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Flyers-Penguins rivalry beginning to pack a punch

So what will you remember from Tuesday's game the next time the Flyers and Penguins meet? Will it be the drubbing Pittsburgh's Gary Roberts gave Ben Eager?

So what will you remember from Tuesday's game the next time the Flyers and Penguins meet? Will it be the drubbing Pittsburgh's Gary Roberts gave Ben Eager?

Will it be Sidney Crosby's deft backhanded trip of Flyers goalie Marty Biron that went unnoticed? How about Georges Laraque trying to trip Biron or the Flyers' Scott Hartnell beating the tar out of that lovable instigator, Colby Armstrong?

There's so much to love - and hate - between these clubs that the final five games of the season series should be entertaining. And it might not be too hard to top Tuesday's total of 156 penalty minutes, either.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien accused Flyers coach John Stevens of showing "a lack of respect" during the 8-2 disaster by putting his top power-play unit on the ice with a 7-2 lead.

"If they were just penalties on the play, we would have gone another direction," Stevens said. "But when you go out there and take running head shots . . . and breaking sticks over guys away from the play and running your goalie, to me, I would be disrespecting my team if I didn't put those guys out there.

"I have a lot of respect for the Pittsburgh Penguins and their players, but I don't have respect for what he had his players do."

By the way, the Flyers' final two power-play goals were scored by the second unit.

Among last season's carnage were 8-2 and 8-4 Penguins routs in which their top power-play unit was on the ice when the score was 5-1 in the 8-2 Flyers loss.

"Even Daniel Briere did not want to go on the ice," Therrien fumed after the game.


"How would he know?" Briere said. "Why would I be embarrassed? What happened last year when they played the Flyers, who were struggling? Did they let up on them? I don't know. I wasn't here. We're all competitive. We always want to do more for the team.

"What do you expect us to do? They're breaking sticks over our players. Are we supposed to say OK? . . . They were trying to hurt us. We're supposed to keep the same guys on the ice to make them happy?

"You keep trying to slash us, cross check us, and we're supposed to be the villains from the start of the season. But if you saw the game [Tuesday] night, we were trying to finish the game, and they kept taking penalties."

Sami Kapanen and Mike Richards each took elbows to the head. Laraque broke a stick over the Flyers' Lasse Kukkonen.

Don't kid yourself here. There's also some payback taking place because of last season.

Biron was initially upset that Laraque tried to take him out, but he said the replay indicates it might have been an accident.

"His left leg came in under my right leg, and he got me going," Biron said. "At the time, I thought it was intentional."

Biron and Laraque had words after the play when Laraque accused the goalie of diving.

"I don't like when goalies dive because you're already protected by the referee not to get hit," Biron said. "If you dive, the ref is going to say, 'OK, we're not going to protect you anymore.' I was taking it personally [what he said] because it is not my nature to [dive]."

The Flyers' Mike Knuble played in some of those eight Flyers losses to Pittsburgh last season. "No mercy" is his motto.

"This is the NHL," Knuble said. "You don't have to have mercy on teams, and they don't have to have mercy on you. . . . I don't know if it's payback, but any doubt you can get in a team's mind about their ability to win games against you and showing other teams that when you put the hammer down it's going to stay down."

Richards is Crosby's friend. He's careful about what he says.

"I don't want to say anything bad about them," Richards said. "We played well. They came off a road trip. They were tired.

"These are the fun games to play. These heated rivalries are the ones you get up most for."

Hatcher, Gagne update. Defenseman Derian Hatcher won't play tonight against Montreal. He still has fluid in his right knee, even though it is being drained. He's not alarmed but the surgery has not fixed his problem completely. . . . Winger Simon Gagne (concussion) skated again and reported more progress and no symptoms.