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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 11:55 AM

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

Flyers get Timonen back after five-game absence

VOORHEES, N.J. -- After a five-game absence, Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen will be back on the ice when his team hosts the New Jersey Devils.

Timonen has been out with a lower-body injury, but told reporters following the Flyers' morning skate that he was "95-percent sure" he was playing.

Timonen wouldn't specify the exact nature of his injury, but said he's hoping his time off will be enough to sustain him through the rest of the season and the playoffs.

"It's one of those things that I don't think it's going to go away, but hopefully this lasts," he said. "We'll see. … We go game-by-game and day-by-day and see how it feels."

Timonen, who had played in 248 consecutive regular-season games prior to sitting out, said he enjoyed the time off.

"Mentally it's been great," he said. "I've played a lot of hockey the last four years. The last 10 days I didn't do much. Mentally it's been really good, and hopefully it carries over to rest of the year and the playoffs."

Now, though, he knows rest time is over, and he's excited to get back into the lineup.

"It's a tough thing, you don't want to miss games," he said. "I played 3 1/2 years not missing any games, so it was tough. I knew it was going to happen (but) I'm excited to be back. Hopefully I can help the team."

The Flyers have been without Timonen, as well as fellow veterans Andrej Meszaros and Pavel Kubina. Rookies Erik Gustafsson and Brandon Manning have done solid jobs filling in, but with the return of one of their injured veteran blueliners -- Meszaros (lower body) and Kubina (upper body) remain out -- the Flyers should be a bit more composed in their back end.

"Kimmo is the same as Prongs (Chris Pronger)," Matt Carle, who was paired with Timonen at Tuesday's practice, told NHL.com. "They've been around so long, you just expect them to be in the right place and make the right plays because they've been doing it so long. No matter how much time they've missed, you expect them to be great. When he's out there he's so sound as a player that you're not going to notice too much of a difference with him whether it's bad or good. He's an even-keeled player like that."

Timonen has 36 points and is tied for third among NHL defensemen with 34 assists, but it's his role off the ice as much on it that the Flyers missed. 

"He's looked up to on our team by a lot of guys," Carle said. "He's somebody who's been in the League a long time and somebody who's a leader."

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


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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 6:39 PM

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

Kubina out, Manning in for Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- Defenseman Brandon Manning will become the sixth Flyers player to make his NHL debut this season when he plays Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

Manning replaces Pavel Kubina, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Kubina played 20:17 on Tuesday against Detroit, but in the game before that, Sunday against the Capitals, he missed time after being hit in the face by a puck.

The Flyers already are missing veteran defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros indefinitely due to lower-body injuries.

Kubina has two assists in seven games since the Flyers acquired him from the Tampa Bay Lightning last month.

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

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 6:19 PM

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

Laviolette looks for some privacy

PHILADELPHIA -- For the last few seasons, the Flyers have held their morning skates here at the Wells Fargo Center, rather than their practice rink in nearby Voorhees, N.J. But with the Florida Panthers in town, coach Peter Laviolette opted to move the practice to Voorhees.

With a first-round playoff matchup against the Panthers a possibility, Laviolette wasn't interested in giving the opposition a free viewing.

"I think teams are watching," he said. "It's a chance to get over there, little more private."

If anyone from the Panthers made the trek across the Walt Whitman Bridge to New Jersey on Thursday, he wouldn't have seen much. Laviolette called the morning skate "casual," and said it was a chance to look at some new lines created due to injuries to forwards James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr. Van Riemsdyk and Voracek won't play Thursday against the Panthers, while Jagr is a game-time decision due to a hip injury.

"We have new lines, new power play, new combinations," said Laviolette. "Everything is new based on injuries. I want to make sure we get a chance to touch on things because of injuries."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 6:15 PM

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

Manning has an edge on and off the ice

PHILADELPHIA -- Brandon Manning isn't shy in admitting he's got a chip on his shoulder.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman went undrafted by NHL teams, and finally earned a contract with the Flyers in November 2010.

Now in his first professional season, he's played well enough that he could make his NHL debut Thursday when the Flyers host the Florida Panthers.

"I think it's been the underdog story for me my entire career," Manning said. "It's something I've run with and I kind of rub it in people's faces, people who didn't think I could do it, or the teams that passed over me."

Manning spent four seasons with the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League, and last season had 21 goals and 32 assists in just 53 games. He was tied for third among all WHL blueliners in goals, and tied for ninth with 53 points.

He had surgery in September to repair a labrum tear in his hip, which sidelined him until December, but he's done well since returning with 4 goals and 5 assists in 32 AHL games.

"It took me a while," Manning said of when he felt 100-percent healthy. "I missed a few games again in December. In mid-February I had a streak of about 10 games where I felt really good. I just have to make sure I'm taking care of myself and doing what I have to do every day. It's definitely come along the last month, month and a half, for sure."

If Manning plays, he'll be the 12th rookie to get into a game for the Flyers this season, and the sixth to make his NHL debut. Who comes out of the lineup, however, is a question. All six defenseman who played Tuesday against Detroit were on the ice for Wednesday's practice.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette makes a rule of not discussing his lineup, but he might have tipped his hand when asked about Manning prior to Thursday's game.

