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Schenn a workhorse on Flyers' decimated blue line

by Adam Kimelman /

PHILADELPHIA -- With five regular defensemen out of the lineup with injuries, Luke Schenn has turned into a workhorse for the Philadelphia Flyers.

He played nearly 33 minutes in the team's win Monday at the Montreal Canadiens, and one night later, against the New York Rangers, he skated 24:39. He was solid, going a plus-1 and taking one penalty. He also helped rookie defense partner Oliver Lauridsen continue to adjust to the game at the NHL level.

Schenn averaged 16:02 per game last season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, seventh among that team's blueliners. This season, he's now up to 21:40 per game, and that number likely will continue to grow through the Flyers' final five regular-season games.

"I think his year has been a strong year for us," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's taking on more minutes, I think by necessity based on certain situations and line matchups that have to happen for us. But I think he's had a strong year. The minutes have gone up recently because of the injuries on the back end. You see him pushing almost 60 minutes combined the last two games. That's an opportunity for him. He's had it all year and he's played well."

Schenn said he's enjoying the added responsibilities that come with the extra ice time.

"It's real nice getting the chance to play that much," he said. "It's unfortunate with all the injuries we've had, but that means a little more opportunity, a little more ice time, which any player will tell you they love. It's going out there and the odd time you make a mistake you don't have to think about it when you come back to the bench because usually you're hopping right back out there and moving on to the next shift. You get into a groove and rhythm more, and I really enjoy it."

The Flyers will have one lineup change for sure, and likely one other, when they host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Ilya Bryzgalov will return in net. He last played Monday, allowing three goals on 28 shots in the Flyers' 7-3 win against the Canadiens. He's 5-2-0 in his past seven starts, but watched from the bench Tuesday as Steve Mason made 38 saves in a 4-2 win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

The other change involves the fourth line, as Mike Knuble -- a healthy scratch the past three games -- could return to the lineup. He took line rushes in Jay Rosehill's spot on the fourth line with Ruslan Fedotenko and Adam Hall.

Here is the lineup the Flyers likely will use Thursday against the Devils:

Simon Gagne - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Danny Briere - Brayden Schenn - Scott Hartnell

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Mike Knuble - Ruslan Fedotenko - Adam Hall

Oliver Lauridsen - Luke Schenn

Kimmo Timonen - Erik Gustafsson

Brandon Manning - Kurtis Foster

Ilya Bryzgalov

Steve Mason

Scratched: Jay Rosehill

Injured: Maxime Talbot (leg), Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Jody Shelley (hip), Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Kent Huskins (concussion), Bruno Gervais (torn stomach muscle)


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