Archive | November, 2011

Now Healed, Schenn Ready To Show He Belongs

30 Nov

VOORHEES, N.J. — It’s been a rough year for Brayden Schenn. His world was turned upside down when he was traded to the Flyers from the Los Angeles Kings. He was supposed to finally stick with the Kings this year, but instead has battled a pair of injuries and spent most of his healthy season playing with the Adirondack Phantoms.

Now he’s recovered from a broken foot and ready to show what he’s got. Before the Flyers called him up, he had four points in three games with the Phantoms in the AHL over the weekend. The three games were played on consecutive days, which was a good test for his healing foot.

“I think it takes a lot longer for a bone to heal when you’re skating on it and stuff like that, but it feels good,” said Schenn. “I had no problems skating compared to what it was a week ago. It’s pretty close to 100 [percent] in the skate and it’s feeling pretty good.”

The 20-year-old hasn’t yet gotten the chance to show what he’s made of or whether he can live up to the lofty expectations that have been placed on him. He’s had only four games at the NHL level and is a minus-5 in that span. Friday will start his new opportunity.

“Well, I’m sure that’s what he’s hoping for,” said Peter Laviolette. “It’s been a bumpy start for him with the injuries, certainly the shoulder and then the broken foot. It’s probably not the way that he envisioned it this summer when he got a fresh start in the organization.

“I’m sure that he’s excited to get back in here and get going and be a contributing factor on our team.”

He may be given quite the chance to do that. In practice on Tuesday, he was anchoring the point on the second power play unit alongside Braydon Coburn with Danny Briere, Matt Read and Scott Hartnell up front.

“I’m sure he just wants to jump in and get some opportunity to play 5-on-5 minutes, maybe play some powerplay and show what he can do,” Laviolette hinted.

As for 5-on-5 play, Schenn skated with Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek in practice.

Schenn has played all of 13 NHL games and only has a pair of assists to show for it. The Flyers know he is a special player. He showed it from when he was in the area in July for rookie camp all the way through training camp and exhibition games. But surely he’s seeing this time as an opportunity to kick-start the NHL career he hoped to have.

“I think I’m going to get an good opportunity now, and I’ll try to take full advantage of it,” Schenn told the Courier-Post. “I’m not going to go out there and scores two goals a game. That’s not what I’m looking to do. I’m looking to contribute and be a part of a winning hockey team here.”


Jagr Still Optimistic Of Friday Return

29 Nov

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jaromir Jagr continues to battle injury, but his face doesn’t show it. As frustrated as the 39-year-old winger is that he has had to sit out recent games with a reinjured groin, he was smiling and laughing at practice on Tuesday.

“It was the first practice. I kind of skated a little bit [Monday] and [Tuesday],” said Jagr. “I had some power play time. I don’t want to promise anything. I did that last time and I got injured in the first period again. But I feel pretty good.”

The Flyers don’t play again until Friday and there is still some question as to whether or not he’ll be a go for that game. He skated with a handful of teammates before the team practice on the second rink at the Skate Zone. He stayed on by himself for w while and took a break while the rest of the team did drills, but participated when the team came back over to the rink he was on to practice special teams.

He was playing on the top unit with Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Kimmo Timonen. But he said that if he comes back, he won’t be limited to just the power play a la Chris Pronger in the playoffs last season.

“I feel fine, but I felt fine before,” said Jagr. “The game is different. You kind of react. In the practice you know you have it and you’re thinking you have it and you cannot go 100 percent. In the game you can’t think, you just go 100 percent.”

He did that against the Islanders and it backfired. He played only 7:52 before he had to leave the lineup again. This prompted the superstitious veteran to knock on a wooden shelf while talking about the injury.

“Maybe I came back too quick, but I didn’t feel any pain,” Jagr admitted. “Maybe because I didn’t have any practices and went right away to play the game, the first period I felt pretty good. Second period I think the groin got a little bit tired. I pulled it a little bit. That’s why I got those three practices before the game. I want to do better than last time.”

The Flyers would love to have him. It appears unlikely that James van Riemsdyk will play on Friday because of the upper-body injury he’s been dealing with. Brayden Schenn will have his first taste of NHL action in a little more than a month. After being shut out by the Rangers on Saturday, offense is welcomed.

“We’re still a few days away from a game so, certainly we don’t want to put anybody back if they’re hurt,” said Peter Laviolette. “It was good to have him back out there. We’d like him back healthy contributing 5-on-5 as well as the powerplay going.”

