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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Couturier no longer a Malkin fan

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Sean Couturier used to admire how Evgeni Malkin played. The key words there, though, are used to.

"He's always going to be a good player, a great player, and he's well-respected around the League," Couturier said. "Right now it's a war out there, so there's no respect."

Couturier, who has limited Malkin to no goals and just one even-strength point through three games of the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, added that his admiration for Malkin's game probably won't return even after this series, not with the Penguins being the Flyers' biggest rival.

"Now that I play in this League every night I'm going to try to go hard," he said. "There are no friends out there so there is not going to be any pity, for sure."

"I just think he's another player and I do what I have to do."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:52 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Van Riemsdyk still working toward return

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Injured Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk took part in the full practice Tuesday, but he stayed on the ice long after it was over to do extra work and said he does not expect to play in in Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

"I'm just taking it day-by-day right now," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com. "I'm on the right path so I'm just going to keep worrying about that. You just have to take it one game at a time and when your number gets called be ready to go."

Van Riemsdyk hasn't played since March 1, when he broke his left foot blocking a shot from the Islanders' Milan Jurcina. He still is wearing a walking boot, but said he will be for a while even after he returns to the lineup.

He said he does expect to return at some point in the postseason, provided the Flyers advance. There's also a chance he plays later in this series if the Penguins can extend it.

"Every day that goes by it feels better so I am hoping to get to that point," van Riemsdyk said.

When asked the hypothetical question of would he be ready to play Wednesday if coach Peter Laviolette called for him, van Riemsdyk smiled and said, "I'll be ready, yup."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 3:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Hartnell got a kick out of seeing Timonen mix it up

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Scott Hartnell added some humor Monday into what really is a nasty series between two of the fiercest in-state rivals.

Hartnell drew more than a few laughs from the large media contingent when he talked about Kimmo Timonen fighting Kris Letang in the first period. Hartnell has been with Timonen since their days together in Nashville, and they both came to the Flyers before the 2007-08 season in the same trade for Peter Forsberg.

"In 12 years I haven't seen that guy with his heartbeat over 140, and the guy is over there scrapping with a tough guy like Letang," Hartnell said. "It's great to see."

He was asked about his orange and black necklace, which got yanked off by either Craig Adams or Sidney Crosby late in the third period.

"It's a Phiten bracelet that pitchers use in baseball," said Hartnell, who was wearing it Monday. "I don't know much about it, but it makes me feel good. I've been wearing it for half the year now. Obviously I didn't know it came off there, but when you're attacked from behind like that by a scrappy animal, something is going to go."

As for his hair getting pulled in that same sequence, Hartnell said, "I don't know what the rule is in the NHL rulebook about hair pulling, but maybe you should look into that. Letang has some nice hair over there on the other team and I'm sure he wouldn't like it if someone pulled his hair either. I'm definitely going to have to call Shanny about that."

He also offered a slight dig at Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has allowed 17 goals on 84 shots in the series.

"Obviously eight goals a night is usually going to get you a win," Hartnell said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 3:08 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Crosby comments met by smiles, silence from Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Sidney Crosby made a point of saying after the game Sunday that he does not like anybody on the Flyers. A smiling Claude Giroux responded in kind Monday.

"I guess we've got to be doing something right if he hates us, right?" Giroux said.

Giroux was also asked if the feeling is mutual from the Flyers to the Penguins.

"Well, with the first three games it's gotta be hard to like them," he said. "Obviously we're not big fans of them and that's why this series is so entertaining for the fans."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette predictably did not take the bait when he was asked for his thoughts on Crosby's comments.

"We're just trying to focus on the next game," he said. "I haven't thought much about it."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 1:33 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Return for Pens' Niskanen possible in Game 3

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen could become a part of this first-round series against the Flyers on Sunday if he gets through warmups OK.

Niskanen, who has not played since April 3 because of an upper-body injury, will take warmups for the first time in the series prior to Game 3. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called him a gametime decision, but if he is to play he will likely replace Ben Lovejoy, whose turnover led to Sean Couturier's hat-trick goal in Game 2 that made it 7-5.

The Flyers hold a 2-0 lead in the series.

