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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 9:21 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Second period: Flyers 3, Sabres 0

Philadelphia's missing power play apparently has been found.
 
 The Flyers were 3-for-31 with the man-advantage in the first six games, but scored twice in the second period to pad their lead.
 
First Danny Briere again beat Paul Gaustad on a draw to the left of goalie Ryan Miller, this time winning the puck back to Mike Richards at the right point. Richards fired a shot through traffic that somehow found Briere. With Miller out playing the angle, Briere had an easy tap-in.
 
That goal five seconds after the Sabres' Tyler Myers was sent off for interference.
 
Later in the period, Claude Giroux fired a shot from the left circle that Miller never saw through a James van Riemsdyk screen at 10:19 that made it 3-0. The goal came 1:10 into a hooking penalty on the Sabres' Chris Butler.
 
The Sabres were far better in the second, nearly scoring a power-play goal following an interference penalty in Giroux just 1:04 in. They had three shots on the man-advantage, which was more than they had in the entire first period.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 8:50 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

First period: Flyers 1, Sabres 0

The Flyers had full command of the first period, out-shooting the Sabres 16-2 and getting the period's lone goal, from defenseman Braydon Coburn in the final minute of the period.

On a faceoff in the right circle in the Buffalo end, the Flyers' Claude Giroux set up to take the draw against Buffalo's Paul Gaustad. A false start led to Giroux getting kicked out of the circle, replaced by Danny Briere. It worked out for the Flyers, however, when Briere beat Gaustad cleanly, winning the puck straight back to Coburn at the point. Coburn took a couple strides to his left and sent a shot on net that appeared to glance of the glove of the Sabres' Mike Grier. Ryan Miller couldn't react to the re-direction and the puck slipped between his pads with 18.5 seconds left.

The Sabres' second shot of the period came 9:08 into the period, meaning they went the final 10 minutes-plus without a shot. That included the period's only power play, when Briere was sent off for boarding Rob Niedermayer.

On the recovered-player front, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger played 12 shifts totaling 6:37 -- all at even strength.
That's already more than the 4:33 he played in Game 6. He had one shot -- the game's first -- and three blocked shots.

For the Sabres, Derek Roy started the game -- his first since Dec. 23 -- and played 11 shifts totaling 6:54. He didn't have a shot, but went 2-for-5 on faceoffs.

Jochen Hecht, in his first game back from an upper-body injury, played eight shifts totaling 5:05. He was a minus-1, but had one hit and two takeaways.

The second period's about to get under way, so back to the game we go.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 6:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

"Lappy" talks Masterton Award; fans of Philly

Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere is reminded almost every day of the sacrifices he's made as a professional hockey player -- and he couldn't be happier.

As it turns out, the bond he created with those fans of Philadelphia in the short time he has been with the organization has left a lasting impression.


"Everywhere I go, people were nice enough to come up and thank me for taking two pucks in the face," Laperriere told the media after learning he was one of three finalists for the 2010-11 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

"It's funny but true and I wish I could have signed here 10 years ago," he continued. "In saying that, I had a great time in L.A. and Colorado and everywhere I played. As long as I got skates on and teammates around me, that's the best place I can be."

Laperriere sustained a severe head injury during last year's playoffs when he blocked a Paul Martin slapshot with his face against New Jersey and suffered a concussion and fractured orbital bone. He returned a little more than a month later to finish the Flyers' playoff run that ended two games short of a championship. He attempted to return in training camp, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list all season.

Nevertheless, he has served the Flyers in several capacities, particularly as a mentor for young players in the organization. It's a role he's enjoyed.

"I love working with the young guys," he said. "I've gotten a head start to meet those guys and their junior teams. If I have to make that call, I would want to stay in the game whether that be as an assistant or working with the team in some way. I enjoy skating with (Chris) Pronger and (Matt) Walker and with the black aces.

"The happiest place I am is at the rink. I don't know if everyone can say their happiest place is at the office but I can. People say to me, why don't you spend time with your kids, but my kids are at school most of the day; they have their own lives too. I'd love to sit next to them, but I can't."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was glad to see Laperriere named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy.

"You're talking about one of the finest people you can meet," Laviolette said. "He's a terrific teammate, terrific friend to a lot of players and somebody you really enjoyed coaching and working with. Having him around still is a positive for our organization. I'm happy for the nomination, well deserved."

Now Laperriere is just hoping to have an opportunity to be in Las Vegas for the Awards ceremony on June 22.

"I knew hockey before I met my wife, so it's something that's going to be with me forever," Laperriere said. "The passion that I brought on the ice was because I loved the game. Off the ice, I always tried to be as normal a guy as I could be."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 6:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Flyers have been here before

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he doesn't see any Game 7-related panic in his team. He credits some of that to the experience from Sunday.

"We've already been here," he said in his pre-game media briefing. "We were already faced with this last game. I know it's a Game 7, but our Game 7 was Game 6. We've already got a little bit of experience."

He also said he puts no stock in any momentum that might have been gained from the 4-3 overtime win in Game 6.

"Momentum can be the death of you," he said. "Give me a heavy dose of desperation and I'll be happy."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres banged-up but not broken

The Buffalo Sabres could be missing a lot more than just forwards Tim Connolly (upper body) and Jason Pominville (lower body) for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal round match against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff did confirm that either Patrick Kaleta or Mike Grier would be sidelined but was mum on the status of defenseman Jordan Leopold. According to the Buffalo News, Kaleta is "definitely" out with an apparent hand injury. Grier and Leopold, meanwhile, are listed as game-time decisions.
Lindy Ruff Buffalo Sabres, coach

Meanwhile, Jochen Hecht (upper body), who hasn't played since March 29, and Andrej Sekera (upper body) remain questionable despite the fact they did skate on Tuesday.

"I'm getting better every day," Hecht told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Am I playable? It's a close call. It's nerve-wracking sitting out. It would make it a lot easier on my nerves just to play. It's definitely hard to watch."

There is some positive news: center Derek Roy returns to the lineup following a four-month absence with a quad injury. Roy claims to be 100 percent, which is good since Ruff expects him to "do a lot."

"Between the regular season and playoffs, there's another notch there where it's got to be quicker and faster," Ruff said. "The intensity is a lot greater, so things are going to have to happen quicker. It might take him a few shifts, but I think he's up to the task.

"We need him to do a lot. We need him to step in and be a big player. It's tough. He hasn't been in a game in four months, but we're ready to give it a go."

Ruff is looking forward to Tuesday's Game 7 against the Flyers.

"We've kind of wrapped our arms around this underdog status and we've been beaten up and lost a lot of players and I think the players' mindset is great," he said. "We have no pressure. We just have to go out and play. These guys have given everything they can give me for 4-1/2 months and battled through adversity. I expect the same (Tuesday). It's a one game showdown and we're looking forward to it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Boucher has seen Briere at best, worst

Brian Boucher has a bit of a different perspective on Danny Briere than others might have. The two are teammates now in Philadelphia, but it's not the first time they've been together. They were teammates for most of the 2002-03 season with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Boucher was in his first season in the desert, arriving in an offseason trade with the Flyers. Briere was in what would end up as his final season with the Coyotes, as he was traded in March 2003 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Boucher remembers Briere as a talented player who couldn't find his niche in the lineup. He had scored 32 goals in the 2001-02 season, but had slumped to 17 -- with a minus-21 rating -- in 68 games at the time of his trade.

"(In Phoenix) he was trying to find his way, fighting through being in and out of the lineup and coaches not trusting him on the ice," said Boucher. "The typical stuff that happens to young guys."

Briere was taken by the Coyotes in the first round of the 1996 Entry Draft, but never became the top-flight scorer Phoenix had hoped for. He was waived twice by the Coyotes before getting traded to the Sabres, where he eventually developed into an All-Star. He signed with the Flyers in July 2007, and the pair briefly was reunited before Boucher was sent to the minors and then traded to San Jose. Boucher returned to the Flyers in the summer of 2009, and has had a front-row seat for Briere's rise to playoff stardom the last two seasons.

"He's a resilient guy, has a lot of fight in him," said Boucher. "When he broke into the League, size was always an issue back then. It was always like, this guy's too small. Now that's changed where now size really isn't a factor. If you can skate, you can play.

"Now you can see it. He's a true leader. He can bring it. When he's inspired like he's been, there's nobody better. It's been great."

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

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:10 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

This Game 7 is a long time coming for Boucher

Brian Boucher has started one other Game 7 in his NHL career -- the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. He stopped 16 of 18 shots that night in a 2-1 loss.

Back then, Boucher was a 23-year-old rookie getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When he starts Game 7, he'll be a grizzled 34-year-old in his third stint with the Flyers in an NHL journey that's taken him to Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus and San Jose, with a couple stops in the American Hockey League included.

"I think what's changed is the fact that there's a lot of years in between then and now," he told reporters Monday. "There's a lot of experience gained. I feel like I'm a better goalie today than I was back then. The fact that I was fresh-faced and had a lot of energy and a lot of spunk, I think that was what carried me at that time. Now I feel like I'm a smarter goaltender. I've learned a lot. Maybe that'll help out."

One of the things he's learned is to laugh off some of the things that come up in the media at playoff time. Like, how the Buffalo News called the Flyers' three starting goalies in the series -- Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton -- the Three Stooges.

When Boucher was asked which his favorite Stooge was, he just laughed.

"That's pretty funny," he said. "Which was the bald-headed one? Curly, that's the guy. Maybe I'll be Curly."

Boucher said the benefit of age also has helped him be able to take his mind off the game.

"For me it's pretty easy," he said. "I've got a family at home and you can't ignore your duties as a father or as a husband. When I get home, it's life as usual. For me, it's easy to (get away from the game). For guys that are single or on their own, it might be more difficult. We've got baseball practice today at 5 p.m. for my son. It's a beautiful day so far, go catch some sunshine."

In five games in this series (three starts, two relief appearances), Boucher is 3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, both of which rank fifth among all playoff goalies.

