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Carcillo a likely healthy scratch
05.24.2010 / 2:48 p.m. ET

Darren Dreger of TSN and The NHL Network is reporting this afternoon that wing Daniel Carcillo will remain a healthy scratch on Monday for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Wachovia Center as the Philadelphia Flyers look to finish off the Montreal Canadiens.

As expected, Jeff Carter, who replaced Carcillo Saturday when the Flyers scored a 3-0 victory in Game 4 at Bell Centre in Montreal, will return to the team's top line alongside Simon Gagne and Mike Richards. Ian Laperriere will also be in the lineup for Andreas Nodl, as was the case on Saturday afternoon.

Carter finished Game 4 with 13:51 of playing time on 22 shifts, notching four shots, four hits and two blocked shots while winning three of four faceoffs. He averaged a little over 19 minutes a game during the regular season. Laperriere logged 9:13 of ice time on 16 shifts while also seeing some time on the penalty kill. He blocked one shot, had one steal and a big offensive-zone hit on defenseman Jaroslav Spacek.

Carter was asked by the media on Monday morning if there was any trepidation on his part stepping on the ice for the first time with his team since having a plate inserted on the shaft of the metatarsal of his second toe on his right foot 29 days prior.

"There were some nerves and stuff like that," Carter said. "I obviously jumped into a big game like that. I didn't want to go on and mess anything up with the way the boys were going. I just wanted to go out there and keep it simple and play my game as best I could.  I was happy with the way things went.

"I wanted to get out there and get as many pucks on the net as I could," Carter continued. "I tried to get myself in the game pretty early; and I had that hit at center ice that kind of got me going a little bit and gave me a little confidence."

--Mike G. Morreale

Here we go again
05.24.2010 / 1:15 PM ET

The Montreal Canadiens face elimination for the sixth time this postseason as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Wachovia Center. They know the drill.

"It's what it is," defenseman Hal Gill said. "It's do-or-die. The pressure's on, but in reality it's a feeling of, 'Hey, we've just got to play.' We don't have any choice here. Just go out there and do the best we can. That's all we can do."

So, what do the Habs have to do to force a Game 6 in Montreal on Wednesday?

"We have to play our best," Josh Gorges said. "It seems like all year when we've had to play through adversity and we've faced a lot of through the course of the year that we seem to play our best hockey. The team comes together and we do what's necessary. We're going to need that same mentality here tonight."

Few, if any, thought the Habs would rally from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Washington Capitals. But they did. The amount was probably similar when the Penguins won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to take a 3-2 series lead.

Once again, though, the Canadiens found a way. Gorges admitted his team feeds off such negativity.

"Being down 3-1 in any series, most people are going to write you off," Gorges said. "But the thing about this team is there's no quit. We're not going to stop fighting. We're going to come out and give everything we have. Hopefully we get the results that we want."

-- One other quick note from Monday's morning skate: Tom Pyatt, who suffered an upper-body injury during the 3-0 loss in Game 4, did not skate. Coach Jacques Martin said Pyatt will be a game-time decision.

If Pyatt can't play -- which is likely -- speculation is he'll be replaced by Mathieu Darche, who has one assist in 10 games this postseason.

-- Brian Compton

Caught in the act

05.24.2010 / 12:56 p.m. ET

Flyers forward Claude Giroux caught himself daydreaming a bit too much on Sunday afternoon.

Still, it's hard to blame him, particularly since he's just one win away from earning a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

"Actually, yesterday, I was thinking about it," he told the media following his team's morning skate at Wachovia Center on Monday. "I was looking at the big picture and winning the Stanley Cup. I told myself not to really think about that. Just got to go game by game, and I think that's one of the reasons why we're here."

Giroux has certainly been a huge success story in the playoffs this spring. He's second on the team in goals (8) and points (16) and owns a team-leading plus-9 rating.

"Now we just focus on the game we have in front of us, and we're not looking at the big picture," he said. "I think if we keep doing that, just put all of our energy in that next game, I think it's huge. I think we should keep thinking like that."

--Mike G. Morreale

Focus remains on Les Habitants
05.24.2010 / 12:41 p.m. ET

Just because the Western Conference representative has already been finalized for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is of no concern to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers forward Danny Briere was asked if knowing that Chicago has already advanced to the Cup Final adds any motivation heading into Monday night's Game 5 at Wachovia Center.

"Well, I mean the one thing we don't want to do is look past Montreal," Briere said. "We can't control what happened on the other side. We'll deal with that once it's all over. I really don't want to start looking past Montreal. There is one big, tough game left to win for us (with the Flyers holding a 3-1 lead in the series). Hopefully it's tonight. That's what we're focusing on."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette knows the Canadiens are going to come out firing on all cylinders.

