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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 11:15 AM

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

Briere delivers for young hockey player

The Stanley Cup Playoffs seem to be motivation enough for Danny Briere, who scored the 50th goal of his playoff career in just his 106th game in Game 3 of the Flyers' Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
 
After the game, Briere told RDS reporter Renaud Lavoie that he wanted to send a message to a friend of his -- 11-year-old Michael Pageau of Gatineau, Que. Pageau had spent 14 hours in surgery on Monday at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa as doctors attempted to remove a large brain tumor.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 3:06 PM

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

Meszaros still working his way back

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Andrej Meszaros said Saturday's practice was the hardest he's worked since having back surgery March 21. But, he remains unsure if the next step for him is a return to the lineup.
 
"It's a long process," Meszaros said. "It's getting better day by day, but every day is different."
 
Meszaros hasn't played since March 1, and had surgery to remove a disc fragment that was impinging on a nerve root. The original prognosis was a 6-8 week recovery; May 2 was the six-week mark.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:50 PM

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

Flyers don't think Giroux is pressing

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 15
SOG: 35 | +/-: 3
VOORHEES, N.J. -- After the Flyers beat the Penguins in Game 6 of the first round, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette started a response of Claude Giroux demanding to start the game, "When the best player in the world comes up to you …"
 
The moniker was picked up on by fans and hockey experts throughout North America, with few disagreeing.
 
But as dominant as Giroux was in the first round, he's been mostly quiet through the first three games of the conference semifinal against New Jersey. He has just one goal -- a power-play goal in Game 1 -- and is a minus-3 with seven shots, and he's winning just 47.8 percent of his faceoffs. 
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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Flyers trying to get emotionally invested in series

VOORHEES, N.J. -- In the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers had no trouble getting emotionally invested in that series from the first puck drop in Game 1, and it seemed to play a large role in their six-game series win.

Reaching that same level through the first three games against the New Jersey Devils in the conference semifinals has been far tougher.

"Of course we hate them," defenseman Andreas Lilja told NHL.com. "You have to hate them, we play them almost every night. We have to get more emotions involved."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 12:27 PM

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

Flyers juggle lines at practice

VOORHEES, N.J . -- Following a few line changes in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette unveiled four new lines at practice Saturday, a day before Game 4 on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Danny Briere was centering Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek, while Claude Giroux was with James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds. Brayden Schenn centered Matt Read and Jaromir Jagr, while Maxime Talbot was between Zac Rinaldo and Eric Wellwood.

Putting Hartnell back with Briere could be what Hartnell needs to get on track -- he has just one even-strength point in nine playoff games. When Hartnell and Briere were together in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hartnell had 17 points in 23 games and the Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

Rinaldo could make his series debut in Game 4 in place of rookie Sean Couturier, who suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Game 3 when he got tangled along the boards with the Devils' David Clarkson. According to RDS, Couturier skated on his own in a track suit for less than five minutes about an hour before the full team hit the ice.

Another change could come on defense, with Andrej Meszaros possibly returning to the lineup for the first time since March 1. Meszaros had back surgery on March 21, and for the first time was paired with one of the team's regular defenders, Andreas Lilja. The initial prognosis after surgery for Meszaros was 6-8 weeks, and May 2 was six weeks.

If Meszaros comes in, it's likely rookie Erik Gustafsson could sit. Gustafsson on Saturday skated with Pavel Kubina, who has been a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs.

Here is how the Flyers' lineup could look for Game 4:

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

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

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

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Posted On Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 5:51 PM

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

Laviolette expects better effort in Game 3

NEWARK, N.J. -- After a Game 2 that saw them manage just 20 shots on net -- including just two in the second period -- Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he expects a better effort from his team in Game 3 on Thursday night -- not just because he's demanding it, but because that outing was a shot to their pride.

"I don't think anybody likes not playing their game," he said. "We're looking to right some wrongs. We didn't have a good effort; the guys know that. [Thursday] is a crack at playing a better hockey game."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said earlier in the week that he thought the pressure in the series was on the Flyers as the higher seed. However, Laviolette called that opinion "irrelevant."

"Who somebody says the pressure is on is irrelevant," he said. "New Jersey has a good team, the Flyers have a good team. It's 1-1 in the series. The team who plays the best on the ice has the best chance of winning the hockey game.

"I'd like to think that our strides are more meaningful tonight. … Nobody wants to go down 2-1 in this series."

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

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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


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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


 

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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


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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


 


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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday