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Valtteri Filppula settling in with Flyers

Philadelphia counting on recently acquired center to play key role in playoff push

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Since joining the Philadelphia Flyers, center Valtteri Filppula said one of his best friends has been his GPS.

"Lot of Google maps, that's for sure," said Filppula, who came to the Flyers along with two draft picks in a March 1 trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Mark Streit. "I can't get anywhere without someone telling me where to go."

He might not know his way around Philadelphia, but he's quickly caught on to how the Flyers want him to play.

"I think what's very evident is his outstanding hockey sense in a two-way game," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's got very good offensive ability and playmaking ability, yet along with that he's got that stability up and down the middle. That's your backbone up and down the ice. He's done a very good job supporting all the plays, whether it's defensively or offensively, through 200 feet of the ice."

Philadelphia is hoping Filppula can be a key contributor as it continues its uphill climb for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Entering their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV) at Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers are seven points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild spot into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

 

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Filppula has two points (one goal, one assist) in six games with the Flyers. He's had Jakub Voracek as his right wing all six games, and Travis Konecny has been at left wing on that line for the past three games.

Filppula is being asked to do a bit more offensively than he was with the Lightning, who deployed him against the opposition's top players. He's also playing more with the Flyers, averaging 18:30 of ice time per game, including 2:24 on the power play, up from the 17:30 per game (1:53 on the power play) in 59 games with the Lightning.

"For the past few games, I've been definitely in a more offensive role," Filppula said. "Need to try to take advantage of it or things will change."

Change isn't something Filppula has a lot of experience with; the Flyers are his third NHL team in 12 seasons. He played his first eight seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, then signed a five-year contract with the Lightning on July 5, 2013.

It was Filppula's choice to leave the Red Wings for the Lightning, but he had less say this time around. Because of a partial no-trade clause in his contract, he was able to submit a list of 16 teams he could be traded to without his permission. The Flyers were on that list.

Filppula, 32, said from watching the Flyers he liked their style of play, and during the summer he got positive reviews of the team and the region from former Flyers Kimmo Timonen and Ville Leino.

Video: FLA@PHI: Filppula tips home goal in debut with Flyers

"They both said it's a good organization and a good group of guys," Filppula said. "Both said a lot of good things about the city. That's obviously those things you're looking for when you're trying to figure out where you'll go if it happens."

Nothing has changed his opinion in the six games he's been in Philadelphia.

"It's been good," said Filppula, who, according to CapFriendly.com, is under contract for next season ($5 million) and has a no-movement clause, which means he must be protected in the NHL Expansion Draft. "I think definitely the team has been really welcoming. It's been in that way an easy place to come into. … I think it's always a little bit different when you come in at the end of the season.

"But at the same time, it hasn't been too big of a difference that way. Everyone has been really welcoming, been easy place to come, nice city. No complaints."

Filppula's teammates have no complaints either.

"He's a very smart player, very good stick," Voracek said. "Calm with the puck, lot of experience. I think we're working well together. … He adjusts well to the game. He's been around for a long time. He knows where the puck is going to be, he knows what to do when he has the puck on his stick. He doesn't force many plays. It's been fun."

Video: Tim Saunders discusses Filppula's impact on Flyers

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