Flyers, Penguins: Teams going in different directions

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, left, loses one of his gloves as he battles for the puck with the Penguins' Pascal Dupuis in the first period of a game on March 7, 2013. (Tom Mihalek/AP)

Even though he did not face the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was with the Flyers at the end of last season, goalie Steve Mason is well-versed on the fierce rivalry.

The teams usually play wildly entertaining (read: high-scoring) games, and they will meet Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I’ve seen all the playoff series and the heated regular-season games that this organization has had against them,” Mason said after Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees. “I think you always want to measure yourself against the best players in the world, and they definitely have a couple of them and a great supporting cast. It’s a game we should have no problem getting up for.”

Sidney Crosby leads the NHL with 12 points and has led the Penguins to a 5-1 start.


What should be the next big move for the Flyers?

“It’s always fun playing those guys,” winger Wayne Simmonds said. “I think going back to my first game I played against them there was a line brawl, and there’s line brawl after line brawl after line brawl ever since we’ve played them for the last three years. I think it’s great. It’s great for the game, it’s great for the fans, and I think it brings a little more out of the boys.”

The Flyers have been competitive in every game, but they are 1-6 and have lost three straight.

“Things are slowly going in the right direction,” said Mason, who is expected to start Thursday. “We haven’t been rewarded with the results we want, but if the guys keep working hard, eventually good things are going to happen. The breaks will even out.”

“We’ve got to play desperate; we‘ve got to start getting points here. No excuses,” Simmonds said.

Breakaways. The Penguins have outscored their opponents, 23-15; the Flyers have been outscored, 20-10....The Flyers spent part of Wednesday’s practice re-enacting the behind-the-net play that led to Vancouver’s second goal in its 3-2 win Tuesday…..Claude Giroux had a “maintenance” day Wednesday and was excused from practice….Braydon Coburn played in his 500th NHL game Tuesday….Former Flyer Harry Zolnierczyk, filling in for the injured Beau Bennett, played on the Penguins’ third line Tuesday.  Defenseman Kris Letang and forward James Neal are among the injured Penguins.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.