VOORHEES, N.J. -- Only 10 players took the ice here at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone on Saturday, but one was of particular interest -- defenseman Nicklas Grossmann.
Grossmann sat out Game 4 with an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 3, and still is listed as day-to-day. However, Grossmann took two short spins on the ice with volunteer assistant coach Blair Betts -- he skated early with the extra players and then again with the regular group. If he's skating so soon after what teammate Claude Giroux called a concussion, there has to be hope for a rapid recovery, and possibly even a return for Game 6 on Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN).
Since arriving in Philadelphia just before the trade deadline, the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has provided the Flyers with a strong, steady, shot-blocking presence in the defensive zone. Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said a lack of blocked shots was a big reason the team lost Game 5 on Friday.
With Grossmann in the lineup, the Flyers blocked an average of 16.5 shots per game in the first four games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In Game 5, they blocked just 10.
"He's been great for us," Giroux said. "Defensively he plays against the best lines on the other side. He's a solid teammate. He's a guy that we rely on on the penalty kill and he racks up a lot of minutes on the ice. We'll see [if he plays]. It's good to have him on the ice."
The other players skating with the regular group were defensemen Andreas Lijla, Brandon Manning, Erik Gustafsson and Pavel Kubina, forwards Jody Shelley, Zac Rinaldo and Tom Sestito, and goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky.
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