PITTSBURGH _ Stopping the Penguins' Sidney Crosby _ and his sizzling line _ will be No. 1 on the Flyers' priority list on Wednesday when the teams meet in Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.
Forget that Crosby hasn't scored against the Flyers in the last three meetings, including two in the post-season.
The 25-year-old superstar is a certified Flyers killer.
"It's a big rivalry, so it brings out the best in both teams," Crosby said after the Penguins' morning skate on Wednesday. "It's a game everyone expects to be intense and be at their best. Everyone seems to get up for these games a little more."
Remember Crosby's comments about the Flyers that went viral during last year's playoffs?
In Game 3 of the conference quarterfinals, the Flyers' Jake Voracek went to pick up his glove after it feel to the ice during a scrum. Crosby got there first and knocked the glove away with his stick.
"I don't like him," Crosby said.
Any particular reason?
"Because I don't like him. I don't like any guy on their team," he replied through clenched teeth.
Well, he actually LOVES playing against the Flyers, based on statistics.
In his career, including the playoffs, Crosby has 89 points in 57 games against the team he doesn't like.
In 20 career home games against the Flyers, Crosby has 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists).
This year, Crosby is second in the NHL with 24 points. The line of Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis combined for eight points (3-5) and was plus-8 in their last game, a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Sunday. The line has combined for 45 points in their last 11 games (4.09 per game).
The Flyers have a hot line of their own. Claude Giroux, Matt Read and Voracek combined for 10 points (three goals, seven assists) and a plus-9 rating in their 7-0 romp over the Islanders on Monday afternoon.
It will be interesting to see how much time the two lines spend against each other Wednesday.
The Flyers are trying to end their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record.
The Penguins will be "a really good test for us," Flyers forward Ruslan Fedotenko said. "But we need to think about OUR game and how we play. If we are ready to play and play our best, we have a really good chance there."
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen said tonight's game will be a "measurement" in how far the Flyers have come.
Said coach Peter Laviolette: "All the games are important. They're not awarding four points or eight points tonight because it's the Penguins and Flyers. But certainly through the course of time, rivalries build up and they bring that added flavor to it."
Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds said it's "desperation time" for his team.
"We've put ourselves behind the eight ball and we have to get every win as possible," he said.
Simmonds, who is in his second year with the Flyers after being acquired from the Kings, loves the rivalry with the Penguins.
"It's more intense than anything I had in the Western Conference," he said. "Anaheim was our biggest rivalry when I played with L.A. But last year, when I stepped on the ice, it felt like both teams wanted to take each others' heads off. It definitely makes for exciting hockey for the fans, and as a player, these are the type of games that I like to play in. I can't wait to get it started tonight."
Goalie matchup. Ilya Bryzgalov (7-7-1, 2.42, .911) will face the Pens' Tomas Vokoun (3-2, 2.27, .918).