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Together Again

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

(Voorhees, NJ, October 9, 2006) – The line that worked so well as a unit at the end of the 2005-06 season is back together again.

Jeff Carter has been playing wing for most of training camp and the first two regular season games, but will be back at center between R.J. Umberger and Niko Dimitrakos when Philadelphia visits Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night (7:00 p.m., Versus, 610 WIP).

"It's tough getting new lines every game, but we played together earlier and we are comfortable with each other," said Carter. "I feel comfortable back at center, and R.J. is back on his natural wing now, too. Niko is a great player and has looked good in practice every day."

Ken Hitchcock explained the move following the team's skate at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone.

"[Carter] is a good player as a right winger, but in our estimation he doesn't get the puck enough. He's waiting for the puck too much, and I don't think we're taking advantage enough of his skills.

"I talked to him yesterday about it. He fully agreed that he's waiting for the game to come to him. Now, we have a chance to make our team better and include more people in it."

One of those people who will now be included is Dimitrakos, who was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the season. Dimitrakos was playing well at the end of the exhibition schedule according to Hitchcock, but there was no place for him.

There is now.

"He's worked very hard on the off-ice part, and during the exhibition games he was inconsistent early and played very well late, the way we want him to," said Hitchcock. "This is a great opportunity for him."

Dimitrakos is obviously happy that he'll get to participate.

"It was tough watching the games, but that's how it went the first two. I'm ready to go."

* * *

Two days later, there was still a buzz in the locker room regarding Saturday night's extended shootout against the Rangers that ended with New York coming away with a 5-4 victory.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 25 consecutive unsuccessful shots was by far the longest such streak in any NHL shootout, breaking the old mark of 14 misses in a row set in the Rangers-Capitals'' 30-attempt epic last November 26 at Madison Square Garden. The previous record for consecutive attempts without a goal to begin a shootout was 12 by the Avalanche and Devils in New Jersey last December 9.

"You have to give both goaltenders credit. That was an unbelievable display of goaltending," said Geoff Sanderson, who shot third for the Flyers. "We all wanted to score; we all just had different ideas of what we were going to do. [Henrik Lundqvist] just looked huge in net, and no one had any answers what to do."

Confidence is a key to success, according to Sanderson.

"It doesn't matter how many moves you've got, the shootout is 90 percent mental," he said. "It's whatever your confidence level is. This early in the year, I don't think anyone was gleaming with confidence in the shootout."

The points gained or lost in the shootouts will have a direct effect on the standings come April.

"They are precious points. You need to take them seriously and you can't just go out and shoot," said Peter Forsberg. "You have to think about what you're doing. Lundqvist is a good goalie but we should have scored a couple, at least. They are big points, and we have to make sure we bear down for the next time."

Antero Niittymaki, who was in goal for the Flyers during Saturday's game, will be back between the pipes on Tuesday.
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