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Saturday, October 31

4:48 p.m.
With injuries to Simon Gagne and Danny Briere, the old sports cliché of other players needing to “step up” was something overheard in the Flyers locker room numerous times in the last 36 hours.

Enter David Laliberte, who was recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms yesterday and suited up in his first NHL game in Saturday’s win against Carolina.

A fourth round draft pick in 2004, it took him all of 12 minutes and 30 seconds to record his first goal in the NHL, when he knocked in a rebound to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead at the time.

“It feels great. It was my second shift. I was in good position and the puck just came to my stick,” he said after the first period. “I didn’t have the chance think. It was just instinct to shoot. I’m very happy.”

The 6’1’’, 194-pound right wing wasn’t done on the scoresheet. He tallied an assist on fellow rookie James van Riemsdyk’s second period goal.

“It’s nice to see a kid like ‘Lallie’ because he’s come in, spent some time in the East Coast league, worked his way into the American league and just has kind of gotten better and better, and really moved himself up the depth chart,” said John Stevens after the game. “He’s got a great attitude, he works extremely hard, and he’s got a good skill level that allows him to play with skilled players. 

“We started him on the fourth line and moved him up with [Jeff Carter] because he was going good and he was confident, and he made a very good account of himself.”

Laliberte became the first Flyer to score his first goal in his first game since Mike Richards did it on opening night, October 5, 2005 against the Rangers. He’s the first Flyer since Justin Williams on October 5, 2000 against Vancouver to record multiple points in his debut.

Briere doubtful for Monday, Parent hurt

Danny Briere is doubtful for Monday’s game against Tampa Bay (5:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets). Holmgren said that Briere received a PRP injection for his slight right groin strain.

Ryan Parent, who made his return after missing the last four games with a lower body injury, left the game after getting hurt and did not return.

“[Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin] pulled him there.  He didn’t want to push it,” explained Stevens. “I think he’s going to be okay, but it was err on the side of caution with him.”

Finally, there is still no decision on Simon Gagne as of yet.

Some other notes from today's win...

- Rookie James van Riemsdyk had a goal and assist in today’s game. He currently has 10 points (2G,8A) in nine games thus far and has also recorded at least a point in seven of his first nine contests in the NHL.

-  Braydon Coburn’s two goals in today’s contest was his first career multiple-goal game.

- Matt Carle recorded his third multiple-point game of the year with a goal and two assists. He leads the Flyers in assists (10) and is tied for the team lead in points (12). Carle also improved his career point total against Carolina to seven points (2G,5A) in six career games against the Hurricanes.

- Scott Hartnell has recorded points in three of his last four contests for five points (2G,3A). He also improved his scoring total vs. Carolina, to 15 points (7G,8A) in 15 career games.

Thursday, October 29

1:36 p.m.
It appears as if the Flyers will get two players back in time for Saturday’s game against Carolina (1:00 p.m., CSN-HD, Tickets). Blair Betts and Ryan Parent both took part in the team’s practice this morning at Voorhees and both are confident they are ready to go.

FlyersTV: Betts/Parent | Stevens

Betts, a center, has been sidelined since October 6 with a dislocated shoulder, while Parent, a defenseman, has missed the last three games with a lower body injury.

“You try to simulate things as much as u can; its kind of tough to do in practice but we’ll never know how it’s going to react until I’m hit and out there playing a game,” said Betts. “The thing I’m more concerned about is just going out there and playing well.”

That is exactly what he was doing at the time he got hurt, late in the home opening victory over Washington. Philadelphia is 3-0 with Betts in the lineup, as his faceoff ability and penalty-killing prowess were a welcome addition to the club after he officially signed in September after he took part in training camp on a pro tryout basis.

Poll question: Who's more important?

Philadelphia owns the sixth ranked penalty-killing unit in the league at 84.4 percent, and Betts should only help that.

“I think Blair is a great penalty-killer,” said John Stevens. “He just wills his way to get in front of the puck, he’s really competitive on faceoffs, he thinks the game defensively, you can play him against anybody, and he really works hard and skates well.”

Parent, meanwhile, spent time today at practice skating with Kimmo Timonen. The two were paired at times last season, including for large portions of the first round playoff series against Pittsburgh.

It’s likely that they will see time together on Saturday during five-on-five play, while Braydon Coburn will remain with Timonen in power play situations.

Stevens explained his thinking behind the move after today’s practice.

“That pair (of Timonen and Coburn) has had a little bit of trouble there, and I think sometimes you switch it up a little bit,” he said. “We’ll give Ryan some time there. It was a good pairing last year.

“I think [Coburn] will see some time there, certainly in special teams, and we could see a mixture of different pairs as we move through the hockey game.”

Parent is obviously thrilled just to be back in the lineup at all, regardless of whom he is playing with.

