The Pittsburgh Penguins have been without gifted center Jordan Staal for the entire season, endured a disastrous 1-6 start by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and haven't gotten the usual production from superstar Evgeni Malkin.
Yet, when the blistering-hot Penguins meet the Flyers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, they will bring some imposing statistics.
44 - points the Penguins have accumulated, tops in the NHL.
12 - consecutive wins Pittsburgh has strung together.
7 - consecutive road wins for the Pens, one shy of setting a franchise record.
18 - consecutive-game points streak by Sidney Crosby.
"It's almost like the perfect storm," said Flyers assistant Kevin McCarthy, who helped run Monday's practice in Voorhees because head coach Peter Laviolette was attending the funeral of his wife's grandfather. "You're playing a team that's the hottest team in the National Hockey League with 12 straight wins, and we're battling for first place overall, so it comes at a great time."
Crosby will enter the matchup with 51 points and 26 goals in 31 games.
"He's the perfect mixture of a guy that has great talent and also an unbelievable work ethic," McCarthy said. 'He's one of those guys who is never satisfied, and that's what makes great players great. The Michael Jordans of the world, the [Wayne] Gretzkys, the [Mario] Lemieuxs. It wasn't just their consistency. They wanted to be the best at what they did, and obviously that's what drives them."
"How much better can he get?" center Danny Briere, a 13-year veteran, asked. "The roll he's on right now is amazing. Since I've been in the league, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this. On top of it, Jordan Staal and Malkin are both injured, and it just shows how much better he makes everybody around him."
Malkin, who missed the last four games with a knee injury, is expected to play Tuesday.
The Flyers held Crosby to just one assist in their two 3-2 wins over the Penguins this season. Crosby had two goals - both on the power play - and an assist in Pittsburgh's 5-1 triumph over the Flyers.
"You can't be too aggressive [against him] because he's so strong on his skates that he just pushes off you," said captain Mike Richards, who likely will be matched against Crosby on Tuesday.
"You've got to try and deny him the puck," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "If you've got the puck a lot, he's not going to have it. A good offense is a good defense."
A little more than a month ago, the Penguins were reeling. They were 7-8-1 after a 7-4 loss to Boston. They haven't lost in regulation since that defeat, going on a 14-0-1 run.
Fleury has played a starring role in the Penguins' resurgence. He has been in goal for 11 of the 12 games during the winning streak and allowed just 18 goals. Fleury had a 1-6 record and 3.54 goals-against average through Nov. 6. But his GAA has improved to 2.31, and his save percentage has risen from .853 to .914.
McCarthy said Laviolette was contemplating whether he would use Sergei Bobrovsky (2-1 vs. the Pens this year) or Brian Boucher on Tuesday.
Laviolette would have a tougher decision "if both guys were struggling," said Boucher, who has a 1.21 GAA and .960 save percentage in his last four starts. "But Bob's played great all year, and I'm just trying to do my part when I get in there and give the team a chance. We'll see what happens."
The Flyers, 7-1-3 in their last 11 games, are one point behind the Penguins in the Atlantic Division and in the overall NHL points race.
"Pittsburgh's won 12 in a row, and we want to put a stop to it and reclaim tops in our division," Briere said.
Pronger called it a chance "to test yourself and see where you're at."