"It's a strength issue," Bylsma said. "We know where he's obviously been at the last few days, and as long as that is there he'll be a possibility to play."

Niskanen, who had 21 points in the regular season, said Saturday that he will play through any pain, but he doesn't want to be restricted. He has missed four straight games.

"It's just killing me being in the press box. It really hurts to watch," Niskanen said. "But I've got to get back when I can, and I have confidence in the guys that we're going to turn it around."

After witnessing the Penguins and Flyers combine to score 20 goals in the first two series, Bylsma said he anticipates Game 3 could be different.

"The one thing about our series is it felt like that game (Game 3) was a Friday the 13th type of game," Bylsma said. "It was an odd game and it happened very fast. I'm not sure I've seen two goals scored in 16 seconds on a power play. You put your head down one second and there's another situation arising. It's been that way for the two games, but you talk about it now and I feel like we might be in for a low scoring affair (Sunday)."

It should be noted that the Penguins came back from 0-2 deficits twice in 2009 en route to winning the Stanley Cup. Their mentality heading into Game 3 Sunday is the same as it was when they were staring at a similar uphill battle against both Washington and Detroit three years ago.

"You can look at a lot of different situations to understand that right now it's about one game, getting one game to make this 2-1," Bylsma said. "You can look at '09. You can look at the Boston Bruins last year. There are other examples. That's the challenge right now, coming out real focused and real galvanized as a group to get a win here in Philly and make it 2-1."

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 2:06 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Bourdon not part of Flyers' morning skate

PITTSBURGH -- Flyers rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon did not take part in the morning skate Friday at Consol Energy Center, an indication that the upper-body injury he sustained in Game 1 will keep him out of the lineup for Game 2.

Pavel Kubina, a healthy scratch in Game 1, will draw into the lineup if Bourdon indeed can't play. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette does not update his lineup or talk about injuries.

Kubina had four assists and was a minus-3 in 17 games with Philadelphia after coming in a trade from Tampa Bay on Feb. 18. He missed seven games with an injury in March.

"It's always tough when you get traded and obviously it takes a little time to get used to everything, the new system, the new teammates and everything else," Kubina said. "I've been here two months now so I should be used to everything now."

Kubina, who won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, said he was disappointed that he was a healthy scratch in Game 1, but he is not holding any type of grudge.

"It's always hard when you're not playing and obviously everybody wants to play, but I do understand it," he said. "Hopefully I can help the team in the future."

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 2:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Projected lineup as Flyers go for 2-0 stranglehold

PITTSBURGH -- The Flyers have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in a seven-game series 17 times in their history. They have gone on to win the series every single time.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have been tied 1-1 in a series 32 times. They are under .500 in those series with a record of 15-17.

Those are two interesting little stats heading into Game 2 Friday, when the Flyers will be looking to take a 2-0 series lead back to Philadelphia. But they're also two meaningless stats to the orange and black.

"Game 1 is done and now it's another game. It's about playing Game 2," Flyers forward Maxime Talbot said. "The stats and all these things that happened, I don't really believe in that. Every year is a chance to make a new story, and tonight is one game and we'll treat it like that."

The stat that does matter to the Flyers is the amount of times they have fallen behind in games recently. They have been down by at least two goals in nine of their last 13 games.

Sure, they've come back to win three of them, including Game 1 on Wednesday, but it's not exactly a trend they want to keep going with.

"Not that we're afraid (of any deficit), but we'd rather not put ourselves in that position," Danny Briere said. "Obviously we go down and we have that belief we can come back, but at the same time we realize in the playoffs you're not going to make that happen as often in the regular season. You have to find a way to be better at the start, compete and weather the storm."

Here is the expected lineup that will be given the task of avoiding yet another slow start:

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

Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Pavel Kubina - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penalty killers have been game changers for Flyers

PITTSBURGH -- Their No. 1 goal is to stay out of the penalty box Friday in Game 2, but should the Flyers find that task to be impossible, they have complete confidence in a penalty kill that looked downright dominant in Game 1 against the Penguins.

While the talk in the Penguins dressing room since late Wednesday night has been about making adjustments on the power play, the talk in the Flyers room Friday was about staying consistent with what obviously worked so well.

