The 82-game regular season is officially in the books. 16 teams will begin their journey with the hopes of hoisting the Stanley Cup when it is all said and done. The FPC NHL staff will preview each and every series all the way through the Stanley Cup Finals. On the docket: The Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.

For the seventh time in each team’s history, the battle of Pennsylvania occurs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year, the intensity is greater than it has ever been.

Star Power

Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux are two franchise stars who will lead their teams out with hopes of hoisting the Stanley Cup. This would be the Penguins third straight and the Flyers first since 1975. Giroux finished the season with 102 points and finished second in the race for the Art Ross trophy. A career year and a major bump up from last year when he finished with 58 points en route to the Flyers missing the playoffs.

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On the other hand, Crosby produced 89 points this season and finished 10th in the Art Ross Trophy race. Other Penguins stars finished ahead of Crosby; Evgeni Malkin finished fourth in points with 98, and Phil Kessel eighth with 92 points. Regardless, Crosby and Giroux is the player matchup that most people will be looking for. During the regular season meetings between the two teams, the stars were on the ice against each other for most of their shifts.

Regular Season Shape-Up

The regular season advantage also stands in favor of the Penguins who won all four meetings.The most recent meeting was a 5-4 Penguins OT victory on March 25, featuring a Sidney Crosby goal and a game-winning assist that deflected off the stick of Penguins forward Bryan Rust. Claude Giroux had one assist in that game.

Meanwhile, the Flyers finished third in the Metropolitan Division (42-26-14) which includes the most overtime losses in the NHL this season. The Penguins finished second in the Metropolitan Division (47-29-6) and had the most away losses of any team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Luckily for the Penguins, they will have home ice advantage in this series.

Prediction: Penguins in 5

The Penguins won the season series 4-0 and have three players in the leagues, top ten scorers. They will go up 3-0 and lose Game 4 in Philadelphia, since the clinching game is generally the hardest to win, plus the Penguins have proven to be a worse team on the road than any of the 16 teams in the playoffs. When the series returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5, the Penguins will be able to close out the series.

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