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Posted On Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 5:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Dumba to captain Canada's World U-18 team

Red Deer's Mathew Dumba has been named captain of Canada's team for the World Under-18 Championship, which starts Thursday.

Dumba is No. 11 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft. Dumba captained Canada's summer U-18 team to a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

Windsor forward Kerby Rychel (2013 draft eligible) and Erie defenseman Adam Pelech (No. 120) were named alternate captains.

"All three players have tremendous leadership qualities," Canada coach Jesse Wallin -- also Dumba's coach in Red Deer -- said. "They have all shown a presence around the team and are respected by their teammates. We are pleased with our leadership group."

Canada opens round-robin play Thursday against Denmark. They're in Group A, along with Denmark, the Czech Republic, Finland and the U.S. Group B consists of Germany, Latvia, Russia, Switzerland and Sweden.

The tournament runs April 12-22 in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic. Canada finished fourth at last year's tournament.

Some of the top players for the 2012 draft will take part in the tournament. Check out some of the talent filling out the rosters for Finland, Canada, the U.S., Sweden and Russia.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 2:18 PM

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

Flyers have decision to make on defense

VOORHEES, N.J. -- One of the more interesting lineup decisions for Flyers coach Peter Laviolette could come in his third defense pairing.

For the second straight day at practice, Andreas Lilja and rookie Marc-Andre Bourdon formed the third pairing, while Pavel Kubina -- acquired from Tampa Bay in February to bolster the back end -- skated as the extra blueliner.

Kubina had just four assists in 17 games with the Flyers, and missed two weeks in March with what the team called an upper-body injury. In 10 games back since the injury, he has two assists, a minus-3 rating and has looked easy to push off the puck.

"Pavel has been really good," Laviolette said. "He's been a welcome addition to our back end."

Bourdon has been a pleasant surprise this season, with four goals in 45 games and a good level of physical play for his 6-foot, 206-pound frame. Lilja also brings size and physicality, but played just 46 games due to injury and being a healthy scratch 26 times.

Laviolette wasn't going to discuss his lineup, which at Tuesday's practice saw Braydon Coburn paired with Nicklas Grossmann -- likely to play in Game 1 after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury -- and Kimmo Timonen with Matt Carle.

"We're fortunate to get some health now so we've got good defensemen available for the playoffs," Laviolette said.

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



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Posted On Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 2:02 PM

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

Flyers put youth up against Penguins' experience

VOORHEES, N.J. -- No team got a bigger contribution from its rookies in the 2011-12 season than the Philadelphia Flyers.

They got a League-high 64 goals from their rookies, and with as many as six first-year players expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, their play will be pivotal for Philadelphia.

How those young players react in the crucible of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be so important because of the Penguins' advantage in experience -- 11 players expected to be in the Game 1 lineup for Pittsburgh were part of the team that won the 2009 Stanley Cup.

While many would think that playoff knowledge would give the Pens a major advantage, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he isn't so sure.

"That's one I don't have an answer for," he said. "If you're asking me if I like our team and if I like our young players that we've had and that we've had in place all year and if they've answered the bell every time we've asked them to answer a bell, I have. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in this group. And I guess the guys, to answer your question, the guys that don't have the playoff experience, we really like them as players. They've done a terrific job all year.

"How does that compare to [the Penguins]? I'm not sure. I'm not sure if matters. We're going to go in there and we expect to play a good hockey team and we expect to win."

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


 
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 3:45 PM

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

Flyers getting healthy at the right time

Danny Briere wasn't allowed to say as much, but after a full practice, it appears likely he'll be able to play when the Philadelphia Flyers open the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN).

"To be honest, I'm not allowed to speak on any injuries or the roster or if I'm going to play or not," Briere said following the team's workout at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. "All I can tell you is -- and you saw it -- I'm practicing and working to get ready. That's all I’m allowed to say at this point."

Briere missed the final three games of the regular season with a back contusion that he said was causing spasms. The injury came on a hit by the Penguins' Joe Vitale in the third period of the teams' April 1 game.

