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Posted On Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:28 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Bryzgalov heads back into space

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Ilya Bryzgalov has been known to say a few … eccentric things in his time. Most hockey fans remember his curious statements on topics ranging from the size of the universe to his love of Siberian huskies.

However, the last few months have seen Bryzgalov keep his comments more mundane.

But like you can't predict the weather, you just can't predict what might come out of a goalie's mouth. After walking into the locker room following Flyers' practice, one reporter casually asked Bryzgalov what he would do for a living if he wasn't a professional hockey player.

After a pause, Bryzgalov replied, "Astronaut." He added that he was serious.

That sparked an impromptu discussion on the merits of the U.S. space program compared to the Russian/Soviet space program, as well as Bryzgalov's belief that the first two animals sent into space were Russian dogs.

Bryzgalov also had an opinion on sending monkeys into space.

"The problem with monkeys," Bryzgalov said, "is they push the wrong buttons."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


Posted On Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Faceoffs, entries Flyers' keys to improved power play

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers' power play, so dominant in the first round, has been firing blanks in the first two games in the second round against the New Jersey Devils.

They went 0-for-5 in their 4-1 loss in Game 2, with just one shot on goal. In two games, they're just 1-for-11.

One reason given for the struggles was problems in the faceoff circle. In Game 2, Claude Giroux went just 1-5 on power-play draws, and Danny Briere went 0-3. Losing faceoffs means losing possession, but lost faceoffs on power plays results in extra time draining off the clock and wasted opportunities.

"Obviously the power play starts with the faceoff," Giroux said. "I wasn't able to do that last game. We did a lot of bad things last game."

Another reason was the Devils varying the way they attacked the Flyers' extra-man units.

"There's times when they're aggressive and then there's times when they're passive," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We did have possession and we didn't find shooting lanes, but they did back off at times when we did have possession. So they mix it up a bit."

Scott Hartnell said the best way to counter that is to change the way they bring the puck into the zone.

"I think they're up-ice when we're trying to break in, kind of giving us some grief, we have to put it on the wall and they attack us with three guys coming on you," he said, "And it's on me, it's on [Claude] Giroux and they take away Kimmo [Timonen], and that's the side we want to set up on. We're going to have to do a better job of entries, setting the puck up. When we had a set-up moving around, they gave us time to make plays. It's that initial break-in. We have to get things set up and get it up top and get pucks on net."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


 

Posted On Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:04 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers focus on picking up the pace

VOORHEES, N.J. -- A day after generating just 20 shots -- including two in the second period -- in their Game 2 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers went through an up-tempo practice Wednesday that was based on skating and quick puck movement.

"We worked on some things that we wanted to do," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Practice today was good. Guys were out there, we broke a sweat, we did what we wanted to do, we had some meetings. And that's what you do on off-days, you try to move past what happened the day before, good or bad, and focus on the next one."

If resetting the focus was the goal, the players certainly felt like it was accomplished.

"We wanted to regroup and it seemed like we didn't have our legs [in Game 2]," Scott Hartnell said. "Just got our legs moving. So it was good."

They certainly didn't appear to have their legs in Game 2, which was the reason they lost 4-1 and head to Newark for Game 3 on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) tied in the series.

"They just out-skated us," Jakub Voracek told NHL.com. "They were faster on the pucks, they won more battles than us. I think that's what made the difference in the game."

"They played great," Hartnell said. "They were playing great offense and we couldn't get out of our end -- not for shifts at a time but for periods at a time. It was … I don't think it was our best effort. We lost a lot of battles. Our compete level wasn't there. It's going to have to be a lot better if we want to stay in this series."

The game was similar to the one the Flyers played in Game 4 of the first round against the Penguins, when they cited a lack of skating and competitiveness for their 10-3 loss at Wells Fargo Center. After that game, Claude Giroux vowed a performance like that would not happen again, especially not at home.

That it did left him frustrated, but eager to get back on the ice for Game 3.

"In the playoffs it's the team that puts games behind them and goes forward from there and motivates themselves to be better next game," he said. "I think we're a team like that. We've got a lot of character in this room. Guys who want to win, guys who hate to lose. It's going to be a fun game [Thursday]."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 12:28 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers hope rust is gone, seek better start

VOORHEES, N.J. -- With the rust from their seven-day layoff fully scraped away, the Flyers are focused on turning the 40-plus solid minutes they played in Game 1 into a full, 60-minute effort in Game 2 of their conference semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"We're hoping that whatever intensity was missing in the first period, it won't take us as long to get going [in Game 2]," Danny Briere said. "Knowing them, knowing their team a little bit more, knowing what to expect a little bit more, should prepare us better. But we keep talking about our starts and it always seems to be the problem. I'm hoping, once again, that we'll be ready to go."

