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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 4:11 PM

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

Unfamiliar faces for Lupul

PHILADELPHIA -- Joffrey Lupul spent two of his best NHL seasons (2007-09) with the Flyers, scoring a total of 45 goals and helping Philadelphia reach the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, one season after the team finished with the fewest points in the League.

That 2007-08 season saw the Flyers improve so fast thanks to a group of young forwards, chiefly Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Scottie Upshall, R.J. Umberger, Scott Hartnell and Lupul. Four seasons later, the only player from that group still left in Philadelphia is Hartnell.

"The only guy (from Philadelphia) I keep in touch with is Hartnell," Lupul said after the Leafs' practice Monday morning. "I played with (Claude) Giroux and those guys but just for a short period of time. It's a completely different animal over there now."

Lupul said he loved his time in Philadelphia, which ended at the 2009 draft, when he was traded to Anaheim as part of the package that brought Chris Pronger to Philadelphia.

"I played on some good teams here," he said. "I think a lot of us were sort of establishing ourselves, Richy, Carts, Upshall, and I look around the League and all those guys, we're all on different teams, but playing a key role (for those teams). It was a good development for us here. Obviously I would have liked to bring a championship, but we learned a lot. I enjoyed all my time here in the city."

He said he still is close with Richards, and was as stunned as the rest of the hockey world when the Philadelphia captain was traded this past June.

"Complete shock," he said. "Half the building had a Mike Richards jersey, I think. To see him go was unbelievable. Just the way he played and the way he came to the rink every day, he was the ultimate captain and leader."

The only positive for Lupul was Richards landing in Los Angeles, where he lives not far from Lupul's offseason home in Southern California. Lupul said they weren't able to link up this past summer, but is looking forward to catching up next summer.

"Maybe at the end of the season," he said. "We can go play golf."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:33 PM

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

Schenn vs. Schenn

PHILADELPHIA -- The first rule tonight when the Leafs' Luke Schenn goes against the Flyers' Brayden Schenn? No fighting.

It's a message Rita and Jeff Schenn have drummed into their boys' heads so much, they don't even have to tell them anymore.

"I've said that so many times, they've heard it at home," Rita told this morning. "They said mom, you don't have to tell us anymore. It won't happen."

But if it did, who would win?

"I would," Luke said with no hesitation. "I would definitely win, no doubt."

Braydon had already left, so there was no chance for a rebuttal. However, Luke is the older brother in both age and size, so the guess is he might be right.

But what stands out is how close the pair is. They're just over a year and a half apart in age, and while hockey has kept them apart, they talk daily.

"That's important," said Rita. "I'm glad they have that relationship. They do talk daily, I don't know how many times a day. When they're on their teams, for sure it's business. They're competitive, but when they get off, it's back to what they know, just brothers."

So who will the family be rooting for? Rita and Jeff will cheer equally -- Luke said Jeff told the family at dinner he wishes there still were tie games -- but the family's two younger sisters divided their older brothers. Macy, 10, will wear a Leafs jersey, while Madison, 14, will wear a Flyers jersey.

While their clothes will split, their loyalty only is to the name on the back.

Madison said she'll be happy if the Flyers score, but added, "If the Leafs do something I'm going to jump up, too."

Here's Brayden discussing tonight's game with the media following the Flyers' practice:

And here's Luke's time with the press following the Leafs' skate:

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:21 PM

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

Gustavsson to fill in until Reimer returns Thursday

PHILADELPHIA -- Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer won't play tonight, but coach Ron Wilson expects to have his starting netminder back in time for the Leafs' next game, Thursday at the New York Rangers.

Reimer left Saturday's game with a neck injury after a collision with the Canadiens' Brian Gionta.

"He seems almost 100-percent today," Wilson said following the team's morning skate. "It gives us an opportunity on an emergency basis to bring up Ben Scrivens. The Monster (Jonas Gustavsson) will get the start and we should be fine. James should be fine by Thursday the way it looks right now."

Gustavsson's numbers don't look very impressive -- he's 1-1-0 with a 5.35 goals-against average and .852 save percentage -- but Wilson said those numbers don't tell the whole story.

Gustavsson started last Thursday in Boston and allowed six goals on 43 shots. He was far better Saturday against Montreal, when he relieved an injured Reimer and stopped 15 of 18 shots in 41:23 of work as the Leafs won 5-4 in overtime.

"Both situations have been very difficult, any goalie will tell you that," said Wilson. "We knew we were going in to a hornet's nest in Boston, but that was our plan. He was helpless there in the sense that we didn't support him at all. Lot of point-blanks saves and shots and they had traffic in front of the net and we didn't do a good job of clearing it. And the other night, again, you're in a hornet's nest with a very desperate team. To go in cold like he did, his first shot went in, but I thought he did a pretty good job when you look back at some of the saves he made when we needed him late in the game and late in the second period. They're saves that you remember as a coach but get overlooked by everybody. He found a way to win the game, that's most important thing."

Gustavsson said he sees tonight's game as a chance to continue to impress upon his coach and teammates that he can do the job when called upon.

"You want to prove that you're comfortable, that they can play the same way, they don't have to change the whole system because of Reimer being out," he said. "Of course I want to do that. Good teams count on everybody. That means I count on them and they can count on me."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:09 PM

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

Jagr firing blanks

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr has been around a long time, so he's gone through scoring slumps before. The fact that he's gone seven games without a goal to start the season might be the longest he's ever had to start an NHL season, but it's a far cry from his longest drought, a 16-game stretch from Nov. 17 to Dec. 18, 1990, his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

How did he snap out of it?

