Penguins Notebook: Guerin gets feel for Pennsylvania rivalry

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Fans of the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers -- who open a first-round playoff series tonight at Mellon Arena -- might tend to think of the intrastate rivalry as one of the nastiest and perhaps the biggest in the NHL.

That's probably a bit provincial.

"I didn't realize it was that big. I had never played for either team, so why would I?" asked winger Bill Guerin, who joined the Penguins at the March trade deadline and broke into the league in 1991-92. "All rivalries are great."

He cited the New York Rangers as a rival team when he played with the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.

From the outside, Penguins-Flyers is just one of many heated matchups.

"You always have teams that are in the same division as rivals -- like Rangers-Islanders, Rangers-Devils, Tampa-Florida -- because they're close in proximity and because you have more games against each other," said first-year Penguins winger Ruslan Fedotenko. "You always have hype about that."

Fedotenko played for the Flyers early this decade. Having been on both sides of the rivalry, he believes it has the same heat as others.

"For the players, because you play each other so much, it might be something like you get bumped and you want to give it back," he said, adding that he sees all the elements of a good series between rivals in this first-round matchup.

"Pittsburgh beat them last year [in the Eastern Conference final], and now they want to get back at them. That fuels the fire more. It's good for fans, I'm sure. I think it's probably one of the most exciting matchups in the playoffs right now."

Guerin has found that even stubborn rivals can produce surprising results.

"Sometimes, when you think it's going to be the nastiest thing you've ever seen, it's not," he said. "And other times, it just comes out of nowhere."

Guerin played in just one Penguins-Flyers game, a 3-1 Philadelphia win March 22 at Mellon Arena that at the time looked to pretty much sew up home-ice advantage in the first round for the Flyers.

He got a feel for the rivalry then, but since has learned more.

"I see it. I hear about it. People talk about it. So you find out very quickly," Guerin said.

"I'm in."

Along for the ride

Philadelphia's Broad Street Subway will have extra trains to get fans to and from the Flyers-Penguins playoff series games at the Wachovia Center. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) said it will add extra subway trains before and after Games 3 and 4 there Sunday and Tuesday.

SEPTA officials also said it will have extra service for Game 6, if necessary April 25.

Slap shots

Penguins center Sidney Crosby is one of 10 finalists for the Scotiabank/NHL Fan Fav Award, the first MVP-type award decided by a fan vote. Crosby finished third in the league in regular-season scoring with 103 points, 10 behind teammate Evgeni Malkin. ... Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi of the Belleville Bulls, who was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the same deal that brought winger Chris Kunitz here in a February trade, was named Ontario Hockey League player of the week. He had four goals, three assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-6 in two games. ... Episodes of "Road to the Cup" about the Penguins are available free on demand to Comcast digital cable customers.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com . The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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