Tuesday, March 31
The Flyers got back to work on Tuesday after taking Monday off, and had a full team skate for just under an hour today at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. The team's charter flight left for Toronto in the afternoon, as the Flyers and Leafs are set to face off at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Simon Gagne's recent surge was among the topics, as the winger has five goals in the last eight games.
FlyersTV: Stevens - March 31 | Gagne/Timonen/Knuble - March 31
What is even more eye-opening is Gagne's shot total of late. In the last four games combined Gagne has 27 shots, including nine in Sunday's game against Boston in which he scored a late third period goal. In the previous four games, he had just four shots total.
It's not a coincidence.
|Simon Gagne has 27 shots on goal in the last four games combned. (Getty Images)|
"Early in the season I was saying to myself, 'I'm not shooting the puck on net.' Scoring chances were there, but it was more trying to make a play and I was looking maybe to pass first," he said.
"Now, I'm a little bit back to basics, trying to put it on net and my teammates going for rebounds. When I see something open I will make a play, but right now I will think shoot first and see what's going to happen after."
John Stevens has also advised the now four-time 30-goal scorer to not be afraid to let 'er rip.
"We've been wanting him to shoot the puck more all year," said the coach. "I just think Gags is taking his game to another level right now. If you look at some of the goals we scored lately, he's winning puck races, he's getting involved, he's moving his feet...and because he's moving his feet he's getting shooting opportunities.
"He is starting to put more pucks at the net. He's got a great shot, a quick release, and the goalies have trouble picking it up. He's scored a lot of goals around the net this year but he hasn't scored as many goals from a distance as we're used to seeing over the years. Now, he's starting to shoot the puck again which I think is great."
New Jersey in their sights? - With seven games remaining in the regular season and the New Jersey Devils on a current five-game losing streak, some of the Flyers were asked today if they think they can catch the Atlantic Division leaders. The Devils have 98 points while Philadelphia has 92 with one game in hand.
The consensus opinion in the room, however, seemed to be that the team is more concerned with just winning its remaining games rather than watching the scoreboard.
"You never know with a late flurry we could catch them, but I think we're more concerned with playing good hockey one [game] at a time and then we'll take our seed wherever we end up," said Mike Knuble.
"If we win [all] seven games I think we maybe have a chance to maybe catch New Jersey, but overall I think just getting that fourth spot is the biggest goal for us."
The Flyers remain in fourth place in the conference, one point ahead of Carolina, two in front of Pittsburgh and three ahead of the New York Rangers.
Nodl recalled again - Andreas Nodl was recalled on emergency conditions from the Phantoms again today. Riley Cote, who was out Sunday with a finger injury, remains day-to-day.
Monday, March 30
Andreas Nodl has been returned to the Phantoms. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said that Riley Cote, who missed last night's game against Boston with a finger injury, is considered "day-to-day."
Sunday, March 29
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Riley Cote would miss tonight's game against Boston with a finger injury, and Andreas Nodl was recalled from the Phantoms on an emergency basis. Holmgren spoke with the media prior to the game.
Q: Why was Andreas Nodl called up?
Holmgren: “Well, Riley is hurt with a little bit of a finger injury. He’s going to see a hand doctor tonight. We don’t think it’s very serious. We’re just going to call it day-to-day.”
Q: Is it a broken finger?
Q: Do you know when and how it happened?
PH: “He got his finger caught in a sweater in a fight last night.”
Q: Is this another emergency call-up?
Q: Is there any chance that Cote will be out for an extended period?
PH: “We’ll know more tonight after the game, but right now, we think no. There’s a chance he might be able to play the next game – a good chance.”
The Flyers held a brief team meeting at 11:00 a.m. this morning at the Wachovia Center, as they prepare for their third game in four nights tonight against Boston (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
John Stevens spoke with On The Fly afterwards about his plan for the day.
"We just want to get the guys up, get them together, and guys can get treatment that they need and then go home and get some rest," said the coach.
Boston continues to lead the Eastern Conference with 104 points, and will likely be the top seed when the playoffs begin in a little more than two weeks. Still, the Flyers are 2-0-1 in the three games in the season series.
"The games we've played have been tight games. We've played a real good strong defensive game and capitalized on our opportunities," said Stevens.
Antero Niittymaki will get the start in net, as Stevens opted to give Martin Biron a much deserved rest. In three games against the Bruins, Niittymaki is 2-0 with a 1.17 goals against average and .957 save percentage. He made 22 saves in a 4-2 Flyers win at TD Banknorth Garden on March 3.
"[Niittymaki has] played a couple really good games against Boston," said Stevens. "Marty's been playing a lot so it's a good time to get him in.
"I would expect him to come in and give us a solid effort."
Friday, March 27
The complete Flyers roster took part in today's practice at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone, and the team was set to board a (very) short flight to Long Island later today. Philadelphia takes on the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
FlyersTV: Stevens - March 27 | Biron/Giroux - March 27
Martin Biron, who has started 10 of the last 11 games, will once again be in net for the Flyers. After having a three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday night by Florida, Philadelphia will try and rebound against a club that it has beaten 11 of the last 12 times and eight in a row overall.
Biron has been a major part of that success, winning his last 10 starts against the Islanders while posting a 1.59 goals against average and .951 save percentage over that span.
"It's a team that we've matched up really well against over the last few years," said Biron. "Sometimes you have good feelings against some teams, good feelings in certain buildings, and sometimes it's the other way.
"But, you can't put all your focus on that. The focus is on, what's the other team going to do? What are you going to do to outplay them, outskate them and outwork them?"
Stevens was asked if he is starting Biron due to the goaltender's steady overall play of late, or if it is because of his gaudy numbers against the Islanders.
"It's pretty clear Marty is going to carry the load now, and I don't see any reason why we'd go away from him," said Stevens after practice. "Right now, at this time of the year, I think it's important that we keep Marty in the net. He's played well, and we'll just keep and eye on his rest."
As any coach in his situation would, Stevens said he won't take any team lightly, even though the Islanders are primed to finish with the worst record in the Eastern Conference this year.
"It's an opportunity right now for the young players on the Islanders to play more and play in key situations. You know they are going to work hard, and play as hard as they possibly can in hopes of making an impression leading into next year," said the head coach. "To me, that makes them dangerous. It's certainly a game we're going to have to be ready for."
Giroux getting more comfortable - Just like any player in their first year in the league, rookie Claude Giroux is getting more and more acclimated to his surroundings as the season progresses. He seems to have found a home for the time being on a line with Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble. He has four assists in his last four games.
"When you play with two experienced guys like Gagne and Knuble it makes my job a lot easier, and we're having fun out there," he said.
Even though he didn't score, Giroux had a highlight-reel move on a two-on-two in which he turned around a Florida defender before lifting a backhand on net that was stopped by goaltender Craig Anderson.
"It worked in juniors. It just came to my mind when I saw a two-on-two, so I said, 'why not try?' So, I tried it, and it worked, so I got pretty lucky I guess."
Giroux was informed by one of the local writers that Gagne compared his vision on the ice to that of Peter Forsberg.
"It's always fun to hear those things," said Giroux with a smile.
Hartnell a lasting image - Sports Illustrated.com chose an image from last night's "Scott Hartnell Wig Night" as it's "must-see photo" for today. To check it out, click here.
Wednesday, March 25
The Flyers got back to work on Wednesday with an hour-long practice at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. The team had a complete day off on Tuesday following the 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
The big topic of discussion today centered on winger Scott Hartnell. On Thursday night at the Wachovia Center against the Florida Panthers, the first 5,000 fans and all kids in attendance will receive wigs resembling the curls of the most distinctive looking player on the roster (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).
FlyersTV: Hartnell on wig night | Stevens after practice
In fact, the wigs are proving to be so popular that many of his teammates are hoping to don the look for warmups. Stay tuned on that one.
"I know there's 20 guys in here that are jealous of my hair, so I think maybe in warmups a couple guys will be wearing them to be just like me," joked Hartnell. "They may get a little better looking while they are out there skating around with it."
While Hartnell likes to keep things light in the locker room, his play this season has been anything but. The 26-year-old is the fourth leading scorer on the team with 56 points, a new career high, and his 27 goals is also the highest mark he has reached in his eight NHL seasons. With 125 penalty minutes to boot, Hartnell is establishing himself as a fan favorite both on and off the ice.
John Stevens was asked about Hartnell's personality and play after today's practice.
"Hartsy keeps the group loose and brings a lot of enthusiasm and has fun, but I think as he's gotten a little more mature he's learned to work and have fun at the same time," said the head coach. "I think we still have to reel him in from time to time, but he has a career high in points and goals and is a very important part of our team."
It has also been mentioned several times that Hartnell leads the NHL in minor penalties with 50. Even though that is a high number, Stevens doesn't want Hartnell to change his approach to the game.
"I'll be totally honest with you, I think Scottie is a little bit of a victim at times. There's clearly some penalties that he could do a better job of of not taking, but I've seen him have some plays that I'd encourage him to do again.
"That [boarding call] on [New Jersey's Brian] Gionta the other night, I'd encourage him to do again. There's some times where just because he seems to always be in the middle of things, he sometimes comes out on the short end. He hits Gionta, I think it was a great hit and an open ice hit, I don't see that being a penalty. If he has that play 10 more times, I'd want him to take it 10 more times."
More highlights for Biron - Martin Biron is becoming a regular when it comes to highlight reel saves. He made #2 this week with his stop on Sidney Crosby during Sunday's 3-1 win in Pittsburgh. To see the complete Top 10, click here.
Saturday, March 21
The Flyers arrived in Pittsburgh shortly after midnight early Saturday, and held a 1:30 practice this afternoon on the campus of Robert Morris University about a half hour from the team hotel downtown. Philadelphia will visit the Penguins on Sunday afternoon for the NHL's Game of the Week (12:30 p.m., NBC).
FlyersTV: Hartnell/Briere/Jones - March 21 | Stevens - March 21
To say that the Penguins are hot is an understatement, as the team is 10-0-2 in its last 12 games. Pittsburgh is tied in the standings with Philadelphia for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 86 points, although the Flyers do have three games in hand on the Penguins.
"They're on fire right now," said Scott Hartnell after Saturday's skate. "It's going to be a big tilt. We want, obviously, home ice advantage. We do have a few games in hand on them, but this game is going to be huge."
"You just knew they had a dangerous team and could turn it around at any time," added Danny Briere, who led the Flyers with two goals in a 6-4 win over Buffalo on Friday night. "The addition of Bill Guerin at the deadline seemed to give them extra life, too. This is a good test, battling for home ice advantage for the playoffs."
Sunday's game will be the sixth and final regular season game between the Flyers and Penguins. John Stevens is not at all surprised to see the Penguins right in the thick of things as the two rival clubs jockey for position.
"Any time we meet up with them the games have big importance, and even more so this time of the year," said the head coach.
Jones hopeful for Sunday - Randy Jones, who missed Friday's game in Buffalo with a lower body injury, is feeling better since getting a cortisone shot in the effected area. He took part in practice today and hopes to be back in the lineup against Pittsburgh.
"I felt great today. The injection definitely helped and it felt even better today than it did yesterday. There is a definite possibility that I can go tomorrow," he said.
Jones, who was originally hurt last Sunday in a visit to the New York Rangers, has three goals and three assists in 35 games this season.
Friday, March 20
Flyers head coach John Stevens updated the status of injured defenseman Randy Jones prior to tonight's game in Buffalo. Jones missed Tuesday night's game in Detroit with a lower body injury he suffered on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
"He skated today and he felt pretty good. I think when you come back and skate it's always the next day that tell you where you're at, but the early signs are very encouraging," said Stevens. "He said he felt pretty good when he was skating."
Stevens added he is unsure of Jones' status for Sunday, when the Flyers are in Pittsburgh for the NHL's Game of the Week (12:30 p.m., NBC).
Taking Jones' place in the lineup on Tuesday was Danny Syvret, who will also play tonight against the Sabres. Syvret, who is the American Hockey League's second highest-scoring defenseman with 48 points (11G, 37A), impressed the Flyers' coach.
"I think he played very well, said Stevens. "It's not an easy situation to come into against a team like [Detroit], and I thought he played with a lot of poise. He moved his feet, made some good plays with the puck, and I thought he made a very good account of himself."
Thursday, March 19
After a day off from the rink yesterday, the Philadelphia Flyers were back at practice this morning with new looks to all three of their top scoring lines.
The most notable change was Danny Briere taking Joffrey Lupul's place on the wing alongside Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell. Lupul skated with Mike Richards and Dan Carcillo, while Claude Giroux centered Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble.
FlyersTV: Stevens - March 19 | Carter/Lupul/Gagne/Briere - March 19
Everyone seemed to take the changes in stride, as the Flyers will try to snap a two-game losing streak heading into a crucial road weekend against Buffalo on Friday (7:30 p.m., CSN) and Pittsburgh on Sunday (12:30 p.m., NBC).
|Jeff Carter (left) and Scott Hartnell (right) skated in practice on Thursday with Danny Briere on the wing rather than Joffrey Lupul (center). (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)|
"From what I can see, it looks like we're trying to get three balanced lines," said Lupul after practice. "I've played with [Richards] in the past and we seemed to have some pretty good chemistry. I'm looking forward to playing with him again."
"The last couple games we didn't create a lot of chances offensively," added Simon Gagne. "Sometimes a little bit of change will bring that energy or that thing you're looking for."
Briere, who is scoreless in three games since returning from his groin problems, had what he felt was his strongest game since coming back full time on Tuesday in Detroit. He's also looking forward to getting to play with a couple of linemates that already have a combined 64 goals on the season.
"I felt like I really took a step forward, personally," said Briere of Tuesday's effort. "I'm just feeling more comfortable and more confident with my skating. I feel like I can start maybe helping out a little bit more than I have been the last few games."
"The plan all along was to get through those games, in terms of Danny, and see how he responded to playing that many games. He's feeling better and better," said Stevens. "I think that was the best he's looked yet was today. It creates some balance in our forward group."
Stevens went on to explain his thinking in putting together the rest of the offensively balanced Flyers lineup. Philadelphia remains the only team in the league with six 20-goal scorers.