As cautious as the Flyers need to be with the 39-year-old, it appears as though they aren’t holding him back.

“[Wednesday] I think I’m gonna practice with the team,” said Jagr. “Thursday I should be fine. Might be a problem back-to-back games with the second game, but I wanted to play. As long as I feel pain free, I go.”

Andreas Nodl Claimed By Carolina

29 Nov

VOORHEES, N.J. — The roll call at practice on Tuesday was a little different, but Andreas Nodl was still there. However, it was his last time on the ice as a Flyer. The Carolina Hurricanes claimed the 24-year-old off waivers.

“That’s the risk you take,” said general manager Paul Holmgren. “He has another opportunity to work his way into the lineup there. He was having a tough time here, for whatever reason. He was good for us for a couple years, we wish him well.”

The forward had not seen much ice time recently, even with significant injuries to the Flyers’ forwards. Nodl played 12 games this season and has one assist.

“I spoke to Andreas and it’s going to be a new start for him, a different opportunity that maybe is a positive thing for him,” said Peter Laviolette. “Sometimes when things happen they don’t seem positive, but he’s been a good hockey player for us here and he’s a good kid.

“There’s been a lot of youth added to this organization coming up from underneath and it’s tough for roster spots, but I thank him for everything. He’s a good kid.”

Nodl was drafted by the Flyers in the second round of the 2006 draft. The 6-foot-1, 196-pound winger has 12 goals and 16 assists in 127 NHL games over four seasons with the Flyers.

As the Flyers head out to Anaheim for a two-game trip out west, they will have Brayden Schenn at their disposal, but will not make any other immediate roster moves, according to Holmgren. Jaromir Jagr might play on Friday, but the chances are not as good for James van Riemsdyk. Holmgren said he is 50/50 for Saturday in Phoenix. Without those two, the Flyers have only 12 healthy forwards.

Chris Pronger Out Another Four Weeks

28 Nov

If bad already got worse, what do the Flyers do now? General manager Paul Holmgren announced on Monday that captain Chris Pronger will miss another four weeks because he will have surgery on his left knee on Tuesday afternoon. Pronger had not played in the last four games with that the Flyers called a “virus.”

On Sunday, he was listed as day-to-day. Now, he’s out a month.

“The surgery will be performed by Dr. Peter DeLuca,” said Holmgren. “The procedure will clean out some loose particles that have given Chris some problems over the last month or so.

“We were hopeful that the time missed with a virus that Chris has been fighting would settle things down in his knee but after an examination [Sunday], it was decided that the surgery is the way to go at this time.”

But Holmgren says that the knee injury had nothing to do with why Pronger was missing games.

“The reason he missed games was because of the virus,” said Holmgren. “This came up just recently and yesterday we decided the best way to attack this is with surgery now. But he’d been missing games because of the virus. It had nothing to do with his knee.

“He’s certainly feeling more like himself. If this hadn’t come up with his knee, we were still hopeful that he would be able to play on Friday. Obviously now that’s out of the question.”

Pronger had a similar operation done on his other knee in July of 2010 that caused him to miss the first two games of the season. Holmgren says he thinks this will only keep Pronger out four weeks, however.

“This has been an issue probably for the last month or so,” said Holmgren. “It’s been nagging and he’s been playing through it up until this recent battle with his virus. As I said, we kind of believed that he’ll be doing rehabilitation on a daily basis anyway and with some medicine he would start to feel better, but Chris saw the doctor [Sunday]. We had another MRI and we just decided that this was the time to get this taken care of.”

Pronger will be moved to long-term injured reserve either late Monday or Tuesday. Andreas Lilja will join him on that list with his high ankle sprain. The Flyers had sent Kevin Marshall back to the Phantoms following Saturday’s loss to the Rangers, but they’ll recall him. For now, that’s the plan. But the GM didn’t rule out the possibility of a trade.

“We’re talking about a lot of things here today,” said Holmgren. “Initially we’ll probably recall Kevin and try to figure out where we’re at at that point. Right now, that’s kind of the way we’re leaning.”

Nodl On Waivers

Andreas Nodl has been placed on waivers. Nodl, 24, had one assist in 12 games played. He carries with him an $845,000 contract. If he clears waivers, the Flyers can opt to stow him away in the AHL with the Phantoms, where his contract wouldn’t count against the cap.