"There's a tremendous amount of confidence in Brian Boucher, there's no question about that," coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday morning.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 10:05 PM

By Jeremy Sandler -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Ruff: Roy will play in Game 7

With Tim Connolly now sidelined following a hit by Mike Richards, the Buffalo Sabres are going to need some reinforcements.

Enter Derek Roy.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Roy will take Connolly's spot on Tuesday, when the Philadelphia Flyers will host the Sabres in Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

Roy, also a center, had 10 goals and 35 points in 35 games for Buffalo this season but has not played since tearing a quad tendon in December, an injury that required surgery to fix.

"He's going to be ready," said Ruff. "We'll get him ready."

As for the rest of his shorthanded team, the Sabres coach said the key task for Game 7 in Philadelphia will be getting his best players to deliver top performances.

"This team's got a lot of battle, incredible battle," he said. "This team is going to battle 'til the bitter end. We're going in there, we know we've won two games in that building. We're going in for a win."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:16 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Nostra-Ennis?

Even Tyler Ennis was surprised he wasn't nervous waiting for overtime to start in Game 5 against the Flyers on Friday.

"I thought I was going to be a little nervous heading to the overtime, but I was excited, couldn't wait for it to start," he said. I really wanted to score."

He wanted it so bad, he could see it happening.

"I was picturing myself scoring," he said. "It was exciting."

Buffalo's Tyler Ennis (left) brought his vision to life with this overtime goal in Game 5 to lift the Sabres to a 4-3 win against the Flyers.
In case you didn't see it, here's how it looked.

Ennis said he kept his clairvoyance to himself. Maybe he didn't want to jinx it?

"I was trying to pump other guys up, 'Be a good feeling to get it, go get it,'" he said. "But deep down I wanted to get it."

That's the kind of attitude Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is happy to hear from Ennis. In his first full NHL season, Ennis emerged as a key contributor to the Buffalo offense, finishing fourth on the team with 20 goals and 49 points. But he had just 1 assist in the first four games against the Flyers.

That all changed in Game 5, as he scored the game's first and last goals and has helped the Sabres move within one win of the second round.

"I just know your first year is tough," Ruff told reporters Saturday. "It's a grind. If you look at the last three months, every game has been a game that has meant so much to our team. We really couldn’t fall flat for a period of time and for young players, adjusting to that pressure on a daily basis is not easy. I think he's got over the hump, the energy's back in his game. You could see (in Game 5), he was dangerous every time he was on the ice."

Ennis is enjoying his increased role this postseason for the Sabres.

"Last year I just got called up at the end of the season," he said. "I was just playing and enjoying it and relishing the moment. This year I'm really committed to making a difference. I have to make a difference because that's my role. I have to produce. Last year I was just enjoying the moment. This year I'm driven and really want to make a difference."

Ruff also enjoyed hearing Ennis' post-game comments about how much fun he was having playing in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, which has the reputation of being one of the more intimidating places to play as a visiting player.

"I said (Friday) after the game, it puts a smile on your face to see a guy play like he did," said Ruff. "Then he makes the comments about what a great place to play and so much fun. It's always typically been one of the toughest buildings to go into. That's the attitude we have to take -- no excuses."

Goalie Ryan Miller also has liked what he's seen from Ennis in a leading role this year after his supporting role last year.

"I think last year he was just happy to be here," said Miller. "I think this year he understands he's a big player. We need him to be creative and we also need him to be smart. That creativity needs to come in situations where it's a little bit safer with the puck. The Flyers are a team that can thrive on turnovers. (Friday) was a great example. He got loose and a lot of his moves were from separation, led to some great chances. There was one move where he went inside-out on two guys, and not many people in the League can get through that situation. That's the kind of play he can bring. He's doing it at the right time."

Miller said he likes the fearlessness he's seen not just in Ennis, but in a number of his younger players.

"You can't be afraid to have success," said Miller. "You have to put yourself out there to accomplish anything. There's a risk of losing, there's a risk of looking bad, there's a risk of a lot of different things when you go for big wins or put yourself in position to accomplish something great. I think it's good we're taking the attitude that we want to go for it and we want to win and make the choice that we want to make a difference."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 10:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Latest on Pronger

It wouldn't be a day around the Flyers if the question of Chris Pronger's status wasn't raised.

The All-Star defenseman skated and took shots hard and light during Saturday's practice, and he continues to be listed as day-to-day and a game-time decision for Game 6 -- the same status he's had for every other game of this series.

CSNPhilly.com reported on Friday that Pronger won't play in the series due to him continuing to have pain in his surgically repaired right hand, as well as feeling the hand is not stable enough to allow Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

Then again, could Pronger pressure GM Paul Holmgren and coach Peter Laviolette to write his name in the lineup, even if it means playing a limited role, to help his team survive an elimination game Sunday in Buffalo?

Pronger refused to speak to the media, and has said he won't do so until after he plays his first game.

While Pronger practiced, two other injured Flyers stayed off the ice. Forward Andreas Nodl is day to day with an upper-body injury and hasn't played or practiced since getting hurt in Game 2. Forward Jeff Carter, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 4, also is listed as day to day. However, CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained ligament in his right knee and will not play for at least the remainder of the series.

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

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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh