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Knuble Complementing 21-12; Kapanen on the Mend

Monday, 11.7.2005 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Philadelphia Flyers
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Knuble Complementing 21-12; Kapanen on the Mend

Voorhees, NJ – When your two linemates are leading the league in goals (Simon Gagne, 15) and assists (Peter Forsberg, 21), it is not surprising that Mike Knuble has flown under the radar a bit so far this season.

Knuble, in fact, is the third leading scorer on the Flyers with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points. According to Gagne, he is just as much a reason for the success the line has had as himself or Forsberg.

"He's a big guy and strong with the puck. Sometimes you don't see that from upstairs, but he's taking a lot of space away for Peter and I," said Gagne. "He puts some traffic in front of the net for us, and sometimes he's got two guys on him. That is going to open the ice up for Peter and me, so he's bringing a lot of physical aspects to that line and sometimes that's what people forget about him."

Knuble's current role is similar to the one he played while in Boston. There, he spent time with Joe Thornton and Glen Murray and racked up 51 goals and 54 assists in 157 games in the previous two seasons. It was there that Knuble proved to the rest of the league that he could contribute with the big boys, and his success with the Bruins was what landed him in Philadelphia.

"I've said it a million times before – I'm just trying to find a way to complement the way [Forsberg and Gagne] play," said Knuble. "Joe and Glen were a huge part of my career and the success that I have had. I owe 99.9 percent of it to those two. Playing with them enabled me to come here and play for Philly and obviously have the chance to play with Peter and Simon, because I've proven I have done it somewhere else."

Although there are differences between the twosomes, Ken Hitchcock had no doubt that Knuble would be able to adjust to playing on the top line.

"I think Mike is one of those guys that compliments anyone. To me, he's got the personality that he just fits in," said Hitchcock. "He has a tremendous ability to adjust his game to his linemates. With Thornton, they played a game where Joe worked the puck from behind the net and both Murray and Knuble played off the dots. Here, he's got to go in the corners and pull it off the boards a lot more. He's been able to make those adjustments.

"I just think when you're a smart, competitive player like Mike is, you're going to be able to do that stuff. Whoever we play him with, he would find a way to make it work."

Right now, though, there is certainly no reason to take him off of that top line has been so dominant.

"Hopefully, he's going to get more credit because he's helping our line to get those goals every night," said Gagne. "It's not only Peter and I; it's the three of us that makes a good line."

Kapanen Practicing

Flyers right wing Sami Kapanen, who has yet to play in a game this season due to torn cartilage in his right shoulder, has started taking part in full practices with the team. He is still not able to participate in drills with full contact, and is about three weeks away from getting back into game action.

"I feel pretty good. I won't have any contact for the next couple of weeks, but it's a good step for me right now," said Kapanen. "Hopefully in the next three weeks, I can get in the uniform and be able to play.

"Ten weeks is the time it takes to heal, and I'm at seven weeks [Tuesday]. We've just got to stay patient. I feel good right now and feel like I could go with the contact, but we go by the doctors' orders and I think that's the best choice."

Flyers Continue Homestand with Bruins

The Flyers will have a tough test on Tuesday night at the Wachovia Center, as they continue their five-game homestand with the Boston Bruins. Boston is currently in third place in the Northeast Division with a 7-5-4 record, and is coming off of back-to-back wins over Florida and Pittsburgh.

"The way they played the last two games has been totally dominant," said Hitchcock of Boston. "They are the biggest team we're going to play so far. Their defense is huge, and their forwards are big and competitive. They win all of the board battles. They keep everything to the outside. You don't get any second opportunities unless you are really ready to work for it. We have got ourselves a real top opponent, and I think they are starting to play like the way everybody anticipated."

After dropping the season opener, the Flyers have reeled off six straight wins on home ice. Robert Esche, who has won his last four starts, will be in net on Tuesday.




1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


J. Voracek 75 21 53 7 74
C. Giroux 74 22 46 1 68
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 75 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 75 13 17 1 30
M. Read 73 7 22 -7 29
M. Del Zotto 57 9 19 -5 28
M. Raffl 60 19 6 6 25
V. Lecavalier 51 7 11 -10 18
S. Mason 15 17 10 .926 2.25
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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