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Flyers Look to Fans for Boost

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers

(Voorhees, NJ) – Now it’s your turn, Philadelphia.

After witnessing and dealing with a frenzied Washington crowd that had not seen playoff hockey in five years, the Flyers are ready to turn the tables and get in front of their own rabid fans on Tuesday night for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Versus).

With the roster overhauled as much as it has been since the Flyers lost in the first round to Buffalo in 2006, many of the players will be experiencing a home playoff crowd at the Wachovia Center for the first time.

They do, however, have a reference point. When the team’s playoff spot was on the line with two games remaining in the regular season and with the Flyers hosting the New Jersey Devils, the home crowd got behind its team and kept the energy and decibel level high in helping Philadelphia to an important 3-0 win that ended up with the Flyers clinching a berth in the postseason.

Mike Knuble urged the fans before that game to help carry the team, and he expects more of the same on Tuesday and Thursday night.
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“The way our fans responded when we played New Jersey in a key game really blew the roof off the place,” he said. “We expect more of the same.”

“The Jersey game right before the playoffs was loud, and I expect tomorrow night to be louder,” added Mike Richards.

Danny Briere has been a part of playoff hockey in Philadelphia, but on the other side. He was a member of the Buffalo team that eliminated the Flyers in 2006, and when asked what he thought it would be like to be on the other side of the equation on Tuesday, he couldn’t keep a broad smile from appearing on his face.

“I can’t wait. To be honest about it, I’m really excited,” he said. “I had the chance to play here a couple of years ago. I was on the wrong team, but it was so loud and there was so much energy. After the big win [Sunday] night I just can’t wait to see how crazy the fans are here in the playoffs.”

Briere remembered another experience regarding Philadelphia fans before he even suited up as a Flyer. He threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game in late October when that team was making a playoff push of its own.

“I saw a little bit with the Phillies when I came a few months ago. I said I wanted to experience it with the Flyers, and it starts here [Tuesday].”

Scott Hartnell, on the other hand, has never been a part of a Philadelphia playoff game on either side, after spending the first seven years of his career in Nashville. He, too, is excited about seeing the orange t-shirt-clad fans in action.

“Playing here in the playoffs I have a lot of great expectations, and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed,” said Hartnell. “They’ve been crazy fans all year long for us and supported us through thick and thin. Tomorrow night it will be a loud building, I’m sure.”

While the energy in the building will undoubtedly be intense, captain Jason Smith cautioned that the players not get so pumped up that it takes them out of their game plan.

“Playing at home [in the playoffs] is special. You can build momentum from the excitement from the fans but you have to channel it and not [let it] get too out of control,” said the defenseman. “It’s important that you keep things simple, and do the basic things that allow your team to have success.”

Hartnell agreed that it’s important that the team remain level-headed.

“They are a good road team, too,” he said about the Capitals. “They had to win out the last ten or so games of the season and were on the road a lot. Coming in tomorrow, we can’t take it for granted that we’re here in Philly. We have to go out and have the mindset that we are going to outwork them and outplay them.”

Injury update

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren gave an injury update on Derian Hatcher and Patrick Thoresen after Monday’s optional skate at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.

“[Hatcher’s] knee felt real good, so we will see how he is [Tuesday],” he said. “Whether there is a possibility for tomorrow or not, we will not know until tomorrow morning.”

Holmgren made that announcement while Hatcher was on the ice. When the big, veteran defenseman came off, he was very optimistic he’ll be able to make his playoff debut on Tuesday.

“I would have to say I’m probably available,” said Hatcher. “It felt pretty good [today] and it felt good [Sunday].”

Hatcher is recovering from a broken bone in his right leg, sustained on March 15 in Boston. He said that it was drained of fluid on Friday night.

“It’s actually amazing. I’m actually smiling after coming off the ice,” he joked. “It’s fun again skating out there.”

Thoresen’s status, however, is a little more uncertain for Game 3 with his groin injury.

“[Thoresen] is walking a little better and we will see how he is tomorrow,” said Holmgren. “I would say the chances of him playing tomorrow probably are not good. It would be a good sign for him if he can get on the ice, and that is what we are hoping for.”

Baby Biron

Congratulations to Flyers goaltender Martin Biron and his wife, Anne Marie, who gave birth to the couple's third child Monday morning at 7:54 a.m. The baby girl, who has yet to be named, weighed in at 6 pounds and 10 ounces and is 20 inches long.

It is the third child in all for Martin and Anne Marie, joining son Jacob and daughter Grace.
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