“Any time you’re out, it’s tough just to sit and watch your team,” he said.

“Nothing’s really been bothering me, and I’m just happy with the way the week has gone in practice.”

Also of note is that defenseman Randy Jones, who was on recall waivers, was claimed by the Los Angeles Kings today. Jones had been reassigned by the Flyers to the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms at the start of the season.

“That’s the risk you take,” said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren of trying to recall Jones.

Jones, 28, appeared in 217 games with the Flyers, recording 13 goals and 56 assists for 69 points. He was a member of the Philadelphia Phantoms Calder Cup championship team in 2005.

Los Angeles' head coach, Terry Murray, was an assistant coach with the Flyers before taking the Kings' top job prior to the 2008-09 season.

Wednesday, October 28

4:08 p.m.
After wrapping up a stretch of four games is six days last night in Washington, the Flyers were scheduled to have an off-day from practice today. They resume play on Saturday afternoon when they host the Carolina Hurricanes (1:00 p.m., CSN-HD, Tickets).

After two straight losses, though, head coach John Stevens decided that he would rather hold practice. He explained why.

“We played against San Jose, and we played pretty good and we lose, and then we go on to Washington and we do a lot of good things, and we lose. Even though you are playing well, you are losing games and that isn’t good enough. 

“These days off have to be earned, and it is not okay in our business to play well and lose night after night. You need to find ways to do the extra things necessary to win hockey games, especially close games.”

As Stevens said, the Flyers have not played poorly, but have just not found ways of late to pick up the W. At 5-4-1, the team is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 11 points, after starting off the season 3-0.

“Right now, we have to start putting points on the board and start climbing the standings and make it as easy as possible on ourselves as we move through the year,” he said. “Points in October are just as important as points in March, and we need to get more points right now.

“We will take the days off when we start winning hockey games.”

Stevens noticed a good work-ethic among the players today, who decided not to turn on the music that typically blasts from the locker room.

“We feel very good about the leadership in that locker room,” he said. “I think the attitude about not winning right now was good today.”

“I didn’t even notice there was no music today. The music we listen is awful anyways,” joked Ian Laperriere.

Betts update

Flyers forward Blair Betts took part in full-contact drills today, and could return by Saturday’s game. He has been out since October 6 when he suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the home-opener against the Capitals.

Monday, October 26

3:17 p.m.
Simon Gagne, who played sparingly in the third period during last night’s 4-1 loss to San Jose, could miss tomorrow night’s game with lower body soreness according to club general manager Paul Holmgren.

FlyersTV: Stevens | Kimmo/Coburn

Gagne did not practice today and was scheduled to have an ultrasound on the area on Monday afternoon. He did not accompany the team on its train to Washington, where it will play the Capitals tomorrow night (7:00 p.m., Versus).

Holmgren said that right now he is “not real concerned” about it, but he could not rule out that the injury was related to Gagne’s hip surgery in August after the winger was hurt during Team Canada’s preliminary Olympic camp in Calgary.

“We kind of thought it was a strength issue because of all he’s gone through in the summer,” said Holmgren. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Gagne has a goal and four assists for five points in nine games this season.

Sunday, October 25

4:37 p.m.
Lost in the shuffle a bit during Saturday’s game was the first goal in the blossoming NHL career of winger James van Riemsdyk. The second overall pick from 2007, JVR scored on a breakaway against Florida’s Tomas Vokoun to put the exclamation point on a 5-1 victory for Philadelphia.

The rookie was predictably pumped about the goal.

“I was pretty wired [Saturday] night,” he said. “It was tough getting to sleep. It’s something you dream about your whole life.”

FlyersTV: Pass to Briere | JVR's first goal

Although he made a great move on the goal, it was his pass to Danny Briere on Philadelphia’s first goal of the night that was even more impressive. Van Riemsdyk gathered the puck behind the net and sent a blind, backhanded pass through the crease right to the stick of Briere for an easy goal.

It was his sixth assist of the season.

“That pass that James made, backdoor to me, you can’t teach that,” said Briere after the game.

Van Riemsdyk has been able to produce despite various linemates this season and getting knocked out of the lineup for a short stretch. He began the season playing with Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe, sat out for two games with an upper body injury, and had a productive game on Saturday with Briere on the other wing and Jeff Carter at center.

“The coaches have put me in some really good situations with some really good players and it’s not too hard to produce when you’re playing with some pretty good players out there,” he said on Sunday morning.

“The lines change a lot during the season so it’s good to have chemistry with a lot of different guys. If things do get changed up, say come playoff time or something, guys are ready to go and know what to expect.”

12:20 p.m.

Mike Richards will not be suspended for his hit on Florida's David Booth during last night's 5-1 Flyers victory at the Wachovia Center, according to this report on CSNPhilly.com. He will be in the lineup tonight when Philadelphia hosts San Jose (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

Saturday, October 24

10:45 p.m.
Much of the talk after tonight’s 5-1 Flyers win over the Panthers at the Wachovia Center was about Mike Richards’ hit on David Booth that knocked the Florida forward unconscious. Booth was taken off of the ice in a stretcher and to a local Philadelphia hospital, where he will stay overnight.

FlyersTV: Richards reacts | Holmgren on hit

Richards hit Booth just inside the Florida blue line in the second period with a shoulder, and his skates did not leave the ice, contrary to some other observers’ reports.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren does not expect Richards to be suspended for the hit, while offering his hope that Booth is not too badly hurt.

“Mike [Richards] is doing his job. He’s backtracking to catch up to the play,” said Holmgren. “He went to finish his check on a player who had just passed the puck, and he hit him. His feet never left the ice, and it was a shoulder hit. The young David Booth turned his head, it looked like he saw him at the last second, but as he turned his head, his head took the blow. It would have been a shoulder-on-shoulder, if not.

“It’s a physical game, and sometimes those things happen. I feel bad for David Booth, he’s a good young player, and hopefully he is going to be all right.”

Richards, who has no past history of dirty play, gave his take on the situation.

“Obviously, I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just trying to separate him from the puck and he moved and turned,” said the Flyers’ captain. “Like I said, everything happened so quickly that it’s hard for me to explain.

“I don’t have a history of head shots or anything like that, I don’t even know if it was a head shot, he just turned and I tried to separate him from the puck.”

Gagne gets on the board

One of the biggest positives to come out of Saturday’s win over the Panthers was Simon Gagne finally getting on the scoreboard. The winger tallied a power play goal late in the second period that gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead at the time, as he knocked in the rebound of a shot from Mike Richards.

The streak of seven games without a goal was his longest to start a season in his 10-year career.

“It is always good to get that first goal. I think in hockey it might be the toughest goal to get, the first one of the season,” he said. “When you score the first one you feel like you are back. You feel like you are able to do a little bit more stuff on the ice. You feel a little bit more in control of yourself, a little bit more light.”

Asham does it again

Arron Asham set a personal record tonight when he tallied a goal in his third consecutive game. Known more for his toughness than his offensive prowess, Asham accomplished the feat in his 581st career game.

The winger has been moved around a few times on different lines lately, but has still managed to contribute on the scoreboard no matter his who his linemates happen to be at the time. Not too bad for a player that was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the regular season.

Tonight, he played with Richards and Scott Hartnell, and worked a give-and-go with Richards to give Philadelphia a 2-1 second period lead when his Tomas Vokoun was unable to get enough of his shot from the circle.

Some other notes from the win...

- With the win, the Flyers improve their record to 5-2-1 for 11 points and 3-1-1 at home, having won their last two games on home ice… Tonight’s game was also the only Flyers home game this season that was not decided by one goal.

- The Flyers have scored the first goal in seven of their first eight contests of the season, and have out shot their opponent in six of those eight contests… They out shot the Panthers 38 to 18 in tonight’s game.

- Mike Richards (6G,4A) and Jeff Carter (4G,6A) each recorded two assists on the night, bringing their total number of points on the season to 10, which also ties them for the team lead in scoring.

- Rookie James van Riemsdyk scored his first career NHL goal (pictured) and had an assist in tonight’s game, giving him seven points (1G,6A) in six games this season…He has also recorded at least a point in five of his first six contests of his NHL career.

- Danny Briere had two goals and an assist in tonight’s contest… it was his first three-point game since Apr. 3, 2009 vs. Toronto… Briere now has seven points (5G,2A) on the season.

- Chris Pronger has recorded at least a point in six of his last seven contests, posting eight points (2G,6A) in that span.

Friday, October 23

3:12 p.m.
Brian Boucher will make his first start of the season on Sunday against his former club, the San Jose Sharks (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets), it was revealed today after practice in Voorhees. Ray Emery will face Florida tomorrow night when the Florida Panthers visit (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

Boucher, who signed with the Flyers as a free agent this summer, suffered a lower body injury during training camp and never played a full preseason game. He got his feet wet last week, however, when he helped the Adirondack Phantoms to a 4-2 win over Bridgeport on Sunday, making 29 saves in his 60th career victory with the American Hockey League club.

“I’m just happy to get a game in. I want to get the first game over with and get going here,” he said today at the Skate Zone.

The game will mark his first in a Flyers uniform since the 2001-02 season. After beginning his career with Philadelphia 10 years ago, Boucher was traded to Phoenix in the summer of 2002, was bounced around, and then returned as the Phantoms’ goaltender in 2007-08 before he was acquired by San Jose.

Boucher had a couple of good seasons with the Sharks, including last year when he helped them to the best regular season record in the league before they were knocked out in the first round by Anaheim.

