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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:12 PM

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

Sabres lose Pominville

The first period ended on a high for the Buffalo Sabres, who led 3-0, but the news wasn't all good as they lost forward Jason Pominville for the rest of the night.

Pominville hopped off the ice with about three minutes left in the first period. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he left the ice. The Sabres announced he has a lower-body injury and will not return.

Replays showed there was no hit that caused the injury. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Pominville was cut on the left leg by the blade of Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk's skate.

The Sabres also lost defenseman Jordan Leopold for the last six minutes of the first and the first 13 minutes of the second to what the team says was an upper-body injury.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 7:14 PM

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

Hecht on the mend

Jochen Hecht was a surprise participant at the Sabres' morning skate Friday.

It was the first time he was with the team since suffering getting hurt in a game at Toronto on March 29. The Sabres list him as having an upper-body injury, but the Buffalo News is reporting Hecht has a concussion.

"Jochen feels good," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's skating now, and hopefully next day or so he can get involved in full practices."

With Derek Roy also skating and nearing the four-month anniversary of his torn quadriceps, could the Sabres be close to having two major pieces back in their offensive arsenal?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 6:44 PM

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

Powe in Carter's spot?

At Friday's morning skate, Darroll Powe moved from the fourth line to Jeff Carter's spot on the wing on Claude Giroux's line with James van Riemsdyk, and could play there in Game 5 Friday.

Carter suffered a lower-body injury during Game 4 and is listed as day-to-day. CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the series.

Powe had 17 points in 81 games this season, and is a key member of the team's penalty-killing unit.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as is his norm, wouldn't discuss possible lineups. But he did say he likes what Powe can bring playing with more skilled linemates.

"Darroll Powe has been a really effective player for us," Laviolette said Friday morning. "Whatever line he's played on he's been terrific. He brings speed, and he can get in on the forecheck, can create things at the net. He's been a valuable part of our team."

With Carter and Andreas Nodl (upper-body injury) out and Powe moving up, it likely means Ben Holmstrom will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. He took shifts on the fourth line in practice Friday morning, with Blair Betts and Daniel Carcillo. The rookie forward was scoreless in two games earlier this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 5:56 PM

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

Pronger in or out?

Still no word yet on Chris Pronger's status for Game 5 here at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Flyers list him as day-to-day, and the team's PR staff said no announcement would come until around game-time, which tonight is 7:30 p.m. (VERSUS, TSN, RDS).

Pronger went through the full morning skate and did the normal amount of puck drills, shooting and passing. The big question is, did he take full slap shots. Well, it sort of depends on how you define "slap shot."

Was it a full-on, hardest-shot-competition, stick-blade-scraping-the-ceiling slapper? No. But it certainly wasn't a little flipping wrister. There was definite backswing, and certainly some mustard on the shot.

Some of those shots came after the full team left the ice; Pronger stayed alone and shot for about 20 minutes, working on shots both light and hard, from each of the faceoff dots. He only looked up once as he banged the pucks, and it came on his third-to-last shot from the dot to the right of the net, when he either fanned on a shot or just didn't hit it right and stopped and appeared to wince or grimace. After that, he went back to shooting pucks.

So what does it all mean? Well, if you read CSNPhilly.com, it means he's definitely out. But the Flyers have yet to announce anything, so really, anything is possible.

In the CSNPhilly.com story, the reason being reported for Pronger's absence is continued pain near the fractured area and a belief that the hand isn't strong enough for Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

However, coach Peter Laviolette was asked Thursday to respond to a hypothetical question: Can Pronger still be effective in a limited role?

"Can Chris Pronger play in a game in a limited role and be a factor in the game? Yes," replied Laviolette.

Laviolette answered that question in the hypothetical on Thursday. It will get answered for real sometime in the next 90 minutes.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.18.2011 / 1:16 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Leopold could play in Game 3

Buffalo News writer Bucky Gleason is reporting that Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold could return for Monday's Game 3.

Leopold, who tops all Buffalo defensemen with 13 goals, suffered a broken hand on March 25 and has not played since. He has been skating with the team for a little more than a week and was expected back on April 22.

If he is able to return, Leopold should be a huge boost to the Sabres' power play.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:29 PM

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

Who's your goalie?

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't talking goalies. He's got two to choose from for Game 3 on Monday, and there's a compelling argument either way.

On one side there's rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who had 28 wins and played well despite losing Game 1 Thursday against the Sabres.

On the other side is veteran Brian Boucher, who Laviolette and teammates credited with bringing a calmness to Game 2 Saturday when he relieved Bobrovsky after the rookie surrendered three goals on seven shots.

Teammates don't seem to care who's in net -- even if it's Michael Leighton, last year's playoff starter who is with the team now as an extra goalie.

"We've got three good goalies," said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. "To me it doesn't matter who's in there because I know they're going to do their job and play well."

Bobrovsky and Boucher had simiar regular-season numbers -- in 54 games, Bobrovsky went 28-13-8 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .919 save percentage; Boucher was 18-10-4 with a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage in 34 games.

What does stand out, however, is Bobrovsky's resiliency.  In 24 occasions this season he either suffered a loss or was pulled from a game, in the next game, he went 12-5-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

"In the past Bob has bounced back," said Laviolette. "He's come back (after) an outing he wishes things had gone differently and maybe we could have played better in front of him and he's come back with a strong performance."

So which way is Laviolette leaning? He's not giving any hints.

"Any decision you make with the lineup, they're difficult decisions," he said. "They're all difficult. You're talking about people that aren't playing in the lineup right now, that are scratches, those are difficult decisions as well. It's people's livelihood, they want to play. We got guys that are sitting out right now and I'm sure they'd much rather be in the lineup. There's no decisions taken lightly."

Boucher said he didn't think he would find out one way or the other until the team left for Buffalo.

"He's trying to juggle (Bobrovsky's) psyche, how he's feeling, and at the same time he's trying to win playoff series so we can move on and try to win a Stanley Cup," said Boucher. "I'm sure it's a high-pressure situation for Lavi. It's why he gets paid the big bucks, to make those decisions. He's been pretty good at pushing all the right buttons since he's been here. We'll see what happens."

So what would you do?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:21 PM

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

Pronger making trip to Buffalo

The Flyers have announced Chris Pronger will travel with the team to Buffalo, but does that mean he'll practice with the team? Or the "Black Aces," the extra players every playoff team carries? What about his potential return to the lineup for Game 3 on Monday?

One thing is for sure -- the players have moved past worrying about whether Pronger plays or doesn't play.

"I don't think about it," said Scott Hartnell. "He's around, he's working out. I don't know if he's skating before us or not. Until he's practicing with us for a few times we can't expect him back. He's definitely a presence, we miss him, but it's the farthest thing from our mind."

The other consideration could be an extra forward. Andreas Nodl is listed as day to day, and if he can't go in Game 3, it could be either Nikolay Zherdev or Jody Shelley drawing in.

Zherdev could be the missing element for a power play that's gone 1-for-15 in the series, including 0-for-3 on 5-on-3 chances. However, he's spent most of the season as a healthy scratch. Shelley hasn't played in a month due to a broken orbital bone, but he's been cleared to play and on Sunday ditched the full cage he had been wearing for a visor.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as per his usual, would not tip his hand as to which way he might be leaning with his lineup.

"All decisions are tough and they're not taken lightly," he said. "You try to do what's best for the team. Ultimately somebody goes and somebody doesn't. The people that don't, they want to play. They're proud guys and they want to play and I respect that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 11:13 AM

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

Pronger off the ice Sunday

Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger did not practice Sunday, leaving in question his availability for Game 3 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN).

