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Flyers' Laughton may make season debut vs. Rangers

by Mike G. Morreale

FLYERS (7-7-2) at RANGERS (7-7-4)


NEW YORK -- Center Scott Laughton could make his season debut for the Philadelphia Flyers against the New York Rangers in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Madison Square Garden.

Laughton was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League on Tuesday after it was learned that captain Claude Giroux could miss the game because of a lower-body injury.

"I'm definitely a little bit surprised," Laughton said. "I was taking a nap back home and got a call from [coach] Terry Murray with the Phantoms. He just told me I was coming up. It's definitely an exciting time for me and my family. I'm definitely looking forward to coming here and trying to make an impact."

The 20-year-old, a first-round (No. 20) draft pick in 2012, has six goals and 11 points in 13 games for Lehigh Valley this season. Laughton appeared in five games for the Flyers in 2012-13 and averaged 11:31 of ice time before being returned to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.

"Laughton has been playing well, and I like his speed and the Rangers are a fast team," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "I think it makes sense to get the quicker guy in there, a guy who has been playing well."

Flyers coach Craig Berube confirmed that Giroux will take part in pregame warmups and could possibly be in the lineup against the Rangers.

Berube said that Giroux is "feeling better so he's going to try warmup and he'll play if he feels good; there's no reason he shouldn't."

Berube did confirm that injured defensemen Luke Schenn (upper body) and Andrew MacDonald (lower body) are still not ready to play. He reiterated that both defenders need to get more practice time in before being inserted back into the lineup.

Laughton said he joins the Flyers with a lot more confidence than he had two years ago.

"Two years ago I started during the lockout year," he said. "I was an 18-year-old out of junior and didn't really know what to expect. I've played a couple exhibition games and things like that. Playing pro hockey for 12 or 13 games was good for me, and playing against bigger guys."

Brayden Schenn, who is on a five-game point streak, will fill in for Giroux as the center on the top line with left wing R.J. Umberger and right wing Jakub Voracek.

"Giroux is our best player and makes this team go, but this is a chance for other guys to step up," Brayden Schenn said. "Hopefully he won't be out too long, but we'll have to fill the void."

The Rangers, who have won 13 of the past 17 regular-season games against the Flyers dating back to March 2011, will be without forward Lee Stempniak. Stempniak is dealing with lower-back soreness and is day-to-day, according to coach Alain Vigneault.

New York forward Derek Stepan said that the Rangers need to focus on getting better and playing with consistency.

"I think one of the hardest things is building chemistry with your linemates, and when you do finally find that chemistry, you need to have chemistry balance throughout your whole entire lineup," Stepan said. "Right now it seems me and [Kreider] are a pair here, and he's good for me because he's a fast skater and speeds up my game."

Berube said it is imperative the Flyers contain the Rangers' speed.

"This rivalry has gotten a lot different because, in the past, it was more of a physical rivalry than it is now," he said. "It's fast hockey, and when we don't play well [at MSG] it's because we don't handle their speed well. That's what we need to do."

Here are the projected lineups:


R.J. Umberger - Brayden Schenn - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Scott Laughton - Vincent Lecavalier

Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Jason Akeson

Michael Del Zotto - Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Carlo Colaiacovo

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: None

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Andrew MacDonald (lower body), Michael Raffl (lower body), Luke Schenn (upper body), Claude Giroux (lower body)


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Anthony Duclair

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

John Moore - Dan Girardi

Matt Hunwick - Kevin Klein

Cam Talbot

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: None

Injured: Lee Stempniak (lower back), Ryan McDonagh (shoulder)

Status report: Fast will draw into the lineup in the absence of Stempniak and will play alongside Glass and Dominic Moore. … Talbot will make his second career start against the Flyers. He gave up two goals on 27 shots in a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia on Oct. 24, 2013.

Who's hot: Voracek, who leads the Flyers with 19 assists and 26 points, is riding a 10-game point streak. … Nash, who has at least a point in 13 of 18 games this season, leads the Rangers with 12 goals and 19 points.

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