“Andreas hasn’t played as much,” said Holmgren. “We’ll just gauge this and see what happens. At some point [Tuesday] if he clears waivers, we’ll see what we’re gonna do with him, if we send him down or just keep him. We’ll decide that tomorrow after we find out whether he clears or not.”

Injury Update

Holmgren also noted that Jaromir Jagr skated on Monday and is still a possibility to play on Friday. However, that is a long shot for James van Riemsdyk who did not skate on Monday and “didn’t feel very good.”

Brayden Schenn, who has played three games recently with the Adirondack Phantoms, was in town to see the doctor about his still recovering foot. Holmgren said that Schenn will be recalled to the Flyers at some point in the near future. In his most recent stint with the Phantoms, Schenn has two goals and two assists.

Flyers Say They Need More Of A Net Presence

28 Nov

There’s no two ways about it; Henrik Lundqvist is one of the league’s best goalies and he certainly played well enough on Saturday to earn his second shutout of the year, fourth against the Flyers in his career. But the orange and black felt as though they made his job a little easier.

“We didn’t get to the front of the net and we allowed Lundqvist to see a lot of the pucks,” said Wayne Simmonds after Saturday’s contest. “He’s a good goalie. He’s going to make the first stop. We gotta get in front and create traffic and I think that was our downfall.”

When the Flyers are at their best, they’re giving the opposing goalie fits. They’re screening him and deflecting shots in front of him. They’re making his job more difficult and frustrating him to the point where he’s out of his element. On Saturday, it wasn’t so hard for Lundqvist.

“It felt like we were one [shot] and done all night long,” said Danny Briere. “We had lots of shots from the outside. We never got in on rebounds, get in on loose pucks. I think all the forwards were responsible for that. It wasn’t the way that we wanted it to be.”

The Flyers have the pieces to make life difficult for the opposition, but some of their big bodies weren’t able to get proper positioning. It would have been really hard for James van Riemsdyk to have an effect; he was out injured. Simmonds’ left eye was swelling for most of the game after taking a punch in a fight with Brandon Prust. Scott Hartnell’s line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek was never able to properly set up in the New York end. Whatever the reason, the Flyers couldn’t park it in front of Lundqvist and had shots blocked by Rangers defense rather than deflecting them behind the Rangers goalie.

“When a goalie of that caliber is on, he’s on and it’s tough to get pucks through him,” said Hartnell. “It seemed like they blocked a lot of shots. Even if we tried to hit their shin pads, I don’t think they’d have a better blocking percentage [on Saturday].

“It just seemed like the shots from the point weren’t coming through. The shots from the wing, a lot of them went into the netting [above the glass], things like that. I’m not sure of our attempts and the ones that they blocked, but it seemed like a lot from the bench anyway.”

Indeed, the Rangers blocked 12 shots while the Flyers fired 29 on net. Fourteen of those shots came in the third period, at which point the Flyers were already down a goal to start the period. The Rangers aren’t particularly known for blocking shots. After Saturday’s contest they have blocked 316 all season, good enough for 16th place in the league.

The Flyers’ next opponent, the Anaheim Ducks, is 14th in the league with 320 blocked shots. Working on that net presence is one of the things the Flyers will want to improve on in the three days of practice they have leading up to their next game on Friday.

The Ducks allow 3.17 goals per game, but if goalie Jonas Hiller sees the shots clearly, he will probably make more saves and send that average down.

Wounded Flyers Thankful For The Rest

28 Nov

It’s reached the point of being ridiculous. It’s not just fluke hits or whatever string of the flu seems to be going around. The Flyers are even injuring each other at this point. Among 10 players, they have 50 man games lost to injury. Lucky for them, they have five days in between games and won’t suit up again until Friday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The latest victim might be Andreas Nodl. He drilled Danny Briere in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Rangers, but ended up getting the worst of it. He played only two shifts in the second period and never returned for the final stanza.

“He said he never saw me,” said Briere. “He was trying to get to the puck to throw it back in, and he probably felt someone coming and tried to get out of the way and when I was coming, I was coming with a lot of speed.

“I thought he was going to shield the puck with his body from the defenseman and give me the outside lane.”

Nodl left the game, but the Flyers say that he was checked out by team doctors on Sunday and will be fine.

Meanwhile, Chris Pronger, James van Riemsdyk, Jaromir Jagr, Erik Gustafsson and Andreas Lilja are all trying to recover from their respective injuries. They won’t all be back in time for Friday’s game, but they’re hoping Pronger and Jagr will.