"They're a team that I really feel like we're going to have to play hard tonight," he said. "We're really going to have to compete. Our compete level may have to be the best in this game tonight that it's been all series. We're going to have to make sure that we're willing to battle them for pucks and space and positioning, as hard as they're going to battle to keep their chances alive. I really feel like that's a key point tonight."

--Mike G. Morreale

Adding injury to insult
05.22.2010 / 7:40 p.m. ET

As if Saturday's 3-0 loss wasn't dispiriting enough, the Montreal Canadiens may well be without energy line forward Tom Pyatt for a do-or-die Game 5.

Pyatt, who had a goal and an assist in Game 4, and has been one of Montreal's best players in this series, suffered an apparent upper-body injury during the second period and did not return for the third period. He played 10:45 in the first two periods and had a shot on goal, but was also a minus-1.

Montreal coach Jacques Martin said Pyatt would be reevaluated Sunday and his status for Monday's game is unknown.

If Pyatt can't go, the Canadiens would likely call upon either Andrei Kostitsyn or Mathieu Darche. Both have already made appearances in this series.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Flyers' Carter, Laperriere to play in Game 4
05.22.2010 / 1:48 p.m. ET

According to multiple sources, both Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter will return to the Flyers lineup for Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

The Flyers lead the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final, 2-1.

Darren Dreger of TSN and the NHL Network is reporting that forwards Andreas Nodl and Daniel Carcillo will be listed as healthy scratches to make room for Laperriere and Carter.
 
During Friday's practice at Bell Centre, Laperriere skated on a line with Darroll Powe and Blair Betts. Laperriere skated hard and authoritatively during Friday's session, leaving little doubt that he would return to the lineup following a 10-game absence while he recovered from a brain contusion suffered April 22. He was cleared for contact on Monday and has been skating with the team since.

The addition of Carter, the team's regular-season leader in goals (33), is a bit of a surprise. Carter, who skated for 15 minutes on his own at the Flyers practice facility on Monday, was back on the ice with his teammates on Thursday and Friday at Bell Centre. He had a plate inserted on the shaft of the metatarsal of his second toe on his right foot just 29 days ago and was expected to be sideline up to six weeks.

Carter had surgery three days after fracturing his right foot in Game 4 against the New Jersey Devils on April 20.

Montreal will have the same lineup that played in Thursday's 5-1 victory.

--Mike G. Morreale

Tensions building in Montreal
05.21.2010 / 7:50 p.m. ET

To a man, the Philadelphia Flyers were pretty upset with the way they were manhandled by Montreal in Game 3.

But nobody was as upset, it seemed, as Flyers forward Dan Carcillo. On Friday morning he was still fuming about a scrum with a minute left in the second period when Mike Cammalleri, Montreal's leading scorer, stuck his tongue out at Carcillo and appeared to laugh at the him.

Carcillo was rather perturbed by Cammalleri's behavior, particularly the stuck-out tongue.

"It's embarrassing," Carcillo said, noting he has never encountered another player in his career that has stuck out his tongue during a scrum. "It's embarrassing; that's about it."

Carcillo then went on to suggest that Cammalleri and the rest of the Canadiens played much braver in the friendly confines of the raucous Bell Centre. He also took a swipe at Montreal's resident agitator, Maxim Lapierre, in the process.

"He's a homer and we knew that coming back here, he would have jump and Lapierre would have jump," Carcillo said. "We just weren't very good last night and everyone, to a man, is going to better next game."

Carcillo also admitted that he and Lapierre have had a running verbal battle throughout the series. Asked if he did any research to get the best possible one-liners in that battle, Carcillo scoffed.

"No, I don't google Maxim Lapierre," Carcillo said. "That is the last thing on my mind, trust me."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Cpt. Richards returns to podium day after Game 3 displeasure
05.21.2010 / 5:45 p.m. ET

By now, most of you have probably heard about the comments made by Flyers captain Mike Richards following his team's dismal 5-1 loss in Game 3 to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

Richards had no problem expressing his displeasure over his team's play, which he said needs to improve -- and soon.

Richards spoke to the media following Flyers practice at Bell Centre on Friday and was asked how he felt the team looked less than 24 hours later after suffering, perhaps, their worst loss of the postseason.

"We talked about it again (Friday) morning," said Richards, who had a long talk with coach Peter Laviolette at center ice just prior to finishing practice. "I thought (Friday's) practice was much more upbeat, and our execution was good. It's not like we don't know how to do it. I think it's just that the mindset of going into (Saturday) has to change from (Thursday), and I think the message was delivered and received and reciprocated by everybody."

