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On The Fly!
Official PR Blog of your Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphiaflyers.com managing editor Kevin Kurz will be keeping this blog on the official team website. All you need to know: daily updates, multimedia and behind-the-scenes information that may not necessarily make headlines, but is important, interesting or newsworthy nonetheless. For all other Flyers news, click here.

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Monday, June 7
1:34 p.m. - Philadelphia, PA

With the only two-day layoff of the series between Games 5 and 6, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette gave his team the day off today after last night’s 7-4 defeat in Chicago.

“Our guys are getting away today. We'll do work tomorrow. We're meeting for lunch and that's it,” said the head coach, who was the only member of the organization to have media availability today.

Laviolette mentioned that he has in fact decided on a goaltender for Wednesday’s pivotal Game 6 at the Wachovia Center (8:00 p.m., NBC), as the Flyers will try and force a seventh and deciding game back in Chicago on Friday.

Laviolette didn’t want to announce his decision to the media just yet (
watch), however, as he had not yet had a chance to tell the players. Michael Leighton was pulled in favor of Brian Boucher for the second time in the Final last night, after surrendering three first period goals.

“I don't like to put things out before I talk to my team and talk to my players,” he said. “I want to make sure I do it at the right time and when I want to do it. I reserve the right to say when and where.”

As the Flyers have done all throughout this exciting postseason run, Laviolette said he has no question his club will bounce back from one of its tougher games since the playoffs began seven weeks ago (
watch). The Stanley Cup will be in the building on Wednesday night, and the Flyers’ job will be to make sure it doesn’t make an appearance at center ice after the game.

“I have no question that we'll respond. It was not a good game for us,” he said. “Again, you don't want to make excuses for it. There's no reason to have a game like that, certainly not under the circumstances. Chicago ramped up their game.”

The last time the Flyers had an effort they would like to forget – a 5-1 loss in Game 3 of their series with Montreal in the previous round – they responded with resounding victories in Games 4 and 5 to put away the Canadiens.

Laviolette would surely love to see a repeat performance.

“Montreal Game 3 was a tough game for us. So the question is, how could you possibly respond after that game like that? Well, we did,” he said. “That's why I have a lot of confidence in our group that we will respond tomorrow night, appropriately.

“Those are the two games out of 22 [playoff games] that as a group, none of us are probably happy with the way we played.”

Briere high-sticked

Laviolette was asked today if he thought Duncan Keith’s dangerous high-stick of Danny Briere in the third period should have been a penalty. Not surprisingly, he thought it should have been at least a four-minute double-minor, as Briere was badly cut and required stitches under his right eye (
watch).

“At first glance, I almost thought it was intentional,” said Laviolette. “The puck wasn't even around. Looking at it again, it should have been a four minute penalty. You have to be in control of your stick out there. [It was] dangerously close to a severe eye injury.

“[The referee] told me that it was a follow through on the puck. I'm not sure I understood the call. I thought it should have been a four minute penalty.”

The non-call came at a pivotal point in the game, as Philadelphia was trailing 5-3 at the time and trying to rally.

Briere, who was unavailable for comment last night, returned to the game shortly after skating to the locker room after the play for repairs and will likely be fine to play in Game 6.


Thursday, June 3
3:33 p.m. – Philadelphia, PA

While the Chicago Blackhawks may still be winning the war for the Stanley Cup at the moment, two games to one, there’s one battle in which the Flyers have had the distinct advantage so far. That is, Chris Pronger has not allowed big Chicago forward Dustin Byfuglien to have any measurable success in the series to this point.

Pronger is on record as saying that the battle between him and the 6-4, 257-pound Byfuglien was hyped more by the media than anything else, but the fact remains that Byfuglien entered the Stanley Cup Final as the Blackhawks’ leading goal scorer with eight. Through the first three games, he has just an assist from Game 2, and is often trying to battle in front of the net against the Flyers’ future Hall of Fame defenseman to no avail.

In Wednesday night’s Game 3, the two came together in front of goaltender Michael Leighton with Chicago trying to generate a scoring chance in its offensive zone midway through the second period. Pronger gave Byfuglien a couple of love taps in the form of hard shoves to the lower back, and Byfuglien turned around and whacked Pronger’s stick from his hands.

The result was a slashing minor to Byfuglien (his second minor of the game) and a power play for the Flyers, in which Scott Hartnell gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead when he deflected in a shot from…who else? Pronger.

Could it be that Byfuglien is getting frustrated?

“I don’t know. I think you just have to continue to deny him easy access in front of the net and make him work for every inch out there,” said Pronger.

Peter Laviolette also downplayed the matchup within the matchup.

“You guys made it Pronger against Byfuglien. I didn't. It's Pronger against the guys that he's out on the ice against,” added Laviolette. “And they're good players. He plays against that line quite a bit. Byfuglien is on it, but the other guys (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) are pretty good hockey players as well. I think he's done a good job defensively, along with Matt Carle. I think all of our defensemen played pretty well to this point.”

Speaking of Pronger, in yet another lighthearted moment at his media availability on Thursday, one writer informed the blueliner that he is becoming somewhat of a villain in Chicago.

“Why? What’d I do?” (
watch) he asked, tongue in cheek, before answering the question seriously, adding that it’s not very rare for him to be booed in opposing arenas.

“It’s old hat now. It is what it is. I think we all understand the game is there for entertainment. People are paying a lot of money to come and watch the game, and if they want to love to hate somebody, so be it.”

One possible reason Pronger may have an entire city rooting against him is the fact that he took the game pucks at the end of Games 1 and 2 in Chicago, both Blackhawks victories, and threw them in the garbage.

Pronger was asked today if he picked up the puck at the end of Game 3.

“No, it wasn't in front of me like the other one was.” (
watch)

Also regarding puck-gate, he added: “I didn't know the winning team was allowed to keep the puck. Is that a rule? Can you look in the rule book for me?”

Richards and Carter looking for more success

While Dustin Byfuglien is one player still looking to get on the scoreboard in the Final, the Flyers have a couple big name players in their own right also looking to light the lamp for the first time. They just so happen to be playing on the same line, in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Richards, who was stopped on a breakaway attempt in Game 2 in Chicago, thinks the line (along with Simon Gagne) is generating scoring chances and it is just a matter of time before one or both of them contribute a little more on the scoresheet.

“We're just having tough luck right now around the net,” said the captain. “We're having opportunities. But we're missing nets, and [Antti Niemi] is making saves. I don't want to put too much pressure [on us], saying if we don't score we're going to lose, because I think we have enough depth in our lineup that on any given night anybody can score and have success.

“So, I'm not going to go that far, but it definitely would be nice to contribute and get some goals.”

Laviolette pointed out today that Carter, who returned earlier than expected from a fractured foot, made 12 attempts at the net in Game 3.

“I look at Jeff as when he's getting 12 attempts at the net, for me, I always know it's a matter of time,” said the coach. “He's getting the looks. He's finding those lanes. He's finding the opportunities.”


Wednesday, June 2
1:10 p.m. - Philadelphia, PA

If Philadelphia is feeling any pressure for tonight’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the club isn’t letting on.

Maybe it’s because the Flyers made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and no one expected them to be here. Or, it could be because Chris Pronger has the media in the palm of his hand with silly puck-stealing stories, deflecting attention away from things on the ice that actually matter. Regardless, the players are visibly loose as they prepare for the biggest game of many of their careers.

At yesterday’s media availability it was particularly evident, with the players laughing together with the media about the Pronger situation, while also poking fun at a certain reporter’s brightly colored Hawaiian shirt (we’ll refrain from mentioning who that reporter was, but his name rhymes with Tim Panaccio).

Peter Laviolette was asked again this morning to give the pulse of his club.

“I'm not sensing a lot of pressure,” he said. “I'm not seeing it from our guys. I don't see it in the interviews. I don't see it on the ice. I don't see it in the locker room.

“We're a loose group. We're really comfortable where we're at right now, and we would like it to be the other way, but [it’s] not. We're comfortable here because we've been here too many times.”

Laviolette is hoping that looseness translates into energy when the team gets in front of its rabid home crowd tonight for the first time in the series. Philadelphia is 7-1 on home ice since the playoffs began.

“I'm a big believer in energy. I'm a big believer in emotion. Energy usually wins hockey games,” he said. “If you can combine that with execution, you’ve got yourself a lock. So, energy and execution for me are two of the biggest factors in a hockey game. If there's energy in this building tonight and it's in our favor, I'm all for it.”
Diana Anello from Breden Becks Bakery in Chestnut Hill, PA, proudly displays her masterpiece, a Stanley Cup Cake made with Tastykakes. The Stanley Cup Cake was unveiled at Comcast Center in Philadelphia, PA, on Wednesday,

Many players said after Game 2 that they could draw on the Boston series for inspiration. The Flyers played well at the start of that second round but still came up short in the first two games on the road, and also in Game 3, their only home loss. The difference, of course, is that the Blackhawks are undoubtedly a much better team than Boston. Coming back again from a 0-3 hole would be a much tougher task against the loaded Chicago lineup.

Laviolette actually harkens back to much earlier in the regular season when asked if his team can overcome yet another adverse situation.

“When you're down in the series or you're faced with goaltending injuries, or you have to win in the shootout on the last day of the year, there's a lot of things that add up for this team that says they won't go away,” said the coach. “And like I said before, we've been in a situation since Christmas where it's been time to pack it in. Everybody just go home. Call it a year.

“And yet, we're still here. It's the beginning of June. We're pretty happy to be here, and the guys won't quit. They just won't. That's why I sit up here today, confident about our ability to win a hockey game tonight.”


Monday, May 31
1:19 p.m. – Chicago, IL

Although Peter Laviolette would not comment on it, Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo will apparently be in tonight’s lineup for Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. NBC).

After coming off of the ice for the team’s optional morning skate, Carcillo was told that one of his teammates confirmed his return tonight after he was a healthy scratch for the last three games.

“It’s exciting. You battle all year with these guys, and you want to be in at this time of the year,” he said. “It was hard sitting out those three games. I have a lot of pent up energy that you’ll probably see released tonight.”

Carcillo was the odd man out of the lineup starting with Game 4 of the Montreal series, when both Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere returned from their injuries. Laviolette called scratching Carcillo the hardest thing he has had to do all year, and it wasn’t any easier for Carcillo himself.

“[Sitting out] is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my career,” he said. “I’m a guy who kind of wears his emotions on his sleeve. It was hard, but you always want to see the team do well, and you’re still a part of the team. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I just worked hard every day in practice, did my extra work, knew that this would be a long series and just hoped that I could get a chance to get back in. I’m fortunate that that’s happened.”

James van Riemsdyk, who reportedly will be scratched tonight, commented on Carcillo this morning and what he has seen from the forward during his time out of the lineup.

“He’s been working hard in practice and supporting all the guys, and that just says a lot about the guys we have in this room. Everyone is putting the team before their own personal agendas, and when guys do that, that usually leads to good things,” said the rookie forward.


Sunday, May 30
6:38 p.m. - Chicago, IL

Peter Laviolette confirms that Michael Leighton will get the call in net as the starting goaltender for Game 2 on Monday night in Chicago (8:00 p.m., NBC).

* * *

4:54 p.m. - Chicago, IL


We may have to wait another day to find out for sure whether it will be Michael Leighton or Brian Boucher who starts Game 2 in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers, as they try to tie to even up their Stanley Cup Final series with the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night (8:00 p.m., NBC).

Head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t waste any time in telling the attending media today that they would not be getting an answer to the biggest question of the day.

“We’ll keep everything internal. But thanks for asking,” he deadpanned, when asked about his goalies.

Leighton allowed five goals on 20 shots in Game 1 before being pulled in favor of Boucher, who gave up only the game-winning goal to Chicago’s Tomas Kopecky in the third period on 12 shots faced. Boucher, of course, got the Flyers’ playoff run started with a phenomenal performance in the first round against New Jersey in a five-game series victory.

Leighton entered the playoffs after Boucher was hurt vs. Boston in Game 5 of that series, and led the team to its historic comeback against the Bruins and relatively easy five-game elimination of Montreal in the conference final. He has already shown an ability to bounce back from rocky outings in this playoff year, as evidenced by a 3-0 shutout of the Canadiens in Game 4 after the Flyers were routed 5-1 in Game 3. The scuttlebutt among the attending media here in Chicago is that Leighton will get the call in Game 2, although nothing is confirmed.

Each goaltender has six wins in the postseason, and Danny Briere predictably said today that the team really doesn’t care who starts tomorrow night. Instead, the team needs to play better in front of whoever is between the pipes.

“It doesn't matter who is going to play for us. If there's players that should take the blame for last night, it's certainly not our goaltending,” said Briere, who finished with a goal and three assists in Game 1. “The chances we gave [up], the shots we gave [up] in dangerous areas, we haven't done that too many times in the playoffs.

“Like I said last night, not too many goalies are going to be successful, especially with the shooters that they have. Not too many goalies are going to be successful when you give [up] point-blank chances to score the way we did last night.”

Leighton and Boucher were both on the ice today for the team’s afternoon skate at the United Center. Leighton spent some time with goaltending coach Jeff Reese, who has helped Leighton seemingly transform his game since the Flyers claimed him off of waivers from Carolina in December.

“He showed me some positives and negatives,” said Leighton of Reese. “We went over some things and said, alright, we have to change this a little bit or watch this and watch that.”

It was suggested to Leighton if it was maybe his nerves that got to him. He denied that.

“Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous at all,” he said. “We just didn't play our game last night. We're going to regroup and have a good one tomorrow.”

Laviolette mentioned that the decision is not an easy one, on several levels.

“Those decisions are always tough when it comes to telling players they can’t be in the lineup or they’re not going to get the call that night.

“Based on numbers, they are tough decisions. They’re also decisions that, you know, you look at them and you’re fortunate to have to make them. It means your team is playing well, and somebody has to come out of the lineup.”

Leighton said he would support any decision that is made, whether it’s him or Boucher that gets the call for Game 2.

“If Boucher goes in, he did a great job going in [last] night. If he gets the start, then I have to support him. I'm not going to sit there and pout on the bench, because we're in the Stanley Cup Final. My goal is to win a Stanley Cup, starting on or off the bench.”


Saturday, May 29
11:48 a.m. - Chicago, IL

Ladd out, Boucher to return

For the first time in the playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers are actually healthier than their opponent.

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed this morning that forward Andrew Ladd will miss tonight’s Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. Ladd, who played in all 82 regular season games for Chicago, tallied 17 goals and 21 assists this year and has two goals and an assist in 16 playoff games.

Replacing him in the Chicago lineup will be Tomas Kopecky, who has not played since May 9 vs. Vancouver. Reports are that Kopecky will skate with Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg in a checking role against the Flyers’ top line of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter.

Conversely, Brian Boucher will return to back up Michael Leighton tonight in net for Philadelphia, according to Peter Laviolette. Boucher injured both of his knees in Game 5 of the Bruins series on May 10.

“I’m just excited to be back, and get to be a part of a great experience being in the Stanley Cup finals,” said Boucher, moments ago.


Thursday, May 27
6:06 p.m. – Chicago, IL

There’s been plenty of space devoted on this website, and in the Philadelphia media in general lately with what the Flyers players and front office are saying as they prepare for the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Rather than re-hash what has been uttered over and over again in the past few days, today let’s take a look at what the Chicago players think about their opposition as Game 1 approaches on Saturday night at the United Center (8:00 p.m., NBC). Both teams held their media availability today in Chicago, with the Blackhawks players hitting their respective podiums around 1:00 and the Flyers following suit around 3:00.

Below are some excerpts of Chicago’s players and their thoughts on the Philadelphia Flyers.

* * *

Patrick Kane, forward, on the Flyers:

“Obviously, they've been playing really well. And for them to get to this position they would have to be playing really good, especially the positions they've been in. They've had a roller coaster ride of a season, whether it's the changing of a coach or being down 30 and then coming back, or even making it this far [in] the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“So, they're going to be a tough team. They're really similar to us in a lot of ways. They've got a lot of depth up front. They've got some big shooters back on defense and some guys that can shut you down, too. So, I think it's going to bode really well for a really good series and really exciting, too.”


Dustin Byfuglien, forward, on facing Chris Pronger:

“He's probably going to be the biggest problem out there. But for the most part, every series I've had a couple of [other] guys that have been easy to work around.

“He's definitely got the experience and the size and stuff, and he's definitely smart and he's been around and knows how to handle situations. So, the work is going to be cut out for me.”


Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville on Chris Pronger, whom he coached in St. Louis:

“We know he's a special player. He's a smart player. His reads are very intelligent.  His anticipation is high end. His puck possession and playmaking is like a quality forward.

“And I just think that he's playing a lot of minutes. He's playing well. I think that as a team we want to make sure we try to get him to defend and play in their end and try to work him in that way.