First periods have been an issue seemingly all season for the Flyers, and it's carried into the playoffs, as they've allowed the first goal four times in seven playoff games.

"We weren't happy with the way we started Game 1, [but] that's past us," Kimmo Timonen said. "Now we can only focus on Game 2 and make sure we get a better start. They really came at us in the first period and they … if you look at their game they usually do that in the first period, they really start well in the first period. We've got to be ready today. Sometimes you can lose a game in the first period, and we don't want to do that."

Coach Peter Laviolette said a better start once again has been the message to his team, but he can only hope that's what happens when the puck drops Tuesday.

"The start obviously we talked about and we have to be better in that regard," he said. "Nobody's happy with that. I don't have a crystal ball, but certainly that's the intention, to go out and play a complete 60-minute game."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


 


Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 11:56 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers say Kovalchuk's absence changes nothing

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers remember quite well what happened the last time the opposition lost a key offensive piece -- or at least, they'd like to forget.

So they know that just because Ilya Kovalchuk won't be in the lineup for the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the teams' Eastern Conference Semifinal series Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC), they can't allow anything to change in the way they approach the game.

"It seems that you always have different guys stepping up," Danny Briere said, "and even more when you have a star player out of the lineup, everyone can rally around that. So that's just as dangerous. We saw it in the first round. James Neal was suspended for that one game, and what was the score of that game?"

That was Game 4, when the Penguins routed the Flyers 10-3.

"That's why it's dangerous," Briere said. "We can't look at it that way [like it's easier now]. We have to play the same way whether he's in or out of the lineup."

Kimmo Timonen said it doesn't really matter who is in the Devils' lineup, because he and his teammates have to focus on what they're doing, rather than what the opposition is doing.

"The focus should be on us, not them," he said. "They're a good team anyway. If he's in or out, it doesn't matter to us. We have to focus on our game and make sure we play our game and we do our job."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK



Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 10:50 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Projected Game 2 lineup for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- It was almost full attendance for the Philadelphia Flyers at their morning skate Tuesday, as the team got ready for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

The only player missing was forward James van Riemsdyk, who played a major role in the Flyers' win in Game 1, with a goal, three shots on net and a screen on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur that allowed Danny Briere's game-winning goal to get through.

It was van Riemsdyk's third game back after missing nearly seven weeks with a broken foot, but a Flyers official told NHL.com that van Riemsdyk will be in the lineup when the puck drops.

Zac Rinaldo skated in van Riemsdyk's usual spot at the morning skate, but here's how the lineup likely will look when the game starts:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Matt Carle - Kimmo Timonen
Andreas Lilja - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Pavel Kubina and Andrej Meszaros skated as a fourth defense pair, but neither likely will play -- Meszaros is still working his way back after back surgery in March, while Kubina will be a healthy scratch.

Rinaldo and Jody Shelley also will be healthy scratches.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 3:28 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Jagr's playoff beard talk of Flyers locker room


VOORHEES, N.J. -- When Jaromir Jagr was a young scoring star with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he earned the nickname "Mario Jr," as a credit to his teammate, Mario Lemieux, and as an anagram for his first name.

Now in the latter stages of his career, Jagr might have a new nickname -- Patches.

Now a grizzled, 40-year-old veteran, Jagr is growing a playoff beard -- of sorts.

"Just wanted to shave all the gray [hair] and that's what happened," Jagr said of a beard that appears sporadically around the lower half of his face. "I don't want to dye it."

"Patches," Danny Briere told NHL.com. "It looked like patches. I don't know what's going on there. I don't talk to him about it."
Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 3:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Briere once again 'Mr Clutch' for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- A day after scoring the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Flyers' Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils, a few interesting statistics emerged regarding Daniel Briere.

Among them was it was his 36th playoff goal in six seasons in Philadelphia. As a comparison, the Sabres, Briere's former team, as a whole have scored just 33 goals in that same time span.

Briere told NHL.com he didn't put a whole lot of stock in that number, however impressive it may be.