Richards was also asked to comment on the incident between teammate Daniel Carcillo and Canadiens leading-scorer Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri stuck his tongue out at Carcillo at one point in the game.

"They can do that all they want," Richards said. "They're a confident group, maybe a little bit cocky at some points. But I think we have to use that energy instead of going after them and use it towards playing physical, and winning those battles, hopefully in the end putting pucks in the net.

"They put their best five on three unit out when the game was pretty much over. I mean, it is what it is. We take penalties, they try to capitalize on it. So I think we want to take that dirty taste or that bitter taste in our mouth from them doing that, and move forward and try our best tomorrow to use that energy in a positive way."

--Mike G. Morreale

Do you believe in momentum?
05.21.2010 / 4:00 PM ET

The word momentum was used a lot at the Montreal Canadiens' practice facility on Friday afternoon.
With their 5-1 win in Game 3 last night, the Habs apparently now have the momentum heading into tomorrow's Game 4. But can momentum really be carried over? For almost 48 hours?

Here's what some members of the Canadiens said on the subject:

Jacques Martin: "I think we probably have to re-establish it. I think it changes in the game, even from game to game. I think we've got to be prepared to be even better tomorrow."

Mike Cammalleri: "I think there's something to be said for it, (but) I think it changes very, very quickly. You want to ride it when it's yours and you want to be sure to get it moving the other way when it's not. But it's something that changes shift to shift in the playoffs, it seems."

Tom Pyatt: "Momentum's huge in hockey. It's a huge thing. Last night, winning here is big for us. Having that home crowd is an advantage for us. They've been unbelievable. We've got to keep using that and try to get that first goal again tomorrow and just build off it."

Josh Gorges: "We have to re-establish it. We know that tomorrow they're going to come out fired up. They're going to come out and try to come at us and trying to get their forecheck going again. We have to be prepared for that. I think the best way to counter-attack that is to get to pucks quick, and then when we get the opportunity we have to get pucks behind them and try to be the aggressors. It's a matter of who wants it more." 

Other notes from Canadiens' practice today:

-- Gorges was very apologetic for his cross-check on Claude Giroux during the second period of Game 3. Gorges' stick made contact with Giroux's mouth, and the former first-round pick could seen wiggling a tooth with his hand on the Flyers' bench.

"To be honest, I don't know what I was thinking," Gorges said. "I was first thinking, 'OK, I'm just going to get under his stick.' He was trying to come up high and then he turned into me. As soon as I hit him, I was like, 'Oh (bleep). That's not good.' It was a total incidental play. I don't know why my stick was up that high.

"Obviously, I didn't mean to get him in the face. That was a tough play, but sometimes those things happen. It was in no way intentional. I'm glad that he didn't get anything more than whatever cut or anything like that. You don't want to see a guy get hurt like that."

-- Once again, the Canadiens find themselves in a series where they're trying to play catch up. Martin was asked if he's concerned by the fact that his team continues to find itself in such a situation.

"That's life," the coach responded. "It's not just hockey. Look at the business world today. A lot of businesses are in that situation. It's what makes sports so interesting. That's what makes the mark of certain athletes -- being able to perform under these conditions. The more individuals that you have that can excel under pressure, the better team you become."

-- Tomorrow's game begins at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally in the United States on NBC. I asked Gorges if he likes playing in the afternoon, or if it messes with his normal, game-day routine.

"It's a little different," he said. "You never know what time to eat, what time to wake up. Do you get up early and eat and have a nap? It's a little different routine, but it is kind of nice to be able to just get up and play. You don't have all day to think about it. You just show up to the rink and get ready to go."

-- Brian Compton

All signs point to a "Lappy" return on Saturday

05.21.2010 / 3:21 p.m. ET

There's a strong possibility Flyers wing Ian Laperriere will be back in the lineup on Saturday for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Laperriere skated on a line with center Blair Betts and Darroll Powe on Friday afternoon during the team's practice at Bell Centre, one day after his team had taken it on the chin from the Montreal Canadiens, 5-1, in Game 3. The series resumes Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

Laperriere, who hasn't played the last 10 games after suffering a brain contusion in Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils on April 22, would likely replace Andreas Nodl in the lineup. Nodl was skating with Jeff Carter, who is recovering from right-foot surgery, and Riley Cote on Friday.

While no official decision was made, players would certainly welcome their penalty-killing specialist back to the lineup with open arms.

"He's a big part of the team," Gagne said. "He's a character player. He's a role guy that at this time of the season is really important. He's a guy that's going to do everything for his teammates. He's going to block shots, we all know that, and he's going to be physical. He's going to be tough to play against.

