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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
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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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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 2:50 PM

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

New look for two lines

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Whether he was trying out a new line or just trying to give the New Jersey Devils something to think about ahead of Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC), Flyers coach Peter Laviolette switched around a pair of lines at practice Saturday.

He broke up the productive trio of Danny Briere, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, giving Briere a new pair of wingers -- James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek. Schenn moved from left wing to center, where he was flanked by Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds.

Laviolette refused to comment on any line combinations, and even his players weren't sure what the plan for Sunday was.

"We'll see how it shakes out [Sunday]," van Riemsdyk said.

Briere told NHL.com recently how much he enjoys playing with Schenn because of their on-ice similarities, but said playing with van Riemsdyk and Voracek is also good.

"It doesn't really matter," he said. "I've played with pretty much everybody all year. long. For me it's not a big change."

Van Riemsdyk, who was held without a point or a shot in two games in the first round against the Penguins -- his first two since breaking his foot March 1 -- said nothing changes his approach to the game, no matter who his linemates are.

"I've played with pretty much everyone in the room here so you know what to expect a little bit playing with guys," he said. "You just do what you do best and hopefully it works well together."

The Flyers' other two lines remained the same as they were in the final two games of the Pittsburgh series -- Claude Giroux centering Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr, and Sean Couturier between Maxime Talbot and Eric Wellwood.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 2:31 PM

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

Grossmann unsure of Game 1 availability

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Saturday marked the second straight day Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann practiced with the full group, but his status for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) remains unknown.

Grossmann hasn't played since leaving Game 4 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period. In that game he sustained what the team is calling an upper-body injury but which at least one teammate called a concussion.

Grossmann skated Saturday with his usual defense partner, Braydon Coburn, and took part in all the drills.

"Nick's looked good," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's moving up and down the ice well."

Grossmann said it felt good to be back with the team, but said he's unsure if he'll be ready to play Sunday.

"I don't know at this point, we'll see," he told reporters. "It feels good to be on the ice. I haven't talked to the doctors yet. I don't want to make any conclusions yet. I feel better every day and try to take it a day at a time."

If Grossmann is able to play, it's likely veteran Pavel Kubina will be a healthy scratch. Kubina on Saturday was paired with Andrej Meszaros, who likely won't be available until the middle of the series at the earliest as he recovers from back surgery last month. Kubina sat out Game 1 of the first round but played the final five games after an injury to Marc-Andre Bourdon; however, he averaged just 10:33 per game of ice time, fewest among Philadelphia defenders.

Other defense pairings featured Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen, and Andreas Lilja with Erik Gustafsson.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 11:21 AM

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

Flyers juggle a pair of lines

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers have taken the ice for their final practice before their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils starts Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC).

The look was a bit different, as coach Peter Laviolette juggled two of his lines, splitting up the highly productive Danny Briere line. Briere was with James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek, while Brayden Schenn shifted back to the middle, flanked by Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read.

Whether those groups stay together for Game 1, however, remains to be seen.

The Flyers also had all eight defensemen on the ice, all wearing the same color jersey. Whether that means Nicklas Grossmann (upper-body injury) and/or Andrej Meszaros (back surgery) are ready for Game 1 remains unknown.

Here is how the rest of the Flyers' lineup looked in practice Saturday:

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

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

Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo skated as extra forwards. Andrej Meszaros and Pavel Kubina were the fourth defense pair.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 4:19 PM

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

Flyers focus on staying sharp

VOORHEES, N.J. -- For their first practice after eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers spent Tuesday skating.

Lots and lots of skating.

Coach Peter Laviolette put his players through a number of drills during the 60-minute session that focused on moving up and down the ice, transition play and puck movement. 

"I think it's real important to keep the guys out there and moving," Laviolette said. "It was really good. We didn't want them to think too much about systems today or what we may or may not be looking at or what we may or may not be doing. Just getting them up and down the ice. I thought it was a really good clip, 30 minutes up and down, was a great pace."

With the Flyers off for at least another few days while awaiting the start of the second round, Laviolette said he's going to use this time to let some players rest while keeping the group moving.

"I don't know the schedule, but we're looking somewhere on the weekend [to start the second round]," Laviolette said. "We still have time to prepare and go over things. I think an important thing right now is to keep moving. Keep breaking a sweat and move up and down the ice. These guys want to work, they want to run. I thought today was good."

The only healthy regulars missing from the workout were forward Danny Briere and defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who received treatment and worked out off the ice. Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, skated earlier in the morning with the extra players.

Of the players who did skate with the main group, one noticeable participant was defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who is recovering from back surgery performed last month. He wore a gray, non-contact jersey, and likely is at least another two weeks away from returning. However Laviolette said it was nice to see the big blueliner back with the main group.

"Really encouraged," Laviolette said when asked what he saw from Meszaros. "He's a big part of our team. Any time you get a player back, that starts practicing, that's a positive."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 1:46 PM

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

Meszaros, Grossmann on the ice for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Nicklas Grossmann were on the ice briefly Tuesday as they attempt to recover from their injuries.