"I'm excited to see him play because there's been a lot of real positive comments coming from the minor-league team that he's done a really nice job," said Laviolette. "He's a good two-way defenseman, he plays with an edge, he hits, he fights. It'll be interesting to watch him play. Apparently he's done a nice job down there, coming off the injury, worked hard in the summer to get to a point that now he's back playing. It's a good reward for him to get a game in and show what he can do."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 4:48 PM

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

Voracek a no-go, Jagr game-time decision for Flyers

The story on Wednesday was Jaromir Jagr likely would not play Thursday against the Florida Panthers but there was a chance Jakub Voracek could.

A day later, however, the story has changed 180 degrees, with Voracek ruled out while Jagr remains a game-time decision.

Voracek was leveled by a hard hit from Detroit's Niklas Kronwall in the second period of Tuesday's game. According to CSNPhilly.com, Voracek was under a concussion watch and still had to pass a baseline test in order to be cleared to play.

Jagr, who suffered a hip injury late in the second period of Tuesday's game, skated during Thursday's morning skate, and said his decision would come prior to game-time.

"I don't know anything right now," Jagr told reporters following practice. "I'll let you know later. I felt good. Better than I thought."

Jagr has missed games four times this season due to lower-body issues.

"When you are talking about players who have been dealing with minor bumps or bruises, there are always conversations to make good decisions," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of Jagr. "We'll make those decisions and put the lineup that is best."

That lineup could include forward Harry Zolnierczyk, who was recalled from AHL Adirondack. Zolnierczyk has 3 goals and 2 assists in 36 games this season. He last played in the NHL on Feb. 5.

The team also recalled defenseman Brandon Manning. If Manning plays Thursday, it would be his first NHL game. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has 4 goals and 5 assists in 32 AHL games. He missed the first three months of the season recovering from hip surgery prior to training camp.

An undrafted free agent, Manning was signed by the Flyers in November 2010. He was an offensive-minded defenseman in four seasons with the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League. He tied for third among WHL defensemen last season with 21 goals.

"I haven't seen a lot of him," Laviolette said. "He missed training camp. I haven't seen him up here yet and I don't get to see the guys in the minors that much. (He's) a good two-way defenseman who plays with some grit, plays with an edge."

The Flyers will be without defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros for a fourth straight game due to lower-body injuries, but all six defensemen who played Tuesday against Detroit appear to be healthy, so it's unclear where -- or if -- Manning fits into the lineup.

"It's kind of undecided right now," Manning said when asked if he was playing Thursday. "I'm just kind of waiting to hear how the other guys are doing and we'll go from there."

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




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Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

Jagr 'probably' won't play vs. Panthers

The Philadelphia Flyers likely won't have forward Jaromir Jagr in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren told reporters that Jagr, who suffered a hip injury in the second period of Tuesday's game against the Detroit Red Wings, "probably" won't play Thursday.

Jagr was hurt late in the second when he said teammate Braydon Coburn checked Wings forward Valtteri Filppula into him. Jagr said he was able to avoid most of the force of the collision, but wasn't able to finish the game.

He told reporters he would try to skate Thursday morning to see how he felt, then make a decision.

Jagr has missed games four different times this season due to lower-body injuries. In 56 games, he has 17 goals and 27 assists.

Also questionable for Thursday is forward Jakub Voracek, who was knocked out of Tuesday's game following a hard hit by Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

Voracek was looking down for the puck in the Philadelphia end and never saw Kronwall, who hit Voracek in the face with his shoulder. Voracek said he passed a concussion exam Tuesday but needed stitches for cuts around his mouth. He might take another concussion test prior to Thursday's game.

Voracek said he has a stiff neck from falling to the ice, and said, "I feel different, but I think anyone would feel different after that hit. Sometimes you can get slightly hit to the chin and be out a few months; sometimes you can get run over like I did and you can be back the next game. We'll see.

"I don't want to say I feel too good, because every day is different. Hopefully, I can get back as soon as possible."

Voracek said he did not fault Kronwall for the hit.

"I think it was clean," he said. "I had my head down. … I saw him standing on the blue line and I was kind of naive and thought he was going to back up. It was a tough hit to take, but I think it was a clean hit from my side. It was my bad, and I think those hits should stay in the game."

If Voracek and/or Jagr can't play, the Flyers will have to call up a forward from AHL Adirondack.

The Flyers also will be without defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Kimmo Timonen for a third straight game. Both are listed by the team as out indefinitely due to lower-body injuries.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 1:05 PM

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

Leafs lose Lupul for 3-4 weeks

The Toronto Maple Leafs' playoff push won't include top-line forward Joffrey Lupul.

The team announced Wednesday that Lupul will miss at least three weeks due to a separated shoulder. Also, forward Colby Armstrong is day-to-day with a broken nose.

Both players were injured in the second period of Tuesday's game against the Boston Bruins.

Lupul, second on the Leafs with a career-best 67 points, was hit hard in the corner by the Bruins' David Krejci and he immediately left the game.

Armstrong was injured in a fight with Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

The Leafs have recalled forward Carton Ashton from AHL Toronto. Acquired at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 2009 first-round draft pick likely will make his NHL debut Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Leafs enter the game 12th in the Eastern Conference, five points behind eighth-place Winnipeg.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 3:48 PM

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

Rash of injuries gives Wings rookie Smith opportunity

PHILADELPHIA -- Rather than dwell on the negatives of having so many key players out with injury, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock chooses instead to see opportunities for other players to step up.

"Nick Kronwall is one of the players of the week," Babcock sa. "Maybe if Nick Lidstrom is here, he can't be one of the players of the week. It's an opportunity there for all of us."

One of those players relishing his opportunity is rookie defenseman Brendan Smith. With Lidstrom (ankle), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body) all out of the lineup, the 23-year-old is getting his first taste of life in the NHL.

"It's a huge opportunity for me," Smith told NHL.com. "I've just got to play strong and play simple, show that I can be counted upon, especially with now Kindl being down, too. It's kind of put me up in the fifth 'D' spot. I have to play more minutes, and show that I can play those minutes and be put in those situations and perform. It's a huge thing for me, for the end of this year and going into next year."

Smith, a 2007 first-round pick of the Wings, spent all last season with AHL Grand Rapids, where he had 12 goals and 20 assists in 63 games; with 10 goals and 22 assists in 47 games this season, he was on pace to better those numbers prior to his call-up.

"Playing with Grand Rapids, we play a same similar style with the Red Wings, the same structure," Smith said. "So it's easy for me to make the transition. The biggest thing is not to get too nervous or let your emotions beat up on you. I just have to play a simple way, like I've been playing with Grand Rapids, and take it here."

Smith will start Tuesday's game against the Flyers on the third pairing, along with Doug Janik, but he'll likely see time on the power play. He played 2:10 with the man advantage Sunday against Chicago, fourth among Detroit defensemen.

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


 


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 1:30 PM

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

Excitement building for Howe's big night

PHILADELPHIA -- Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe will have his No. 2 retired by the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Howe spent 10 seasons with the Flyers and is regarded as the best blueliner in the team's history.

It's fitting the opponent on the night of the ceremony is the Detroit Red Wings, the team for which Howe currently works as director of pro scouting.

"It's a great honor for Howeie, well deserved," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He was a great Flyer, had an unbelievable career. He's worked for us for 19 years, started three years as a player. He's been involved in two really great organizations to finish his career. I think he's proud of that fact, we're proud of him. We're honored and thrilled to be sharing it with him tonight."

Matt Carle, in his fourth season with the Flyers, was too young to see the best part of Howe's career -- he was born in 1984 -- but said he's been doing his homework on Howe recently. 

"I was reading about him in the last week when they were gearing up for this night," Carle said, "some of the statistics he threw up were mind-blowing. He was plus-85 one year (1985-86). It's a huge honor for him. It'll be fun for us to be here for it."

One of the newest Flyers, Nicklas Grossmann, also is looking forward to watching the Howe ceremony.

"Growing up you see all these players when you're a kid that you idolized and now you play with some of them and you see some guys retire and their jerseys (retired), so it's pretty cool to be around," he said. "He was a spectacular player that played for a long time. You're here, you see on the walls, the good old players that used to play. It's pretty cool to be part of an organization like that. It's going to be a pretty special thing."

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


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 1:22 PM

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

Flyers, Red Wings hold optional morning skates

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers and Red Wings both held optional skates Monday morning, so there's no real set way of knowing how each team will look when they hit the ice tonight here at the Wells Fargo Center.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he left it up to his players to decide if they wanted to skate this morning.

"It's a busy month," he said. "If you look at the amount of games we're playing, we're really trying to manage what we're doing here. The most important thing is the game tonight. If the guys feel like they need a break this morning, take the break."

Among those who stayed off the ice were forwards Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. Also missing were defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros, both of whom are out indefinitely with lower-body injuries.

The injury-ravaged Red Wings only had 10 players on the ice, among them Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom. Out tonight are forwards Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Todd Bertuzzi (groin), defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body), and goalie Jimmy Howard (lower body).

However, Laviolette said he doesn't expect much to change in the Wings' team game.

"I think anytime you take big pieces out of teams there's a difference," he said. "They still probably play with the same style that they've played with for years."

Babcock said he won't change anything about how he expects his team to play, regardless of who's in or out of the lineup.

"We try to do the same things," he said. "You're cognizant that you can't race to 10, you don't have the firepower. Different guys get different opportunities."

Here is what each team could look like when they take the ice tonight:

RED WINGS
Henrik Zetterberg - Valtteri Filppula - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Darren Helm - Drew Miller
Danny Cleary - Justin Abdelkader - Jan Mursak
Tomas Holmstrom - Cory Emmerton - Chris Conner

Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White
Brendan Smith - Doug Janik

Joey MacDonald will start in goal, with Jordan Pearce backing him up.

FLYERS

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

Nicklas Grossmann - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Pavel Kubina
Andreas Lilja - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the ninth straight game, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season