"He's the type of guy you'd like to have on the ice when there's two minutes left in the game, when you've got the lead or for checking the other team's best player," Gagne continued. "He's maybe one of … I think he's the best player on the penalty kill. I don't know his stature yet but he's looking pretty good. It would be easier to ask him if he's playing or not, but he's getting closer for sure."

Danny Briere, who is tied for the team-lead in scoring (18 points) with Mike Richards, feels having "Lappy" back in the lineup would certainly provide an added spark.

"Just his presence, a veteran presence in the locker room," Briere said. "He's a guy who is very energetic in the dressing room, as much as on the ice, to get us going, to get us pumped up. He talks a lot in the dressing room and on the ice.
 
"We all know what he does on the ice," Briere continued. "He's tough to play against.  He's a great penalty killer and brings a lot of energy and finishes his checks. And his line, along with Blair Betts and whoever, Darroll Powe or (Daniel) Carcillo, or whoever is on the other side, have had a lot of success this year. He's one of those guys that, at the end of the night, might not have a couple goals and a couple of assists, but he does a lot of little things right that helps out your team."

--Mike G. Morreale

What happens when Carter, Lappy do return?
05.21.2010 / 9:37 a.m. ET

At the time Jeff Carter went down with his right foot injury in Game 4 against the New Jersey Devils in the opening round of the playoffs, coach Peter Laviolette moved Danny Briere to center on a line with Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell.

The trio has worked wonderfully together too. During the Flyers seven-game series comeback against Boston, Briere had 5 goals, 10 points and a plus-4 rating, Leino chipped in with 2 goals, 7 points and a plus-3 rating and Hartnell produced 2 goals, 5 points and a plus-3 rating.

It'll be interesting to see if Laviolette would even consider toiling with the chemistry that line has gained when and if Carter does return to the lineup at some point this postseason.

"I think if I even went near that to comment on it I would be putting the horse way before the cart," Laviolette said. "Is that the other way around maybe, right?  The cart before the horse, because the horse typically is in front of the cart [laughing]. Right now, we have a healthy lineup that's in there and that's what we have available to us."

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren was asked the same question.

"We'll jump off that bridge when we get to it," was Holmgren's response.

Flyers penalty-killing specialist Ian Laperriere, who is also close to returning to the lineup after suffering a brain contusion in Game 5 against New Jersey, had an interesting comment when asked if he'd want to step right back into the lineup when he felt 100 percent.

"When the doctors say it's 100 percent and if it's this year and coach (Peter) Laviolette feels that he needs me in the lineup right now, we'll see," Laperriere said. "The team's playing good. I don't want to be in there, those guys are playing unbelievable. But if I'm 100 percent and the team needs me … that's why I'm doing what I'm doing right now." And, basically, Laperriere is slowly working himself back into game shape since being cleared for contact on Monday.

--Mike G. Morreale

Montreal makes expected lineup changes
05.20.2010 / 7:18 p.m. ET

As expected, Montreal made several lineup changes for Thursday night's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rugged defenseman Ryan O'Byrne was inserted into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past three games. Montreal will dress seven D, and O'Byrne will likely take a regular shift on defense and on the PK, while defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron will be used occasionally as a fourth-line forward and also see time as a point man on the power play.

Also, Benoit Pouliot was re-inserted Into the lineup after being scratched for Game 2. He will likely see limited time on the fourth line.

Forwards Sergei Kostitsyn and Mathieu Darche were the scratches.

"I think I can add a lot to this series and I'm going take advantage of this opportunity and run with it," said O'Byrne, who has been scratched for the past three games - basically since Jaroslav Spacek returned to health late in Eastern Conference Semifinals.

What is it exactly that O'Byrne believe he can add to a Montreal team that is desperate for a win to make this best-of-7 series interesting.

"Not go out there and try to do anything special; but do what I did in the series against Washington when I sat out the first few games -- come in, play hard and make it tough on the opposing forwards," O'Byrne said.

Despite playing six fewer playoff games than the mainstays on this team, O'Byrne is third among the Canadiens in postseason hits. He has 29 in 10 games, trailing only forwards Maxim Lapierre and Travis Moen.

--Shawn P. Roarke


Carter, Laperriere both skate
05.20.2010 / 1:08 p.m. ET

Philadelphia forwards Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere were on the ice at Bell Centre for the team's morning skate Thursday. It marked the first time Carter skated with the team since suffering a fractured right foot in Game 4 against the New Jersey Devils in the opening round of the playoffs.

Laperriere, who suffered a brain contusion in the series-clinching Game 5 victory against the Devils, has been skating with the team since being cleared for contact Monday.