Pronger has not played since March 8 due to a broken bone in his right hand. He has been skating for about two weeks, but away from the team, and his sessions have been almost exclusively limited to skating drills. He worked with a puck Wednesday but made only soft passes and light shots, and only touched the puck one time Friday, skating laterally with it along the blue line and then letting it roll of his stick.

Prior to the Flyers announcing Saturday that Pronger would miss Game 2, CSNPhilly.com reported Pronger would miss Game 2 and Game 3 -- if not more.

The club continues to list Pronger as day-to-day with his injury.

In other injury news, forward Andreas Nodl played just 3:43 in Game 2 due to what the team called an upper-body injury. The team did not issue any other updates, but if Nodl can't play, the two most likely options to replace him for Game 3 are Nikolay Zherdev and Jody Shelley.

Zherdev brings a dynamic offensive element. He had been skating on a line with Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter for the final five regular-season games, but has been a healthy scratch in the first two playoff games, with James van Riemsdyk playing very well in that spot.

Shelley brings a more physical element. Despite not playing in a month due to a broken orbital bone and still wearing a full cage to protect his face, he's been medically cleared to play.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 10:52 AM

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

Pronger skating again, but is that all?

Chris Pronger took the ice at 10:14 a.m. here at Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, but his work continues with injured defenseman Oskars Bartulis and Ian Laperriere, who ran the drills. Pronger did all skating drills for the first 30 minutes and now is handling pucks a little bit, but he's not taking shots. Rather, he's skating across the blue line with the puck, but instead of shooting he's just dumping the puck into the boards.

We'll have more following the session, and maybe even more if Pronger decides to talk today.

UPDATE: Pronger off the ice after 51 minutes. Only one time did he touch the puck, just the one time he carried the puck along the blue line and then dumped it to the wall. The guess in the media room is he won't be speaking later today, but if he does, NHL.com will be there.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 11:54 PM

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

Flyers' Betts sees similarties between this year and last

Despite the fact Philadelphia wasn't forced to battle through the final game of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs as they did last year, fourth-line center Blair Betts sees plenty of similarities between this year's club and the one that earned a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season in 2009-10.

"Just looking back, we weren't playing all that well going into playoffs last year either," Betts told NHL.com. "It's not like we won a ton of games at the end of the year to make it in. We kind of limped in and then that playoff atmosphere just kind of lifted our level of play.

"This year, I think we're in the same situation. We were kind of playing mediocre hockey down the stretch. I expect the playoff atmosphere to lift our game a little bit and I think it will. I think we have a team that's built for playoff hockey … guys that seem to elevate their game this time of the year and that's what you need to be successful in the playoffs."

The Flyers certainly exhibited that passion and intensity that may have been lacking over the last few weeks in Game 1 of their series-opening 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Still, they had nothing to show for it.

Without the services of defenseman Chris Pronger, Betts believes the team needs to manage the puck with special care.

"Making good decisions with the puck and puck management are key," he said. "Chris Pronger is a big part of our team … he has an ability to slow things down when it's hectic. But we've had great games without him and we have the personnel in here to make up what he's taken out of the lineup."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was asked if Pronger would have made a difference if he was in the lineup.

"If Chris Pronger was available, he could be a difference maker," he said. "I think that speaks for itself. But he's not so there is no sense in worrying about things we don't have right now."

Despite a good effort, which saw the Flyers outshoot the Sabres, 35-25, Laviolette believes his team could be even better.

"I think we can be better," he said. "There are things we can get better on and we'll will focus on that (on Friday) and be ready to go for Game 2. It's the scoreboard that we need to make sure we have in check. We did a lot of the things we wanted to do, but that's not good enough in the playoffs."

Betts, one of the League's most underrated defensive-forwards, returned to the lineup on Thursday after sitting out three games with a knee injury.

"(Buffalo) has a little bit of everything … guys who can score like (Thomas) Vanek, guys that make plays like (Tim) Connolly, some gritty, physical players and small shifty guys like (Nathan) Gerbe. Of course, goaltending could make a difference."

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A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery