Now in the new Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are in the same spots they were most of last season.
The Penguins are at the top as the division's highest-scoring team, and the Flyers are at the bottom due greatly to a woeful offense heading into these rivals' season series opener Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Sidney Crosby has keyed Pittsburgh's hot start, leading the NHL with 12 points following a hat trick in Saturday's 5-4 win over Tampa Bay and three assists Tuesday in a 3-2 victory over Edmonton.
"Everything goes through (Crosby)," said linemate Chris Kunitz, who had four points in those two wins. "... Anytime the puck is on his stick we look pretty good out there."
While Crosby has helped the Penguins (5-1-0) get at least three goals in every game, the Flyers (1-6-0) are the league's only team yet to score that many. Pittsburgh tops the Eastern Conference with 3.8 goals per game, and Philadelphia is second-worst at 1.4.
"We are scared to make something happen on the ice," said forward Jakub Voracek, who has no goals after scoring a team-high 22 last season.
The Flyers were in the Atlantic Division basement for much of the lockout-shortened campaign before a late run pushed them one point ahead of New Jersey, and they're back at the bottom this fall. Pittsburgh rolled to the Atlantic title last season and is back in first place, partly because of its home dominance.
The Penguins haven't trailed through four home games but head to Philadelphia having led for less than seven minutes of their two road games. They needed Matt Kiskanen's power-play goal with 19 seconds to play to win in Tampa, one night after losing 6-3 at Florida.
That defeat was the only game Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't started. He's 5-0-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average, though a 14-save performance at Tampa was easily his worst game of the season.
Fleury bounced back Tuesday with 20 stops, including a few spectacular saves, to fend off the Oilers.
"He's making all the right saves at the right time," Kunitz said.
New Flyers starter Steve Mason also has played well, posting a 2.23 GAA, but hasn't been able to make up for a Philadelphia offense which has converted 2 of 29 power-play chances and is scoreless in 17 straight.
Claude Giroux had a team-high 21 power-play points last season but none thus far and is still seeking his first goal. The captain, however, saw positive signs in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Vancouver.
"We are getting better every game, that's how we all look at it. It's a fact," said Giroux, who assisted on one of Tye McGinn's two goals. "If anybody knows anything about hockey, they'll know we played a good game tonight. We played our best game, and it's a good thing coming right now."
Giroux has a 10-game point streak against the Penguins, but the Flyers lost three of four meetings last season as Paul Martin led Pittsburgh with six points while Crosby had five.
Crosby's 28 goals versus Philadelphia are his most against any opponent as are Evgeni Malkin's 21. Malkin scored his second goal in three games Tuesday after failing to get one through the first three.
"He's been getting chances, it's always nice to see them go in," Crosby said. "I'm happy to see him score, I'm sure he's happy and I'm sure there will be many more to come."
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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