Carter had a plate inserted into the shaft of the metatarsal of the second toe on his right foot April 23. His recovery has come much sooner than the initial six-week diagnosis. Still, both players remained out on the ice almost a full 30 minutes after most of the team had left, which usually means they won't be playing in that night's game.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren didn't provide much detail when asked about either player's availability for Game 3 Thursday.

"Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere are in Montreal. They are both day-to-day," Holmgren said in a statement to the media

Just to see Carter back on the ice was a breath of fresh air for his teammates.
 
"It's the first time I had a chance to practice with him and he's looking very good and that's what I told him," Simon Gagne said. "He's feeling better every day so that's a good sign."

Coach Peter Laviolette liked what he saw in Carter's first go-round at a team practice since suffering his injury. He began skating on his own Monday.

"Jeff looked good," Laviolette said. "His skating, shooting and passing looked good."

"Jeff's a competitor and wants to be out here," Scott Hartnell said. "What he's able to do on the ice in front of the net is so valuable. When he gets back here, and I'm not sure when it's going to be, it'll be a big boost for us. But just to see him out there zipping around has been pretty cool."

"I didn't pay much attention to him while we were skating, but broken foot or not he can still skip around the ice," Hartnell added. "He's one of the best skaters in the NHL and with him coming back, whenever that is, it'll be a big boost for us."

--Mike G. Morreale

Happy Birthday, Michael
05.19.2010 / 6:25 PM ET

What a way to celebrate your 29th birthday.

Michael Leighton spent his on Wednesday afternoon at the Bell Centre, taking questions from the media about how he's gone from a waiver-wire pickup to the hottest goaltender in the National Hockey League.

Leighton brings a shutout streak of 165:50 to Montreal, where his Philadelphia Flyers will attempt to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night.

"I'm trying to enjoy it," Leighton said of this remarkable run. "But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. We haven't really accomplished too much yet. When this is all said and done and the year's over, I think I'll look back and I might appreciate it a lot more. After the game, I sit back and think about it a little bit and say, 'OK, that was good. Now let's look to the next game.' I stay focused that way."

Focus has been the name of the game for Leighton, who replaced the injured Brian Boucher in the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger applauded Leighton's ability to come back after suffering an ankle injury back in March.

Naturally, the always-entertaining Pronger started with a joke.

"Happy Birthday, Michael," Pronger said. "That's going to cost him.

"He's playing excellent," Pronger continued. "Obviously, it wasn't an easy situation for him to come into in Game 5 in Boston. It just shows you the hard work and the preparation that he was able to do while he was out in trying to prepare to get back." 

It's been a long, winding road for Leighton, a former sixth-round draft choice of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999. Leighton appeared in 35 games for the Blackhawks in 2003-04, but then spent much of the next four seasons in the American Hockey League.

He saw limited playing time in the NHL with Philadelphia and Carolina since 2008, but everything changed when the Hurricanes placed Leighton on waivers last Decembers. In need of a goaltender, the Flyers picked him up. He went 16-5-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average in 27 appearances before suffering the ankle injury.

"When I first came to turn pro, somebody came up to me and said goalies don't develop until they're 27, 28 years old," Leighton said. "I was hoping it'd be sooner for me. I had my chances in the NHL when I was a little bit younger. But here I am, 28, today 29. Maybe it was the right age for me. I don't know."

One thing the Flyers do know is they can't ask Leighton to bail them out the way he did in the first period last night. Montreal fired 16 shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes, but the Flyers' mid-season pickup stopped them all.

"Hopefully we're going to play a lot better in front of him tomorrow," forward Simon Gagne said. "The game last night was definitely won because of him. It's his birthday, so we have to find a nice gift for him. I think we start with at least a better start and play better 5-on-5."

-- Brian Compton

Home, sweet home

05.19.2010 / 2:45 PM ET

They haven't played on home ice since earning a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins last round, but that will change tomorrow night when the Montreal Canadiens host the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Bell Centre.

Granted, the players will ultimately determine the outcome of the next two contests. But don't think for a minute the noise level and the emotion coming from the fans doesn't have an impact.

"A tremendous difference," Habs forward Mike Cammalleri said of the fans here. "There was a couple of games last series where I thought we got rolling and the crowd really picked us up. It's almost like you feel them pushing at your back when you're going down the ice.

"If you have good legs going into a game when you're playing at home here at the Bell Centre, it's almost like you've got a little more jump because of the crowd. We look forward to that."

Brian Gionta, one of about 18 players on the Canadiens' roster hoping to score the team's first goal of the series tomorrow night, believes the crowd at the Bell Centre will play a huge role in Games 3 and 4.