"With Richie, it doesn't matter who we put him with, it's a good line. Last year, he and Lupul were a good line. Danny and Hartnell have played really well, and Hartsy and Carter have played really well. I think [Gagne] and [Knuble] have good chemistry.
"I think if you look at it, there's a lot of pairs that have familiarity there, and it's just a matter of working guys in to give us some balance in our forward group."
Wednesday, March 18
Paul Holmgren gave the following update on defenseman Randy Jones today: “Randy Jones was treated today and had a cortisone injection in the affected area. We will have a better idea tomorrow as to his playing status. He remains day-to-day."
Jones missed Tuesday night's game in Detroit with a lower body injury after leaving Sunday night's game in New York in the second period.
The Flyers had a day off from the rink today and will resume practice on Thursday at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone at 11:00 a.m.
Monday, March 16
The Philadelphia Flyers arrived in Detroit yesterday evening, and held a team meeting at Joe Louis Arena shortly after noon today. They did not skate, opting for a day off as they prepare for the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m., Versus, Viewing Party).
FlyersTV: Gagne/Stevens - March 16
Of course, when discussing any Flyers visit to the Motor City, the subject of their winless streak here comes up fairly quickly. The last time Philadelphia beat the Red Wings on their own ice was more than 20 years ago on November 4, 1988, a span of 15 games (0-13-2). To give that a little more perspective, rookie Claude Giroux was less than nine months old.
Flyers coach John Stevens remembers it, as he was a young defenseman trying to break into the league at that time.
"It's almost unthinkable that 21 years have passed and they haven't won a game here," Stevens told On The Fly this afternoon. "I know we don't come in here very often, but hopefully [it's] a little motivation to try to get a win against a very good Detroit team."
Simon Gagne, the longest tenured Flyer, has never won a game here either in his nine years in the NHL.
"Since I'm here I know we haven't had a lot of success," he said. "It's a tough building to play. It's going to be fun to see where we're at."
Philadelphia would also certainly like to avoid any sort of losing streak this late in the season. The Flyers have not lost back-to-back games in regulation since February 4, and would like to keep their hold on the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference which guarantees home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flyers lost 4-1 to the Rangers on Sunday.
"We've had the ability all year to bounce back after a loss, and I would expect us to do the same tomorrow," said Stevens.
Jones update - Defenseman Randy Jones left yesterday's loss in New York with a lower body injury, and said today that he expects to be out of the lineup for about a week.
"It is still pretty tender today. I'm still getting treatment, but it is still pretty sore," said Jones. "I am getting, by but it's not like it's life or death, that's for sure."
In the meantime, the Flyers have recalled defenseman Danny Syvret from the Phantoms. Syvret is the second highest scorer among blueliners in the AHL this season with 48 points in 65 games (11G, 37A). He will wear uniform #26.
No suspension for Coburn - There was some speculation in the media that Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn would get a suspension for his match penalty on Sunday, but that has proved false. Coburn high-sticked the Rangers' Nik Antropov and was kicked out of the game late in the second period, but he will not be suspended for the hit.
Friday, March 13
In the midst of their 15 games in 31 days of March, the Flyers head into this weekend with a crucial home-and-home series on back-to-back days against their Atlantic Division rival, the New York Rangers.
“It’s a huge weekend both ways,” said Flyers center Jeff Carter. “We know what’s at stake here. We know what it means and it’s up to us to go and get the job done.”
FlyersTV: Carter/Biron/Richards - March 13 | Stevens - March 13
The Flyers play host to the Rangers tomorrow at 1 p.m., then travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers on Sunday for NBC’s Game of the Week at 12:30 p.m.
Both teams are battling for playoff position in a tight Eastern Conference race. The Flyers sit in the fourth spot with a 36-20-10 record and 82 points, but even though the Rangers are in the seventh spot in the East, they remain just four points back of the Flyers with a 35-25-8 record and 78 points.
“I think this is going to be a very big weekend for both teams, but especially in trying to see where they’re at and how they’ve changed their game and how we can adapt to that,” said Martin Biron of the new-look Blueshirts. “It’s going to be very interesting for us. We’ve been playing some good hockey, so we want to keep it going.”
The two teams have met just twice this season with each team winning on the road, but the Flyers will see a much different style of play from the Rangers, who replaced head coach Tom Renney with the more offensive minded John Tortorella. Since the change, New York has a 4-2-1 record.
“In terms of style of play, I see a lot more aggressive forecheck than maybe we saw before,” commented Flyers head coach John Stevens. “They really would sit and wait you out, more of a defensive mindset, where now it’s more of the old Tampa Bay style when Tortorella was there. They really get after [the puck] on the forecheck and are a lot more aggressive in the offensive zone than they were before.”
With only 16 games remaining in the regular season, this weekend marks the first of five sets of games on back-to-back days the Flyers will play in a four week span. Of those 16 contests, eight will be against opponents in the Atlantic Division and 11 against teams which currently hold the top 10 spots in the Eastern Conference fighting for just eight playoff positions.
“Every game is important from now on in,” said Flyers captain Mike Richards. “This weekend is going to be no different. It doesn’t matter who we play, we have to worry about ourselves and try and improve our chances for the playoffs.”
Pierre likes the Flyers - ESPN.com hockey columnust Pierre Lebrun yesterday listed 10 teams that he believes are the front-runners for the Stanley Cup this season. He picked the Flyers among them, saying:
"The pundits differ greatly on this team. Some believe the Flyers are the real deal, others think they're first-round fodder. Put us in the first camp."
For the complete article, click here.
Wednesday, March 11
It appears that Flyers center Danny Briere will once again return to the lineup on Thursday, when the Flyers host the Washington Capitals in the fourth game of a season-long five game homestand (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets). Briere practiced with the team during practice this morning at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.
FlyersTV: Briere - March 11 | Stevens - March 11
"I think at this point I'm ready to go. Hopefully I'll get the chance to play Thursday," said Briere. "Since this injury started back in October, this is probably the best that I've been feeling."
"He looks good. I think we're pretty optimistic we'll get him in tomorrow," added John Stevens. "I think he's ready. I know he wants to play so there's a good chance he'll play tomorrow.
Riley Cote, who left Tuesday's 5-2 win over Buffalo with an upper body injury, also said he is fine to play. Martin Biron will get the start in net against the Capitals.
The Capitals, who arrived in Philadelphia last night after a shootout win in Nashville, were scheduled to practice today at the Spectrum but instead opted for a day off.
Flyers among weekly highlights - A couple of Flyers made NHL.com's weekly highlight reels, sent out to the clubs this afternoon. Martin Biron made two appearances and Antero Niittymaki one in the Top 10 Saves of the Week, while Daniel Carcillo's hit against Nashville's Kevin Klein was first on the Top 10 Hits of the Week.
Tuesday, March 10
Danny Briere will miss his second straight game tonight, as the Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres. According to John Stevens, Briere has been cleared for full activity and is hopeful for the center to play on Thursday when the Flyers host the Washington Capitals (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Mike Richards, who missed practice yesterday, took part in the optional skate this morning and will be in the lineup.
Monday, March 9
After taking Sunday off from skating, the Flyers were back together on Monday for an 11:00 a.m. practice as they prepare for four games this week. The next three of those will be at home, beginning on Tuesday night at the Wachovia Center against the Buffalo Sabres (7:00 p.m., Versus, Tickets).
