BUFFALO - When the Flyers face the Sidney Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, the game will have special meaning for hard-working forward Max Talbot.
Talbot, 27, was drafted by the Penguins in 2002 and spent his career with Pittsburgh before coming to the Flyers as a free agent in the offseason. In 2009, he scored both goals as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 victory over Detroit in Game 7, and he is remembered fondly by Pittsburgh's fans and players.
"It's obviously going to be emotional," Talbot said. "That's the team where I played six years. It's going to be pretty intense and pretty special for me to play against that team. I can't wait to compete. . . . It's going to be fun."
The Penguins said Wednesday that Crosby, who collided with teammate Chris Kunitz on Monday, would miss the game - and at least one other - as a precaution. He has 26 goals and 36 assists in 36 games against the Flyers.
Flyers winger Jaromir Jagr, another former Penguin, downplayed the Pittsburgh game.
"They're trying to beat [an almost] 40-year-old guy. What's the big deal about it?" he said with a laugh.
Facing the Penguins in the playoffs would be special, but "if I'm honest," it's just another game on Thursday, Jagr said. "I think the media and fans make it bigger than it is, but it's good for the league, I guess. It gives more attention to hockey."
But Jagr knows that playing Dec. 29 in Pittsburgh will be different. He turned down a chance to sign with the Penguins in the offseason, and he expects to hear about it when the Flyers make their first trip to Pittsburgh.
Jagr, 39, who is not signed beyond this season, wants to play next year in either the NHL or his homeland, the Czech Republic.
He prefers to talk about the present; the Flyers are in the early stages of a stretch in which they play 11 of 14 games on the road. After facing Tampa Bay on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, they play seven of their next eight on the road before the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.
"I think it's going to tell a lot about our team this month," Jagr said. "I mean, a lot. If you can survive and play good this month, we can say we're a pretty good team."
Center Brayden Schenn missed Wednesday's game in Buffalo because of what the team called an upper-body injury. He had played two games since recovering from a broken left foot.
A team source said the Flyers were "hopeful" that Schenn (zero points in six games, minus-6) would play Thursday.
With Schenn sidelined, Harry Zolnierczyk remained in the lineup.
- Sam Carchidi