“We’ve played lots of hockey. We need that break,” said Briere. “I think it’s good timing … go back to the basics, have a few practices where we can really push ourselves.”

Some of the Flyers have already been pushed because of the injuries. With one-third of the Opening Night defensive corps on the shelf as well as Gustafsson, the Flyers’ top four blueliners are forced to play bigger minutes than normal while bringing Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon up to speed.

Braydon Coburn played 28:03 on Saturday. That’s only the second time in the last two-plus seasons he’s played more than 28 minutes in a game, but he’s being counted on a little extra these days.

“I think it’s been good for some guys that don’t play as much to get this extra ice time and get in here and prove themselves in there,” said Coburn. “We had two young Ds in there [Saturday]. I thought they did a good job. It’s not easy coming up and coming into a hostile territory like this and playing some of your first NHL games so I thought they did a really good job filling in.

“Anytime there’s injuries there’s always opportunity to step up.”

That rings true away from the blue line, too. The Flyers have gotten contributions from guys like Max Talbot, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek who have seen bigger roles because of the injuries. Despite all the time that’s been lost, the Flyers remain within striking distance of first place in the division and conference.

“You never want to use that as an excuse,” said Talbot. “We have a solid group of guys in this dressing room and you can’t use it as an excuse.”

That’s not to say they wouldn’t like to have their teammates back. With this lengthy break, and no practice on Sunday or Monday, they’ll have a chance to get a couple of them back.

“We miss our captain back there,” said Scott Hartnell. “Lils had a lower-body injury there. It’s a little bit depleted, but the rest I think anytime during an NHL season you welcome days off.

“We’ve got to do the right things. [Claude] Giroux plays a lot of minutes. It’s good for him to get hopefully a couple days off and recoup, recover and get ready for a big stretch in December. We’ve got a lot of road games. We’ve got to be taking care of ourselves.”

Sergei Bobrovsky Says He’s “Definitely Playing To Be No. 1”

26 Nov

NEW YORK — Signing Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to eliminate the phrase “goalie controversy” from the vocabulary in Philadelphia, but the way Sergei Bobrovsky has been playing recently is demanding ice time. That’s why Peter Laviolette said he played Bobrovsky in consecutive games on consecutive days.

“Just based on the way Bob played, I think he deserved to go back in there,” said Laivolette. “He didn’t get a lot of work [Friday] night. There weren’t a lot of chances at him. He was fresh and he came in and for two games in a row, five periods, he really gave us an opportunity to win a game and we did twice so it wasn’t really a hard decision.”

After declining to speak in English, Bobrovsky spoke through a Russian translator and said that he wasn’t surprised to get the call on Saturday, but announced his intentions moving forward.

“I’m definitely playing to be No. 1 and not sit on the bench and watch someone else play,” said the goalie. “I’m hoping I will be No. 1.”

Certainly, every player will say that he wants to be at his best and strive to be in the best position possible. But Bryzgalov, the $51-million man, is supposed to be the No. 1. These weren’t words that Bobrovsky minced in English. He spoke them in Russian.

Bobrovsky came on in relief of Bryzgalov on Wednesday against the Islanders, made 20 saves and got the win. He turned away 18 of 19 shots on Friday against Montreal at home. He made 30 saves against the Rangers on Saturday, but it still wasn’t enough as the Flyers were blanked 2-0. The 23-year-old was especially sharp in the first period when the Flyers struggled the most to get any kind of pressure on New York.

“Bob is doing well,” said Danny Briere. “He played well in New York [against the Islanders] and gave us a chance to win that game. He played well [on Friday] against Montreal, basically saved our butts in the first period.”

Bobrovsky is now 5-2-1 on the year. He had won two in a row coming into the game against the Rangers and Laviolette has the reputation of playing a goalie with the hot hand. That’s what he did on Saturday. In the short-term, it seems harmless that Bobrovsky got the start.

“Well, Bob played great for us the other night,” said Braydon Coburn. “I’m sure [Laviolette] just wanted to go with the hot goalie. Bob played a great game [Saturday] night.”

At the same time, the Flyers think that Bryzgalov, the 31-year-old veteran, is mature enough to take something like this in stride.

“He’s not 22 years old anymore,” said Briere. “He’s been around. He knows there are ups and downs over the course of a season and things are going to get back into place for him.”

Now if Bryzgalov doesn’t start the Flyers’ next game, one that’s five days away, well then the term “goalie controversy” might hold a lot more water.