FlyersTV: Gagne/Biron - March 9 | Stevens - March 9
Martin Biron will be back in net for the game after one of his best games of the year. On Saturday, Biron stopped 31 Predators shots in a 4-1 victory.
Biron is 2-0 against his old team this season, including a 3-0 shutout in Buffalo on November 21 and a 6-3 victory last month at home. He mentioned after today’s practice how much he likes to play against his former teammates.
“It’s a little bit fun because these are guys that I know, and this is a team that I know really well,” he said. “Friends and family are going to be watching the game. That’s definitely something that you get up for.”
|Martin Biron made 31 saves on Saturday against Nashville, several of the spectacular variety, including this stop on Martin Erat. (Getty Images)|
Biron, who was sensational in the stretch run and playoffs last year, was asked if there is something about this time of year which brings out the best in his game.
“When you get into spring…I don’t know what it is. It’s nice outside, the kids are playing around in the back yard, you get to sit on the patio. You drive to a game and it’s sunny and bright. There are a lot of things that put you in a good mood and put you in that playoff atmosphere.
“I don’t know if I take that to the rink or not, but I definitely enjoy this time of year.”
John Stevens also likes what he’s seen of Biron of late.
“He looked confident, he was aggressive, he was square to the shooter, and the puck sticks to him when he plays like that,” said the head coach of Biron’s effort against the Predators. “He makes the saves he’s supposed to make, and then he makes a couple goal-saving saves that really give the team confidence.”
Briere update – Danny Briere took part in skate today, and also skated on Sunday by himself. His status for Tuesday’s game is undetermined.
Briere left Thursday night’s loss to Calgary in the second period after experiencing soreness in his groin area that is not uncommon after his type of injury.
“I want to make sure when he comes back his in for a full game and moving forward,” said Stevens.
Briere skated in Mike Richards’ place between Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble on Monday. Richards took a “maintenance day” according to Stevens, who added he expects the captain to play tomorrow night.
Andreas Nodl, who was recalled from the Phantoms on Friday, remained with the club.
Stevens on Carcillo – The newest member of the Flyers, Daniel Carcillo, has made a favorable impression on the coach so far. Carcillo registered his first point in Saturday’s win, assisting on Joffrey Lupul’s third period goal.
“He skates well, he handles the puck well, [and] he’s got good hockey sense,” said Stevens. “You combine that with a great deal of courage, and he’s a pretty effective player. He gets on top of people, and he showed an ability to contribute offensively the other night. I thought he played a sound game.
“He’s a well-rounded player that can really help us on the third line.”
Carcillo continued to skate with Claude Giroux and Arron Asham on Monday.
Friday, March 6
Flyers center Danny Briere, who left Thursday night's loss to Calgary in the second period with a groin injury, was relieved to find out this morning that the injury is not as bad as he had feared when he left the ice.
He will likely not play against Nashville on Saturday (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets), but considers himself day-to-day.
FlyersTV: Briere - March 6
"It was a big relief this morning. There's no doubt about it," he said on Friday morning from the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. "It wasn't as bad as we thought last night. I had a little workout this morning and I'm hoping to get back on the ice tomorrow, skating.
"I'm probably not expecting to play tomorrow night's game, but after that anything is possible. It's day-to-day after that."
Briere, who saw Dr. William Meyers this morning, further explained what he was told about the injury.
"[Dr. Meyers] said adhesions broke and there's internal bleeding. It's obviously swollen, but he also told me that it wasn't abnormal. He's seen this before. He said most guys go through ups and downs. It's just a little downer right now and hopefully within a couple days I'll be back to playing."
Briere has been dealing with groin problems for most of the season, and played in just his 12th game last night. He has five goals and four assists on the year.
Thursday, March 5
Flyers center Danny Briere left Thursday night's 5-1 loss to Calgary due to a lower body injury. General manager Paul Holmgren spoke with the media about Briere following the game.
For the video of Holmgren's availability, courtesy of FlyersTV, click here.
Holmgren: “Well right now all that we know is that he tweaked his groin again, and we’ll see how it is tomorrow. He’s having a little bit of a tough time right now with it; probably as much mentally as physically. I feel bad for him. He’s had this issue pretty much most of the season and to come at this point in our season is not good news.”
Q: Do you almost feel snake-bitten that it (Briere’s injury) happened today and not before yesterday?
PH: “To be honest with you, I’ve never looked at it that way. Danny is a good player, and we want him in our lineup. That’s what stings about it. I feel bad for him.”
Q: You mentioned that Danny tweaked his groin. Is this something similar to what he had suffered earlier?
PH: “It’s in and around the area that has been the issue.”
Q: Do you know when he was injured?
PH: “It was early in the second period. I don’t know if he got tied up in a corner. I’m not sure [how].”
Q: Who gets called up now?
PH: “I haven’t had a chance to talk to the coaches about it yet. Obviously we need a player. We’ll probably know more tomorrow.”
Q: Is Danny in a tremendous amount of discomfort right now?
PH: “Like I said, I don’t know if it’s mental. It’s a little bit physical, but probably more mental just because of the year that he has gone through.”
Daniel Carcillo met with the media today following a full team pregame skate at the Wachovia Center. Carcillo will skate on a line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux to start the game against Calgary (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Antero Niittymaki was the first goaltender off of the ice this morning, meaning he will likely get the start in goal. Niittymaki is coming off of a 22-save performance in a 4-2 win in Boston two nights ago.
FlyersTV: Carcillo - March 5 | Stevens - March 5
Tuesday, March 3
Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen will be in the lineup tonight when the club takes on the Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Timonen has missed the last four games with the flu. The Flyers held an optional skate this morning in preparation for the game.
Also, the Flyers announced that forward Claude Giroux has been recalled from the Phantoms, and Nate Guenin and Jared Ross have been reassigned back to the Phantoms. Giroux is expected to start the game on a line centering Danny Briere and Scottie Upshall.
Giroux, 21, has four goals and seven assists for 11 points and 12 penalty minutes in 21 games with the Flyers this season.
Monday, March 2
With a day between games, the Flyers took to the ice at Agganis Arena today, located on the campus of Boston University for their morning skate.
Among the many story lines was the return of defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who has been sidelined the past four games due to the flu.
FlyersTV: Stevens - March 2 | Guenin/Niittymaki/Timonen - March 2
“He looked good in practice,” said head coach John Stevens. “Hopefully if he continues to feel good, he’ll be ready to go.”
Timonen took part in the team’s full practice and while there has been no official word, he remains optimistic he will be in the lineup for tomorrow night’s game against the Boston Bruins (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
“Everyday I feel better, and there’s a pretty good chance I’ll play tomorrow,” said Timonen.
Niittymaki back in action - Stevens said that Antero Niittymaki will get the start in Tuesday’s match up with the Eastern Conference leading Bruins.
Niittymaki has won six of his last nine games, going 6-2-1, recording a 2.61 goals against average and .920 save percentage in that span. He has also gone 3-3-0-1 in seven career appearances against the Bruins, including stopping all 22 shots he faced through the final two periods and overtimein relief of Martin Biron in the Flyers’ 4-3 win at Boston on February 7.
“I think it’s a big game, not (because of) the trade deadline coming or that we lost the last two games,” said Niittymaki. “I think always against a first place team, you want to see where you are and how you do against them. They have some guys back. They have a good team and they play well at home, so it’s a good test for us.”
Guenin Provides Depth - With the loss of Timonen recently, the depth of the organization has played a big role in the past few games. One example in particular is defenseman Nate Guenin, who made his 2008-09 season debut for the Flyers in Sunday’s game at New Jersey.
“I think he played very well,” added Stevens. “I think Nate plays within himself. He’s a big guy that defends well. He makes a real good first pass. He doesn’t do a whole lot offensively but he’s a right hand shot, so he ends up on his forehand a lot and he can make a good first pass from deep in his own end. He’s just a defender, gets the puck up to the forwards right away and plays a simple game, which is exactly what we want from him.”
“I’m confident in my abilities and feel that I can play at this level,” commented Guenin. “As a player you always need to prepare yourself, so when you do get called upon, you’re ready for the task… and when (Flyers G.M. Paul Holmgren) called, I was excited for the opportunity. As a player that’s all you can ask for, an opportunity to come and show what you have and I feel like I did it.”
Friday, February 27
Flyers head coach John Stevens met with the media hours before the game against Montreal at the Wachovia Center. There, he updated the status of injured players Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen. Both will sit out tonight's game but are hopeful to return Sunday at New Jersey (1:00 p.m., CSN).
"I think [Briere is] getting real close here, and we'll get him back on the ice tomorrow in a structured practice and hopefully get him in on Sunday," said Stevens.
|Kimmo Timonen will miss his third straight game with the flu. (Getty Images)|
"[Kimmo] felt better today. He got pushed a little bit and he needs to get pushed a little bit tomorrow along with Danny. Hopefully both those guys are in our lineup over the weekend."
Briere has missed the last 35 games with a groin injury, while Timonen is sitting out for the third straight match with the flu.
Stevens was also asked how he expects the club to handle the loss of center Glen Metropolit and defenseman Ossi Vaananen, both of whom were claimed on waivers today.
"Any time there is change there is a little bit of concern, but at the same time we feel like we have a group here that can absorb these kinds of things," he said.
"The leadership of the group, the affection they have for one another and the way they get along, we think they can absorb losses. They are certainly disappointed to see friends move on, but at the same time they do know it is part of the business."
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed reports that center Glen Metropolit and defenseman Ossi Vaananen have been claimed off of waivers by the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks, respectively.
Metropolit, 34, had four goals and 10 assists in 14 games with the Flyers this season. He was signed to a two-year contract by the club a free agent on July 1, 2008.
Vaananen, 28, had one goal and nine assists in 46 games with the Flyers this season. He was signed to a one-year contract by the club on July 1, 2008.
Thursday, February 26
Paul Holmgren was asked a number of questions by a pool reporter this afternoon regarding today's happenings. He said that the Flyers will make decisions on Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen tomorrow, regarding their return to the lineup. Briere has missed the last 34 games with a groin injury, while Timonen was out the last two with the flu. Philadelphia hosts the Montreal Canadiens at the Wachovia Center. (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets).
Holmgren also said that he hopes Glen Metropolit and Ossi Vaananen clear waivers, which would give the club roster options. Finally, regarding Darroll Powe, Holmgren said "Darroll has played very well and is a player that we see continuing to improve."
Flyers head coach John Stevens, who gave his club a complete day off from the rink today, gave the following update on center Danny Briere. Briere hopes to play Friday when the Montreal Canadiens visit the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets).
"We kept everybody off the ice today just to get some rest, including Danny. He has been pushing pretty hard," said Stevens. "He did some off-ice rehab today. We are going to wait and see until tomorrow and see how he makes out at practice.
“I think we will know in the morning with what is going on. As far as today, we are going to wait and see how he feels tomorrow. I don’t think we will wait until game time. We will decide in the morning whether he is going to play or not.”
Also, according to club GM Paul Holmgren, the Flyers today placed center Glen Metropolit and defenseman Ossi Vaananen on waivers.
Wednesday, February 25
The Philadelphia Flyers held a brief team meeting this morning at 11:15 a.m. at the Wachovia Center, as they prepare for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
FlyersTV caught up with John Stevens after the meeting, where he revealed that defenseman Kimmo Timonen will likely miss his second straight game with the flu. Timonen sat out last night's 4-2 win in Washington.
"He worked out this morning, and I'm waiting to hear back from [trainer Jim McCrossin] how he made out, but he's still up in the air," said Stevens. "He's doubtful, and I don't think we will totally rule him out, but at this point he's doubtful."
The head coach also talked about getting Martin Biron back in the net for the second of back-to-back games. Antero Niittymaki helped the Flyers to their victory last night with 33 saves.
"Obviously Niitty played extremely well last night, and we'll get Marty in the net here rested tonight and I'd expect the same kind of performance."
The Kings and Flyers played hard-fought game earlier this year on January 3 at the Staples Center. LA came away with a 2-1 shootout victory.
"They really play a lot like we do," said Stevens. "It makes for a great matchup. I know the game in LA was a great hockey game, and I would expect the same tonight."
Monday, February 23
Forward Danny Briere continued to skate with his teammates on Monday, as the Flyers held an 11:00 a.m. practice at their facility in Voorhees, New Jersey. Briere said that while he is possible to play in Wednesday's home game against the Kings, it is more likely he will make his return on Friday night at the Wachovia Center against the Montreal Canadiens.
FlyersTV: Briere - Feb. 23 | Stevens - Feb. 23
“Wednesday is still a possibility at this point, but we’re focusing more on Friday," he said. "There is a bigger chance I’ll be in the lineup on Friday.”
Also today, Jeff Carter skated for a portion of practice but left the ice early. He had to leave Sunday's Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival after feeling ill, but Stevens said he fully expects Carter to be in the lineup on Tuesday night in Washington (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Antero Niittymaki will be in net tomorrow night, while Martin Biron will start against Los Angeles on Wednesday at the Wachovia Center.
Roster news - Forwards Josh Gratton and Jonathon Kalinski were both reassigned to the Philadelphia Phantoms today.
Friday, February 20
The hot topic of conversation in the Flyers’ locker room last night following their 6-3 win over Buffalo was Braydon Coburn’s second period goal that gave the team a 2-1 lead at the time.
FlyersTV: Watch the shift in its entirety
It wasn’t so much the goal that was eye-opening; rather, it was the more than a minute of pressure that the Flyers applied before Coburn’s one-timer sailed past the glove of goaltender Ryan Miller. Mike Richards, Mike Knuble, Simon Gagne, Matt Carle and Coburn were on the ice for the shift, which occurred right around the halfway point of regulation.
“That was a great shift in the hockey game. I thought there were so many good things; puck battles, guys hard on the puck, and the fact that we were shooting the puck really got them scrambling in their own end,” said John Stevens in his post-game presser.
“We didn’t really didn’t look back after that. They came back and tied it, but it was a great shift and probably the best we’ve had in a long time as a five-some out there,” added Knuble. “It was fun. The crowd was starting to get into it, cheering us on. Then we finished with a goal. It was pretty exciting. It was just a great shift. We were just doing everything right – puck battles, making plays and working hard for each other. I think we got a great result out of that.”
Kimmo Timonen, who dumped the puck into the Buffalo zone to start the pressure before skating to the bench, enjoyed seeing it play out even though he was not a part of the action.
“The guys did an awesome job. The forwards were forechecking, and staying in [the zone], and it was just an unbelievable goal.”
- - -
The Flyers held a morning skate at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone at 11:30, as they prepare for the final regular season visit by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets).
FlyersTV: Stevens - Feb. 20
Seeing as how the Penguins are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, it very well could be the last visit until next season as Pittsburgh is certainly no lock to even make it to the postseason. Buffalo sits in eighth place in the conference with 66 points, while the Penguins have just 62.
Pittsburgh recently made a head coaching change, bringing in Dan Blysma for Michel Therrien. Blysma is 1-0-1 in his first two games.
“They’re still a very dangerous team,” said Stevens on Friday afternoon. “I’m sure they’re looking forward to this part of the season now with a healthy lineup to make a push.”
The Penguins are just 1-7-2 on the road in their last 10 games, but that victory came at the Wachovia Center on January 13. Stevens also said that Martin Biron will get the start in net for the matinee matchup.
Wednesday, February 18
In an interesting quirk to the schedule, the Philadelphia Flyers are going through their second straight week of no games on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. They have once again used the time off to practice at their training facility for a home game on Thursday, this time against the Buffalo Sabres (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet Tickets).
FlyersTV: Stevens - Feb. 18 | Hartnell/Knuble/Biron - Feb. 18
Last Thursday, the Flyers dropped a 5-2 decision to Ottawa Senators, and were not happy with their effort. They will try and reverse that and go for their third straight win against a Buffalo team that is among many clubs vying for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"There's no easy games this time of the year. You either show up to play, and if you take a night off you're going to get destroyed," said Scott Hartnell after Wednesday's practice. "A lot of teams are fighting for their lives to make the playoffs."
"Buffalo has played well, and there's a lot at stake right now," said John Stevens of the Sabres, who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road on Tuesday, 4-1.
|Martin Biron made 40 saves in a 3-0 win in Buffalo on November 21, 2008. (Getty Images)|
The Flyers sit in fourth place in the conference right now with 69 points (30-16-9), which is three points better than seventh place Buffalo (30-22-6). Philadelphia, though, has played at least two fewer games than every other team in playoff position, however, including three games in hand on the Sabres. With a couple wins, the team could be right back in the hunt to move as high as second place in the conference.
"As a group, if you don't realize the stakes have gone up and the intensity has gone up, then you'll get left behind," said Mike Knuble. "That kind of happened to us against Ottawa last week, and Buffalo is a team that is right in the playoff mix. Everybody is trying to help their position."
More on Marty - Stevens was asked what he thinks of goaltender Martin Biron's play recently. Biron led the team to wins over the Islanders and Rangers over the weekend. Before he came down with the flu, Antero Niittymaki had seen the majority of the playing time.
Biron will start in net on Thursday against the Sabres, who he shutout in November at HSBC Arena in a 3-0 win with 40 saves.
"I don't think there's any question he played better the last two games," said the head coach. "I think Marty is no different than any other player, in that you go through stretches of the season where maybe you're not at the level you're capable of getting to. But, he's aware of that and he's taken responsibility for that. He's got some fire in his game right now."
Biron credits the improvement in his game recently to a change in his mental preparation.
"I decided to definitely step on the pedal for Saturday (against the Islanders), and it worked out. I kept it going on for Sunday (at the Rangers), and it worked out, too," said Biron. "I think that's got to be the attitude.
"I looked at last year the games I performed best, and they were high intensity, high emotion, playoff [type games] down the stretch. Now, you bring that up in you right now as opposed to the end of the year."
Tuesday, February 17
After a complete day off on Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers hit the ice for a little over an hour today at their practice facility. Afterwards, there was dryland training upstairs with trainer Jim McCrossin.
Danny Briere continued to practice with his teammates, and today was dressed in blue along with Claude Giroux, Scottie Upshall and Darroll Powe. Briere said he is unlikely to play this Saturday when the Flyers host the Pittsburgh Penguins, but hopes to return next week.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot better than I was feeling Friday. It’s encouraging,” he said. “I was still a little tentative today, but I bumped here and there, [and] tried to be a little bit more physical. It reacted really well. Every day I’m going to push it a little more.
“I don’t know exactly where I am, but I’m pretty close.”
Scott Hartnell left the ice early in practice after tweaking an upper body injury, but said afterwards he should be back on the ice on Wednesday when the club skates once again at 10:30 a.m. at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. The Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres at the Wachovia Center on Thursday (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets).
Finally, Antero Niittymaki was back in net today after missing both weekend games with the flu. Martin Biron, who beat the Islanders and Rangers on Saturday and Sunday, will be the goaltender against Buffalo Thursday.
Biron shutout his former team on November 21 at HSBC Arena in the only other meeting of the season, 3-0, stopping all 40 shots he faced.
Monday, February 16
The Philadelphia Flyers had a complete day off on Monday after two straight convincing victories on Saturday and Sunday over the New York Islanders and Rangers, respectively. The team will be back on the ice at its practice facility on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
Antero Niittymaki has recovered from the flu that saw him miss both games, and will return to the ice for the skate.
"I'm feeling better. Yesterday I was a little better, and today I'm really good. I think it's all behind now," he said.
The goaltender added that he started feeling the effects of the flu bug after Thursday night's home loss to the Ottawa Senators, and was also out of commission on Friday and Saturday. Mike Richards, Scottie Upshall and Martin Biron have all missed multiple games at points of the season due to the flu.
Scott Munroe was reassigned to the Phantoms.
Sunday, February 15
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Scott Munroe, who has yet to play in an NHL game, is acting as the backup for Martin Biron in today's Flyers-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Antero Niittymaki is back home battling the flu.
It is actually Munroe's second appearance at the Garden, and the goaltender told a quick story about that experience before the game.
"I was able to take a pregame skate here my rookie year (2005-06) with Robert Esche when Niitty was hurt. He actually came back that morning. So, I hung around as long as I could and shot as many pucks down the ice, and talked with Reggie Lemelin, and then they sent me home that afternoon. So, I wasn't able to be the back up.
"So, hopefully Niitty doesn't show up today and I can get to at least back up (laughs)."
Munroe, who is second in the American Hockey League with 22 wins for the Phantoms, could be sticking around a little longer after today. John Stevens updated the condition of Niittymaki, who is suffering from what appears to be the same illness that sidelined Biron, Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards for a week.
"It seems to be the same pattern that the other guys had where he didn't feel very good at all, overnight he got worse, and he felt a little bit better and then he got worse again," explained the coach. "It seems very similar to what Richie, Marty Biron and Scottie earlier. So, we left him home and he'll hopefully recover."
Friday, February 13
Just when it appeared the flu bug had run its course through the Flyers' locker room, another player was unable to skate today because of illness. Antero Niittymaki, who has appeared in six of the last eight games, did not take part in Friday morning's practice in Voorhees, New Jersey.
That means Martin Biron will be back in the net on Saturday when the Flyers host the New York Islanders (1:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets), and possibly again on Sunday when Philadelphia makes its first appearance of the season at Madison Square Garden (12:30 p.m., NBC).
FlyersTV: Stevens - Feb. 13 | Biron - Feb. 13
"It's a big weekend," said Biron, who will be looking for his first win since January 10 against Toronto. "The Islanders are a team that battles extremely hard. Then we go against the Rangers, who we are going to face five times the rest of the season, and there could be some very big points at stake."
Stevens is hopeful Biron responds well to his return between the pipes this weekend.
"This time of the year you need your goalie to be your best player," said the head coach. "If you look at last night [against Ottawa], [Brian] Elliot was probably their best player and I fully expect that to happen with us."
Stevens was asked more about the 5-2 loss to the Senators on Thursday night at the Wachovia Center.
"We go back over [the game] today as we always do, and we had 25 scoring chances in that game, and that's the top three we've had all year," he said. "It's not as if we didn't create. It was just one of those games where you give up a scoring chance and it ends up in the back of your net. That happens sometimes."
Wednesday, February 11
A second straight day of practice at the team's facility in Voorhees, New Jersey, saw a familiar face return to the ice. Danny Briere, who has been out multiple groin injuries this season, skated with his teammates since having surgery on January 22.
The center, expected to miss at least four weeks after the surgery, said afterwards that he is still a ways away from returning.
FlyersTV: Briere - Feb. 11
"There's still lots of pain and a lot of discomfort, depending on what I do," said Briere. "But just from skating this past weekend [by himself] to today was way better. I was able to do a little bit more with the puck and shoot a little harder and skate a little harder."
Someone from the media contingent suggested that Briere's target date for a return is February 24 when the team plays in Washington. To that, Briere replied, "It's just a target. It's kind of a goal that you shoot for. It could be quicker, it could be longer. It's way too early to tell."
Richards update - Mike Richards, still feeling the effects of his illness that caused him to miss the last three games, said he should be fine to play on Thursday against Ottawa (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets). Although you can still hear in his voice a good deal of congestion, the captain declared he should be able to play all the minutes and situations he normally does.
Richards also skated with new linemates on Wednesday, in between Scottie Upshall and Darroll Powe.
"On paper and even in practice I like the way it looks and what everyone brings to the line."
FlyersTV: Richards - Feb. 11
Tuesday, February 10
After a full day off following back-to-back games on the road over the weekend, practice resumed at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Tuesday, where Flyers coach John Stevens addressed the importance of their upcoming games and relying on both goaltenders during their playoff push.
FlyersTV: Stevens on goalies | Upshall/Niittymaki/Lemelin
“It just seems to me that the fight to get into the playoffs is so difficult and every game is so important, it’s like any other position on your team. We’re a little bit different than some teams in the fact that we have two goalies we rely on a lot,” said Stevens on using both goaltenders in coming weeks. “Marty carried the load last year and he’s carried most of the load this year, but look at [Antero Niittymaki] now. He’s really come on, he’s played well and my plan right now is to give them both time in the net.”
A large part of the success the Flyers have had following the All-Star break has been the recent play of Niittymaki, who has currently won five of his last six games, going 5-1-0, recording a 2.07 GAA and .938 save percentage.
“It’s a team sport,” said Niittymaki on his play. “I’ve been able to win a couple games lately and they [Flyers coaching staff] feel like I should play, so I’m going to play Thursday and we’ll go from there.”
Niittymaki, who is in his fifth NHL season, all with the Flyers, is also growing more confident in net and about his play.
“To me it’s just a maturing thing for him,” commented goaltending coach Reggie Lemelin. “He came in as a rookie. We took some time, developed him, he had some success with the Olympics, then it was almost a sophomore jinx. A couple years it was tough, but after four or five years that’s when you hit your peak and that’s where I think Niitty’s coming into that.”
Back to Skating - After missing the Flyers' brief two-game road trip, Flyers forwards Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards joined the team on the ice for their morning skate.
“Two big games, probably the biggest weekend of the year and to go down with an upper respiratory attack was tough to take,” said Upshall on missing the last few games. “I feel much better now. I’ve got some good workouts in the last few days, I’m starting to get my eating habits back, some fluids in me, so I’ll be ready to go Thursday and get right back in there where I left off.”
Both Richards and Upshall missed the previous three games due to the flu, but the team persevered and earned victories over the League-leading Bruins at Boston on Saturday, and extended its dominance over the Thrashers with a 3-2 win in Atlanta on Sunday - the 14th consecutive win over the Thrashers.
Both Richards and Upshall are expected to return to the lineup when Philadelphia will face off against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets).
Monday, February 9
Flyers coach John Stevens gave his club a complete day off on Monday, after winning two games on the road over the weekend in Boston and Atlanta. Philadelphia will resume skating at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.
One player who was at the practice facility today, though, was captain Mike Richards, who missed the last three games with the flu bug that infested the locker room. Scottie Upshall has also sat out those same three games with the same illness.
Richards answered a couple questions for On The Fly after a workout.
Q: How are you feeling?
|Flyers captain Mike Richards has missed the last three games due to the flu. (Getty Images)|
Richards: “I feel pretty good. I’m starting to get my energy back and trying to put some weight back on. The aches are gone. The sore throat and coughs are gone, so I’m feeling pretty good. I am still a little congested in my sinus area, but hopefully by Thursday that will be gone, too.”
Q: You said you’ve lost some weight. How much?
Richards: “I probably lost around eight pounds just from being sick. I was sick in Florida and then I got sick again. I just kind of lost my appetite a little bit. Right now I’m just trying to get that weight back on and get my energy level back and I should be good to go.”
Q: Have you ever seen the flu-bug hit a team so severe as what has the Flyers these past couple of weeks?
Richards: “No, I haven’t. I don’t think I have ever missed a game from being sick and now I’ve missed three. It is disappointing. But, just like the injuries that we have had this season, we’ve been able to battle through them and different people have stepped up. Hopefully, it is gone now and we can clean it up and get a healthy team.”
Q: How did you think the team performed without you in the line-up?
Richards: “Really good. The first game at home against Boston, I thought there were just a couple of bad breaks. We had another gutsy comeback for the win in Boston. The boys played well and got a lucky bounce in overtime to win that game. We kind of deserved that one. We played well again in Atlanta, let it slip away, but when it counted we closed it off.”
Friday, February 6
The Flyers held another practice on Friday morning, and were set to board a charter flight to Boston this afternoon where they will play their second consecutive game against the NHL-leading Bruins on Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Still battling the flu bug are Mike Richards and Scottie Upshall, who did not skate today. Both missed Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to Boston at the Wachovia Center.
Braydon Coburn, out the last two games, returned to the ice and will be fine to play on Saturday, but Richards and Upshall did not go to Boston with the team and are questionable.
"It looks like [Coburn] will be a go tomorrow, and we're still waiting on the other guys," said coach John Stevens after practice.
As for the other two, "They will stay here today and we'll monitor how they do later in the day today. If either one is feeling any better, we'll get them into Boston tomorrow morning."
Jared Ross, who played Wednesday but was reassigned back to the Phantoms on Thursday, was once again recalled and will play if he is needed on Saturday. Ross is scoreless in six games with the Flyers this year, and is tied for the Phantoms team lead in scoring with 42 points (19g, 23a).
Stevens also looked ahead to Saturday's game.
"Boston is obviously a team that is playing with a lot of confidence right now," he said. "We had a good look at them the other day, and I think when you play a team two times in a row it should help you prepare and what to expect. I thought we had a good couple days of practice here, and obviously we'd like to have Richie and Scottie back, but getting [Coburn] back is a big boost and we're looking forward to going in there and playing well."
The Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night in a shootout, 4-3, their sixth win in the last seven games. They continue to lead the league with 84 points (39-8-6).
Thursday, February 5
The Flyers held practice at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone today, where the focus was on penalties. Philadelphia leads the league in penalty minutes per game at 19.0, more than a minute than the 29th place club (Vancouver - 17.9) and almost 10 minutes more than the team with the fewest penalties per game (Carolina - 9.6).
While their 56 league-leading majors have helped that total, the Flyers have also taken the second most minor penalties (292).
In short, its an area that the club will have to improve on as it tries to snap out of a stretch in which it has lost five out of eight games.
FlyersTV: Timonen/Lupul on penalties | Stevens on penalties, Parent
"We talk about it almost every day, and today we talked about it again," said Kimmo Timonen after the skate. "How we play one-on-one situations, and why do we reach, and those kinds of things. We have to learn not to do that.
"I think it's mental. You've got to be thinking about when you go into the corner, you're not reaching, you play positionally and contain a guy. You don't have to go in there and run the guy, but make sure he's not beating you one-on-one. That's my key, is moving your feet and not reaching at guys."
|Ryan Parent impressed coach John Stevens in more than 19 minutes of ice time on Wednesday night against Boston. (Getty Images)|
On Wednesday night against Boston, the NHL's points leader, the game was evenly matched until three consecutive minors to Philadelphia in the second period gave the Bruins the momentum. They capitalized with two third period goals, albeit on deflected pucks, and won 3-1.
While the Flyers' penalty killing unit is a very respectable 83.5 percent, good for seventh in the league, key players have to expunge their energy in keeping the other team off of the board. That hurts the chances on offense, according to Joffrey Lupul.
"Even though our penalty killing has been fairly good, it's just the fact that so many of our key guys play on the penalty kill," he said. "[Mike Richards], [Jeff Carter], [Braydon Coburn] and [Simon] Gagne and all those guys, they are all playing big minutes on the penalty kill, so it kind of tires them out.
"If we're behind in a game, you don't want [Carter] to have to waste all his energy killing penalties."
Timonen and head coach John Stevens think the problem is one that can be fixed, although maybe not right away.
"You can change it, I'm sure," said Timonen. "When we're not skating, we take too many penalties. When we start moving and skating we don't have to play in our own end that much."
"It's like anything else, you're not going to snap your fingers and the problem is going to go away," said Stevens. "It's going to be a process that we're going to have to go through to get it to where it needs to be."
Parent Impresses - Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent made his NHL season debut on Wednesday night, and registered his first regular season point in the NHL (he had an assist last year in the playoffs).
The 21-year-old Parent finished with more than 19 minutes of ice time, including 3:24 on the penalty kill, and was a +1.
"I thought he played great," said Stevens. "He moved the puck well, his mobility allows him to be a really good defender, and he looked pretty confident out there. I thought he played well."
Stevens was asked if Parent could stay on the roster even when Braydon Coburn returns from the nasty flu he is still suffering from.
"Sure. He's a kid we think a lot of, and he looked great in training camp before he had the setback from injury. We like a lot of the things he brings, and he'll certainly get some consideration to stay around longer than just a day or two."
Parent was recalled from the Phantoms before the game Wednesday. He missed the first 36 games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery performed on October 16. He had one assist and 18 penalty minutes in 15 games with the Phantoms prior to his recall.
Roster News - Jared Ross, the Phantoms' leading scorer, was returned to the AHL club on Wednesday. Coburn, Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards all missed practice with the flu.
Tuesday, February 3
The Philadelphia Flyers got back to work today at their practice facility after two complete days off from the rink. The team went on the ice around 10:15 and many players stayed on for close to 90 minutes as they prepare for the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins on Wendesday (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Tickets).
FlyersTV: Stevens - Feb. 3 | Biron/Gagne/Knuble - Feb. 3
It is the first of two straight games with the Bruins, as the teams will meet at the TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday (1:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Boston currently leads the conference with 80 points (37-8-6), a whopping 12 points better than the second place Washington Capitals.
The Flyers (26-14-9, 61 points) are looking forward to the challenge.
"Going into these two games, having some success could really solidify what we think about our team in here, and that's what we want to do," said Martin Biron, who will start in net tomorrow night.
"You want to measure yourself against Boston, and we play them back-to-back, so it's going to be a big week," added Mike Knuble, who spent more than four seasons with the Bruins (1999-2004).
Coach John Stevens also sees the game as a measuring stick of sorts.
"There's lots of good teams in the East, and Boston seems to be setting the bar for everyone else," he said.
Flu Update - Flyers defensemen Randy Jones and Braydon Coburn both missed Saturday's game in St. Louis with the flu. While Jones returned to full speed today, Coburn still was not able to practice and is questionable for the game on Wednesday.
Bowling with the Flyers - Although they didn't skate yesterday, the Flyers made a team appearance at Lucky Strike Lanes for premium Wachovia Center clients. To see the coverage from the local meda, visit the Flyers in the Media page for clips courtesy of RedLasso.
Monday, February 2
Flyers defenseman Luca Sbisa was reassigned to his junior club today, the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Sbisa spoke with On The Fly regarding the announcement by the club earlier this afternoon.
Q: What is your reaction being sent back to juniors?
Sbisa: “Obviously, I am disappointed. I kind of had a feeling that it may happen. I did not play for a long time, so you start to think that something might be up. They told me this morning. I was kind of disappointed, but now I know where I am going to play. It’s just another step to playing in the NHL. I am going to back to Lethbridge and help the team out. I am really looking forward to playing a lot of minutes there, play the power play, [penalty kill] and the last minutes of a game. I kind of missed that stuff. This is just another experience that I have to go through. I am disappointed, but I am looking forward to getting a lot of playing time.”
Q: Talk about your time playing for the Flyers. How was the experience?
Sbisa: “It was a great experience. I played 39 games here and it was just amazing and the locker room was just filled with great guys here. A lot of stuff happened in a short amount of time. I played my first couple of NHL games and I thought it went pretty well. I had a very good start this season and made the team out of training camp. I played pretty good. But, when all the injured guys coming I got less and less ice time. I tried to get back into the lineup, but we have a very good team here. I just didn’t play much. But it was a great, great time and a great experience playing in my first couple of NHL games. I would never had expected to play at 18 years old in the NHL.”
Q: Obviously the experience you got on the NHL level is going to help you back in juniors.
Sbisa: “Oh, yes. I have almost 40 games in my pocket at the NHL level. I just want to show what I learned up here, down there. I am sure it will help my game in juniors. I will take a lot of responsibility down there to Lethrbridge and try to go as far as we can in the playoffs.”