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Knuble to Return for Game 4

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
(Voorhees, NJ) – Mike Knuble will return to the Flyers’ lineup for Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).

The 6'3'', 230-pound right wing has missed the last five playoff games since hurting his hamstring in Game 5 against the Washington Capitals on April 19, which was the game after Knuble scored the winning goal in double overtime in Game 4. In the first four-plus games of that series, Knuble tallied three goals and two assists with a +3 rating.

He declared himself 100 percent ready after skating on Tuesday morning at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone with a limited number of his teammates.

“If there’s room, it’s Johnny’s call,” he said, referring to head coach John Stevens.
Mike Knuble battles in front of the net during the first round series with Washington. (Getty Images)

Knuble added he would not be returning unless he was completely able to do everything he could do before the injury.

“If I wasn’t ready to handle everything, I wouldn’t be dressing,” he said. “It’s just too important, and there are too many guys that we have that are healthy, and I wouldn’t go out with any limitations on myself.”

He could go back to his line with Jeff Carter and Scottie Upshall, and he will undoubtedly get back on the power play, where he scored 15 goals this season to lead the team.

“Our power play has been struggling and Mike’s been a big part of the success we’ve had,” said Stevens. “It was tough to see him go out of the lineup, but he’d certainly be a welcome addition back in.”

If Knuble were to return to his old line, it would mean R.J. Umberger will once again have to change lines. Umberger was playing with Mike Richards and Joffrey Lupul before Knuble’s injury.
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Umberger has been among the best players for the Flyers in the series with Montreal so far, with four goals in the three games.

“Umby has been a good player wherever he’s been. I feel bad for R.J. because he doesn’t have a home on a line, but that’s what makes him such a valuable player,” said Stevens. “Whether he plays there or with Richie, I think you’ll see good things from him.”

Comments on Hatcher’s penalty

Whether or not Derian Hatcher’s hit on Francis Bouillon in the third period of Game 3 should in have been a five-minute major, the veteran defenseman commented on Tuesday about how the Flyers don’t seem to be getting much in terms of breaks from the officials.

“I think the start with the 20- and 25-game suspensions right out of the gate there [to Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice], I don’t think there’s a question about it that we definitely don’t get the leeway,” said Hatcher. “I don’t think we’ve gotten any leeway in this series, and I definitely don’t think we’ve gotten any breaks from the referees.”

Umberger agreed that it seems as if the Flyers won’t be able to rely on any generous calls in the series. That’s okay with him, though.

“You accept it and move on. We’re not going to ever make excuses here in this locker room,” said Umberger. “We haven’t all year, and we’ll just keep going and play through whatever we have to.”

Hatcher reiterated that he wouldn’t do anything differently on his hit of Bouillon.

“I don’t think I hit him hard, and I was letting up on him,” he said.

In the Montreal locker room, some of the Canadiens predictably saw it a different way.

“It was a dirty play and a dirty hit,” said Mike Komisarek. “He definitely hit Bouillon from behind and it almost lost them the game.

“If he wants to do that and put his team down for five minutes, okay. You never like to see guys get him from behind, but if he wants to put his team down for five minutes and almost lose them the game, then okay. If he is proud of that, then I don’t know.”

Josh Gorges added the following: “You look at the replay and Bouillon had his back turned for a good three seconds before Hatcher hit him square from behind,” he said.

“It’s tough because of the size difference Hatcher’s forearms are right at the back of Bouillon’s head.  His head when into the glass and you don’t want to see that in hockey.  The guy is defenseless, can’t protect himself, and doesn’t see the guy coming.”
Montreal goaltender Carey Price looks at the puck behind him during Game 2 at the Bell Centre. (Getty Images)

Mike Richards, who has been on the business end of some non-calls throughout the playoffs, gave the referees the benefit of the doubt.

“It’s hard for the officials to determine whether it’s a dive, an embellishment, or an actual [penalty], because so many of the players are throwing their hands up in the air and flopping on the ice every time they get touched,” he said.

Goalie switch for Canadiens?

Guy Carbonneau is not sure who he will start in net for Wednesday’s crucial Game 4. The Montreal head coach addressed the media after his team congregated at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Carey Price has yet to play very well in the series, and may vacate his seat to Jaroslav Halak, who relieved the rookie to start the third period of Game 3.

“Obviously, he was upset with everything that happened,” said Carbonneau of Price. “There is nothing after the game that you can do. The worst you can do is be mad for four days. You have to be able to forget in this business.”

When asked if he knows who will start in Game 4, Carbonneau simply said, “no.”
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