Getting a healthy Briere in the lineup would be a huge advantage for the Flyers. Briere had seven goals in 11 playoff games last season, and has 19 goals and 39 points in his last 34 playoff games.

"It's the best time of the year," said Briere. "There's nothing like playoff hockey. It's kind of the time that we're all waiting for. It's one thing you work hard all season to get in the playoffs, but this is another level."

Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, also injured on a Vitale hit in that April 1 game with the Penguins, said he will be in the lineup for Game 1. He collided with Vitale in the first period of that game and suffered what the team called a lower-body injury. Grossmann was seen with a brace on his right knee last week, matching the one he wears on his left knee.

Like Briere, he sat out the final three regular-season games, but told reporters following Monday's practice that he'll be ready to go Wednesday.

"I've done this before, so hopefully, it won't be a problem," Grossman said of playing with two braces. "It's just getting used to it. This was a good day. It was nice to get out with the boys. I've been skating. I'm ready. I feel good."
 
Grossmann said he didn't feel the braces would change how he plays, or limit his mobility.
 
"No, it doesn't change," he said. "You can't go out and think about stuff like that or it won't make you successful. You just got to keep playing the game and do things you can contribute."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelamn@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 10:49 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Broken foot would have kept Myers out of first round

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers revealed Monday he has a broken foot and would not have been able to play in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs if the team had gotten there.

As the players cleaned out their lockers for the final time, Myers revealed the full extent of his injury, which kept him out of the final four games of the regular season. The Sabres went 1-2-1 without him, and had their playoff hopes ended in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in second-to-last game of the season.

Injuries limited Myers to just eight goals and 15 assists in 55 games this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.06.2012 / 2:26 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

No Toews for Hawks' season finale

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told reporters Friday he will not play in Saturday's regular-season finale against the Detroit Red Wings (1 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN2).

Toews will miss his 22nd consecutive game Saturday due to a concussion. He last played Feb. 19, and the Hawks are 12-5-4 in his absence.

He did not mention his status for the start of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks go into the season's final day sixth in the Western Conference, but with a regulation win Saturday could move into fifth place by virtue of winning the season series with the Red Wings.

The Hawks also will be without forwards Andrew Brunette and Dave Bolland for Saturday's game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 5:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flyers focused on better starts

PHILADELPHIA -- Having fallen behind 2-0 in seven of their last 10 games, it's pretty obvious the Philadelphia Flyers need to be better at the start.

"I don't think we started well in the last two games," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It hasn't been good. Tonight we'll get a team that probably wants to rip the door off the hinges in Buffalo. Our energy and execution and what we do has got to be spot-on from the time the puck drops. After the first period is over, regardless of what happens, the game's not over, so make sure we're ready for 60 minutes."

Considering the Sabres are desperate for points to keep their hopes alive for making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Laviolette hopes his team won't have any trouble finding the energy to keep up with the opposition.

"There's never anything easy here, never anything that should be a question as to whether or not you're going to have to work hard or try hard or give a good performance," Laviolette said. "You have to be ready to play. If you're not, you'll probably lose a game."

Laviolette added he was happy with how goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov came through Tuesday's game and said he'll be back in the net Thursday.

"I think it was good to get him back in there," he said. "He was out for a bit and off the ice for a few days. To get back in there and get work, I think that's a positive thing. He got sharper as the game went on. This is just more work for him to get back in and get going for the playoffs."

And while the Sabres clearly need the wins just to get into the playoffs, the Flyers also could use two wins to close the season. If they beat the Sabres and the Penguins lose in any form to the Rangers, their game Saturday would be for fourth place in the conference and home-ice advantage in the first-round series between the teams. Just getting a point, however, would mean they could finish no worse than fifth in the conference.

"We've talked all along about collecting points and making sure we're ready to play," Laviolette said. "A lot is still at stake for us. Points are important."

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




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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 1:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Matching set of knee braces for Flyers' Grossmann

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann wasn't on the ice with the team Thursday at its morning skate due to a knee injury, but he's still hopeful to be back on the ice when the Stanley Cup Playoffs start next week.

