more in the regular season. Let's hope these two cross paths again in the postseason.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at

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