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Flyers' Luke Schenn adds offense in first postseason

Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 2:41 PM
Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube has given his defensemen the green light to jump into the play in the offensive zone any time they see the opportunity.

But for Luke Schenn, that light always has been a blinking yellow.

In the first three games of the Flyers' Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers, however, Schenn only has seen green.

Schenn scored the game-winning goal in the Flyers' 4-2 victory in Game 2, driving to the net during a delayed penalty to bang in the rebound of an Adam Hall shot. He had a team-best five shots on goal in Game 3, and his eight shots in the first three games of the series are tied with rookie forward Jason Akeson for first on the team.

The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 2-1, with Game 4 on Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET, RDS, TSN, CNBC, MSG, CSN-PH).

"He's doing a better job of getting up in the rush," Berube said. "Whether it's confidence or listening to us and getting up and involved. He's got skill. He's like anybody else -- get up in the rush and get pucks to the net."

Schenn had four goals and 78 shots on goal in 79 games this season, and with 21 goals in 436 regular-season games he's known more for his defensive-zone reliability and physical play.

But the Stanley Cup Playoffs have a way of changing players, and that appears true for Schenn, who is experiencing the postseason for the first time in his six seasons.

"I've watched [the playoffs] ever since I can remember," Schenn said. "Even when you don't make the playoffs, being in the League but not making it, I've always watched it and really enjoy playoff hockey. It is pretty special to finally be here because of the wait."

Taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the fifth pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, Schenn sat out the postseason in his first four seasons. He was traded to Philadelphia in June 2012 and watched the Maple Leafs reach the playoffs without him as the Flyers sat out the postseason for the first time since 2007.

He said he started getting nervous for the 2014 playoffs after the Flyers clinched their postseason spot with a win against the Florida Panthers on April 8.

"I talked to Vinny [Lecavalier] a little bit," Schenn said. "We were out to dinner in Pittsburgh on one of our last games of the regular season and we started talking about it. You start to get a little bit of butterflies and excitement. You can't wait for it, knowing your team clinched a spot and it's around the corner."

He also talked to his younger brother, Flyers teammate Brayden Schenn, who had been a part of the Flyers' memorable first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012.

"I just told him … you can watch all you want, but there's nothing like playing it out there," Brayden said. "Things happen so fast, guys go so hard. Every little play matters. You can tell from not just our series but every series how intense it is."

After three games Luke has learned everything his teammates have told him about playoff hockey is true.

"It is what you expected and then some," Luke said. "Intensity ramps up more. Guys are sacrificing, trying to do whatever they can to win. I've always enjoyed watching playoff hockey and I enjoy playing playoff hockey. I don't have a ton of playoff experience, but it's awesome to be part of.

"Now that it's here, every game as soon as the game ends … it doesn't end the way you want, but you can't wait to get back out there. It's like nothing else I've experienced. It's got an intensity about it; it's exciting. It brings out the best in guys."

It's certainly brought out the best in Luke from an offensive standpoint. Brayden joked about his brother banging his stick on the ice to call for the puck during Game 3

"The old beaver tail? That's good," Brayden said. "When you feel you're open and you feel you're confident, you feel like you can make plays happen, you're going to do stuff like that.

"I think he's played well. You can see the confidence in his game. I hope he keeps it going."

Luke said his offensive play now is more of an ongoing progression to his game that he tried to bring out during the regular season.

"I've tried to work on my shot," he said. "Sometimes you don't get the opportunities, sometimes maybe you're not as comfortable as you think you should be, but as long as you continue to work at it, it should come. … I am getting a couple more shots through and joining the rush a little bit. I do feel good, for sure. You kind of find yourself in that zone."

So far that zone has been a pretty good place to be, and he hopes to extend his stay there as long as he can.

"I've always watched guys elevate their play in playoff hockey just from watching playoff hockey in the past," Luke said. "Guys find that extra gear. To be a successful team you need individuals trying to step up."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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