Scouting the Penguins

Sidney Crosby said the headaches that have hampered him for the last 2 years have subsided and he is eager to start the season. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

It has been 272 days since Claude Giroux delivered that thundering shoulder to Sidney Crosby on April 22, 2012, leading the Flyers to a 5-1 rout that officially rendered the Penguins a flightless fowl.

The cast of characters is largely the same for both teams, as they meet on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on NBC.

One thing that will have a slightly different look: Pittsburgh’s power play.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma apparently had a lot of time on his hands during the lockout. According to reports, he spent a lot of time reviewing tape from the 2006-07 Penguins season, who had a Top 5 power play that season.

Bylsma is hoping James Neal can replace Ryan Whitney’s role on that unit.

Neal will stick to the left side toward the top of the umbrella, working across from Crosby (mostly down low) and Evgeni Malkin (on the half-wall). Neal will have free reign to shoot into the slot for one-time passes from both Crosby and Malkin.

If you’ll remember, Crosby’s Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer came in 2006-07, which also just happened to be his best power play season in terms of points and assists.

Flyers fans should probably remember that power play, since it continually victimized one of the worst teams this franchise has ever iced for a season. Crosby would find Whitney for backdoor passes.

The last time Bylsma changed up Neal’s routine? Neal was moved from left to right wing last year and ended up with 40 goals.

Just something to keep an eye on as the Flyers meet Pittsburgh for the first of four meetings this season.

Here’s the Penguins’ expected lineup:




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