Game 1: Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins The 2011-2012 Season Begins

Game 1: Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins The 2011-2012 Season Begins

We've
had since May to do everything in our power to put a woefully
disappointing Flyers season and laughably poor postseason behind us. The
organization actually did just that—turning over the forward lines and
goaltender so significantly that the team that takes the ice tonight is
hardly recognizable.

The good news is, last season is now officially in the past, and we
can stop talking off-season moves and start talking on-ice play. As we
discussed earlier today, the Flyers may have rebuilt over the summer,
but they remain a very exciting and talented team. Tonight's opener and
the games over the next few weeks have added intrigue, as we finally get
to see how all the pieces will work together, and what the new guys are
capable of. A look at tonight's Flyers lineup and some game notes
below.

Your goalies tonight are Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas. The Flyers
are visitors in the home of the current Stanley Cup Champions, and they
have a lot to prove.

Although the Bruins obviously have some
outstanding chemistry and as good a team as there is in the NHL, there's
no reason to think the Flyers won't go into their barn and steal the
first game of the season. Peter Laviolette's team was very good in the
preseason, and they'll take the ice tonight with some momentum.

There will probably be some butterflies as well, with three rookies
in the Orange & Black lineup (Sean Couturier, Matt Read, and Zac
Rinaldo).

We expect to see a top line of Claude Giroux centering
JVR and Jaromir Jagr. Hoooooo yeah. Danny Briere will likely start by
centering Jakub Voracek and either Wayne Simmonds or Scott Hartnell. We
think that could be a pretty fluid situation until they find a group
with great chemistry. Whichever isn't on the second line will join
Couturier and Matt Read on a high energy third line, with the fourth
line being of Max Talbot, Zac Rinaldo, and Andreas Nodl.

Hopefully everyone got a name tag at the mixer last night because there are a ton of new faces.

Chris
Pronger will play in the season opener, which quiets one of the biggest
concerns we had all summer, presumably paired with Matt Carle as usual.
Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, and I think Andreas
Lilja will round out the opening night defense corps. The press was
having some trouble nailing down the Matt Walker situation.

Hockey is back. LET'S GO FLYERS!

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).