"Home-ice advantage is a big thing," Gionta said. "Momentum shifts in your building. You get some things going and the crowd gets behind you, it really changes the momentum of a game."

At this point, any type of change is probably a good thing for the Canadiens. But playing at home could prove to be enormous.

"I think it'll be a huge, emotional lift for us," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "Obviously coming back when you're behind 2-0, it'll be a positive for us to come out and use that energy to feed off, especially early. If we can come out early and push the pace, get on them, hopefully get a quick one … it'll be a little different than the first two games. They'll be playing from behind. That's what we want."

Other notes from Wednesday:

-- Expect Jaroslav Halak to be in goal for the Canadiens for Game 3. While coach Jacques Martin said all lineup decisions would be made tomorrow, Carey Price skated today, while Halak did not.

"He's played extremely well … he's given us a chance to win," Gionta said of Halak, who stopped 20 of 23 shots last night. "Game 1, it was basically down to our effort. Game 2, a couple of power-play goals. The third one looks like a stoppable puck, but it gets tipped. We need to do a better job in front of him and give him a better chance to see pucks and help him out a little more."

-- It's the same situation regarding D Ryan O'Byrne. The 6-foot-6 blueliner has yet to play in this series, but Martin said he wouldn't decide on whether to insert O'Byrne into the lineup until tomorrow. O'Byrne's arrival could certainly help someone like Roman Hamrlik, who played almost 25 minutes in Game 2.

-- Habs F Sergei Kostitsyn, who played last night for the first time since April 23 at Washington, spoke briefly with reporters today. Kostitsyn, who reportedly was asked by team brass to stay away from the club during its second-round series against Pittsburgh, received 4:57 of ice time in Game 2. He placed Benoit Pouliot (healthy scratch) in the lineup.

"It was real tough," Kostitsyn responded when asked about the orders he was given. "Everybody was helping me (through it). I was talking to everybody. Everybody was talking to me, helping me."

It's unknown whether Kostitsyn will be in the lineup again for Game 3, but Martin certainly didn't rule it out.

"When you are in the playoffs, you need a lot of people," the coach said. "Sergei is part of our team. As a coach, you put people in the lineup, you take other people out. You hope they have the right response.

"At this point in the playoffs, there are only four teams remaining. We've played 16 games. We've used a lot of people. We need everybody."

"That belief system is important," Cammalleri said. "It's what drives you and it's what's going to bring your game up. I think we have it in here anyways, and hearing it from the coach reinforces that and maybe sets up our focus a little more for tomorrow night's game."

-- Brian Compton

Kostitsyn in Canadiens lineup for Game 2
05.18.2010 / 6:58 p.m. ET

Montreal's Sergei Kostitsyn, who hasn't played since Game 5 against Washington in the conference quarterfinal round on April 23, will be in the Montreal lineup for Game 2 against the Flyers at Wachovia Center.

The 6-foot, 210-pound wing played in four playoff games this spring, notching zero points. He's seen action in 17 career postseason games, compiling 3 goals and 8 points with a plus-5 rating.

Kostitsyn will replace Benoit Pouliot, who took an ill-advised roughing penalty early in the second period of Game 1 that led to a power-play goal by the Flyers.

Pouliot has struggled throughout the postseason and the 23-year-old has just 2 assists and a minus-4 rating in 15 games.

Additionally, defenseman Ryan O'Byrne will not be in the Montreal lineup. There was some speculation on Monday that O'Byrne, a healthy scratch for Game 1, might be inserted into the lineup to add some muscle along the back end for the Habs.

--Mike G. Morreale

Lineup shuffle for Canadiens?
05.18.2010 / 3:16 p.m. ET

Sergei Kostitsyn, out of favor in Montreal since the first round and banished from the team temporarily in the second round, may make an unexpected return to the lineup in Game 2.

Reports out of Philadelphia on Tuesday morning suggested that Sergei Kostitsyn could be back in the lineup, replacing either Benoit Pouliot or Mathieu Darche, who took an ill-advised roughing penalty early in the second period of Game 1 that led to a power-play goal by the Flyers.

Pouliot has struggled throughout the postseason and the 23-year-old has just 2 assists and a minus-4 rating in 15 games.

Sergei Kostitsyn, the younger brother of regular forward Andrei Kostitsyn, has had an up-and-down season with the Canadiens that culminated with his banishment from practice in the middle of the Pittsburgh series. He was also left home when the team travelled to Pittsburgh for Game 5.