“But, he's a big part of their team, a big part of their success. I don't know if there's any advantage to that. I think everybody has an awareness of how effective he is as a player. We want to make him sure he has to defend more than play in the offensive zone.”


Marian Hossa, forward, on the matchup:


“It's going to be a tight series. Lots of people maybe favor us, obviously because of the standings, but the Flyers [have played] really well in the Playoffs. They've got a great team. Lots of experience, too. It's going to be a tight series.”


Jonathan Toews, forward and Blackhawks captain, compares the teams:

“You look at [both] teams up and down. There's so many similarities as far as skilled players, defensive players, goaltenders, things that we've been through as far as injuries and adversity as a team. We've both worked very, very hard to get to this place. I think they are feeling equally as confident as a team as we are right now. That's what's going to make it so exciting for the fans to watch this series.”


Wednesday, May 26
3:38 p.m. - Philadelphia, PA

It’s possible that Brian Boucher’s name will soon be added to the list of Flyers players getting back early from injury in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The man who started the playoff run for Philadelphia between the pipes skated with his teammates for over an hour on Wednesday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. He suffered a couple of sprained MCLs in Game 5 against Boston on May 10, and it was said at the time Boucher would need at least a month to recover. Instead, Boucher said today that there is “a chance” he will dress as Michael Leighton’s backup when the Stanley Cup Final begins on Sautrday night in Chicago (8:00 p.m., NBC).

“Nobody told me that this season was over for me, so it wasn’t like I didn’t think it there was a chance,” he said after today’s skate. “For me, I just wanted to work, and there were some hurdles I needed to get over to get to this point. I didn’t have any setbacks, knock on wood, so I feel good and it’s nice to be around the guys again.”

Boucher was sensational in the Flyers’ first round victory over the New Jersey Devils, outplaying the legendary Martin Brodeur in leading Philadelphia to a five-game victory. He started the first five games of the Boston series as well, before giving way to Michael Leighton the second period of what turned out to be a 4-0 Flyers win on their way to a historic series comeback.

It’s a little odd to see, but take a look at the NHL’s playoff league leaders and you will find both Boucher and Leighton listed among them. Leighton leads the NHL with a 1.45 goals-against average and .948 save percentage, while Boucher is third in goals-against average (2.33) and fourth on save percentage (.933).

Boucher praised Leighton for the job he has done since taking over.

“It’s been unbelievable. The guy hasn’t played in two months, he gets thrown into a tough situation in Boston, and passes with flying colors. It’s kind of been the story of the season for our team, I guess, as far as the goaltending situation is concerned. I mean, we’ve had to go through a lot of guys and guys have stepped up at different times, and it just continues.

“He’s done a great job and hopefully he can keep it going.”

Boucher also reacted today to the home fans giving him a loud standing ovation when he was shown in-arena during Game 6 of the Boston series (
watch). The Woonsocket, Rhode Island-native’s eyes got a little glassy as the fans rose to their feet in appreciation of his effort.

“It was nice. The fans have always been great to me here and I’m thankful for that. Hopefully I can get back with my teammates, and maybe get back in uniform. The fact that they did their job and we’re still winning, hopefully we can keep doing it for our fans and get one more championship.”

If he were able to return, Boucher would join Jeff Carter (fractured foot), Simon Gagne (also a fractured foot) and Ian Laperriere (brain contusion) as players who beat their original timeframe for recovery during the current playoff run.

* * *

Timonen pumped for first Final
9:47 a.m. - Philadelphia, PA


After knocking off Montreal in the second round of the playoffs three years ago, the Flyers were riding high going into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Philadelphia had just defeated the top-seeded Canadiens in five games, and a matchup with its cross-state rivals was on the horizon.

If there was a single player the team could not afford to lose, it was Kimmo Timonen. Still in his first season with the Flyers since signing as a free agent that previous summer, Timonen was the anchor on a defensive unit that was already heading into the series banged up, with veterans Jason Smith and Derian Hatcher both playing through tremendous pain.

Timonen was hit in the foot by a slap shot late in the Game 5 series-clinching win against Montreal and suffered a blood clot, forcing him out of the lineup. It as freak an injury as can happen in the league, and the news broke seemingly out of nowhere the day before the first game against the Penguins.

Pittsburgh won the series in five games, ending the Flyers’ Stanley Cup dreams that season. Now, though, Timonen is healthy. And to say he is looking forward to his first Final is an understatement.

“[Monday] night I told a lot of guys that it took me 12 years to get to this point,” he said. “Between the 12 years, there’s obviously been good times and bad times. Three years ago I had that blood clot. Bad timing, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

“Every summer, you think, is this going to be my year? Is it ever going to be? Like I said, 12 years is a long time, and this might be my only chance. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Along with Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle, Timonen will be one of the keys on defense as the Flyers try and shut down (or at least contain) and high-powered Chicago offense when the series opens at the United Center on Saturday night (8:00 p.m., NBC).

“When you look at the Chicago team, obviously they had a great year,” said Timonen, “It’s going to be a big test for us. We’re going to need every help there is. Experience, good play,  good goaltending.; we need everything. But, things are going pretty well for us so far so don’t think we need to change anything.”


Sunday, May 23
3:56 p.m. – Voorhees, NJ

There’s a whole laundry list of reasons the Flyers should not be feeling overconfident for Monday night’s game against Montreal, as Philadelphia tries to clinch its first Eastern Conference title in 13 years.

For one thing, the Flyers know that if they let their guard down this late in the playoffs they can still get spanked pretty good, as they did in the 5-1 loss in Game 3 at the Bell Centre. Secondly, the Canadiens have already erased 3-1 and 3-2 series deficits in the first two rounds against Washington and Pittsburgh, respectively.

Finally, the Flyers themselves experienced a furious rally in the second round against Boston (albeit, on the winning side), historically erasing a 3-0 hole.

As Chris Pronger puts it: “If you start looking too far ahead, you're going to get bit real quick.” The bottom line is there are no guarantees in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the 2010 version of the greatest tournament in professional sports is no exception.

That was the overriding theme at the Skate Zone in Voorhees this afternoon.

“The fourth one is the toughest one to win. We're a perfect example,” said Simon Gagne. “You could ask Boston, they'll tell you that for sure. We learned a lot of things from winning that Game 7 in Boston, but we'll try to use it on the other side [tomorrow]. We're going to try to play our best game tomorrow night and try to close this series out.”

“We realize what Montreal has gone through previously, in the previous rounds against Washington and Pittsburgh. So, we can't take them lightly,” added Danny Briere. “Also, what happened with us against Boston. It's never over until the end. We don't want to get too high, too confident. Just one big one left, and probably the hardest one to get.”

Briere added that it’s important for the players to remind one another that they cannot look past the next game.

“That's definitely something we've talked amongst ourselves,” he said. “We realize that it's not going to be easy. Montreal is not a team that has quit in the past, and they're not going to quit now. So we'll have to play one of our best games again to clinch.”

“The players know what's at stake,” said Peter Laviolette. “Every team sets out at the beginning of the year to win the Stanley Cup. It's okay to say we need to win a game, one game tomorrow night, so that we can move on.

“By moving on, you get that right to fight for [the Cup].”

More on Carter’s return

Jeff Carter went into a little more detail today about how his return to the lineup from a fractured right foot came about, and the emotions he experienced as he went from being out for the season to back on the ice.

The 25-year-old was a surprise addition to yesterday’s lineup, and he finished with four shots in almost 14 minutes of play.

“They basically told me that I was done. So, when they said that, it was pretty discouraging,” he said. “When I got the call that there might be a chance that I could come back and everything was going pretty good, [it was] definitely a good feeling, and I got right back to work.”

Carter admitted today that he didn’t begin working out until last Monday, May 17. He is not yet at 100 percent, but the exhilaration of playing in the lineup makes up for the lack of being in tip-top shape.

“You know, I just kind of really wasn't doing anything. I wasn't working out. I was basically [figuring] my year was over.

“It’s definitely getting better. In these games you don't feel out of shape. The excitement, the fans and the crowds get you going, and you can make it through anything. It’s definitely not where I want to be. It's a work in progress, but I'm feeling better every day.”

Carter’s return also gives Peter Laviolette the luxury of having another center in the lineup, although Carter spent most of yesterday’s game on the wing with Mike Richards at center and Simon Gagne on the other side. Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and Blair Betts were the other players down the middle.

“I think there's room to move things around if [I] felt like [I] had to,” said the head coach.


Saturday, May 22
9:03 p.m. - Montreal, Quebec

It’s safe to say that the return of forwards Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter to the Flyers’ lineup was a successful one.