After falling into a 3-0 hole early in Game 1, Philadelphia stole momentum with a PK that was perfect on three opportunities and gave up only five shots on goal. The Flyers killed off two penalties in the second period, including one when the score was still 3-0, and another early in the third when the deficit stood at 3-1.

Philadelphia was 17th in the League on the PK in the regular season (81.8 percent), but 19-for-22 in six games (86.4 percent) against the Penguins.

"Specialty teams always factors into a game, so if you look at it in that sense it definitely factored," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought at the end of the second we got better and in the third I really liked our period. I'm not sure if that was a direct result of the penalty kills, but if you think about it the penalty kills, if they let one through, that lead maybe becomes too big. It was big enough as it was."

The Flyers were successful on the PK in Game 1 because they did not give the Penguins' power play much room to operate. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was also good when called upon, but it was the time and space the Flyers took away from guys like Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal that led to their success and to the Penguins' lack of pressure in the attacking zone.

"We have a PK system and we try to do the same thing," Flyers forward Maxime Talbot said. "We know whatever element they put on the ice we have to try to contain him and do the best we can to try to kill the penalty. Yes we have to know who is there, who is left-handed and right-handed, who is a passer and shooter, but we have a way of killing and we have to do it right."

Talbot said the system does not change against the Penguins even though their attack includes superstars like Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Neal.

"You know they're dangerous weapons and instead of trying to fly at them you might contain him more, but in general it doesn't change that much," Talbot said.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 3:24 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Flyers know they need better starts

PITTSBURGH -- Although they've made a habit of getting down early in games and coming back, the Flyers understand it's not exactly the greatest formula for success in the playoffs, especially against a team with as much firepower as the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So what do they have to do to combat what has been a problem for a large portion of the season but has seemed to swell in the last month?

Well, it's simple really.

"We have to find a way to be ready from the get-go," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "That hasn't been the case the last few weeks. Games are getting tighter and tighter and we have to find a way to get better starts. That's why I say we got lucky [Wednesday], because against a really good team, down 3-0, you don't usually get back into the game."

For the third time in the last month the Flyers came back to beat the Penguins after falling into an early hole. This time it was 3-0. The last two times it was 2-0.

Philadelphia, though, now has won four games this season after trailing by at least three goals and has come back to win 10 games when trailing by at least two.

"It says a lot about the youth and firepower on our team that we can score goals and never be out of a game," Scott Hartnell said. "But I've said it once and I'll say it a hundred times, we can't be down 2-0 or 3-0 and expect to win."

The Flyers fell behind 3-0 in Game 1 because the Penguins took it to them with their speed. Granted, the Flyers had six rookies in the lineup and maybe that was a reason why they seemed to have that deer-in-the-headlights look in the first, but Timonen said that argument isn't valid because everybody had that look.

"Everybody was standing still," he said. "We were looking around and waiting to see what is going to happen. That's not a way to start the game. We need to come at these guys and make sure we're the ones to dictate the pace. [Friday] we have to be totally different from the first period on."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 3:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Kubina could return to Flyers' lineup for Game 2

PITTSBURGH -- Flyers rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon did not practice Thursday because of an the upper-body injury he sustained in Game 1 of the team's first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Peguins. While Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette would not comment on injuries or his lineup, it's possible veteran blueliner Pavel Kubina -- a healthy scratch in Game 1 -- could return to the lineup for Game 2 Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Laviolette said he would have no problem inserting Kubina into the lineup despite the fact that his struggles since coming to the Flyers from Tampa Bay in February likely were among the reasons why he was a healthy scratch Wednesday.

Kubina has four assists and a minus-3 rating in 17 games.

"Well, he is effective," Laviolette said. "Pavel has done a terrific job since he's been here, a welcome addition. Because he didn't play last night is not a reflection of him."

Kubina, who also would not reveal if he is going to play Friday, said while it was tough, he enjoyed watching the Flyers come back from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 1.

"It was an unbelievable effort in the second half and it was fun to watch that," Kubina said. "When you see the guys do so well and battling like that, it's fun to watch that even when you're not in."

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