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Flyers, Senators looking to move up in East race

by Adam Kimelman
SENATORS (39-28-10) at FLYERS (45-24-8)

TV: NHLN-US (HD), CBC, RDS2 (HD), CSN-Philadelphia (HD)

Last 10:
Ottawa 5-3-2; Philadelphia 6-3-1

Season Series:
This will be the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the teams. The Flyers won the first two games, but the Senators won their most recent matchup, 6-4 in Ottawa on Jan. 8.

Big Story: The Senators need a win to stave off the on-rushing Sabres. The Flyers need a win if they want to catch the Penguins and Rangers in the conference race.

Team Scope:

Coach Paul MacLean remembers how things started for him and his team -- four losses in the first six games, and in two of them his team allowed seven goals.

Back then, it would have been hard to imagine the Senators where they are now -- entering the final eight days of the season in the top eight in the conference.

"When you go back to the start of the year when you're (2-4) after giving up two touchdowns, if you could have said the last five games of the year you're playing for an option to be in the playoffs, we all would have fast-forwarded and jumped to that place," he said.

MacLean said he's stayed consistent with what he's said all season long -- that this season is part of building a foundation for how his team needs to play.

"We've said all along we're going to play 82 games and we'll see where we are," MacLean said. "If we work hard and play the way we want to play, we believe we'll like what we see."

Flyers: Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov took part in all of the team's practice Friday, but doubt remains if he'll be able to play any of the team's games this weekend -- Saturday at home against Ottawa or Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Bryzgalov suffered a chip fracture to his right foot during pre-game warm-ups prior to Monday's game against Tampa Bay. He sat Thursday's game in Toronto.

"There’s some progress," said Bryzgalov, who added that he "would love to play" as soon as possible.

Bryzgalov's availability will be decided by the player, coach Peter Laviolette, GM Paul Holmgren and trainer Jim McCrossin.

"Ultimately, I have to fill out the lineup card and sign it and make that decision," Laviolette said. "We'll do what's best for the player and the organization. We're not going to put a goaltender in a situation where he goes out there and risks injury."

Who's Hot:
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has back-to-back 2-goal games, and has 6 points in his last two games. … Flyers center Danny Briere had a career-best 4 assists Thursday, and has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last three games. 

Injury Report:
Senators forward Jesse Winchester (concussion) and goalie Ben Bishop (lower body) are out. … Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (foot) and defenseman Kimmo Timonen both practiced Friday and but remain day-to-day with their injuries.

Stat Pack:
The Flyers' win Thursday was their 11th in March, the fifth time in franchise history they've won that many games in March. In three of the four previous seasons they've done it, they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final -- 1974 and 1975, when they won the Stanley Cup, and 1985, when they lost to the Oilers in the Final. The only year they didn't get to the Final was 1979, when they lost to the Rangers in the playoff quarterfinals.

Puck Drop:
No team in the League has had a bigger impact from its first-year players. The Flyers have used 12 rookies this season, including seven who made their NHL regular-season debuts this season.

They had seven rookies in the lineup Thursday against Toronto, and they contributed four of their seven goals.

On the season, the Flyers have gotten 59 goals from rookies -- 24.2 percent of their total this season.

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