It was expected that Laperriere would be in today for Game 4 after he skated hard with his regular linemates during practice on Friday, but when the Flyers revealed that Carter would suit up as well about 90 minutes before the game, it sent surprised reporters in the Bell Centre press box scrambling to get to their Twitter feeds (after, of course, we broke the news here. Just sayin').

FlyersTV: Carter talks | Laperriere, Leighton

Laperriere played more than nine minutes, while Carter saw more than 13 minutes of ice time, and tied for the team lead in shots on goal with four.

Carter was asked after the game to put into words what it felt like to be back in the middle of a chase for the Stanley Cup after his season was thought to be over with a fractured right foot, and how it all came about that he was able to play again.

“It's awesome. When I got hurt on my foot there, I was told that my season was over. So, I was being the cheerleader for the boys,” said Carter.

“I got a call from [Flyers trainer] Jimmy [McCrossin] last weekend saying there is a chance I might be able to play, so that definitely lifted my spirits. I love to play hockey, and this is the best time of year to play, so I want to be out there. It's definitely a great feeling to get back.”

The decision was made on Friday that Carter would play in this afternoon’s game.

“I practiced yesterday with the team, pushed it pretty hard just to see where I was at. I felt pretty good,” he explained. I told [Peter Laviolette] I think I can give him a pretty good 10-12 minutes, and I left it up to him. He let me know last night that I was in, so it was a good feeling.”

Laperriere, who suffered a scary brain contusion from his now famous blocked shot with his face against the Devils in the first round, wanted to make it clear that he is not putting himself at risk by getting back into the lineup. He was wearing a full Darth Vader-esque clear mask attached to his helmet for the game.

“If there was a little chance that I was going to get hurt, you know, you always take a chance when you go out there…but if I was more at risk than before my injury, I wouldn't be out there.

“I'm a family guy. I've got two kids at home; I've got a wife. I've got to think about that. I didn't want to be selfish, and all four of [the neurologists he saw] were 100 percent sure that I wasn't. That doesn't mean I won't get hit, but I wasn't more at risk than before.  And that's why I made my decision to come back.”

Laperriere’s comments mirrored the exhilaration that Carter was feeling.

“I'm tired, but I'm excited. I had fun out there, back with my teammates. It was just great to be with the boys for a big win.”

One other prediction…when Laperriere hits the ice for the first time in Game 5 on Monday when the Flyers try and book their ticket to the Finals, Laperriere will get the loudest and longest ovation in the history of the 14-year-old building.

* * *

4:24 p.m. - Montreal, Quebec

Flyers forward Ian Laperriere was reached for comment after the first period of Game 4:

"It feels great. You know what? It took a little miracle. They told me I had a chance to come back. I put a lot of effort to return to the lineup. It is a great night. [Being out] was the worst time of my career, sitting out and watching the team doing so well. 

The good news is that since they were playing so well, it gave me some time to get healthy. I am so proud of the boys, and being a part of history that we are riding right now."

* * *

Carter, Laperriere to play in Game 4
1:16 p.m. - Montreal , Quebec


Flyers forwards Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter will return to the lineup for this afternoon’s crucial Game 4 against Montreal at the Bell Centre, the club confirmed this morning (3:00 p.m., NBC).

Carter has not played since April 20 in New Jersey, when the Flyers defeated the Devils in Game 4 of their first round series. Carter suffered a fractured right foot when he was hit by a Chris Pronger slap shot, while Laperriere blocked a puck with his face in the clinching Game 5 on April 22, causing a brain contusion and mild concussion. Both players were thought at one point to be lost for the season.

Laperriere will likely play in his regular spot on the fourth line with Blair Betts and Darroll Powe, replacing Andreas Nodl. It was unclear who would come out of the lineup for Carter, although reports have surfaced that it will be Daniel Carcillo, and Carter will play wing with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.

Carter, who led the team in goals during the regular season with 33, has two goals and an assist in four playoff games. Laperriere, arguably the team’s best penalty-killer, has one assist in five games.


Friday, May 21
3:03 p.m. – Montreal, Quebec

If today’s afternoon practice and mood is any indication, the Philadelphia Flyers have quickly put yesterday’s convincing 5-1 loss to Montreal behind them.

This late in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they really have no choice. After all, the team can still salvage a split in the two games here at the Bell Centre, with a chance to hoist (or at least pose with) the Prince of Wales Trophy on Monday night in front of its home fans.

FlyersTV: Gagne | Leighton | Briere

“Guys came [in] here this morning, [and] I think we turned the page,” said Simon Gagne. “We’re focused on the game tomorrow. We had a good practice today, and that's where everything has to start, in practice. We were sharp in practice, and now we just have to bring that into our game tomorrow.”

“We wanted to have a good practice, and I think we accomplished that,” Michael Leighton concurred. “Everything was positive. We had a team meeting, and obviously went over a few things and systems, work ethic, and things we've got to change. Hopefully, everything turns out good for tomorrow.”

Mike Richards was the most vocal among the players last night, and some of his teammates responded to what Richards termed a “beat-down” that the team took in Game 3.

“Every time [Richards] talks, you know there's something wrong because he doesn't talk very much,” said Claude Giroux.  “But when he does, you know it's pretty important. He's obviously right. That wasn't good that last game, and we've just got to be better.”

Richards himself was also predictably in a much better mood than last night, and was pleased with what he saw from the team today.

“I thought today's practice was much more upbeat, and our execution was good. It's not like we don't know how to do it,” he said. “I think it's just that the mindset going into tomorrow has to change from yesterday, and I think the message was delivered and received and reciprocated by everybody.”

One aspect of the game that the Flyers would particularly like to change is that Philadelphia would like to initiate the physical play rather than have to respond to Montreal. The Canadiens came out strong in front of their raucous home crowd, and used that energy to hit the Flyers at any chance they got. They will undoubtedly try and keep style of play going tomorrow afternoon.

Peter Laviolette hopes that seeing the game tape of some of those instances can help motivate his club for Game 4 (3:00 p.m., NBC).

“We can use that. I think when you bring aggression into it and physical play…you don't want to [lack] discipline, but certainly it can lead to better intensity,” said the head coach.

Laviolette also commented on the difference between going home in Game 5 ahead three games to one, as opposed to tied at 2-2.

“Tomorrow night we have an opportunity. Yes, we want to go home 31. We do not want to go home 22,” he said. “There is a lot of work that has to be done in that process, but that is the nature of the way this tournament and the playoffs are set up.

“Most teams would like to do it 40. That rarely happens. Usually, you've got to fight.”

Carter, Laperriere still skating

As they did at yesterday’s morning skate, injured forwards Jeff Carter (right foot fracture) and Ian Laperriere (brain contusion) skated with their teammates today. It appears that Laperriere has at least a chance to get back into the lineup for Game 4, as he took line rushes with his regular mates Blair Betts and Darroll Powe.

Should Laperriere play, he would take the place of Andreas Nodl, who skated with Carter and David Laliberte today. That’s also a sign that Carter is probably not yet ready to return.

Once again, neither Carter nor Laperriere was made available to the media, as the team is opting to keep its potential roster moves internal.

Laperriere would be a welcome addition to the lineup, for more reasons than just his gritty on-ice presence.

“He's a big part of the team. He's a character player,” said Gagne. “He's a role guy that at this time of the season is really important, and a guy that's going to do everything for his teammates.”

“He's a guy who is very energetic in the dressing room as much as on the ice to get us going, to get us pumped up,” added Danny Briere. “He talks a lot in the dressing room and on the ice. So, just his presence I think is going to bring a lot.”

Carcillo’s one-liners

Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo today was asked to comment on a moment in Game 3, when Montreal sniper Mike Cammalleri stuck his tongue out at Carcillo while a linesman was breaking up a scrum between the two late in regulation.

“That’s embarrassing,” said Carcillo. “That’s about it.”

Was Carcillo surprised that Cammalleri would do such a thing?

“During a National Hockey League game? Yeah. That’s a first. It’s weird.”

Carcillo added that last time someone stuck his tongue out at him it was "probably a girl. A pretty one, too."

The photo was featured on the back page of a French-language newspaper this morning here in Montreal.


Thursday, May 20
2:51 p.m. - Montreal, Quebec

Flyers forwards Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere both took part in the team’s morning skate today at the Bell Centre, as Philadelphia gets ready for Game 3 in Montreal tonight (7:00 p.m., Versus).

