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Desjardins Pacing Flyers Defense

Sunday, 10.23.2005 / 12:00 AM / News
Philadelphia Flyers
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Desjardins Pacing Flyers Defense

Montreal, Quebec – It was a rough time in his career for Eric Desjardins at the end of the season in 2004.

The 6'0'', 203-pound defenseman, who was in his ninth year with the club, missed most of the second half of the regular season with a broken right forearm. He returned in time for the final three regular season games and looked like he would be ready to help the team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It was not to be, however, as the plate meant to repair his forearm broke, forcing him to watch the exciting run that brought the Flyers to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals from the press box.

"I was actually lucky it broke not playing or practicing," said Desjardins about re-injuring the forearm. "I was just doing day-to-day stuff. I hate to go back to it, but the second time they went back in they did everything they could to make sure it was going to heal. It was scary. It was pretty bad, and at one point you ask yourself, 'is it going to heal?'"

Healed it has, and Desjardins has taken back his place as a steady defenseman who can be relied upon in any situation on the ice.

"I think he's one of those players that looks like he benefited from the time off. He's in tremendous shape, and looks like he's having fun playing hockey right now," said Ken Hitchcock. "Physically, he feels great. He's 36 years old, and looks like he can play for a few years the way he's playing right now. He's really playing with a lot of poise, and a lot of character."

"You appreciate it a lot more when you're out of the game," said Desjardins, of not playing during the lockout. "For me, at first it was just good to come back to prove to myself that I could come back to this league and play. I know it's still early, but I feel good. That's the only thing I really want, is to be a part of this team."

After posting a goal and an assist in over 21 minutes of ice time on Saturday in Toronto, Desjardins is now third on the team in scoring with seven points (1g, 6a) behind only the virtually unstoppable duo of Peter Forsberg (12a) and Simon Gagne (7g, 4a). He spent the most time of any defenseman on the power play, with 8:05 on the ice with the man advantage.

"I'm trying to stay in the game as long as I can but also to contribute whatever I can and wherever they put me," said Desjardins. "In whatever situation they put me in, I try to make the most of it. It's just the way I've always played, to be effective on the power play, penalty kill and everything else."

Desjardins, a quiet yet respected presence in the locker room, has also impressed his teammates with his play. Chris Therien, his long time partner on the blue line, is one of them.

"The thing I noticed the most is that he's really skating well, and he's shooting the puck great," said Therien. "It's good playing with him right now, because we are able to read off of each other. That's something you never lose. We played together for eight years, and that's a long time. I'm happy for 'Rico,' he's playing great hockey."

Hitchcock said that Robert Esche would start in net when the Flyers play against the Canadiens on Tuesday. … Flyers 2005 first round draft choice Steve Downie has been practicing with the team since Saturday morning in Toronto.




1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31


J. Voracek 48 17 39 10 56
C. Giroux 47 16 35 6 51
M. Streit 48 7 27 -2 34
B. Schenn 48 10 19 -4 29
W. Simmonds 48 16 12 -5 28
S. Couturier 48 10 11 0 21
M. Read 48 3 15 -8 18
M. Raffl 40 12 3 6 15
V. Lecavalier 34 7 7 -9 14
M. Del Zotto 36 3 11 -6 14
S. Mason 8 12 6 .920 2.46
R. Emery 8 9 1 .890 3.27
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