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Asham to 'crash' Flyers' top line

Thursday, 10.22.2009 / 4:18 PM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"I know what my role is with that line. I'm going to give them the puck, crash the net and work in the corners and kind of be a physical presence out there and make sure no one takes any liberties on Gags or Richie."
-- Arron Asham

PHILADELPHIA -- Arron Asham didn't expect to be a healthy scratch for the first three games this season. He also didn't expect to play on the Flyers' top line.

But that's where the feisty right wing will find himself to start Thursday's game against the visiting Boston Bruins -- alongside All-Stars Simon Gagne and Mike Richards.

"I know what my role is with that line," Asham said. "I'm going to give them the puck, crash the net and work in the corners and kind of be a physical presence out there and make sure no one takes any liberties on Gags or Richie."

The hope is Asham can do for Gagne what Scott Hartnell did for Jeff Carter last year -- crash the net and open up scoring space. It worked for Carter, who was second in the League last season with 46 goals. Gagne is a two-time 40-goal scorer, but has yet to light the lamp this season.

"Ash has shown the ability to play with offensive guys," said coach John Stevens. "He has great hands, good vision, and he's a bigger guy on the line who can get to the net."

"Arron is a type of guy who will go in front of the net," said Gagne. "He will give me and Richie a chance to play with more space. He will keep the puck on his stick longer; I'm the type of guy that likes to get open. People will be surprised -- he (Asham) has got more skill than people think."

Asham got his chance to get back in the lineup thanks to injuries to Blair Betts and James van Riemsdyk. Van Riemsdyk is healthy, and Betts is close to returning, so Asham knows he has to make the most of his chance.

"It really hit me out of nowhere," Asham said of being scratched. "I hadn't been a healthy scratch in a long time. I definitely feel a lot better now. (Being scratched) motivated me to work harder."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
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