FlyersTV: Hartnell on Carter

Neither Carter nor Laperriere is expected to play, however, as both were on the ice much later than the regulars in the lineup. That is usually a signal that they will be watching from the press box, with the other scratches. There was no immediate detailed update from the club, as general manager Paul Holmgren simply said in a statement that they are both “day-to-day.”

For Carter, it was the first time he skated with the team since having surgery on his right foot on April 23.

"It's the first time I had a chance to practice with him and he's looking very good, and that's what I told him," Simon Gagne told NHL.com. "He's feeling better every day, so that's a good sign."

"Just to see him zipping around out there is pretty cool," said Scott Hartnell.

Head coach Peter Laviolette leaves injury updates to Holmgren, but added, “Jeff looked good. His skating, shooting and passing looked good."

Laperriere, wearing a full protective mask attached to his helmet, has been skating with the team since being cleared for contact on Monday after recovering from a brain contusion from blocking a shot against New Jersey on April 20.

Neither Carter nor Laperriere was available for comment this morning.


Tuesday, May 18
10:49 p.m. - Philadelphia, PA

With much of the focus (and rightfully so) on goaltender Michael Leighton after the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, one player in particular who is making his impact on the Flyers’ current playoff run is winger Ville Leino.

In 10 games, Leino is averaging better than a point per game (3g, 8a). He tallied another goal and an assist in tonight’s 3-0 win over Montreal to give Philadelphia a two-games-to-none lead in the series.

It’s a bit of a pleasant surprise in that Leino was a healthy scratch for much of the regular season after he was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings on February 6 for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, playing in just 13 regular season games with Philadelphia and tallying just four points (2g, 2a). Peter Laviolette explained before tonight’s game that Leino was more the victim of a numbers game than anything else.

“Ville sat for awhile and couldn’t make the lineup,” said the head coach. “Our team was playing really well for a long period of time. We were winning a lot of hockey games, [and] it didn’t make sense to change the lineup. We were healthy up front for awhile and then the injuries started to happen, and Ville got his chance and his opportunity.

“I think he’s gained a lot of confidence as he’s played more games, with himself, his teammates, his line, and certainly with me. He’s been an excellent hockey player for us in the playoffs.”

Leino assisted on Simon Gagne’s power play goal in the second period that gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead, when he and Gagne were banging around in the crease in front of goaltender Jaroslav Halak. Later, he lifted a wrist shot from a bad angle past Halak, on a goal that the Canadiens netminder probably should have stopped.

Briere, who has been certering Leino and Scott Hartnell, is impressed with Leino and said the chemistry is real.

“We think the game alike,” said Briere, who extended his goal-scoring streak to four games on Tuesday. “He's very strong on the puck, and at times when you think that the play is dead, and he's got three guys on his back, he finds a way to keep the play alive and find his teammates around the net.

“When you find that chemistry and things are clicking, there's no better feeling. You just have the feeling that every time you jump on the ice you're going to score, you're going to create a chance to score. It's a fun feeling to have. And I think the three of us, me, Scotty and Ville, right now we're having that feeling when we jump on the ice.”


Monday, May 17
2:25 p.m. - Voorhees, NJ

It’s possible that both Jeff Carter (fractured right foot) and Ian Laperriere (brain contusion) will be back in the Flyers’ lineup at some point during their Eastern Conference Final series with the Montreal Canadiens. Both skated today in Voorhees, and while Carter’s status for the series is still very much up in the air, Laperriere has been cleared for contact.

FlyersTV: Holmgren speaks

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren met with the media this afternoon to update the status of his two injured forwards. Carter skated today for about 15 minutes by himself, while Laperriere took part in the team’s optional noon practice.

There were reports last night that Carter could be ready for Game 2 of the series tomorrow night, but those were pretty ridiculous to begin with, being that Carter had not even skated in a nearly a month and is not in playing shape. Neither Carter nor Laperriere will play on Tuesday (7:00 p.m., Versus).

“I still think it’s a stretch (for Carter to play in the series against Montreal). He’s been off of the ice a long time,” said Holmgren today. “He hasn’t been able to do anything, really, from a conditioning standpoint. Obviously, it’s encouraging to see him out there today, as briefly as he skated.”

Laperriere, who notoriously blocked a shot with his face during Game 4 against New Jersey on April 20, is closer to a return than Carter. The penalty-killing specialist is also trying to get back into game shape, according to Holmgren.

“It’s a situation where he wasn’t able to do a whole lot (of conditioning),” said the general manager.

With the Flyers three wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals, Holmgren mentioned that he is not surprised that both Carter and Laperriere have seemingly beaten the timeframes for their respective returns. Carter was set to miss six weeks with his injury (it’s been less than four), while Laperriere was thought to be lost for the season.

“Hockey players live to play hockey this time of year. I’m sure they are both champing at the bit, big time,” said Holmgren. “It’s a just a question of a) are they healthy enough to play, and b) are they fit enough at this point?”

And if they are able to return?

“It would be huge. They are both a big part of our hockey team. Ian, from an emotional standpoint, and Jeff from a pure goal-scoring and skill standpoint.”

12:01 p.m. - Voorhees, NJ


Flyers center Jeff Carter made his first appearance on the ice since breaking his right foot today at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. Carter was on the ice for about 15 minutes by himself, skating laps around the rink and shooting a few pucks at the net before he left for the locker room. He did not take part in the team’s practice immediately afterwards.

Carter was hurt in Game 4 of the first round series with the New Jersey Devils on April 20, when he was hit with a slap shot by Chris Pronger while stationed in front of the net on a power play. Carter scored on the rebound, his second of the game in a 4-1 Flyers win.

He had surgery on the foot three days later.

The 6-3, 200-pound London, Ontario native led the Flyers in goals in the regular season with 33. He fractured his left foot on March 21 against Atlanta, causing him to miss eight games down the stretch.

We will get more on this story as it develops.


Saturday, May 15
11:52 a.m. - Philadelphia, PA

Below are some quotes from Flyers players, head coach Peter Laviolette and local media regarding last night's 4-3 Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins. Philadelphia advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with the victory, becoming the first team in 35 years to erase an 0-3 series hole.

Enjoy.

* * *

"I was so happy at the end. We just put everything on the line. There is no better feeling." - Simon Gagne

"It is a night they will talk about forever, and the Flyers all know it. For the record, it was May 14, 2010. It was the night when the Flyers did the impossible." - Rich Hofmann, Phila. Daily News

"I don't think you can rank it until the season is done. There's still a lot of hockey left for us now. Who knows what's going to happen next?" - Chris Pronger

"Just like that, Destiny on Ice skates on into the NHL's final four. The Flyers just won the four most improbable games in their history. Four more and they play for the Cup. Impossible? Tell them that." - Phil Sheridan, Phila. Inquirer

"At some point, I just started thinking that it's meant to be. I can't explain it. I have been down 3-0 in a series before but I have never had this feeling before." - Danny Briere

"This is like a storybook. How can you come back from 0-3 in games and beat them 4-3? These guys are unbelievable. They just won't quit. They're incredible." - Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider

"Call it a miracle. Call it a reverse sweep. Call it history. Call it destiny. Amazingly, the Flyers will host the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference final tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center, with an opportunity to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1997." - Frank Seravalli, Phila. Daily News

"Game 7's are made for men. They proved themselves to be men tonight." - Peter Laviolette

"Relentless. Isn't that our slogan? It defines a lot of things. We're never going to give up. We're never going to count ourselves out. Relentless in our belief of what we can do if we set our minds to it." - Pronger

"We believe. Belief in our system, belief in the way we play, belief in ourselves as players. Now, there's no telling what we can do." - Scott Hartnell

"The comeback will go down as one of the great accomplishments in Flyers history, demonstrating the same resilience that marked the franchise's two Stanley Cup champions of the 1970s." - Wayne Fish, Bucks Co. Courier Times

"Every guy here is happy to be part of something big, like we were tonight. We didn't do it the easy way. We took the hard way to do it. But we are part of history now. It's hard to believe, but we did it." - Gagne

"It has been a crooked path, a bumpy path, a trudge through some hockey mud, but with eight W’s separating the Flyers now from a Stanley Cup, it’s beginning to resemble that road Fred Shero once promised to walk along forever." - Jack McCaffrey, Delco Times

"Peter Laviolette sat there and for several seconds, his eyes seemed to tear up. The coach appeared to be overcome by another, frantic Flyers finish, played out against incredible odds that was a sheer act of defiance by a group of players who won’t succumb to the inevitable. No matter how daunting the odds." - Tim Panaccio, CSNPhilly.com


Thursday, May 13
3:48 p.m. – Voorhees, NJ

With the exhilarating victory last night over the Boston Bruins, the Flyers’ third straight in the second round playoff series to force a Game 7 on Friday at the TD Garden, there’s one thing the club would like to make sure happens in the final match of the series. That is, the Flyers need to play better if they want to advance.