"It's a fluky thing and it's I think the proof of whenever you have a good team around you, good teammates around you, a lot of good things will happen," he said. "I've been fortunate to be around good teams that have had long playoff runs. That's mainly the reason why."

Briere's two goals Sunday were his sixth and seventh of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, tying him with teammate Claude Giroux for the League lead. He now has 106 points in 104 career playoff games, including 69 points in 64 games with the Flyers.

"He's a great player," linemate Jakub Voracek said. "Everyone knows that since the playoffs started he's lighting it up and that's exactly what he's doing right now. He's been clutch in a lot of games."

Briere said one reason he's able to perform at such a high level in the playoffs is because he treats every game like it could be his last.

"My first six or seven years in the League I had only played six playoff games," he told NHL.com. "As a kid growing up you always dream of scoring the big goals and playing in those high-intensity games where there's no tomorrow. And now I have that chance. I don't know how long it's going to last. This could be my last run, I don't know. I was thinking the same thing a couple years ago. Just had the same mindset, the same mentality -- it could be my last playoff run. I don't know how long it's going to last but I try to enjoy it as much as possible while it's here."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Sunday, 04.29.2012 / 1:19 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers hope week off did them some good

PHILADELPHIA -- After a week away from the intensity of a Stanley Cup Playoff game, the Philadelphia Flyers will return to the ice Sunday against the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

During their seven-day layoff, the Flyers practiced all but one day, as coach Peter Laviolette did his best to keep his team active.

"We tried to work on things we needed to work on," Laviolette told NHL.com. "Spend a lot of time on the power play, systems, skating. We didn't take any days off; we just kept pushing forward. We got a little bit healthier. We're hoping that we can take the rest and the time that we had off and put it to good use and be ready at the start of the hockey game."

Whether that health extends to defenseman Nicklas Grossmann remains to be seen. Grossmann sat out Games 5 and 6 of the first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with an upper-body injury that one teammate called a concussion. However, Grossmann skated with the full group at practice Friday and Saturday, and went through drills with Braydon Coburn, his regular defense partner.

Laviolette, as is his rule, refused to address injury or lineup questions. If Grossmann does play, it's believed Pavel Kubina would be a healthy scratch, with rookie Erik Gustafsson, who had a goal and a team-high seven blocked shots in Game 6 against the Pens, staying in.

With the early start time here at Wells Fargo Center, the team did not have a morning skate. Here is the way the Flyers' lines looked at practice Saturday; whether those lines and pairings carry into the game, however, won't be known until the puck drops

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Andreas Lilja - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Forwards Zac Rinaldo and Jody Shelley will be healthy scratches. If Grossmann can't play, Pavel Kubina would return to the lineup. Kubina was a healthy scratch in Game 1 against the Penguins. He returned to the lineup for the final five games after Marc-Andre Bourdon was injured, but averaged just 10:35 of ice time per game, the fewest of any Philadelphia blueliner.

In four games against the Devils in the regular season, Bryzgalov was 3-0-0 with a 0.29 goals-against average and .987 save percentage -- he allowed one goal on 76 shots.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 3:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers get a special visitor at practice


VOORHEES, N.J. -- With his team in town to play the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster couldn't pass up a chance to visit a few friends on the Flyers.

Dempster and Flyers center Danny Briere have been friends for a number of years, having been introduced by Todd Simpson, a teammate of Briere's when he played with the Phoenix Coyotes.

"Any chance during the season I get to watch a buddy of mine practice, it's exciting for me," Dempster said. "I'm a big hockey fan. It's fun to see these guys prepare for a big game [Sunday]."

Dempster, who turns 35 next week, was born in Sechelt, B.C., about two hours northwest of Vancouver.

"I was a Canucks fan, and my team in the East was the Flyers," he said. "I was a big Pelle Lindbergh fan. I don't know why, but I took to the goalies. Just remember watching him and watching the Flyers in the late 80s with [Ron] Hextall and stuff like that. Lots of good memories."

Dempster's time on the ice is limited to the offseason, but he said he's keeping track of the playoffs.

"Any time I can get to a hockey game it's awesome," he said. "To be able to get out there and watch a game, it's something I admire, never having the skill to do it. I kind of skate like Happy Gilmore. It's nice to sit there and watch these guys. I have so much admiration for what they can do on the ice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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