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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:38 PM

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

Briere hopes to be back for playoffs after Vitale hit

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Danny Briere said the upper-back contusion he suffered on a hit from Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale late in Sunday's game in Pittsburgh was causing back spasms, and said he's hoping to be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I don't know much at this point," Briere told reporters. "All I know is that my back is in spasm. … There's no timetable [for a return], but obviously I'd like to be ready for the playoffs. I just don't know at this point."

Briere said he saw Vitale coming at the last second and was able to brace himself for the hit, which he said allowed him to avoid worse injury.

"I saw him at the last second and braced myself," he said. "Try to take the hit. Just one of those things, sometimes it turns out bad, that's kind of what happened on the play."

It's the play itself, however, that Briere wasn't particularly happy about.

"Everybody knows that you put the line that they put on the ice at the end of the game with a minute left when the game is out of hand, everyone knows the intent," Briere said. "Was it a bad hit? No, it was a clean hit. But obviously whatever he was doing, he was obviously trying to hurt me. We all know that. It was a clean hit, I'm the first one to admit to that. I saw him coming at the last second. I braced myself to take the hit like I do when I've taken hits like that. Just turned out bad this time. Not much else to say or do about it. It is what it is. It just makes for a more entertaining series coming up if we face them in the first round."

Briere said the worst part of getting hurt now is he's playing his best hockey of the season. He has just 16 goals, and earlier this season he went through a 23-game goal drought. But in six games since being put on a line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, he has two goals and seven assists.

"I guess that's the positive side," he said. "I was very excited about our line the past couple weeks, it was starting to click, it was starting to really mesh well together. It's been a big issue all year, trying to find the right combination. It's disappointing in a sense, but I'm hoping we'll be able to pick up where he we left off whenever I have the chance to get back."

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


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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Injuries force Flyers to shuffle lines, defense pairings

VOORHEES, N.J. -- With Danny Briere and Nicklas Grossmann out of the lineup Tuesday against the New York Rangers, the Flyers shuffled three of their four lines and all three defense pairings.

The big move was sliding Matt Read into Briere's place between Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.

The trio of Briere, Schenn and Simmonds had combined for 9 goals and 10 assists in the last six games together.

Simmonds, named Monday as the NHL's First Star of the Week, doesn't see much changing with Read on the line.

"We've still got the same kind of look," Simmonds said. "Our line, with me and [Schenn] and Danny, we played well down low with the puck, and [Read] is really good down low with the puck. I think it'll be a seamless transition."

Simmonds and Read both said the fact that the trio had played together earlier in the season also gives them confidence the line will click.

"Over the course of the season you get comfortable with some guys, and these two guys I've played with and I'm comfortable playing with them," Read said. "I'm kind of excited for tonight, get things back together and take it to the Rangers tonight."

Here is how the rest of the lineup likely will look when the Flyers hit the ice Tuesday:

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 Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 12:42 PM

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

Bryz back from chip fracture, will start vs. Rangers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers will have Ilya Bryzgalov back in the net when they face the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Bryzgalov sat out the past three games recovering from a chip fracture in his right foot that occurred last Monday prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but has been on the ice most days since the injury happened.

He took part in the pre-game skate Tuesday at the club's suburban New Jersey practice site, and teammates were happy with what they saw.

"He looked pretty sharp," Claude Giroux said.

"It's good to see him out there," Scott Hartnell added. "He's been a big part of our success the last couple months. … I think he wants to get back in the lineup, he wants to get back to feeling good. Tonight will be a good test for him."

In two games against the Rangers this season, Bryzgalov is 0-2-0 with a 4.10 goals-against average and .869 save percentage. For his career, he's 1-4-0 with a 3.64 GAA and .887 save percentage in five games.

But the more important numbers are the ones Bryzgalov posted in March, which earned him the NHL's First Star of the Month award -- 10-2-1, 1.43 GAA, .947 save percentage and four shutouts.

With the final three games of the regular season this week -- Tuesday against the Rangers, Thursday against Buffalo, Saturday in Pittsburgh -- it's likely Bryzgalov will start all three.

"I think it is easier to stay on top of your game when you're playing on a regular basis," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He had a little bit of time off, but not too much, so we're looking forward to getting him back in there."

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

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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:39 PM

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

Flyers' Briere, Grossmann injured

The Philadelphia Flyers won Sunday's battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins but did not emerge unscathed.

The team announced Monday that center Danny Briere is out indefinitely with an upper-back contusion, and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is out 7-10 days with a lower-body injury.

Grossmann was injured midway through the first period when he collided with the Penguins Joe Vitale.

Vitale's hit on Briere with 1:03 left in regulation sparked the late-game melee that saw 52 minutes in penalties assessed, as well as the ejections of and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato.

The Flyers play their final three regular-season games this week -- Tuesday against the Rangers, Thursday against the Sabres and a rematch with the Penguins on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 12:47 PM

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

Bryzgalov out, Timonen in for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Sergei Bobrovsky will make his second straight start for the Flyers on Saturday when they face the Ottawa Senators (1 p.m., NHLN-US, CBC).

Ilya Bryzgalov practiced Friday, but the team will give him another day off to recover from the chip fracture in his right foot that occurred Monday night prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Flyers play again Sunday, in Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET, NBC), and there's a chance Bryzgalov could return for that one. After that, the Flyers next play Tuesday.

In four career starts against the Senators, Bobrovsky is 3-1-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Jason Bacashihua again will serve as the backup.

While Bryzgalov is out, All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen will return to the lineup after sitting out a game Thursday with an upper-body injury.

Here is the lineup the Flyers likely will use against the Senators:

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

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Pavel Kubina - Marc-Andre Bourdon

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jason Bacashihua

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







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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 11:55 AM

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

Senators back to work after long layoff

PHILADELPHIA -- For the Ottawa Senators' first game since Monday, coach Paul MacLean said he plans on using the same lineup that took the ice March 26 in Winnipeg.

MacLean said he wasn't sure how his team would react coming off a long layoff, telling reporters, "The biggest concern is we come out flat."

He said that the way he feels his team handled the long week had him feeling cautiously optimistic.

"Nothing is ever easy, but the way we've handled the week looks good," MacLean said. "We'll know (Saturday) at 1:08 when the face off hits."

Here's the lineup they'll like put on the ice here at Wells Fargo Center:

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Rob Klinkhammer - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 03.30.2012 / 5:32 PM

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

Bryzgalov questionable for weekend games

Ilya Bryzgalov practiced Friday on the ice, but the chip fracture in his right foot, suffered in warm-ups Monday, could keep the Philadelphia Flyers goalie off the ice this weekend.

According to CSNPhilly.com, Bryzgalov will not play Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, and while there's a chance he plays Sunday in Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), the best chance for his return could be Tuesday's home game against the New York Rangers.

While the Flyers want to do everything possible to clinch the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference -- they enter the weekend two points behind the fourth-place Penguins -- they won't gamble their franchise's goalie's future health in the process.

"We're not going to put a goaltender in a situation where he goes out there and risks injury," said coach Peter Laviolette

"You have to be ready and 100 percent to move and stop and react," Bryzgalov told reporters. "If you are not 100 percent, you can't play that game. You're going to be half a second late every time and it's going to be huge consequences -- the puck behind the goal line."

Bryzgalov was injured when he was hit in the foot by a Jakub Voracek shot in pre-game warm-ups prior to Monday's 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. X-rays before and after the game didn't show a break, but Bryzgalov said he felt pain the entire game. An MRI Tuesday showed the chip fracture.

"I felt pain," he said of playing the entire game against the Lightning. "In the morning it was the same thing. Not any better. I felt something was wrong and that's why we got the MRI and found the fracture in my foot, unfortunately.
 
"I was lucky because it was not that bad, because I'm tough and Russian."
 
Bryzgalov said he had less pain Friday.
 
"We've already had progress -- you see me on the ice today," he said.

It remains unknown if the Flyers will see him on the ice at all this weekend.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 12:07 PM

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

Flyers have special guest on ice

With the Philadelphia Flyers coming to his hometown, a former Flyer joined the club for Thursday's morning skate.

Wearing an orange practice jersey and his familiar black helmet with No. 88 on it, Eric Lindros skated around, took shots and chatted with a few players and assistant coach Craig Berube, a former Flyers teammate, prior to the Flyers' game Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It's another step in the improved relationship between the former star player and the franchise. Lindros memorably pulled on a Flyers jersey for the first time in more than a decade at the Flyers-Rangers alumni game as part of the 2012 Winter Classic.

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

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 12:55 PM

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

Backstrom traveling with Caps, won't play Thursday

One day after one of their tougher losses of the season, the Washington Capitals got some good news Wednesday when the team announced center Nicklas Backstrom will travel with the team when it leaves a game Thursday in Boston (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

However, Backstrom and coach Dale Hunter confirmed the top-line center will not play Thursday.

"No. Not (Thursday)," Backstrom told reporters Wednesday. "We'll see. We take it day-by-day and see how it goes."

Backstrom has been practicing with the team since March 24, and passed a neuropsychological test Tuesday, which was required before he returned to the lineup.

The next step for Backstrom is for him to continue working toward a return to game shape. He hasn't played since Jan. 3, when he was elbowed in the head by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque.

"I'm close to playing, I think," Backstrom said. "Obviously it takes a while to get back in normal shape. But we don't have too much time, either. I'm feeling good, I've been practicing good the last couple days; been pushing it a little bit, too."

Hunter said the reason he wants Backstrom on the trip is so he continue pushing with the full team.

"We just want him with the team so he can practice," said Hunter. "You see the drills that they're doing with him, all battle drills, that if he gets in, that's how he has to play. They're hard drills out there and every day he's been fine, so it's good news for him."

The Capitals suffered a 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday which dropped them to ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Caps held an optional practice Wednesday, with Backstrom, Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern and goalie Tomas Vokoun the only players on the ice with three assistant coaches.

Washington certainly could use Backstrom back in the lineup. In the 39 games he's missed, the Caps are 17-16-6. He was the Caps' leading scorer with 42 points in 38 games at the time he was hurt.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 5:01 PM

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

Fracture in foot sidelines Bryzgalov



Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has a chip fracture in his right foot, will not play Thursday in Toronto, and is listed by the team as day to day.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said the injury happened in pre-game warm-ups Monday, when a Jakub Voracek shot hit Bryzgalov in the foot.

The team has recalled Jason Bacashihua from AHL Adirondack to serve as the backup to Sergei Bobrovsky for Thursday's game.

Holmgren said X-rays of Bryzgalov's foot taken before and after Monday's game didn't show an injury; an MRI Tuesday revealed the fracture.

Holmgren added he didn't believe the injury was serious and that Bryzgalov could practice as soon as Friday.

"We're hoping that he'll be back on the ice practicing with the idea that he can play on the weekend," said Holmgren. "It's just going to be a little bit of pain management for Ilya.

"Obviously when you're dealing with something like this, it might be too painful to skate on Friday, but we'll see. He doesn't feel that bad today. We'll see how it is. It's not a thing that surgery is required; it's nothing like (James) van Riemsdyk's broken foot or anything like that. It's a chip off a weight-bearing bone, and the doctor has said it'll be absorbed back into his system, the little chip that's in there, and there's no real risk here at all. It's just he's in a little bit of pain right now.

"Ilya's a tough kid. He wants to play, and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with the team at practice on Friday."

Bryzgalov has been the best goalie in the League in March, going 10-2-1 in 13 games, with a 1.43 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He was named NHL First Star of the Week for the first two weeks of March, and earlier this month set the club scoreless streak record of 249:43.

He also had a streak of 11 straight games allowing two goals or less snapped Monday when he allowed four goals in a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Holmgren said there never was a thought to pull Bryzgalov from the game Monday.

"Ilya wanted to play," said Holmgren. "To be honest with you, I knew what was going on. I watched the game and I didn't see any issues. The goals they scored were good goals. The last one he wasn't paying attention when Matt (Carle) had the bobble at the side of the net. The other goals were good goals that you can't really fault him on. I didn't have any issues with how he played the game and I don't think his foot was an issue during the game."

Bryzgalov had started 19 of the last 20 games; now Bobrovsky will be pressed into duty. Bobrovsky has played just one game in March, and hasn't won a game since Feb. 9.

The Flyers have six games left, and after Thursday they next play Saturday at home against Ottawa and Sunday in Pittsburgh.

"Ilya wants to play," said Holmgren. "He feels like he'll be OK, but we'll just see how it goes. I think we'll have a better grasp on how he is (Wednesday) ... and then probably more on Thursday and Friday.  As I said, nobody's really concerned. The doctors are not concerned, (trainer) Jimmy McCrossin's not too concerned. He's a little sore right now."

The Flyers also announced that defenseman Kimmo Timonen will not play Thursday and is day-to-day due to an upper-body injury. The team recalled defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon from Adirondack to replace him.

Holmgren said giving Timonen a game off is more of a maintenance issue than any injury, and part of a plan put in place following Timonen's five-game absence earlier this month due to an upper-body injury.

"When Kimmo missed the time earlier, it was kind of a planned thing where we wanted to give him some rest and do some rehab," said Holmgren. "This is also part of the plan. It's just take this day off, he doesn't have to fly up, he doesn't have to play the game. He can rest and rehab and get ready to play on the weekend."

In addition to Timonen, defenseman Andreas Lilja is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He did not play Monday against Tampa Bay.

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

I always feel the pressure to produce offensively. It's disappointing and frustrating when you can't help out your team the way you're supposed to.

— Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring twice in a 5-1 Game 4 victory against the Lightning on Friday