That was the biggest message from Peter Laviolette last night after the 2-1 win, and he undoubtedly relayed it to his team at some point before today’s noon practice in Voorhees.

FlyersTV: Carcillo/JVR/Coburn | Carle/Briere

“I am going to be honest with you. Our game will have to be better in Boston then it was tonight,” said the head coach in his post-game press conference, after Wednesday’s game.

While the Flyers may have deserved a better fate in the first three games of the series, the Bruins may be thinking the same thing after last night’s game. Boston had sustained pressure in the Philadelphia zone for long stretches of time in the second and third periods, but good defensive positioning from the Flyers kept the Bruins from getting in prime scoring position.

When they did have those quality chances, Michael Leighton was there to make the key save.

“Our best game of the series has got to be Game 7,” said Braydon Coburn today. “We’ve got to come out with more energy than we have in the past six games, and stick with that for 60 minutes. That’s part of something that was lacking last game. We kind of sat back after we had a great first 20 [minutes]. We need a complete game effort and keep our energy as high as we can.”

“We know, obviously, that we’re going to have to be a lot better the next game,” added James van Riemsdyk.

Philadelphia also knows that despite the relentless push to get back into a series that just about everyone had them written off in, the team has not accomplished a darn thing if it loses the seventh and deciding game.

“If we win tomorrow, it will be pretty special. It’s pretty cool to be back in this series, but if we don’t win tomorrow then it doesn’t mean much,” said Danny Briere. “We haven’t accomplished anything, other than climbing back in the series.

“It’s all on the line for tomorrow night’s game.”

Flyers most resilient, says Laviolette

Peter Laviolette was asked in last night’s press conference if this is the most resilient team he has ever seen in all of his years as a coach.
Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, center, instructs his players during a time out late in the third period of Game 6 of a second-round NHL playoff hockey series with the Boston Bruins, Wednesday, May 12, 2010, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 2-1. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

The answer, is yes.

“The players deserve a tremendous amount of credit because they won't quit,” he said. “Every time they are pushed, they push back. They are a very resilient group out there and they just won't quit, and it’s become a strength of ours. I think based on things that have happened throughout the year, down the stretch and through the first round, the adversity that we’ve faced, I feel like we are conditioned to it now.

“This team has been through a lot, and every time we get thrown something we just take it in stride and we continue to push. They just seem to respond to any type of adverse circumstance, whether it’s the season, or schedule, or injury, or a goaltender. Our guys continue to push back. They won’t go away.”

Defenseman Matt Carle said today the Flyers never thought they were out of the series, even when trailing three-games-to-none.

“We all had belief that if we took it a game at a time and got back to the way we knew we could play, we could climb our way back into this series,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re surprised that [the series is now tied], but we’re certainly happy to have a chance to move on.”

CSN sets ratings mark

Last night’s Flyers-Bruins Game 6 on Comcast SportsNet delivered the largest-ever Flyers audience for the network. It breaks the previous high, set on May 9, 2000 when Brian Boucher and the Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals (that was the game after the 5-overtime victory in Pittsburgh).

Last night’s defeat of the Bruins, to force a Game 7, averaged a 10.1 rating (300,000 households) and peaked at a 14 rating (417,000 households) at 10:30 p.m.

Viewing party on Friday

Don’t forget that you can watch Game 7 of the Flyers-Bruins series tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center. Admission and parking are free. Click here for more information.


Wednesday, May 12
11:23 a.m. - Philadelphia, PA

Claude Giroux will be in the lineup tonight in Game 6 against Boston. To see Giroux's media availability from this morning,
click here.


Tuesday, May 11
3:42 p.m. – Voorhees, NJ

As has been the case essentially all season in the Flyers’ net, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. Brian Boucher’s unfortunate knee injury has thrust Michael Leighton back between the pipes, and Leighton now has a chance to help the Flyers achieve a little bit of hockey history.

Philadelphia is trying to become the first NHL team in over 30 years to erase a 3-0 series deficit, and trails the Bruins three-games-to-two with Game 6 set for tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center (8:00 p.m., CSN). Leighton made 14 saves in relief of Boucher last night in the 4-0 Flyers victory after Boucher left early in the second period.

Of course, Leighton was in this spot not too long ago, when he came in during a game on December 21 after a lacerated finger sidelined Boucher (and with original starter Ray Emery also hurt). Leighton responded by going unbeaten in regulation in his first 10 starts, beginning on December 23 in Tampa Bay. He continued to play well until a high ankle sprain on March 16 ended his regular season.

Now, he’ll try to keep this roller-coaster ride of a season alive.

“As soon as I got hurt, I told my wife that my goal is to get back in, whether it's first round, second round, third round...” said Leighton after practice today. “I wanted to get back in and play, whether it’s backing up or getting the start. I’m where I want to be, and it's obviously going to be a challenge and I kind of look forward to that. I became a goalie because I thought it was a challenging position, and it can’t be more challenging than this.”

“Michael [did] a great job when he was given the opportunity beforehand. Now, he gets that chance again,” said Peter Laviolette. “There’s a lot of confidence in the room, and there’s a lot of confidence with him in the net.”

The key moment in last night’s game, according to the Mike Richards, came shortly after Leighton relieved Boucher. The Flyers were whistled for a penalty less than a minute after the goalie switch, when Danny Briere went off for cross-checking. Philadelphia was holding on to a 1-0 lead at the time.

“Once we killed that penalty right after [the switch], it built a lot of confidence for us,” said the captain.

The Flyers allowed just 14 shots to get through to Leighton, and he gobbled up or turned aside all of them.

“When I got in there, they kept pucks away from me blocked a lot of shots,” said Leighton. “That gave me a little bit of time to get comfortable, and the rest of the game I felt pretty good. I got the nerves out early and I just tried to keep it simple. Obviously, the team scoring goals helped me out a little.”

“We have confidence playing with him in goal,” added Richards.

Regarding Boucher, his playoff run appears over even if the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. General manager Paul Holmgren revealed today that Boucher has a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, and his right knee is also injured. He would likely need at least a month of rehab.

“It’s too bad for Brian, but it’s a tremendous opportunity for Michael,” said Holmgren.

Johan Backlund will be Leighton’s backup beginning tomorrow.

Giroux expected to play, says Holmgren

Claude Giroux, who was knocked from the game after a hit from behind by Boston’s Steve Begin, did not partake in this afternoon’s optional skate in Voorhees today. Still, Paul Holmgren expects Giroux to be in the lineup tomorrow for Game 6.

Holmgren commented on the hit from Begin this morning.

“It’s a dangerous hit,” he said. “This time of year there’s a lot at stake, and you see it frequently,” Holmgren said. “Is it a late hit? By the standards we use, probably not, because things happen pretty quickly out there.”

Begin was given a minor for boarding on the play, leading to a power play goal by Simon Gagne late in the second period.

Richards: Pressure still on Boston

Mike Richards was asked this morning to comment on which team should be feeling the most pressure tomorrow night. Not surprisingly, Richards still thinks it’s Boston, which would certainly not like to be on the wrong end of an historic collapse.

“I think a lot of the pressure is on them to close it out,” he said. “That’s benefiting us right now. We’re just playing, and not worrying about everything else going on or what the situation is. We’re just playing hockey right now, and when we do that, I think we can be a dangerous team.”

Richards leads the Flyers in playoff scoring with 14 points (4g, 10a).

Peter Laviolette also weighed in on the subject.

“There isn’t one person in Boston that wasn’t thinking that [the Bruins] were moving on,” said the Flyers’ head coach. “That’s just the nature of sports. There aren’t a lot of teams that prove that theory wrong. So, when that doesn’t start to happen right away, you carry that with you.”

Block Party info for Game 6

With the late start time, the Bud Light Block Party will begin at 5:00 p.m. outside of the Wachovia Center. Doors to the arena open at 6:00 p.m.

Fans can feast on PJ Whelihan’s famous Buffalo Wings, loaded French Fries with chili and cheese, double cheeseburgers and a “Top Your Dog” station with bacon, chili, cheese and onions.
 
Fans can participate in interactive games, including dunking the Bruins fan, taking a shot on the actual backboard from the legendary Spectrum, test their hockey and basketball skills with a shot on goal, or by playing two-ball mini basketball. There will also be pop-a-shot contests, and meet-and-greets with team alumni and mascots. Local area radio stations will be on site with interactive games, including Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and other activities.


Monday, May 10
1:45 p.m. - Boston, MA

Carcillo a game-time decision

Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo will be a game-time decision tonight when the Flyers take on the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden in Game 5 of their second round playoff series (7:00 p.m., CSN).

FlyersTV: Carcillo speaks

Carcillo took part in the team's pregame skate this morning, which lasted about 25 minutes.

“I feel good," he simply said.

Peter Laviolette said, “I thought Danny looked good on the ice."

In nine playoff games, Carcillo has two goals and two assists.


Friday, May 7
11:02 a.m. - Philadelphia, PA

Simon Gagne just met with the media at the Wachovia Center, and revealed that he is a game-time decision for tonight's Game 4 against Boston (7:00 p.m., Versus). The Flyers held an optional practice this morning, and Gagne did not skate.

FlyersTV: Gagne speaks

Q – Are you going to play?
Gagne: “It’s hard to say right now. It’s going to be a game-time decision. I’m going to see how I’m going to feel in warmups, and from there I’ll decide.”

Q – Did you not skate this morning because you didn’t want to put extra pressure on the foot?
Gagne: “Yes. There’s no need right now to go out there and skate. I’m going to wait until warmups to put all the chance on my side, and we’ll decide from there.”

Q – Paul [Holmgren] said you had a good MRI yesterday. Can you be specific?
Gagne: “They looked if something moved after practice, if the bone shifted or moved a little bit, but everything looked pretty good. They were pretty happy the way the healing process went. It was a good first step to get closer to the game.”

Q – Is the decision up to you now?
Gagne: “Yeah, I’m going to have to talk to the trainer after warmups and tell him how I feel. We have a plan to call the doctor. I talked to him yesterday after I went to get that MRI, and we talked a bit about what I have to look for to be able to play. Like I said, it’s just going to be up to me to get ready for warmups and see how I feel, and from there we’ll chat with [Jim McCrossin] and we’ll decide if it’s good to go.”


Thursday, May 6

Gagne returns to practice
3:14 p.m. – Philadelphia, PA

In a surprising turn of events today at the Skate Zone, winger Simon Gagne took to the ice with his teammates for a noon skate as the Flyers prepare for Game 4 against the Bruins tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Versus,
Tickets).

FlyersTV: Gagne speaks

Surprising, because it was originally thought that Gagne wasn’t even going to see the doctor for a follow-up exam on his right foot until tomorrow at the earliest. He explained his progress today after taking part in the full 45-minute practice in Voorhees.

“The swelling went down a little bit and I was able to put my feet on the floor pretty good. From there, we decided to see if we could put my foot in the skate, and it was going well,” he said. “We decided to go see the doctor and get the OK earlier than Friday and he said to go ahead, see how [I] feel on the ice.”

The obvious question is, will Gagne play in Game 4 as the Flyers try and climb back into their series with the Bruins? If this were an NFL injury report, his status would likely be listed as questionable.

“It’s good to be back out there and be able to skate again. It’s only the first time on the ice and we still have to see the doctor and we’ll go from there,” he said, adding that the doctor’s appointment is set for this afternoon. “It’s one step closer to playing a game, but it’s just one day. We’ll go day-by-day.”

Gagne was hurt in Game 4 of the Flyers’ first round series with the New Jersey Devils, when he blocked a couple of shots from Brian Rolston and Ilya Kovalchuk. He had surgery on April 23.

One of the team’s top two-way forwards, along with Mike Richards, Peter Laviolette would obviously welcome Gagne back into the lineup.

“He does a lot of things for us. He plays top-line minutes, he plays power play, he kills penalties, [and] he plays against other team's best players,” said the head coach.

Laviolette was impressed with Gagne during today’s practice.

“He’s a pretty smooth guy when it comes to the puck and the drills on the ice out there,” he said. “I think when a player gets away from the game for a little bit it’s probably your conditioning and the timing of the game more than anything else, [but] skating, passing and shooting, I thought he looked good.”

Gagne, 30, has two assists in four playoff games and tallied 17 goals and 23 assists in 58 regular season games.

Bruins lose another forward
12:15 p.m. - Voorhees, NJ

Boston forward David Krejci will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a dislocated wrist, it was announced by the club this morning. Krejci was injured when the Flyers’ Mike Richards leveled him with a clean check in the first period of last night’s game at the Wachovia Center.

The 24-year-old Krejci has four goals and four assists in nine games this postseason, after recording 17 goals and 35 assists in 79 regular season games.

The Bruins are already without forward Marco Sturm, who suffered a devastating right knee injury when he tried to hit the Flyers’ Matt Carle early in Game 1. Sturm, who led the Bruins in goals during the regular season with 22, will miss approximately six months.


Tuesday, May 4
3:22 p.m. – Voorhees, NJ

After dropping two heartbreaking games in Boston, one in overtime on Saturday and another late in regulation yesterday, the Flyers know that may have to win both of their home games this week to have a chance at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.

It can certainly be done. Philadelphia is already 2-0 on its home ice this playoff season with a pair of first round wins over New Jersey and has a sense of confidence in front of the Wachovia Center crowd, which was recently voted by NHL players as one of the toughest buildings to play as an opponent (more on that later).

Game 3 is on Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. Versus,
Tickets).

“Coming back in our building, the atmosphere will be up there. We all know it’s one of the toughest places to play for a visiting team, so we have to use that energy on our side,” said Danny Briere, who has a goal in each of the first two games of the series. “I love getting on the ice at the start of the game. The crowd is just amazing. There’s no better way to get motivated for a game, so I can’t wait to feel that again tomorrow night.”

While the crowds in Boston were strong, they aren’t comparable to Philadelphia in the playoffs, said Daniel Carcillo (
watch). The Flyers will have to exploit the orange t-shirt clad fans’ energy.

“Playing in Philly gives you an extra boost. [It’s] hard to play bad when you have all the fans behind you and 20 thousand are screaming in you ear all game," said Carcillo. "I expected TD [Garden] to be loud, but nothing is comparable to our building.”

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette liked the way the Flyers played the stretch run in their home arena, and was obviously pleased with the two playoff victories there so far. He has little doubt the team will respond the right way tomorrow night.

“Our home game has been dialed in for a month now,” said the head coach. “The energy is a positive thing. I think Boston did a good job of harnessing it in their building. They came out in the beginning of every game in every period, they were quick; they were on top of us. We want to make sure we grab that.”

One thing that the Flyers would like to have at some point in the series is a lead. Although they have resiliently battled back several times, Philadelphia has not led at all in the first two games after getting in 2-0 and 1-0 holes, respectively.

So far the Flyers are 2-0 when scoring first in the postseason, and 2-3 when their opponent scores first. In the regular season, Philadelphia posted a 33-10-6 record when taking a 1-0 lead as opposed to an 8-25-0 mark when surrendering the first goal.

“It would definitely be nice, but at the same time, if it doesn’t happen, we still have to show that desperation to climb back and to find a way to win no matter what tomorrow night,” said Briere.

Gagne update

Flyers forward Simon Gagne may start skating this weekend as he tries to return from a fractured right foot that was injured from blocking a shot in Game 4 of the Devils series. Gagne will have another MRI on Friday and is confident that it will show enough healing that he can get back on the ice.

He spoke with the media today.

“I’m off the crutches right now, able to walk on the foot a little bit and it’s getting better every day,” he said. “I haven’t started skating yet, but it’s getting close. I’m going to meet with the doctor Friday and from there, will get the okay to start skating.”

So, Simon, do you know when you can play in a game again?

“I don’t know. It’s too early to say, but like I said, I’m going to try my best to get back into [this] series.”

10-year anniversary

Today marks 10 years since the infamous 5-overtime game in which the Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, in Game 4 of their second round series. Brian Boucher stopped 57 shots in that game (39 in the multiple overtimes) in recording the victory.

He was unaware that today marked the anniversary of that game.

“Wow, really?” he asked.

“That was a crazy, crazy game. I can still hear that sound of when [Keith] Primeau took the shot and hit the back bar [in the goal], like a clunk that I’ll never forget. Thankfully, it ended then, because I don’t know how much more I had in my tank.”

Incidentally, that series was the last time that the Flyers came from behind to win a playoff round after dropping the first two games. Boucher would like to see history repeat itself.

“Look, we’re not in the driver’s seat, [and] you know we would have liked to get a split in Boston,” explained the goaltender. “We didn’t get it, but we feel comfortable at home. The focus is Game 3, and we have to get it. That’s all we have to worry about right now.”