Grossmann was hurt in the first period of Sunday's game with the Penguins when he collided with Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale. He hasn't been on the ice since, and on Thursday was walking around with a brace on his right knee, to match the one he's been wearing on his left.

"I'm pretty used to it, but yeah, we'll see how that [two braces] goes," Grossmann told reporters following the Flyers' practice Thursday at their practice site in Voorhees, N.J. "Me and Forrest Gump."

Grossmann won't play Thursday against the Sabres and is doubtful for Saturday's rematch with the Penguins (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN). While it would be nice to get a game in before the playoffs start, Grossmann isn't too concerned.

"It's always nice, but I'd rather be healthy [for the playoffs] and come back and play," he said. "We'll see. Taking it day-by-day and progressing as much as possible."

With center Danny Briere (back) also out against the Sabres, here's the lineup the Flyers likely will use Thursday against the Sabres:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Matt Read - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Jody Shelley - Eric Wellwood - Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Pavel Kubina
Andreas Lilja - Marc-Andre Bourdon

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on  Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 11:46 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sabres stick with same lineup vs. Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Buffalo Sabres had an optional skate Thursday morning here at Wells Fargo Center. Most of the healthy players were on the ice, with the notable exception of forwards Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy, and goaltender Ryan Miller.

Jhonas Enroth was the only goaltender on the ice.

It's the Sabres' first visit to Philadelphia since Feb. 16, when they suffered one of their worst losses of the season, a 7-2 defeat that saw the Flyers score the game's final seven goals.

However, since then the Sabres are 15-4-4, which has put them right in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A win against the Flyers and a Capitals regulation loss to the Panthers would boost the Sabres into the eighth spot.

Here is the lineup the Sabres likely will put out against the Flyers when the teams meet Thursday in a crucial game for Buffalo. It's the same lineup the team used in Tuesday's 6-5 overtime win against the Maple Leafs.

Marcus Foligno - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Corey Tropp - Cody Hodgson - Thomas Vanek
Nathan Gerbe - Cody McCormick - Patrick Kaleta

Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Brayden McNabb - Alexander Sulzer
Andrej Sekera - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Forward Brad Boyes and defenseman TJ Brennan will be the scratches, along with injured defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (knee) and Tyler Myers (foot). Forward Matt Ellis has been cleared to play following a knee injury that's kept him out since March 10, but will not dress Thursday.

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

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 2:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sabres lose Myers for last two games

The Buffalo Sabres' road to the Stanley Cup Playoffs just got a bit harder with the news that top defenseman Tyler Myers will be out for the team's final two games with what coach Lindy Ruff called a "bad foot."

"He won't be on the trip," Ruff told reporters Wednesday. "Tyler's out. It'll be a period of time. What time frame that is? It's more than just this week."

Myers already has missed two games with the injury, and Buffalo already is without blueliner Christian Ehrhoff with a knee injury, leaving the Sabres shorthanded defensively at the most critical time of the season.

The other blueliners have been forced to play expanded roles, part of which could be the reason the Sabres have allowed 14 goals in three games without Myers and Ehrhoff.

They'll need to tighten up defensively Thursday against the Flyers, a team that beat them 7-2 the last time they played, on Feb. 16. The Sabres need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“We went through that game [Tuesday's 6-5 overtime win against the Maple Leafs], we went through the first period, went through the chances, and emphasized the importance of staying inside some of the mistakes we made," said Ruff. "Some of it was lack of communication. Some of it was the coverage. But we do have to tighten up, there's no secret. That's on myself and my staff to make sure that we tighten up those areas so it's not a game where you give 16 or 17 [chances]. We've got to get it back to the norm, which is somewhere around 10 or 11, in that area. And not give up the high quality.

"We worked hard on that [Wednesday] morning, went through that with the players. We understand that we know how to play, and we know how to play in our own end. It should be an easier fix. Some of it is adapting to the players we have in. Some of it is just system related."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres