Penguins Notebook: In this case, No. 20 ranking is huge
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Given the success and popularity of the Steelers, it likely is not a shock that they were ranked No. 1 in the Turnkey Sports & Entertainment's Team Brand Index, an 18-month marketing survey that looked at the local popularity of the 122 North American major pro sports teams.
- Matchup: Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 7:08 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.
- TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Dany Sabourin for Penguins. Martin Biron for Flyers. Penguins: Coming off 2-2 road trip. ... Their eight-game sweep of Flyers last season is their longest win streak against that franchise. ... Have at least one power-play goal in all 14 games.
- Flyers: Coming off 2-0 loss to Rangers, the first time this season they have been shut out. ... Road penalty-killing was 26th through yesterday, 72.1 percent. ... Scott Hartnell has gone eight games without a point.
- Hidden stat: The Flyers have been outshot in the first period in eight consecutive games.
It might, however, surprise some to learn the Penguins ranked No. 20 overall, third among NHL teams behind Buffalo and Detroit.
"We're honored, especially with everything we've been through the last few years," Penguins vice president for communications Tom McMillan said, referring to the anxious months before funding for a new arena was secured and the team's future here was solidified.
"Hopefully, more than any specific ranking is that you're a positive member of your community. That's one of the biggest goals of a franchise."
McMillan said the Penguins' fan base has remained strong for a long time.
"That was why we battled so hard to stay here," he said. "Fan support was never an issue. It was purely getting an arena."
In addition to the No. 4 Buffalo Sabres and No. 8 Detroit Red Wings, there were nine other NFL teams, four baseball clubs and three NBA franchises ahead of the Penguins.
Goalie change unlikely
Penguins coach Michel Therrien would not say for sure that goaltender Dany Sabourin, coming off a 5-0 win Monday at New Jersey, will start tonight at home against Philadelphia ahead of Marc-Andre Fleury, but it's probably a good bet -- even though Fleury is 10-3 with a 2.74 goals-against average in 14 career appearances against the Flyers.
"We haven't made our decision yet, but it's really tough to take a goalie out after a shutout," Therrien said. "Sabourin is playing really well right now."
Sabourin (3-1-1) was sixth in the NHL with a 1.86 goals-against average and ninth with a .929 save percentage through yesterday.
Outdoor game update
The Penguins have received 2,200 additional tickets from the NHL's allotment for the Winter Classic outdoor game Jan. 1 in Buffalo. They will be sold to season ticket holders, who were mailed a letter Monday from team president David Morehouse outlining a Web link where they can sign up with their account number by Nov. 16 to be chosen at random to purchase two seats each.
Of the 2,200, about 1,200 range from $29-90, and the rest are obstructed view in low rows of Ralph Wilson Stadium that will sell for $10.
Some fans were upset that the 42,000 tickets available -- including 1,500 reserved for Penguins season ticket holders -- sold out in less than 30 minutes in September, so the Penguins asked the league for more.
The Penguins and Sabres will wear throwback uniforms that game, with the Penguins wearing their original blue and white colors. Those Winter Classic Penguins jerseys are for sale at www.shop.nhl.com.
Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney missed practice, but not because of the groin injury that has him listed as day to day. He flew to Boston for his grandmother's funeral and is expected back today. ... Flyers winger R.J. Umberger, a Plum native, rarely gets to spend an extra day in town during the season as he did yesterday. "To be here and get to practice is a lot of fun for me," he said. He had plans to enjoy the evening. "I'll see all my family for dinner," he said. ... Fans who bring a nonperishable food item or make a cash donation tonight at Gates 1, 3 and 10 will be eligible to win autographed Penguins memorabilia as part of the team's Score Against Hunger food drive, which will benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. ... The Penguins have sold out a "Hockey 'n' Heels" event tonight for female fans.
First Published November 7, 2007 12:00 am