Grossmann is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury that kept him out of the final two games of the Flyers' first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He skated with the team's extra players prior to the start of regular practice.

Meszaros is recovering from back surgery performed March 21. He skated with the extra players and also was on the ice briefly with the main group wearing a gray, non-contact jersey. It's the first time he's skated with the team since leaving the lineup March 1. The original prognosis was for him to miss 6-8 weeks.

All but two of the healthy players were on the ice for Tuesday's practice. Center Danny Briere and defenseman Kimmo Timonen were absent from the workout, which was heavy on conditioning.

In Briere's absence, the Flyers shuffled two of their four lines, with the top trio of Claude Giroux with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell staying intact, along with the line of Sean Couturier between Maxime Talbot and Eric Wellwood. The other lines saw Matt Read centering James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn between Zac Rinaldo and Jakub Voracek.

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






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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 12:06 PM

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

Teams not giving anything away in warm-ups

PHILADELPHIA -- Each team engaged in a bit of gamesmanship in pre-game warm-ups, skating 12 forwards and seven defensemen, leaving lineup questions unanswered.

For the Flyers, the only sure thing is defenseman Nicklas Grossmann will not play. He sustained an upper-body injury in Game 4 and sat out Game 5. He skated Saturday, but apparently wasn't feeling well enough from what teammate Claude Giroux called a concussion to play Sunday.

In Grossmann's place, the Flyers had rookies Erik Gustafsson -- who replaced Grossmann in the Game 5 lineup -- and Brandon Manning out for warm-ups.

The Penguins have dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards the last two games in the absence of Paul Martin (undisclosed injury), but Joe Vitale skated as the 12th forward, and remains a viable lineup option.

Here is what the lineups could look like when the teams hit the ice for Game 6 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (Noon ET, NBC, TSN):

PENGUINS
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen - Zbynek Michalek
Brian Strait - Deryk Engelland
Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

If Penguins coach Dan Bylsma elects to go back to 12 forwards and six defensemen, Joe Vitale would play on the fourth line with Tangradi and Adams.

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

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Andreas Lilja
Erik Gustafsson - Pavel Kubina

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Brandon Manning took pre-game warm-ups, and could potentially replace Gustafsson or Kubina on the third pair. The forward that would come out if Flyers coach Peter Laviolette elected to go with seven defensemen, however, is unknown.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 10:24 AM

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

Flyers' lineup likely stays the same for Game 6

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette declined to speak with the media because of the early start of Game 6 on Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN), so any lineup changes he might have planned won't be seen until the game starts.

However, it's doubtful the Flyers' lineup will look much different than the group that took the ice for Game 5. On Saturday, Laviolette was complimentary of the job James van Riemsdyk did in his return from a seven-week absence with a broken foot.

The only real change could be on defense, with the possibility of Nicklas Grossmann returning to the lineup. Grossmann sat out Game 5 with an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 4. Grossmann is listed as day-to-day by the team, but skated for a short time twice on Saturday. Whether that means he's healthy enough to play, however, is in question.

Here's the lineup the Flyers likely will have on the ice for Game 6:

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

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Andreas Lilja
Pavel Kubina - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

If Grossmann is able to play, he would return to his usual spot alongside Coburn. Timonen and Carle would form the second pair, and Kubina would play on the third pair with Lilja or Gustafsson.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 4:43 PM

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

In Bryz they trust

VOORHEES, N.J. -- After watching Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury steal Game 5 for his team, the Philadelphia Flyers would like to see their goaltender do the same thing in Game 6 on Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN).

"Give credit to their defense and Fleury played a great game in Pittsburgh," Scott Hartnell said. "We had to fight for opportunities and when we had them he was there to make the save. I think it's time for our defense and our goalie to win us a game."

Hartnell quickly added that he thought Bryzgalov was playing well, saying, "You need a goalie who can make those stops. Not that Bryz has played bad, but we'd love to win 1-0 and get a shutout and move on and get some rest and get some guys healthy."

Bryzgalov had a solid outing Game 5, stopping 20 of 23 shots in the 3-2 loss. It was a far cry from his poor performance in Game 4, when he allowed five goals on 18 shots and was pulled early in the second period.

The belief in the team is Bryzgalov can reach the same level as Fleury in Game 6.

"Bryz has made some great stops in the first few games," Hartnell said. "It's 3-0 [in Game 1] and it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 and they could have had that first game in their books. … We believe in Bryz, our organization believes in Bryz, and more importantly, the fans believe in Bryz. We're going to get it done."

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

I had one really not-good game. I came back to the hotel and he [his father] was on Skype. My mother called first and said, 'Your father wants to talk to you.' So he moved my mother away, and he yelled at me for like 30 seconds. I understood him, and then he said, 'I'm done.' And he was gone. The next game I got my first shutout.

— Anton Khudobin recalls a fond memory, explains why he was so sharp in the Hurricanes' 3-0 win against the Capitals on Friday
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