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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 1:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Flyers' Raffl, Akeson eager to make playoff debuts

NEW YORK -- Growing up in Austria, Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl said he tried to follow the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but with the time difference it was difficult. His teammate, forward Jason Akeson, had easier access to the NHL as a child in Ottawa.

On Thursday they will find out what the NHL postseason is really like when the Flyers face the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG).

"It's great," Raffl said. "I feel like a child before Christmas. Just want to get out there."

Raffl had 68 regular-season games to acclimate himself to life and hockey in North America, but said he's sensed things have changed now that the postseason has started.

"You feel it," he said. "It's something special, like a new season starting."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 1:22 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Flyers' top line ready for Rangers' defensive pressure

NEW YORK -- One of the more interesting games within the game will come when the Philadelphia Flyers deploy their top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek against the New York Rangers' top defense pair of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

With Game 1 of the First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG) at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers have the advantage of having the last change.

Said Hartnell on what he's learned from four regular-season games against McDonagh and Girardi: "How good they are, especially here."

In four games against the Flyers this season, McDonagh had one goal, one assist and a plus-2 rating, while Girardi had no points and an even plus/minus rating.

"We have to get it behind them, make them go 200 feet, be physical on them every chance you get," Hartnell said. "In a seven-game series that's wear and tear on them. If we're not turning pucks over, especially our line, against those two guys we'll be fairly effective."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 12:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Mason to join Flyers in New York on Friday

NEW YORK -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason will join the team here Friday, according to coach Craig Berube.

Mason was ruled out of Game 1 of the Flyers' Eastern Conference First Round series Thursday against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG) due to an upper-body injury sustained Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 2 is Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN, RDS).

"He is doing better [Thursday] and he'll be joining the hockey team," Berube said.


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 1:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Emery to start Game 1 for Flyers with Mason out

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Goalie Ray Emery will start for the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN) at Madison Square Garden.

Starting goaltender Steve Mason is out with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He remains listed as day-to-day. Flyers coach Craig Berube said Mason will not travel with the team to New York on Wednesday afternoon and instead stay behind to receive treatment.

Berube said Tuesday he expected Mason to join the Flyers for practice Wednesday but Mason never made it to the facility. Mason was on the ice for about 40 minutes Tuesday, but most of that time was spent doing individual work with goalie coach Jeff Reese. Mason spent about 15 minutes with the full team.

"[Mason] just didn't feel good," Berube said Wednesday. "It's precautionary. We're doing what we can to help him do what's best. ... He's a day-to-day thing. Not ready to go. That's it. He's not ready to go, so he's not playing."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:40 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Flyers' newcomer Akeson could get call vs. Rangers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Jason Akeson was hoping all season he would get the call, the one that would summon the 23-year-old from the American Hockey League to the Philadelphia Flyers.

But as the days left in the regular season wound down, he gave it less and less of a chance of it happening.

A week later, Akeson finds himself on the cusp of starting his first Stanley Cup Playoff game when the Flyers open the Eastern Conference First Round at the New York Rangers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN).

"A couple weeks ago if you asked me I never would have told you I'd be here," Akeson said after practice Tuesday. "So it's pretty special."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 2:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Mason joins Flyers for practice, uncertain for Game 1

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason joined the team for practice Tuesday as it prepares for its Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Rangers, but the Flyers remain unsure if their top goaltender will be available for the start of the postseason.

Mason sustained an upper-body injury with 2:33 left in the second period Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins when teammate Andrew MacDonald was pushed into him by Penguins forward Jayson Megna. Mason played the remainder of the period but Ray Emery came on in relief to start the third.

"I feel better each day and we'll see how I feel [Wednesday]," Mason said via the Flyers public relations department. He opted not to speak to the media after practice.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 2:02 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Heeter to debut for Flyers, Akeson recalled

PHILADELPHIA -- With the Philadelphia Flyers focused on the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Craig Berube is using the game Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes to get a few of his players an extra day of rest while getting a closer look at two depth players.

Berube said Calvin Heeter will make his first NHL start in goal. He had been called up twice previously this season, but the 25-year-old undrafted rookie only had gotten as far as the bench as the backup.

In 44 games with the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers' American Hockey League team, Heeter went 16-25-2 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

"He moves well in net," Berube said. "He's a competitive guy, good-size goalie. He really moves well in the net, very active in net. A competitive guy, makes second-effort saves."

Heeter was needed after Steve Mason sustained an upper-body injury late in the second period Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ray Emery came on in relief and will be the backup Sunday.

Berube said he's positive Mason will be ready when the playoffs start.

"I think he'll be fine," he said. "I do. I can't guarantee that, but I believe he'll be fine."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.06.2014 / 2:18 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Struggling Flyers refuse to look past Sabres

PHILADELPHIA -- With one win in their past seven games and teams racing up behind them in the Stanley Cup Playoff chase, the Philadelphia Flyers have their focus squarely set on their opponent Sunday, the Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

"I'd say it's a must-win for us," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. "We have to treat this as the last game of the year to get in the playoffs. We need two points. It's getting little too close for comfort right now with the way we've played the last few games."

The Flyers are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday and are 1-4-2 in their past seven. They're third in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and three ahead of the New Jersey Devils.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 1:29 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers' Timonen returns, ready for 'playoff mode'

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will have one of their most important players back in the lineup when defenseman Kimmo Timonen returns Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Timonen sat out Philadelphia's 1-0 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday with an upper-body injury after being hit in the chin by a puck in their shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

"It's always good to have him," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "He's a great player, a very good player for us. Power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5. He's a very good player, so when he's out of the lineup we miss him."

Timonen, 39, is second among Philadelphia defensemen with 32 points in 71 games; in 14 games since the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics he has three goals and 10 assists.

"I like this time of year," Timonen said. "The sun is up. We get right into playoff mode, every game matters. It's easier coming to the rink when you know you have to play your best. Especially after the Olympics. I knew there were tough games coming up and it was a tough schedule. Anytime it gets under 20 games it's really easy to play."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 12:10 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers' Downie won't play against Bruins

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie will miss his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury Sunday against the Boston Bruins (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), but could be close to returning to the lineup.

Downie, who was hurt on the opening shift of the Flyers' game March 22 against the St. Louis Blues when he collided with St. Louis' Patrik Berglund, was a full participant at practice Saturday.

"I feel pretty good, actually," Downie said. "I'm almost ready. Nothing's really bothering me. There's just a couple more steps I need to take.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres