Voorhees, NJ – With numerous injuries leaving the Flyers' roster depleted, Head Coach Ken Hitchcock has been forced to shuffle his lines more than a few times in recent weeks.
Peter Forsberg, the centerpiece of the Flyers' offense, returned for Saturday afternoon's 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, playing alongside regular partner Mike Knuble as well as Jeff Carter, who was occupying the place where Simon Gagne normally resides. Gagne is out with a groin injury for the next week and a half.
Despite that line producing a goal and two assists on Saturday, Hitchcock decided to move Carter back to his natural center ice position and promote Jon Sim. Sim has been snake bitten of late, despite getting many quality scoring chances and has not scored a goal since November 22 against Tampa Bay.
Playing alongside Forsberg and Knuble has him energized for Tuesday's game in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.
"I think anyone that takes the change to get thrown on with Peter and Knuble is going to be excited," said Sim. "I think I can bring some speed and tenacity, and get in and muck it up a little bit and hang on to the puck down low, and just give it to Peter (laughs). That's the main thing. Give it to him and he'll give it back to you, that's for sure."
Knuble also welcomes the change. After all, he was the beneficiary of the same kind of change in Boston, when he was elevated to the top line there with Joe Thornton and Glen Murray after an injury to Sergei Samsonov.
"I've been in that situation myself in my career," said Knuble. "As a player, you should take it as a reward. It's not necessarily a reward to play with me (laughs), but it's a good chance to play with Peter. We are banged up, and the bottom line is that this is an opportunity for other guys."
With the move, Carter will go back to center ice where he has spent most of the season.
"Carter needs to play in the middle of the ice. We need speed and his tenacity in the middle of the ice. He's much better as a checking player and an overall player if he plays center ice, and we want to keep him there as much as possible," said Hitchcock.Esche to Return to Action on Tuesday
Flyers goaltender Robert Esche will get back into game action on Tuesday for the first time since November 30, when he made 30 saves in a 2-1 home victory over the New Jersey Devils. Esche has been nursing one of the many groin injuries on the Flyers, and served as the backup to Antero Niittymaki on Saturday.
Hitchcock is hopeful that Esche will continue to play as well as he was before getting hurt.
"[We want him to] just keep going the way he was the last two games," said Hitchcock. "The way he played the last two games was terrific and hopefully, he looks the same in goal before he got hurt. Hopefully, he can continue at that pace.
"This is six or seven games where we've had excellent goaltending every night. That's what we hope we keep getting."Umberger Goes Back to School
With Tuesday's game in Columbus, Flyers rookie R.J. Umberger will get a chance to see some of his old friends. Umberger played three years at Ohio State University.
"It's going to be really special," said Umberger. "I spent three long years at Ohio State and I loved every second of it. The fans are great there and there's good support for Ohio State hockey. I think the Blue Jackets have good support too, and the atmosphere there for games is great. A lot of the same fans go to each other's games, so I'm sure there will be a lot of support there."
Umberger plans on completing his coursework at Ohio State at some point, where he was a marketing major.
"It's important for me to achieve getting my degree," he said.