"It hit me in my leg," Jagr said. "That's how I scored. Our defenseman hit me in my leg, that's what happened."

Jagr said he doesn't feel like he's pressing to get goals, but said he knows there's more he could be doing to put the puck in the net.

"I don't think I'm pressing," he said. "Of course it would be nice to score some goals to help the team win, especially now when we've lost two straight games.

"I have high expectations for myself. Of course I would like to score three goals every game to help the team win, but that's not going to happen. It's tough. That's why I'm here. I'm not going to give up. I'm going to fight to the end and hopefully everything will turn around."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 12:35 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flyers, Maple Leafs

Here are the projected lines for the Flyers and Maple Leafs for tonight's game in Philadelphia. The Flyers had all but two players on the ice today -- captain Chris Pronger and forward Danny Briere are healthy, but opted not to skate. They didn't have full line rushes, but it's expected they'll use the same lines from Saturday's loss to the St. Louis, which were the same for Sunday's practice.

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

Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Matt Walker

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

Forward Andreas Nodl and defenseman Andreas Lilja will be healthy scratches.

Joffrey Lupul - Matthew Lombardi - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Nikolai Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski
Nazem Kadri - David Steckel - Matt Frattin
Jay Rosehill - Philippe Dupuis - Mike Brown

Mike Komisarek - John-Michael Liles
Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner

Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal, with Ben Scrivens called up from AHL Toronto to be the backup. Regular goalie James Reimer is out with a neck injury.

Defenseman Cody Franson and forward Colton Orr will be the healthy scratches. Forward Tyler Bozak, who took a puck off his foot last Thursday in Boston and didn't play Saturday against Montreal, will be a game-time decision tonight, according to coach Ron Wilson.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 2:55 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Flyers

Here are the potential lineups for the Flyers and Blues heading into tonight's game in Philadelphia. We stress potential because the Flyers didn't practice line rushes, while the Blues didn't skate after beating the Hurricanes in overtime last night in St. Louis.


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

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

Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up.

These are the lines the Flyers used at practice Friday, but coach Peter Laviolette said after that practice that the lines he used Friday might or might not be in place for the game.

There's a chance Jody Shelley could make his season debut in place of Nodl on the fourth line, and Matt Walker is an option on defense in place of Lilja.


Chris Stewart - Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes
Alexander Steen - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - Matt D'Agostini
Evgeny Grachev - Scot Nichol - Chris Porter

Kent Huskins - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carlo Colaiacovo - Roman Polak

The starting goalie is in question, as coach Davis Payne wouldn't commit to either Brian Elliott, who was impressive stopping 27 of 29 shots in last night's win, or Jaroslav Halak.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:26 PM

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

Ovechkin feeling just fine

Alex Ovechkin didn't practice yesterday, but he's feeling just fine, and will be in his usual spot on the Caps' top line tonight.

Yesterday, however, he was ordered to stay off the ice by coach Bruce Boudreau.

"He's got some bumps and bruises right now," Boudreau told reporters. "It was more of a maintenance day with two more games this week. Just told him to take it off and get some stretching done."

Ovechkin said the day off was a welcome one for him.

"It's hockey," he said following today's morning skate. "You always have bruises, maybe pain somewhere. It's nice when the team gives you a day off."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:20 PM

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

Caps happy with success in tight games

One of the more interesting aspects of the Capitals' perfect start to the season is that of their five wins to open the season, four of them have been one-goal affairs, including two that were decided in overtime and another in a shootout.

"We're delighted we've won five games," Capitals General Manager George McPhee told "We could probably play better but you take the points where you can get them. What we might be the most happy with is how we're comfortable playing with one-goal leads. Not sure that was the case a few years ago. That's been a good sign."

Caps captain Alex Ovechkin agreed with his GM.

"It just shows character," he said. "I think sometimes a couple years ago, even a year ago, when we'd get the lead we'd start to get a little nervous about our leading and what we're going to do. Right now we play with confidence."

Part of that is credited to the new additions this season -- forwards Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Jeff Halpern, defenseman Roman Hamrlik and goalie Tomas Vokoun.

McPhee said he isn't sure how much help the new players have given, but he's sure it's helped.

"Sometimes there's a process for players to learn how to play in the right positions and learn how to check and be better defensively and know how to manage things that way," said McPhee. "When you bring some guys that can play that way, by watching it the light comes on and they understand better.

"It's so early (so) I don't know what kind of influence they've had, but we sure like having them here."

Caps forward Mike Knuble said the biggest thing he's seen from the new players has been an increase in the depth of talent, which has led to more players getting bigger bites of ice time in important situations.

"The biggest thing where they've helped is the depth," he said. "I think if you watch our ice times and the players, you can see that Bruce (Boudreau, coach) is really spreading out key moments, giving different key moments in a game to different players. Where he had to really load up guys and use 2-3 guys, now he's got four, five, six guys he can use in situations. As a player you've got to be ready. Might not be you every night … so now you have to be ready, sometimes he goes with you, sometimes he goes with someone else."

He might be playing fewer minutes now, but the 39-year-old knows less time now means more energy later in the season.

"You're not taxing your top players," he said. "You're not taxing your first centers, your first wingers, 22 minutes a game in October. They're bringing that back and he's rolling lines more. … I think it's a good thing for our team, because it cuts down wear and tear on guys first and foremost."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 "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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins