The first dance against the cross-state rival Philadelphia Flyers begins tonight inside the Wells Fargo center.

However, right now, the only two things the Penguins and Flyers have in common is the ice surface they’re playing on.

Watching the Flyers struggle is something that every Pittsburgh fan loves. The stats tell us these two teams are in a completely different place right now; but all bets are off in a rivalry game, especially on the road.

That being said, let’s take a step back and compare the start these two teams are off to.

5 on 5 Goals For

Pittsburgh: 7th in NHL with 13
Philadelphia: 28th in NHL with 7

5 on 5 Goals Against

Pittsburgh: 9th in NHL with 7
Philadelphia: 16th in NHL with 12

5 on 5 +/- per 60 minutes of TOI

Pittsburgh: +1.4
Philadelphia: -1.1

Goaltender Goals Against Even Strength

Ray Emery: 8
Steve Mason: 3
Marc-Andre Fleury: 7

Let’s get specific with a couple of players before we move forward. Let’s take a look at some of the advanced statistics for defensemen thus far.

On Ice Corsi – Defensemen

Remember; Corsi is defined as on-Ice Shot Differential (goals + saves + missed shots + blocks). This is expressed as a rate stat per 60 minutes.

Pittsburgh:

1. Orpik: +9.58
2. Martin: +7.83
3. Niskanen: +7.44
4. Scuderi: +4.81
5. Bortuzzo: +4.36
6. Maatta: -4.73
7. Engelland: -16.49

(Note: Maatta’s numbers significantly dropped when Bortuzzo was removed from the lineup.)

Philadelphia:

1. Gustafsson: +15.31
2. Timonen: +10.57
3. Mezaros: -6.59
4. Streit: -7.43
5. Schenn: -11.95
6. Grossman: -15.01
7. Rosehill: -40.08

(Note: Timonen’s line seeing time with the Schenn/Simmonds line.)

The Flyers are having a hard time sustaining large spells of offensive pressure. Their play in the boards has struggled.

Conversely, the Penguins have locked down defensively and have found ways, especially the Crosby line, of extending time in the offensive zone.

This is a rivalry game. Claude Giroux mentioned this morning that this is the team’s chance to get the fans behind their back. Beating the Penguins could be what rights the ship a bit for the Philadelphia Flyers.

I’d bet money that the Penguins are aware of this. Emotions are going to be high tonight, but if there’s one thing the numbers tell is, it’s the Penguins are doing a pretty good job of not only putting the puck in the opposition’s net, they’re pretty good at keeping it out of their own as well.