PITTSBURGH -- Some NHL rivalries evolve from a big game, a major trade or a short-lived scuffle, then fade after a few years.
Not the Philadelphia Flyers against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This rivalry is real, perpetual, and, mostly, downright nasty.
Evolving from state lines and bloodlines -- and it's mostly bad blood -- it's been one of the league's most heated since the teams were born in 1967. Now, for the first time, it will decide a Stanley Cup finalist as the Pennsylvania teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals beginning tonight.
Never miss a local story.
"All the games (during the season) were heated and now we go into the conference finals and I'm expecting it to be heated again, and even more," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said.
Only Timonen won't be part of it. He is expected to miss the series with a blood clot in his left ankle that developed during the second-round series against Montreal, a major setback for the Flyers.
Timonen is their most skilled defenseman and was expected to be matched against Pittsburgh leading scorer Evgeni Malkin's line.
Mimicking their locations in diametric corners of one of the East Coast's biggest states, the teams are polar opposites, which makes the talented Timonen's absence all the more significant.
The Penguins, much like the days when Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr were the team's big names, are flash and dash, speed and flair with scoring stars Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa. They've won eight of nine in the playoffs and all five home games, a relatively easy start for a youthful team whose three biggest stars, including goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, are 23 or younger.
The Flyers, while possessing multiple scoring lines like Pittsburgh, are rightful descendants of the franchise's fabled Broad Street Bullies, winning through toughness and intimidation.
Asked when the rivalry might kick in again, Penguins forward Ryan Malone said, "Probably right when the puck drops (tonight), I think."
RED WINGS 4, STARS 1, at Detroit -- Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski and Tomas Holmstrom scored power-play goals for Detroit, which coasted past Dallas in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Game 2 is Saturday at Joe Louis Arena, where Stars goalie Marty Turco is 0-8-2 in his career.