Broad Street Bullies special debuts tonight

The HBO special on the Flyers’ Stanley Cup-winning teams of the mid-70’s debuts tonight at 10:00 p.m. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, including this one that appeared today in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

To see the official trailer for the documentary, click here. For a recap of a special screening held at the Wachovia Center for Flyers season ticket holders featuring Sean Murphy, click here.

Wachovia Center among toughest road arenas, players say

In this week's Sports Illustrated Poll, 272 NHL players were asked "What Is The Toughest Road Arena To Play In?" Most players picked the Sharks' HP Pavilion (19%), followed by Canadiens' Bell Centre (14%), the Blackhawks' United Center (13%), the Flyers' Wachovia Center (12%) and the Red Wings' Joe Louis Arena (10%).

The new issue of Sports Illustrated will be on newsstands tomorrow.


Other notes

Flyers fans attending tomorrow and/or Friday’s games are encouraged to arrive early, as the Philadelphia Phillies are also playing home games at 7:00 p.m. The Bud Light Block Party begins at the Wachovia Center at 4:00 p.m., and early arrivals can also enjoy hot dogs for only $1 and domestic draft beer from the “Relentless Beer Truck” for $4 for the first hour. … About 500 tickets remained for Games 3 and 4 as of Monday afternoon.


Monday, May 3

1:51 p.m. - Boston, MA

Gamesmanship in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is nothing new, and it appears as if Bruins head coach Claude Julien has thrown the first stone as Boston and the Flyers get ready for Game 2 at the TD Garden tonight (7:00 p.m., Versus).

Julien told thebruinsblog.net: “We know that Chris Pronger takes liberties on players at times, and at one point you’ve got guys pushing back. And that’s what Mark Recchi decided to do,” Julien said, referring to an incident in which both players were pushing and shoving one another.

Pronger didn’t agree with that assessment. Chuck Gormley of the Camden Courier Post asked the towering defenseman to respond to Juilen at today’s morning skate.

“I don’t think anything. I try not to think,” said Pronger, with a typical smirk. “I just worry about my game and let the rest of them do the talking.”

So Chris, are you keeping it clean out there?

“Always.”

Peter Laviolette also thought Pronger’s game was clean, and instead turned the tables and said it was Recchi who was testing the rules. The referees agreed, since it was Recchi who was issued the extra roughing minor leading to a Mike Richards power play goal in the third period.
Chris Pronger and Mark Recchi exchange shoves in the third period of Game 1 in Boston on Saturday, May 1. (Getty Images)

“I thought [Pronger’s] game was pretty clean,” he said. “I mean, that Mark Recchi guy there seemed to want to take a couple runs at Pronger.

“I didn’t see [Pronger] really taking liberties. I saw him competing hard in battles and he had the altercation with Mark. That’s Chris’s job just like it’s [Zdeno] Chara’s job on the other side - to play [against] our skilled guys with an edge. But, I didn’t see him do anything illegal.”

New food items at the Wachovia Center

If you're coming to Game 3 or 4 this week, keep an eye out for two new food itmes on the Wachovia Center concourse.

First, there is a new Flyers shaped soft pretzel for $3.75. Or, try the newly created Flyered Up Funnel Dog, a hot dog wrapped in funnel cake batter, deep fried and topped with powdered sugar. The Flyered Up Funnel Dog is available on the concourse at section 114 for $6.

For Flyers playoff tickets, click here.


Sunday, May 2
3:44 p.m. – Boston, MA

Although the Philadelphia Flyers did not come away with a victory yesterday in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins, head coach Peter Laviolette used words like “resilient” and “gutsy” today when asked to reflect on the 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday afternoon. His team fought back from several two-goal deficits and tied the game at 4-4 late in the third period before Marc Savard ripped a shot over the shoulder of Brian Boucher to give the Bruins the opening game of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

The team held an optional skate today at the TD Garden as it prepares for Game 2 on Monday night (7:00 p.m., Versus).

“We can take a lot of confidence from [Game 1]. I feel like we’re back. We found our game as it went on,” said Laviolette.

No one in the locker room wanted to use the long layoff between games as an excuse for a poor first period, as Philadelphia had eight complete days between Game 5 against New Jersey until yesterday. Looking back on it, though, it’s hard to think that it wasn’t a factor. The Bruins scored the only two goals in the frame and outshot Philadelphia 15-8 in the first 20 minutes.

After that, the Flyers controlled most of the match, including a dominating third period that saw Mike Richards and Danny Briere each score goals to send it to overtime.

“We just weren’t getting it done,” said Briere of the first period. “We looked shaky with the puck, weren’t moving our legs and weren’t good on the forecheck; a lot of the little things from being away from a competitive game for over a week kind of hurt us a little bit.

“But, we battled back and came back in the game and that’s what we’ve got to take as a positive out of that game.”

Scott Hartnell agreed that the Flyers seemed to get better as the game progressed.

“We don’t want to make excuses, but those first 20 minutes are probably what you can expect after [eight] days off,” he said. “Once that first period was over we had our feet moving, we were getting on their D, shooting the puck – all the things that make us successful.”

The Flyers spent some time today reviewing video of Saturday’s game, and one area that was surely addressed was keeping traffic away from the goal crease and slot areas of their defensive zone. Boston’s early goals were a result of crashing the net and creating havoc around Boucher.

“If they are going to get chances like that the rest of the series they are going to be pretty successful,” said the Flyers’ goaltender today. “That’s how you score goals this time of year and they are the kind of goals we’d like to get, with second chances and pucks in front of the net.

“I think in general, as a team, you want to cut down on those chances. If they are going to score goals in front of the net they need to pay a price, and we’re well aware of that now.”

Among the players who took the option and stayed off of the ice today were Richards, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle.

Laviolette pleased with rookies

Suddenly thrust into the lineup with Philadelphia’s numerous injuries up front, Jared Ross and Andreas Nodl didn’t see much ice time in Game 1. Ross’s notched just 5:56, while Nodl, who helps to kill penalties, registered 9:41 in a game that lasted almost 74 minutes in total.

Laviolette explained that with his team down early, he needed his top-end players out there a little bit more than usual. Several times, Richards double-shifted at center on his regular line with Dan Carcillo and Claude Giroux and in Ross’ place between James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham.

Richards and Briere each played about 27 minutes.

“As you’re chasing those leads down you want to put those players on the ice like Danny Briere, that have proven that they are capable of evening the game up. You want to give yourself the best chance,” said the coach. “It’s not that there was a lack of confidence in [Ross and Nodl], I think it was more the way the game played out.”

Expect to see their ice times rise in Game 2.

“I think we’ll see more of those two players, and I think they did a good job under the circumstances,” said Laviolette. “They certainly didn’t do anything wrong. I thought that Nodl was very physical and Ross had a couple chances in the offensive zone. In their limited time, they did a good job.”

Sturm out for the season

The Bruins lost forward Marco Sturm to a knee injury for the rest of the playoffs, and beyond. Sturm was helped from the ice early in the first period after going into the boards while trying to check Matt Carle yesterday.

He tore both his ACL and MCL in his right knee, and rehab after surgery is approximately six months.

It's no small loss: the 31-year-old had 22 goals during the regular season, leading the Bruins.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 32 22 6 4 102 72 48
2 NYI 33 23 10 0 104 91 46
3 MTL 34 21 11 2 92 83 44
4 TBL 35 20 11 4 113 93 44
5 DET 33 17 8 8 93 82 42
6 TOR 33 19 11 3 114 98 41
7 WSH 32 16 10 6 95 85 38
8 NYR 30 16 10 4 92 81 36
9 FLA 31 14 9 8 69 79 36
10 BOS 33 16 14 3 82 85 35
11 OTT 33 14 13 6 89 92 34
12 CBJ 32 14 15 3 79 102 31
13 PHI 32 12 14 6 88 96 30
14 NJD 35 12 17 6 77 102 30
15 BUF 33 13 18 2 63 105 28
16 CAR 32 9 19 4 68 91 22

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 32 12 30 13 42
C. Giroux 32 10 29 9 39
W. Simmonds 32 14 9 3 23
B. Schenn 32 9 13 6 22
M. Streit 32 4 16 4 20
S. Couturier 32 8 9 0 17
M. Read 32 3 10 -5 13
M. Raffl 24 9 2 3 11
N. Grossmann 32 3 5 6 8
M. Del Zotto 24 2 6 -6 8
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 6 10 5 .921 2.49
R. Emery 6 4 1 .894 3.13
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