VOORHEES, N.J. – Patrick Thoresen
should be getting used to being one of a kind. After all, he's the only Norwegian playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And he's also one of the few Norwegian tennis players.
"I like to get on the court and have somebody to hit some balls with," he said. "It's something I enjoy."
The Philadelphia Flyers
' forward also is enjoying the fact that he will be back in the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins
. Thoresen sat out Games 2 and 3 as coach John Stevens
opted to use rookie Steve Downie
in Thoresen's fourth-line role.
But after a pair of game-changing turnovers, Downie is out and Thoresen is back in.
"He's a very smart hockey player," Stevens said of Thoresen. "He's very responsible without the puck. He brings a physical element; he's more physical than people realize. He's done a lot of little things well, and he gives you another penalty killer in your lineup. He's played very well this year, he's had some very good stretches in the playoffs."
Thoresen said he was disappointed to sit out, but knows what he did wrong, and knows what he must to for him and his team to continue playing.
"I haven't been doing my job on the forecheck, where I'm supposed to be good, and I haven't doing my job defensively," Thoresen said. "First we have to try to close up the back end and at the same time try to create more offense from our line."
Claimed off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers
on Feb. 25, he had five assists in 21 regular-season games with the Flyers. In 12 playoff games, he has two assists, one of which came in Game 7 of the Flyers' first-round series against Washington.
On the goal, he drove hard to the net and checked Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrison into goaltender Cristobal Huet
, leaving an empty net for Sami Kapanen
to score into. He also showed his toughness by missing just one game after a gruesome injury in Game 1 against Washington, when he needed to be hospitalized after getting hit in the groin by a shot.
"He's brought a lot for us since he's come over," Kapanen said. "He's a good two-way winger that has been up and down the lineup … He's got a pretty good upside on his game."
The 24-year-old Thoresen said Kapanen, 34, is role model for the kind of player he'd like to be.
"He's a model-type for me," Thoresen said. "I think our chemistry, it's been working good, same with Jimmy (Dowd). I think we've been working good together."
Thoresen doesn't have the same kind of role model for his tennis game. Christian Ruud is probably the most successful professional tennis player from Norway. He played on the tour in the early and mid-1990s, reaching a career-best ranking of 39 in 1995.
When most people think of Norwegian athletes, they think of skiing or skating. Thoresen admitted tennis ranks far down the list of popular activities.
"No, it's not (popular) at all," he said. "I hope it would, it's such a great sport. My dad took me once when I was younger and I thought it was fun. My brother and I play a lot in the summer. Neither one of us is any good, but we just have fun with it."
Now he's having fun just being back on the ice.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com