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First Look at Renewed Rivalry

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Also: Timonen leaves practice early after collision

Scott Hartnell talks about living in the city, and preparing to face the Rangers: 700K
John Stevens speaks to the media after practice: 700K

(Voorhees, NJ) – For all of the new faces on the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, Saturday night's matchup between the two clubs will offer the first taste of the heated rivalry between the two clubs, even if it is just a preseason game.

It could be argued that the Flyers and Rangers were the two clubs that improved themselves the most this offseason. While Philadelphia locked up players like Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell in free agency, New York wasted no time in inking centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to multiple-year deals. The two teams will see each other for the first time at Madison Square Garden this weekend.

Hartnell in particular is anxious to see what the Flyers-Rangers rivalry is all about, even if the game doesn’t yet count in the standings.

“It’s going to be a battle all year long, and it starts tomorrow night,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it, getting a few bangs in, and [starting] that rivalry off on the right foot.”

Stevens said that the line of Briere-Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble will be playing in the game, while Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki will both see time in goal.

The Flyers and Rangers face each other eight times this season, beginning with a game on November 5 in New York. The Rangers make their first visit to the Wachovia Center on November 15.

Giroux Opening Eyes

Claude Giroux, the Flyers’ first round draft pick in 2006, has been impressive thus far in his second training camp with the club. In addition to being named the MVP of the three-day round robin tournament at the beginning of camp, the 19-year-old had a strong game against Ottawa on Tuesday night and has shown additional flashes of his offensive ability during practice with his speed and tenacity.

If he does not make the Flyers, Giroux is not eligible to be assigned to the Phantoms due to his age. Therefore, he would return to his junior club in Gatineau, which plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

It’s not surprising which option Giroux would prefer.

“There’s a lot of preseason left. Hopefully I can play in most games and show them what I can do,” said Giroux. “If they decide to not to [keep me in the NHL], I respect their decision and will work as hard as I can this year.”
Kimmo Timonen left the ice early on Friday but should be fine for Saturday's game in New York. (Getty Images)

“He’s done very well every time he’s played, and we’d like to see him a little more,” said John Stevens. “He continues to really impress.”

Timonen Leaves Ice after Collision

Flyers fans in attendance at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Friday, not to mention the coaching staff and front office, probably felt their hearts skip a beat after defenseman Kimmo Timonen collided with goaltender Antero Niittymaki during the morning practice session and had to leave the ice.

No worries, though – Timonen was walking around just fine in the hallways of the practice facility after leaving the ice and may play in Saturday’s preseason game.

In fact, he felt fine enough to make light of the situation afterwards to local writers.

“He’s a Finnish goalie, so we’ll probably have to have a few words,” joked Timonen.

“He was just happy to get out of the skate,” replied Niittymaki.

Center Jim Dowd, at training camp on a try-out basis, is day-to-day with back spasms. … Monday’s preseason home opener at the Wachovia Center against the New Jersey Devils will be broadcast locally on Comcast SportsNet.
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