But, after a 6-0 loss to Philadelphia in Sunday’s Game 1, it appears that Montreal is willing to make amends with the talented, but mercurial, forward. Kostitsyn apparently will take the pre-game skate and be a game-time decision.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Added motivation for Gagne
05.18.2010 / 3:08 p.m. ET

As a native of Ste. Foy, Quebec, Simon Gagne grew up a Quebec Nordiques fan but rarely missed an opportunity to watch the Montreal Canadiens.

So to have this chance to play the Canadiens -- after missing out during the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinal-round series against the Habs -- is pretty special.

"I can't lie to you," Gagne said. "It's a little more special playing Montreal. That was tough two years ago for me to not be able to be in that series. I was hurt at that time and you have no idea how hard it was for me to be in the stands watching my teammates play against Montreal. That's something when you grow up, you know, it's almost a dream to play against Montreal Canadiens in the Playoffs."

Gagne was then asked if he dreamt about playing against the Canadiens or playing for them?

"No, no, against them (laughing)," Gagne said. "I was a Quebec Nordiques fan, not a Montreal fan. Every time the Nordiques and Montreal Canadiens were facing each other, it was almost the Stanley Cup Playoffs."

--Mike G. Morreale

Injuries par for the course
05.17.2010 / 10:05 p.m. ET

Injuries are one thing. A serious knee injury to your starting goalie in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is another.

But, amazingly, since the loss of Brian Boucher in Game 5 against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Flyers haven't missed a beat with unbeaten Michael Leighton between the pipes. They're three victories away from their first trip to the Cup Final since 1997.

Here's what Flyers captain Mike Richards had to say about his injury-plagued team:

"It's kind of just been one thing after another, no matter what's happened with injuries and whether it's Jeff (Carter) or Lappy (Ian Laperriere) or, you know, Simon (Gagne) earlier in the year or Razor (Ray Emery). Our goaltender obviously has been different people stepping up. We pride ourselves on the depth of this hockey team and the goaltending position is no different.

"Boosh stepped in and played extremely well. Leights - we picked him up and he played extremely well. We have full confidence in him in goalie. He's played well for us when he was in net before his injury, and he's playing well for us now."

For more on Leighton's remarkable postseason run, click here!

--Mike G. Morreale

A new goalie?
05.17.2010 / 3:50 PM ET

Things were pretty light-hearted for Montreal on Monday, despite a 6-0 pasting absorbed in Game 1.

The team had a team meeting and optional skate at the Wachovia Center, but only a few regulars –- Mathieu Darche and Glen Metropolit -– took the option to skate. Goalie Carey Price, who relieved Jaroslav Halak in Game 1, was also on the ice, but he had some competition.

Darche, a grinding-type forward, donned a goalie’s catching glove and blocker for a few minutes of practice, drawing some smiles from teammates. But, it seems Darche’s future does not lie with hockey’s version of the tools of ignorance.

"I won’t quit my day job," Darche said, laughing. "I had a hard time just handling the puck. I think I'm too afraid of pucks to be in front of that net."

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Halak eager to respond
05.17.2010 / 3:33 PM ET

Jaroslav Halak allowed four goals on 14 shots on Sunday night, but there's reason to suggest he won't bounce back when the Montreal Canadiens face the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Wachovia Center.

Halak, who was replaced by Carey Price at 9:53 of the second period in a 6-0 loss, seemed relaxed and confident when he spoke with the media on Monday afternoon. Just like his teammates, Halak is eager to forget about Game 1 and move on.

"Every series is a different series," he said. "Right now, we are facing a different team than we faced in the first round and second round. Every team plays different hockey and we just need to make a little bit of adjustments in our PK and our system. I think if we do that, we should be OK."

Montreal's inability to stay out of the penalty box played a huge role in Sunday's outcome. The Canadiens handed the Flyers nine power plays and Braydon Coburn made them pay just 3:55 into the game, when he poked a loose puck past Halak to give Philadelphia an early 1-0 lead. The Flyers finished 2-for-6 on the power play.

"They didn't shoot a lot in the first period," said Halak, who faced six shots in the opening 20 minutes. "They got one goal on the power play. In the second period, they scored two more power-play goals, or one more. It was tough. But it's the playoffs. One game at a time. We need to forget about this one and make sure we are ready for tomorrow."

History dictates that Halak will be ready. After suffering a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Halak bounced back with a 38-save performance in a 3-1 win. Still, he's not ready to use that as motivation for tomorrow night.

"Every game is a different game, like I always say," Halak said. "It happened in both series before. But we are facing a different team. They will do the same thing like last night, trying to crash the net, trying to put guys in front of me so I can't see. I need to do a better job of that, too."

One thing is certain -- the confidence Halak's teammates have in him hasn't wavered. They know why they're here.

"He'll bounce back," forward Glen Metropolit said. "He's a great goalie. We just gave him a little break there. It was 4-0. We know how good he is."

So does their coach.

"It wasn't one of his better games," Jacques Martin said. "I think he'll recognize that. I think it goes with our hockey team. I think last night wasn't a good performance, and the result was there to show it.

"I've got lots of confidence, and his teammates have a lot of confidence in Jaro that he'll be able to bounce back."

Other notes from Habs' practice:

-- Ryan O'Byrne, a healthy scratch for Game 1, said he hasn't been told if he will be in the lineup tomorrow night. If called upon, though, the 6-foot-6, 228-pounder says he'll be ready. He relishes the chance to go toe to toe with the rugged Flyers.

"I've always felt I've played pretty good games against Philadelphia," said O'Byrne, who last played since Montreal's 4-3 win against Pittsburgh in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. "There's a lot of physical play. That's my game, to play physical in front of the net. If I get the chance to play, I'll be ready to go."

Marin said no decision will be made until tomorrow, but he knows what O'Byrne may be able to bring to the table.

"Any time you play in the playoffs, that's part of competing," Martin said. "That is part of being a team that wins. You've got to finish your checks and you've got to compete hard."

-- Brian Compton

Laviolette: "We can be better in a lot of areas"

05.16.2010 / 11:37 p.m. ET

Even after his team had just handed the Montreal Canadiens their worst loss of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette wasn't ready to call it an A-plus effort.

"Well, I think we can be better in a lot of areas, certainly in our puck movement and our battles," Laviolette said. "Like I said, I think we need to generate more attempts at their net, more shots, more opportunities.

"You know, I thought our penalty-kill (4-for-4) was good," he continued. "Our power-play can be better. I thought Michael Leighton did a good job in net -- he had to make some big saves early in the first period. There were some shots that came in, they were tricky and he had to stop a breakaway and the rebound on the breakaway. There were some shots that came in from the points in the first period that were redirected and he came up with big saves. So I thought "Leights" did a good job of bailing us out in the first."

As it turns out, Laviolette wasn't alone in his assessment.

"We shouldn't be satisfied with where we're sitting right now," Flyers forward Blair Betts said. "All these guys have battled two of, arguably, the top two teams in our Conference and ended up outplaying them. We just had an outburst of offense, and we were, for the most part, pretty solid defensively. I don't think (Sunday night) is what we can expect out of them next game."

--Mike G. Morreale

Will Flyers prepare differently for Jaroslav Halak?
05.16.2010 / 3:30 p.m. ET

During Peter Laviolette's media availability following his team's practice at Wachovia Center on Sunday morning, I asked the Flyers coach if he prepares any differently against different goalies.

"There's always things we look at," he said. "When it comes to the opposition, there's always tweaks and always different things you can do that we talk about because every team is a little different. I think our plan always remains the same in what we're trying to do and we try to get better at it and stronger at it. Certainly we've had to go through some good goaltenders (New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Boston's Tuukka Rask) that were playing well. This challenge (against Jaroslav Halak) will be no different. He's played very well to this point and we know we have some work to do to score some goals."

The Flyers have made life miserable for opposing goalies this postseason. They tagged Brodeur for 15 goals on 126 shots in five games (.881 save percentage) in the conference quarterfinal round. They then connected for 22 on Rask on 216 attempts in the conference semis. Rask finished with a .898 save percentage in seven games.

"You do what you try and do against any good goalie," Flyers forward Blair Betts told NHL.com. "You get in his face, create screens, traffic. We want to shoot from everywhere and try and get as many shots on net as we can.

"You never know when you might get a bounce and when you have great opportunities to score, you have to make sure you have bodies in front so they can't see the puck -- that's something we've been doing pretty well, especially against Boston. When there was a rebound there, guys were jabbing at the goalie trying to get the puck and we scored a couple of big goals because of that."

--Mike G. Morreale

Preparing for the unlikeliest of Eastern Conference Finals
05.16.2010 / 3:15 p.m. ET

Well, NHL.com is locked and loaded here in City of Brotherly Love, anxiously awaiting our participants for Game 1 of this Eastern Conference Final -- the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens.

Puck drops at 7 p.m. (ET) here at Wachovia Center.

It may be a surprise to everyone not wearing a Flyers' jersey to see seventh-seeded Philadelphia hosting a conference final. On top of that, how about the fact they're playing the eighth-seeded Canadiens, who knocked off the Capitals and Penguins.

Well, myself, Shawn Roarke and Brian Compton will be your backstage pass for everything Philadelphia-Montreal, so keep checking back often.

--Mike G. Morreale


Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis