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Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 1:36 PM

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

Credit Holmgren for Flyers' prolific top line

PHILADELPHIA -- It's been a long time since Paul Holmgren was behind an NHL coach, but the Philadelphia Flyers' GM apparently still has a good eye for line combinations.

Five months ago today -- Oct. 22, 2011, in a game against the St. Louis Blues -- was the first time Scott Hartnell started on a line with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.

Coach Peter Laviolette credited that particular line change to Holmgren.

"We were talking and Paul had suggested it," Laviolette said. "We looked at it and gave Scott an opportunity."

Hartnell had been floundering and even spent time on the fourth line when he received the promotion.

"He was going through a time where he had had a tough start due to injury and couldn't train at the end of the summer and even in training camp like he wanted to," Laviolette said. "To his credit, he put in a lot of extra time to get himself in great shape, and I think playing with Claude really helped him. From there the confidence just continued to grow. Their line has become a really good line for us. It's been together the entire year because they've been productive."

Giroux was an All-Star and is in the race for the Hart Trophy and scoring title, and Jagr has been tremendous in his return to the NHL, but it's Hartnell who has been the biggest beneficiary of the line change.

Hartnell is having by far his best NHL season, as he's posted career highs in goals (35), points (64) and power-play goals (a League-best 15), and played in his first NHL All-Star Game.

"You always think about who you're playing with before or last year," Hartnell told NHL.com. "I've had some great linemates since I've been in Philadelphia, and Nashville, too, (but) these two guys can do things with the puck that most people can't. I'm pretty fortunate to be in the spot I am."

While most have forgotten about the early struggles Hartnell had, he certainly hasn't, and that allows him to appreciate his situation even more.

"That's one thing I try to put in my head," Hartnell said. "The first few games you might not score a goal or might not score a point, the coaches could change it up the next game and you're with someone else. I've tried to come every practice, every game, to work hard and keep up with them."

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




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Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 1:08 PM

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

Rinaldo credits Dale Hunter for his success

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo had a pretty simple answer when asked his opinion of Dale Hunter: "I'm not the player I am today if it wasn't for Dale Hunter."

Rinaldo played for Hunter with the London Knights for parts of two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10), and had no problem crediting Hunter for his rise to the NHL.

Rinaldo had 12 goals, 20 assists and 237 penalty minutes in 56 games playing with Hunter.

"Dale lets his players play hockey," Rinaldo told NHL.com. "If you come to the rink prepared to play and he sees you're working hard, you'll get the ice time."

Hunter told NHL.com he was happy to see Rinaldo emerge as a full-time NHL player this season. In 57 games, he has 2 goals, 6 assists and is second in the League with 190 penalty minutes. Beyond that, however, he's emerged as a useful fourth-line checking forward who supplies speed and energy on the forecheck.

"You can see he's an aggressive kid," Hunter said. "He cares about winning and losing, and he's got the fire in the belly. … You try to corral it, without taking penalties and stuff. He's been doing a good job of it. He playing against top lines, he's learning his defensive responsibilities. He's a great kid, got a great personality. He just wants to play hockey. He's a hockey player."

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

 

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Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 12:50 PM

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

Semin to be game-time decision for Capitals

PHILADELPHIA -- Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter said forward Alexander Semin will be a game-time decision for Thursday's game here against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Semin did not practice Wednesday and skipped this morning's skate, which was an optional practice. Team captain Alex Ovechkin and defenseman Dennis Wideman also opted to skip the practice.

"He's still on maintenance right now," Hunter said.

Hunter said Semin would skate in the pre-game warm-ups, after which he'll decide if the forward will play or not.

If Semin does play, it looks like Joel Ward will be a healthy scratch, although Hunter would not reveal what his lineup would look like.

Assuming Semin plays, here is what the Capitals likely will put on the ice tonight:

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Marcus Johansson - Keith Aucoin - Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Mike Knuble
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Jeff Halpern

Karl Alzner - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - John Carlson
Mike Green - Roman Hamrlik

Hunter wouldn't reveal who his starting goaltender would be, but it's likely Braden Holtby will receive his second straight start. He stopped 30 of 33 shots in Monday's 5-3 win in Detroit. Michael Neuvirth will be the backup.

Ward and defensemen John Erskine and Dmitry Orlov likely will be healthy scratches.

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


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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 12:06 PM

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

Letang in lineup for Penguins

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will play today against the Philadelphia Flyers (12:30 p.m., NBC).
 
Saturday was Letang's second game back after missing more than two weeks with a recurrence of concussion-like symptoms, and in the third period he took a hard hit from New Jersey's Eric Boulton. However, it appears he's healthy enough to be in the lineup today.
 
Also expected to play is forward Arron Asham, who sat out Saturday with what Dan Bylsma called an illness.
 
Bylsma also said Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net against the Flyers.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 11:43 AM

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

Talbot, Lilja out for Flyers against Penguins

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will be shorthanded when they play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins today (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC).
 
Forward Maxime Talbot and defenseman Andreas Lilja both will be out of the lineup because of injuries sustained during a game Saturday against the Boston Bruins.
 
Talbot is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, believed to have occurred during his second-period fight with the Bruins' Johnny Boychuk. Jody Shelley, the only extra forward on the roster, will play for the first time in four games.
 
Lilja sustained a throat injury when he was hit in the neck by a puck during the first period.
 
To replace Lilja in the lineup, the Flyers recalled defenseman Brandon Manning from Adirondack of the American Hockey League. In three games earlier this month, the 21-year-old had no points, a plus-two rating and four shots on goal.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 6:54 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flyers and Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Everyone will be watching Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who will look to extend his shutout streak beyond the 196:13 he carries with him into Thursday's game here against the New York Islanders.

Bryzgalov is just 31:27 shy of John Vanbiesbrouck's Flyers record of 227:40, set in October 1999.

One player standing in his way will be Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau, who returns after missing Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury.

Here are the projected lineups both teams will use when the puck drops here at Nassau Coliseum:

FLYERS

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr

Eric Wellwood - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot - Zac Rinaldo

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann

Matt Carle - Kimmo Timonen

Erik Gustafsson - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov will be in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky the backup. Bryzgalov tied Vanbiesbrouck's club record with his third straight shutout in his last start, a 17-save, 3-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - P.A. Parenteau

David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Nino Niederreiter

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Jay Pandolfo

Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald

Mark Streit - Steve Staios

Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal, with Al Montoya as the backup.

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

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 1:41 PM

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

Devils' lineup will be game-time decision

Devils coach Peter DeBoer told The (Bergen) Record he hadn't decided on his lineup for the game Tuesday, and that all 13 forwards would skate in the pre-game warm-ups.
 
That means Steve Bernier, a healthy scratch Sunday when the teams played at the Prudential Center, could get back in the lineup.
 
"We're dealing with some bumps and bruises and we'll see," DeBoer said following the team's morning skate at Wells Fargo Center.
 
However, DeBoer also could opt to keep Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen in the lineup to match the Flyers' physicality. He liked the way that part of the game went in a 4-1 win Sunday. He said he expects to see an equally as physical game Tuesday.
 
"They always do," DeBoer said of the Flyers playing physical. "They're at home and that's what they do. We expect that."
 
Here's the projected lineup the Devils for tonight:
 
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus - Petr Sykora
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier/Cam Janssen
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Marek Zidlicky - Anton Volchenkov
Adam Larsson - Bryce Salvador
 
Martin Brodeur will be in goal, with Johan Hedberg the backup.

Defenseman Matt Taormina will be a healthy scratch.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 1:25 PM

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

Brodeur ends streak of Hedberg starts in Philly

Martin Brodeur has made a career of beating the Flyers -- he has 45 wins in 82 regular-season starts against them, with nine shutouts. However, when he stars against them at Wells Fargo Center tonight, it will be his first regular-season start in Philadelphia in nearly two years -- March 28, 2010, when he suffered a 5-1 loss.

Backup Johan Hedberg started all six games against the Flyers last season, and then started the teams' first two games this season in Philadelphia.

Brodeur said following the team's morning skate at Wells Fargo Center that playing in Philadelphia wasn't all that much of a big deal to him.

"I've played my share of games here," he told The (Bergen) Record.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur is 16-16-2 with three ties in 37 regular-season starts at the building known as Wells Fargo Center, which opened in 1996, with a 2.68 goals-against average, .904 save percentage and four shutouts.

Coach Peter DeBoer said the arena his team is playing in has no bearing on who he chooses as his starter.

"We’ll take into account previous records against teams and things like that," he told The (Bergen) Record. "That all goes into the pot when you're making those calls, but the building usually doesn't come up."

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



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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 12:35 PM

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

Wellwood's play warrants promotion to scoring line

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers center Eric Wellwood had a great chance to help his team's chances Monday night when he had dinner with his best friend, Devils center Adam Henrique.

The two were teammates for four seasons with the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires and won a pair of Memorial Cups together on a juggernaut team that included Oilers forward Taylor Hall, Canucks forward Zack Kassian and Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, among others. So when they had a chance to catch up prior to the teams playing Tuesday, the pair had dinner at Wellwood's apartment.

"We got to hang out last night. He came over to my place," Wellwood said. When asked what he cooked, he said he didn't and then realized his missed opportunity -- "I should have poisoned him, actually."

Wellwood obviously was joking, and said he's not surprised his friend is among the front-runners for this year's Calder Trophy.

"He got a lot of points, but he never was Taylor Hall or Ryan Ellis in junior," Wellwood said. "Those guys are obviously good players in the NHL as well … but playing with him you knew he was good."

Wellwood also has shown his skills in his time with the Flyers. He has 2 goals in five games in his most recent promotion from AHL Adirondack, and he earned another promotion at Tuesday's morning skate -- from center on the fourth line to second-line left wing, playing with Danny Briere and Jakub Voracek.

Wellwood, regarded by some as the fastest skater on the team, said the shift to the wing will allow him to use his speed more.

"I think I can be more aggressive on the forecheck," he said. "When you're at center you sit back a little bit more, you just watch the play develop, because you don't want to get caught defensively, because that's your major responsibly -- especially if you're playing on the fourth line. I think my game will change a bit. I'll be a lot faster, and I'll be on the forecheck more. I'll try to get them the puck as best as I can.

"I think I'm going to be the one to create them space. I think if I get in on the forecheck and get the puck, and do a lot of the dirty work, that will help them out a lot. It seems like a good line. I think we've got a lot of good things going."

Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't commit to that line sticking together for Tuesday's game, but said he's been very pleased with what he's seen from Wellwood so far.

"I've liked Wellwood's game, he's been terrific," Laviolette said. "He brings a lot of speed. You go back and you watch the game over and he's always around there doing something -- he's breaking up a forecheck or he's driving the net or he's killing a big penalty. His speed is a real asset. He's a real smart player. He's been real good.

"Every time he's put a uniform on up here, he's impressed people. Whether it's exhibition games or call-ups, whenever it might be, he's been an impressive player."

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


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 12:06 PM

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

Voracek also set to return to Flyers' lineup

VOORHEES, N.J. -- One week after absorbing a scary hit from Detroit's Niklas Kronwall, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek says he will be back in the Flyers' lineup when his team hosts the New Jersey Devils.

He missed three games with a concussion, and said he's happy to be back after so short an absence.

"It wasn't great to sit out three games, but there was nothing I could do about it," he said after the morning skate. "I think after the hit I'm pretty happy I'm back in a week. Hopefully we're going to get a win and get it rolling again."

He skated at right wing on a line centered by Danny Briere, with rookie Eric Wellwood at left wing.

Here's the rest of the Flyers' lineup, based on their morning skate:

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

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

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky the backup.

Pavel Kubina, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, skated with the team at the morning skate, but will not play. Rookie defenseman Brandon Manning and veteran forward Jody Shelley will be healthy scratches.

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



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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp