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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:03 PM

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

Ovechkin, Bryzgalov not exactly strangers



Russian NHL players may be a tight-knit group, but they don't exactly know everything there is to know about each other.

For example, when asked what he knew about Capitals superstar and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov told reporters, "He's Russian. He wears No. 8. He signed a contract with Gillette."

Commercial endorsements aside, Bryzgalov said he hasn't studied much of Ovechkin's tendencies.

"I never had much experience to play against him," Bryzgalov said. "Only, I guess, two games (when Bryzgalov was with Phoenix)."

In their first meeting, Jan. 23, 2010, Ovechkin had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 Capitals win against the Coyotes. In last season's lone encounter, Feb. 14, 2011, Ovechkin was held to six shots on goal, while Bryzgalov turned aside 29 of 31 shots in a 3-2 Coyotes win.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:33 PM

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

Schenn to make Flyers debut tonight



Tonight won't be Brayden Schenn's first NHL game -- he played one game in 2009-10 and eight last season with the Los Angeles Kings -- it will be his first with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The much ballyhooed prospect, acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent former Flyers captain Mike Richards to L.A., started the season with the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. After 4 goals and 4 assists in eight games, the Flyers saw all they needed and recalled the 20-year-old forward yesterday.

Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't say where -- or even if -- Schenn would play tonight, but there wasn't much reason to call up the franchise's top prospect to have him sit in the press box. Here's a look at how the Flyers' lines could shape up tonight with Schenn in the lineup.

Schenn said when he does hit the ice tonight, he'll play the kind of game that earned him the reputation for being the best prospect outside the NHL, and the Calder Trophy favorite of many NHL experts.

"I'm not going to try to do too much," he said. "Just keep it simple, play my game. You're looking to make good first impressions. I'm not up there to be flashy … I've got to keep it simple."

Expectations have been high for Schenn since the trade was announced June 23. However, he knows he's not going out there to make people forget Richards.

"There is a little added pressure, but for me it's not going to happen right off the bat," he said. "It's not going to happen on the first night. I have to take it game by game, slowly. I'm not going to change my game or try to be something I'm not just because me and Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) got traded for Mike Richards. … There's a little more pressure, but I'm not looking at it that way."

Danny Briere said he didn't think he'd have to say anything to Schenn today.

"He didn't seem nervous at all," Briere told NHL.com. "It's not like he hasn't played any games yet."

Briere also said he doesn't think Schenn will wilt under the pressure of lofty expectations.

"I think for him what's important is to try not to think about that," said Briere. "You've got to kind of block it off. There's a reason why people are staying that about him. And that's what you have to keep in mind. There's a reason why he was drafted so high, why everybody wants him, why he was traded for such a good player. That's all he has to think about, all he has to focus on. I think the fact that he played a few games and got his confidence really high with the Phantoms, I think that goes a long way, too."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:11 PM

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

Welcome, roommate!

Danny Briere appears to have added boarding house supervisor to his day job as top center for the Flyers.

Last year, Claude Giroux lived with Briere and his three sons; this year, Giroux has moved out, with rookie Sean Couturier taking his place in the Briere guest room.

"It's exciting for me and it's exciting for my boys," Briere told NHL.com. "He's closer in age to my kids than he is with me."

The oldest of the 34-year-old Briere's three sons is 13; that's just five years younger than the 18-year-old Couturier. Briere's other sons are 12 and 10.

The Flyers' first-round pick in June, Couturier said moving in with a veteran teammate is a good way to adjust to life in the NHL away from the rink.

"At my age … it would probably be hard for me living on my own for the first time," Couturier told NHL.com. "For sure, the adaptation would be easier being around him and being around a family."

Briere said he remembers what it was like as a young player in the NHL, and is happy to do what he can.

"I remember when I was 18, 19, 20 years old, you start to think about living by yourself, it's a little early," he said. "We don't want him to worry about all kinds of things off the ice. We want him to keep his focus on the ice and worry about that rather than setting up his bills or worry about his condo or an apartment that he has to take care of. If this can relieve him of a little bit of pressure outside of hockey, then it's all good."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 12:41 PM

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

Potential lineups for Flyers, Capitals

With a big, physical game looming in a few hours, neither team pushed too hard in their morning skates today, and neither team practiced in formal line rushes.

With that in mind, here's what the lineups could -- accent on could -- look like tonight when they take the ice in Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

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

Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja

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

There's a chance the bottom two lines could get switched for the game, with Hartnell and Schenn switching spots. Or Schenn, a natural center, could slide into the middle and either push Couturier to left wing, or if he plays on the fourth line, slide Talbot to the wing.

And now that Jody Shelley's suspension is over, he could see his first action of the season tonight, potentially in place of Nodl, who didn't play Tuesday against Ottawa. However, the last players off the ice following practice were Shelley and defenseman Matt Walker, an indication they might not play tonight.

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Alexander Semin - Marcus Johansson - Mike Knuble
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Jeff Halpern

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

Tomas Vokoun will start in goal, with Dany Sabourin recalled from AHL Hershey to serve as the backup while Michal Neuvirth continues to recover from a sore foot.

More from both locker rooms in a bit, but for now, here's me and my colleague Corey Masisak going point/counterpoint on tonight's game. There's also a look at how both team's offseason moves are working out, as well as a look at how these teams ended up with the two best goalies on the market this past summer.

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


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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:40 PM

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

Former Flyers reunited with Kings

Simon Gagne and Justin Williams arrived in Philadelphia one season apart as teenagers and grew into burgeoning stars during their four seasons as teammates. They spent most of that time as linemates, and grew to be close friends.

Their time as teammates ended when Williams was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003, but when Gagne became a free agent in July, the chance to play again with Williams was a big reason he chose to sign with the Los Angeles Kings.

"It was one reason I came here, because Justin was a guy that I keep in touch with as a friend outside of hockey," Gagne told NHL.com. "When I learned that maybe I would be able to sign with L.A. and maybe play with him again, we're not sure now what the lines are going to be, but it's fun."

The pair are linemates again through the first three games, and have developed a strong chemistry with center Anze Kopitar.

"I forgot how much I like playing with him," Williams told NHL.com. "He's on the puck, he's speedy, he's easy to read off of. We've had a decent start to the season. We're definitely looking for a big night here. That would be something special."

Gagne also hopes the partnership lasts.

"He brings a lot of energy," Gagne said of Williams. "He just goes all-in. And we've got a center that maybe is one of the best players in the League. … We like what we see. Hopefully we'll be able to play a good game tonight."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 1:08 PM

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

Former roommates likely to collide

While most of the attention for tonight's game is focused on Kings center Mike Richards and his return to Philadelphia, there is another side to that trade -- former King Wayne Simmonds, who has moved into a top-six forward role with Philadelphia, and has earned a spot on the top power-play unit, will face his former team for the first time.

The previous two seasons, Simmonds shared a home with defenseman Drew Doughty, and the two became very close friends. Doughty said he's looking forward to seeing a lot of his former roommate on the ice tonight.

While it won't be the first time the pair have faced off -- Doughty's Guelph Storm and Simmonds' Belleville Bulls were frequent opponents in the Ontario Hockey League -- it will be a bit different this time because of their relationship.

"We have that friendship that we developed over three years playing together," Doughty told NHL.com, "but I played against him in the OHL so I know how gritty and how tough he is to play against. I'm not really looking forward to playing against him, but there's no friends on the ice. I'm sure we won't be afraid to take a couple runs at each other. … We're not going to try to hurt each other, but if he gives me a shot, I'm going to make sure I give him a shot."

Doughty said while it was rough to see his friend head east, he said the return -- Richards, an All-Star and Olympic gold medalist who captained the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final -- made it a bit easier to take.

"When he got traded I was pretty disappointed, but getting Richy (Richards) is huge for us," said Doughty. "He makes us a lot better team. The trade is good for both parties. Obviously we miss him, but I think picking up Richy was huge."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Likely lineups for Flyers, Kings

Here are the potential lineups for tonight's game between the Flyers and Kings from Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

FLYERS
Wayne Simmonds - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Jaromir Jagr - Claude Giroux - James van Riemsdyk
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Scott Hartnell
Zac Rinaldo - Maxime Talbot - Andreas Nodl

Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja

Defenseman Matt Walker will sit out, and forward Jody Shelley will be out serving the fourth regular-season game of his suspension.

Ilya Bryzgalov will make his fourth straight start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky the backup.

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Brad Richardson - Jarret Stoll - Trent Hunter
Ethan Moreau - Trevor Lewis - Kyle Clifford

Drew Doughty - Willie Mitchell
Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Davis Drewiske - Matt Greene

Forwards Kevin Westgarth and Scott Parse, and defenseman Alec Martinez all will out.

Jonathan Quick likely will start in goal, with Jonathan Bernier the backup.

More in a bit with news out of the locker rooms. But for now, check out the preview of tonight's game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 5:31 PM

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

Philly pick-me-up

It hasn't been a good week to be a Philadelphia sports fan.

First, the Phillies and their baseball-best 102 wins were drummed out of the playoffs in the first round, and the Eagles lost their third straight game to fall to 1-4. And with the NBA lockout meaning no 76ers basketball, that leaves the Flyers to lift the town's spirits.

"It's not something we think about when we're out there, but walking around town the last few days, that's what people are talking about," Flyers center Danny Briere told NHL.com. "'You're our hope now, we're relying on your guys.' It's good to hear, it's good to see. Although it would have been nice to have the Phillies keep playing and the Eagles doing a little better. Sometimes that's the way it is and we have to try and capture the attention while we can have it."

Scott Hartnell isn't a native Philadelphian, but he's become a huge Phillies fan in his four years with the Flyers.

"I'm just as sad as everyone else the Phillies are out," he told NHL.com. "I was planning on going all this week to a couple games, just like everyone else. And the Eagles are having a tough time as well."

Hartnell said he plans on giving the forlorn fans a fun night tonight against the Canucks.

"It's going to be an exciting night," he said. "That's all we care about, getting a win tonight."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 5:07 PM

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

Kesler getting close

Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler was one of the nine skaters on the ice in Philadelphia this morning for the team's optional skate as he continues to work his way back from offseason hip surgery.

Kesler has been on the ice with the team since Oct. 5, and today marks the 10-week anniversary of the Aug. 2 surgery that repaired the labrum in his left hip. The initial recovery time was pegged for 10-12 weeks.

He's not quite ready yet, but said this morning, "I'm getting closer. It’s a matter of time."

That time could come as soon as the Canucks return home from their current four-game road trip, which would be Oct. 18 against the New York Rangers.

Kesler wouldn't commit to any date, saying, "I don't want to come in the lineup and not be at full speed, be in the best condition I can be in. That's what they have me doing."

Henrik Sedin, who was on the ice with Kesler this morning, said his teammate doesn't look too far removed from the All-Star who scored 41 goals last season.

"I don't know how he feels out there, but he looks good," Sedin said. "He's got a good stride out there, skates hard. Should be pretty close. … We'll see. It'll take some time for him to get back to game shape. We've got to give him some time."

Roberto Luongo, who also took part in this morning's skate, said he thought Kesler looked awfully good, too, but wasn't going to rush him back into the lineup.

"Health-wise I think he's feeling pretty good," Luongo told NHL.com. "With an injury like that you want to make sure you're 100 percent before you come back because it's a long season and we don't want to take any chances there."

Whenever he does return, the players know just how important Kesler is to the Canucks' success.

"We all know what he can do when he's healthy," said Sedin. "He's huge for the team, and when he comes back he'll help us big time. It's nice to see him getting closer."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Flyers

Here is what the lineups could look like for the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks when they meet tonight at the Wells Fargo Center for the Flyers' home opener.

The Flyers had a full skate while the Canucks had an optional, with only nine players on the ice -- among them Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider.

So while the Flyers' lineup will look similar to what they've used in their first two games, the Canucks could change a bit before the puck drops tonight:

FLYERS

Wayne Simmonds - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Jaromir Jagr - Claude Giroux - James van Riemsdyk
Scott Hartnell - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
Zac Rinaldo - Maxime Talbot - Andreas Nodl

Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov will make his third straight start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up. The only healthy scratch will be defenseman Matt Walker.

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Marco Sturm - Cody Hodgson - Mikael Samuelsson
Jannik Hansen - Manny Malhotra - Chris Higgins
Dale Weise - Maxim Lapierre - Aaron Volpatti

Andrew Alberts - Keith Ballard
Sami Salo - Alexander Edler
Kevin Bieksa - Dan Hamhuis

Roberto Luongo will start in goal, with Cory Schneider the backup. Kesler skated this morning but won't be playing -- more on him in  a bit -- while also sitting out will be defenseman Christopher Tanev and Alexander Sulzer, and center Andrew Ebbett.

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