“Since it’s against a former team, of course I want to win,” he said with a sarcastic grin.

John Stevens debated whether or not to start Boucher against a powerful offensive club like the Sharks, or give him the less-intimidating Florida Panthers on Saturday.

“I thought about putting him in tomorrow but I think Ray is coming off of a big win,” said the head coach, referring to last night’s 4-3 shootout victory over Boston.

“Sometimes you’re too revved up [against a former team] but it was one game or the other. Maybe that will be a little more motivation for him. I don’t think there’s anything to prove but he probably has a lot of friends over there that he will be happy to play against.”

Injury update

It looks like Blair Betts won’t be available until after this weekend at the earliest. The penalty-killing and faceoff specialist still has not taken any contact in practice after suffering a dislocated shoulder on October 6.

Ryan Parent, who is battling a lower body injury, is also out for the weekend. Stevens mentioned that Parent would take the morning skate at the Wachovia Center tomorrow morning and they will continue to monitor his progression.

The Flyers play Tuesday night in Washington and then are off until Saturday, October 31 against Carolina at home.

Thursday, October 22

10:52 p.m.
The night didn’t start out too pleasantly for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen.

While chasing a loose puck in the corner, the defenseman was tripped by Boston’s Trent Whitfield and went hard into the boards, skates first. For a player with recent knee injuries, his struggling off of the ice after getting to his feet was not a good sign.

He stayed in the game, though, much to the chagrin of the Bruins. For the first time in his still-young career, the Norway native tallied a pair of assists and even got revenge on Whitfield with a thorough pounding later in the game.

It was an important performace, especially considering John Stevens is already without defenseman Ryan Parent due to a lower body injury, and he wanted to cut down on the minutes of players like Chris Pronger.

“I thought he had his best game since he’s been here,” said Stevens of Tollefsen after the game.

“More ice time builds confidence,” said Tollefsen. “It’s pretty simple like that. Just being back playing and feeling comfortable with [Danny] Syvret too. Just keep it easy and take away big minutes from the other guys.”

He finished with just under 12 minutes of ice time in helping the Flyers end their three-game winless streak with a 4-3 shootout win, and was named as the First Star of the Game.

Some other notes tonight…

- All four of the Flyers home games in the regular season have been decided by one goal, with three of those games being decided past regulation play.

- Four of the last five overall Flyers games have been decided by one goal, with the only game being decided by more than one goal had an empty-net goal scored in the final minutes of play (at Florida, 10/16).

-  The Flyers have scored the first goal in six of their first seven contests of the season, and have out shot their opponent in five of those seven contests…The Flyers have also out shot their opponent 83 to 58 in the first period.
-  Rookie James van Riemsdyk had an assist in tonight’s game, giving him five assists in five games on the season… He has also recorded at least an assist in four of his five contests on the year.
-  With an assist in tonight’s game, Matt Carle has recorded at least a point in five of his last six games, posting all nine of his points (1G,8A) in that span.
- Chris Pronger has recorded at least a point in five of his last six contests, posting six points (2G,4A).
- Defenseman Danny Syvret recorded an assist in tonight’s game… It was his first point in the NHL since Apr. 7, 2007.
- Arron Asham has recorded goals in two straight games for the first time since Apr. 3 & Apr. 5, 2007.
- With the shootout win, the Flyers improve their record to 1-1 on the season.
- At Dollar Dog Night, Flyers fans devoured 21,235 hot dogs during the game - a new Wachovia Center record (see photo).

12:01 p.m

The Flyers had an optional skate this morning at the Wachovia Center as the Boston Bruins will visit Philadelphia tonight (7:00 p.m., CSN-HD, Tickets). The Bruins' skate was also optional, after they arrived in Philadelphia early this morning. There is no word as of yet who will be in goal for the Bruins, as Tim Thomas played for Boston last night. Ray Emery goes for the home team.

Boston is 4-4, having alternated losses and wins in its first eight games of the season, including last night’s 3-2 victory at home over Nashville. The Flyers will be trying to snap a three-game winless streak after three straight victories to start the season, and have played just one game in the last 11 days (a 4-2 loss in Florida last Friday).

As we mentioned earlier this week, look for Arron Asham to play alongside Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, while Ian Laperriere will play the wing with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Mika Pyorala will be on the fourth line with Riley Cote and Dan Carcillo.

There were no other major developments from the skate this morning from the Philadelphia end, as Blair Betts will expectedly still be out for Philadelphia with a dislocated shoulder.

Several Flyers players taped congratuatory messages for the Philadelphia Phillies that will be shown in-arena tonight and this weekend, so keep an eye out for that if you're coming to the game. We uploaded a few pictures to our Twitter page.

The road team won all four of the season matchups last year between these two clubs.

Pregame touques

As a preview to the highly anticipated outdoor Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1, 2010, players from both the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins will wear the official Reebok 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic Center Ice Reversible Player Knit Hats during pre-game warm-ups at Wachovia Center tonight.

The Flyers (or Bruins) team logo is embroidered on the front. The reverse side features the official 2010 Winter Classic logo.

Parent on with the Commish

Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent will be the guest on tonight’s edition of NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman on NHL.com and SIRIUS XM Radio.  

Parent, who played the majority of his 13-season NHL career for Philadelphia, also played for the Boston Bruins – and with his childhood idol, Jacques Plante, on the Toronto Maple Leafs. He won two Stanley Cup championships with the Flyers, including the club’s first-ever Stanley Cup, which came in 1974 with a six-game triumph over the Bruins in the Finals.

NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman broadcasts live on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and on SIRIUS Channel 208 as part of the “Best of XM” programming package) and NHL.com.

Wednesday, October 21

2:38 p.m.
The Flyers today wrapped up a bizarre portion of their regular season schedule with another practice, as they get ready for only their second game in a 12-day span against the Boston Bruins at the Wachovia Center on Thursday night (7:00 p.m., CSN-HD, 1100 tickets remain).

Today the team was on the ice for under an hour, after a couple of hard skates on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Philadelphia will be getting a banged up Boston squad, as the Bruins have already suffered two major injuries to key players. Power forward Milan Lucic is sidelined for at least a month with a broken finger, while their leading scorer for the past three seasons, center Marc Savard, is also out at least four weeks with a broken left foot. Furthermore, the Bruins will be playing their second game in as many nights after they host Nashville tonight.

Still, after having as much time off as they have lately, the Flyers will have to worry about their own game more than anything else.

“You might not be as sharp as when you’re playing a lot of games, but that’s why you keep it simple, move your feet and keep your shifts short, especially early,” said John Stevens of the game plan. “You get your game back in order just by keeping it simple.”

Ian Laperriere expects Boston (3-4-0), which totaled the most points in the regular season a year ago, to have plenty of players to step up for Lucic and Savard in the meantime.

“It challenges the other guys to be better, and with the character team they have I’m sure they have guys who are going to respond to that.

“I’m sure they have young guys who I’ve never heard of who are going to become better players because of that.”

More minutes for third pair

With Ryan Parent likely out of the lineup for at least the next three games, Danny Syvret and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will be the third defensive pair. Each has played in three games so far this year with minimal ice time, but that is going to change starting tomorrow.

Stevens wants to ease the burden on his top two pairs and get Tollefsen and Syvret more involved in the game.

“Ole has had a really good week at practice and looks more and more comfortable, and Danny continues to get better,” said Stevens. “I think it is important that we get these guys involved more and get the minutes down, especially for [Chris] Pronger because he’s a real good power play guy and he’s a real key guy on the penalty kill, so we tend to go to him a lot.

“We have to do a better job of getting some significant minutes to that pair of Syvret and Tollefsen and get them involved throughout the weekend.”

Pronger played over 30 minutes in Florida last Friday night after Parent left the game early, a season-high for him, while Syvret’s ice-time was less than nine minutes.

Unsure Betts

It looks like Blair Betts, who has been out with a dislocated shoulder since the home opener on October 6, will return well before the original four-week diagnosis that was given later that night.

The exact date of his return is still uncertain, but Stevens said it will probably be sooner rather than later.

“Right now he looks like he can play, [but] we just have to make sure everything is stable before he gets back and plays. He’s probably an option for the weekend at some point.”

The Flyers host the Florida Panthers on Saturday and San Jose Sharks on Sunday, both at 7:00 p.m. Tickets remain for both games.

Luukko one to watch

Congrats to Nick Luukko, the son of Comcast-Spectacor C.O.O. Peter Luukko, who was named by NHL Central Scouting as a player to watch for in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Luukko was rated as a B-level prospect, a rating that denotes “a potential selection between the third and fifth rounds of the upcoming NHL Draft.”

According to a press release from his school, Gunnery (CT):

The tall, lanky defenseman impresses college and pro scouts with his combination of size, skill, and patience. Defensemen coach Craig Badger explains, “Nick possesses poise well beyond his years. He never panics and most always makes the right decision. This approach will allow him to find success at every level.” 

Luukko is currently in his senior year at Gunnery with plenty of Division I interest as the season begins.

To see the complete list, click here.

Tuesday, October 20

2:51 p.m.
With one game in just 11 days, the Flyers were back at practice today as they continue to prepare for the first of three straight home games on Thursday night against Boston (7:00 p.m., CSN-HD, Tickets).

Ask around the locker room and it seems pretty much unanimous what the players think of a second straight five-day layoff between matches.

It’s brutal.

FlyersTV: Stevens | Kimmo/Lappy/Briere/Gagne

“You kind of feel like you haven’t started the season yet,” said Kimmo Timonen, a veteran of 11 years.

“We want to play, for sure, but what can you do?” asked a rhetorical Ian Laperriere. “You have to control what you can control, and the schedule, we can’t do anything about it. It’s just a matter of practicing hard like we’ve been doing for the past 11 days. Soon enough, we’ll think we’ve played too many games.”

That moment Laperriere is speaking of could be by this time next week, when Philadelphia will have played four games in six nights. After Boston, the Flyers host Florida on Saturday, San Jose on Sunday, and travel to Washington to play the Capitals next Tuesday, October 27.

“Guys are champing at the bit to get back to playing right now,” added John Stevens. “We’re going to get that opportunity coming up here to play lots of games.”

After that stretch ends and 10 games are in the books, it would probably be a fair time to evaluate a 3-2-1 Flyers club that has had an up-and-down start to the year so far rather than jumping to premature conclusions after a three-game winless streak has followed three straight victories out of the gates.

“These aren’t the breaks you want, early in the season. You want to be playing games,” said Simon Gagne.

Legein added

The Flyers made a minor league trade today, sending Phantoms defenseman Mike Ratchuk to the Columbus Blue Jackets organization in exchange for right wing Stefan Legein.

Legein is a former second round draft pick with a nice offensive upside. He was immediately assigned to Adirondack.

One note about Legein: the 20-year-old retired from hockey last year before later admitting he had made a mistake. According to an article on NHL.com:

Legein, 20, initially announced his retirement from the game on Aug. 19, 2008. But he returned four months later, showing up in the Golden Horseshoe Junior League with the St. Catharines Falcons before skating with the OHL's Brampton Battalion.

He was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, Columbus' top minor-league affiliate, in early January and wound up scoring one goal in 26 games.

Legein, who played for Canada in the 2008 World Juniors, was one of the Jackets' top players at last month's Traverse City Prospects Tournament, where plenty of Flyers' scouts went despite not having a team in the event.

He had 2 goals and 1 assist in six games for Syracuse this season.

"It was a long year for me and I guess everyone handles everything differently," Legein told NHL.com in Traverse City. "I was tired, I was beat up, but I obviously realize (leaving the game) may not have been the right choice for me now. But it was one of those things you have to do; you can't just fake something like this. It's a career, so I did what I had to do and now I'm back trying to work back to where I was."

For the complete article on the trade by Dan Rosen, click here.

Monday, October 19

2:57 p.m.
With another abnormal five-day break in the schedule after playing on Friday night in Florida, the Flyers began a week of practice today at their training facility with some new looks to the forward lines. Claude Giroux was taken off of the Mike Richards-Simon Gagne line and reunited with James van Riemsdyk (along with Ian Laperriere), while Arron Asham took Giroux’s spot.

FlyersTV: Stevens | Asham/Pronger/Giroux

Asham, who was among the Flyers' more effective forwards in the disappointing 4-2 loss to the Panthers, has a pretty good idea of what is expected of him while playing alongside two of the club’s highly skilled forwards.

“I know what my role is on that line,” said Asham, who admitted he had no idea of the change until he arrived at the Skate Zone this morning. “I’m gonna give them the puck, crash the net, work in the corners and be a physical presence and make sure no one takes any liberties.”

Giroux will be back at the center position with van Riemsdyk, where he began the year before JVR suffered an upper body injury and missed three straight games.

The second-year forward had some strong games playing with Gagne and Richards, but was open to the move nonetheless.

“Things were clicking a bit, but it’s good to try new stuff, and we’ll see the next game how it goes,” he said. “It’s early in the season and we’re going to try and get some lines [set] permanently.”

“[Giroux] and James had great chemistry before, and we just want to see them get back together again,” said coach John Stevens.

Stevens added that he would like to have three balanced scoring lines and thinks that having Richards, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux playing the center position on three different lines provides that equilibrium.

“We just like the feel of it better,” he said. “I think Claude does good things with Richie and Gags, but I really like him in the middle of the ice. He gets the puck more, he’s a dynamic player in open ice, and he’s a playmaker.

“Richie is a very creative guy and has a lot of puck possession time, Gags is a shooter, and I do think you need a guy that goes to the net. [Asham] will get an opportunity and we hope he can provide that.”

Boucher wins for Phantoms

In case you missed it, Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher was reassigned to the Phantoms for a conditioning assignment over the weekend. Boucher helped Adirondack to a 4-2 win in Bridgeport yesterday afternoon with 29 saves. It was his 60th career win in a Phantoms jersey.

He was back at Flyers practice today, and will start at least one of the three games that Philadelphia has this week. It will be his first action of the season, after he missed the end of training camp and start of the regular season with a lower body injury.

“I think it’s important to get him in the net,” said Stevens. “We’re going to have to count on Boosh to win some games for us.”

The Phantoms are 3-2-1 in their first season in upstate New York.

Other notes

It looks like Blair Betts is unlikely to play on Thursday when the Flyers host Boston (7:00 p.m., CSN-HD, Tickets). Betts still has not taken any contact yet after suffering a dislocated shoulder on October 6. … Look for Danny Syvret and Ole-Krisitan Tollefsen to be the third defensive pairing on Thursday, as Ryan Parent remains out with a lower body injury and did not skate today. “They both looked really good in practice today,” said Stevens.

Friday, October 16

11:26 p.m.

Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent will be out of action for approximately 10 days, it was revealed tonight by club general manager Paul Holmgren after the 4-2 loss in Florida. Parent left the game with a lower body injury early in the first period and did not return.

In six games this season, the 22-year-old has one assist.

With Parent out for the majority of the game, John Stevens was forced into playing his remaining five defensemen more than normal. Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle were all well over the 20-minute mark, while Danny Syvret saw 8:11 of ice time.

“It was tough, especially not playing all week, they end up playing big minutes,” said Stevens after the game, referring to the team’s five-day layoff since it had last played on October 10. “That may have been a factor in special teams as well.”

“It’s taxing, especially with the high climate like it was out there and the bad ice,” added Pronger, who led the team with 30:21 of ice time, a season-high for him.

Look for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to get back in the lineup for Thursday’s home game against the Boston Bruins. Tollefsen and Syvret have been rotating in as the sixth defenseman and each has played three regular season games so far for the 3-2-1 Flyers.

Thursday, October 15

2:05 p.m.
The Flyers continued their week in sunny Florida today with another practice at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. In what feels like forever, the team will finally get back into game action on Friday night against the Panthers (7:30 p.m., CSN-HD). The Panthers sit at 1-4-0 in the Southwest Division and are coming off of a 3-2 loss in Tampa on Monday.

FlyersTV: Stevens | Pronger/Gagne/Hartnell

With such a long layoff between games (it will have been five complete days off since the 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim last Saturday), several of the players commented on how they will get back into the flow of the contest once the puck drops tomorrow night.

“It won’t be the easiest thing to do, but I think that first period we definitely have to keep things simple,” said Scott Hartnell. “When you don’t play for a few days, mentally you might not be all there, so keep things simple, get the puck deep, give a hit, [and] take a hit the first few shifts you’re out there. That will get your brain back into hockey mode.”

“It was a good week to get to know each other, but it’s starting to feel a little long,” added Danny Briere. “I can’t wait to get back to playing. The first period will be critical. Whoever can come out and set the tempo will have a huge advantage.”

While it may be a little difficult for the Flyers to come out firing on all cylinders right away, the week of practice was a good one, said Chris Pronger.

“We’re working on a lot of things down here that are critical to us improving as a team and us getting better,” he said. “The time spent in practice, we’re not just out there lollygagging. We’re doing specific drills to get better.”

John Stevens was particularly pleased with the effort today.

“I thought the execution was the best it’s been all week,” said the head coach. “I think it’s good to get away like we did and do some other things outside of hockey, and the attitude towards the time here has been what we had hoped for.”

Gagne remaining confident

Although he has yet to light the lamp, four-time 30-goal scorer Simon Gagne isn’t too worried about his production so far. Gagne has three assists in five games this year.

“I’ve had plenty of chances. Last game I hit the post, and had five or six good chances to score,” said Gagne. “You need luck on your side sometimes, and right now it’s not on my side. One is going to go in, there’s 82 games in the season.”

Stevens reminded of how valuable Gagne is even when he isn’t scoring goals.

“He contributes in so many other ways than just scoring,” said Stevens. “He’s such a good defensive player, he’s on the power play, he kills penalties, he plays against the other team’s top lines.

“He’s shooting the puck better and it looks like his timing is coming back, so I think it’s only a matter of time.”

Other notes

Ray Emery will start in net for the sixth straight game on Friday. … Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube was the winner of the “biggest fish” competition yesterday when the team went fishing in Fort Lauderdale. … The players had the afternoon off today.

Wednesday, October 14

2:03 p.m.
Much has been made about the Flyers coming here to Florida for team-building exercises like their regatta race yesterday and fishing tournament today. That doesn’t mean they aren’t getting plenty of work in as well, though, as they had hard and long skates both yesterday and this morning at the BankAtlantic Center.

There is encouraging news on the injury front, as Blair Betts and James van Riemsdyk are improving. Van Riemsdyk could play Friday against the Panthers (7:30 p.m., CSN-HD).

“I feel like I’m getting stronger every day,” he said. “Not skating for a couple days, it takes a little time to get back into it, but I felt a lot better out there today and my legs feel a lot better this week.

“I guess it depends on how I feel the next couple of days, but I hope I get back in the lineup [on Friday].”

Van Riemsdyk skated on the wing with Mika Pyorala at center and Arron Asham on the other wing. Claude Giroux remained with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.

“I thought we all clicked and everyone had good instincts out there for each other and it was easy to read off of each other,” said van Riemsdyk. “If we can keep that up in the game, we’ll be golden."

"I thought that line was great today,” added John Stevens. “It seemed that every time they came up the ice they had a good attack. They read off each other and their spacing was really good. We are not averse to starting that way on Friday.  Mika did a nice job in the middle and James looks really good right now. It will be nice to get him back playing again."

Betts, originally thought to be out for as long as four weeks with a dislocated shoulder suffered on October 6, could be in as soon as next Thursday night’s home game against Boston. He began skating with the team yesterday, albeit non-contact.

“It’s only been a week but it’s nice to get back skating with the team and keeping sharp that way,” he said. “I think as we move into next week we’ll start taking some contact and just see how it feels. It’s probably too early to tell if [next Thursday] is a possibility, but if everything goes really well there’s a good chance I would play in that game.”

Fishing Trip

The second leg of the team-bonding is taking place this afternoon, as the team split into groups for a fishing tournament. Yesterday, there was a regatta on Biscayne Bay that was won by the coaching staff.

Stevens is happy with the way things have gone so far.

"I think the guys have taken the right attitude down here,” he said. “Yesterday after practice we got on the water and had a little sailing regatta and spent tome time together. After the race we all met up at the end of the day and went for a swim before we headed back in. Today, we are going to do a little fishing.

“This is a real good opportunity to get some work in but at the same time establish some relationships. It’s just not that easy when you are busy and you are playing all the time. Guys are at home and we don't have a lot of road trips.  We had this big break so it is important to put them in a setting where they can have some fun together, get to know each other very well and get some work done at the same time.”

Monday, October 12

5:48 p.m.
The Flyers arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, late this afternoon, where they will begin a week of practices and team bonding here on Tuesday. The team will skate at the Bank Atlantic Center every morning leading up to the game against the Panthers on Friday night (7:30 p.m., CSN-HD).

FlyersTV: Stevens | Laperierre/Pronger/Asham

After practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, though, will be some team activities on the water. The Flyers have had these types of bonding trips in the past, including a visit to Whistler, British Columbia in 2007 and the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, last season.

Since there is always turnover on the roster from year to year, it’s important for the players to get to know each other personally and off of the ice, said one of the new guys, Ian Laperriere.

“It’s good to take the group away from the rink sometimes,” he said. “We’re at the rink everyday and it’s pretty much a routine that we go through, but it’s fun to know the guy you’re battling for, fighting for, blocking a shot for or winning for. It’s good to know that side of your teammates.”

“With four or five new guys here, we want to get that camaraderie and bonding and get the guys together early in the season so you have those types of relationships early in the season,” added Chris Pronger. “You hope that carries over into the latter part of the year.”

John Stevens has always been big on these types of activities, and thinks it’s the perfect time to get the guys together with a five-day break between games. He explained what the players would be going through today after practice in Voorhees.

“We have five teams, and the first day is a regatta where they have to learn how to steer the boat and the decisions they make will be important to if they have success in the race. The second day the same teams are going to have an organized fishing tournament.

“It’s a good opportunity to get the guys together, have some competitive fun together, but get lots of work in as well.”

More on the Ducks

Stevens reflected a little bit more today on Saturday’s tough 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim at the Wachovia Center. Although the Flyers surrendered the tying goal with just 16 seconds left and then subsequently fell in the shootout, Stevens was for the most part pleased with the performance.

“Initially, when you lose a game like that, it stings. I hate losing and it doesn’t matter how you lose, but objectively, looking at the game, we created a lot of really good chances,” he said. “If we could have gotten it to 3-0 I think the game is over.

“It was a little bit of a breakdown on the first [Anaheim] goal, but to be honest with you, after looking at the second goal about 100 times…sometimes great players make great plays, and I think [Scott] Niedermayer was quoted as saying he just threw the puck to that area. [Teemu] Selanne has a habit of being at the right place at the right time.”

He also likes what he has seen from the team in the first five games as a whole.

“I think our team is playing hard, we’re out-chancing teams, our power play is moving the puck around great, our penalty killing is doing a good job, and I think Ray [Emery] has looked sharp in net.

“Now, it’s important for us this week to be a better team Friday than we are today.”

Fun at the Eagles game

The Flyers took advantage of their day off on Sunday to have a team barbecue and attend the Eagles resounding victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field.

Early in the game, they were recognized as a group on the giant in-arena screens. Dan Carcillo promptly flexed his muscles and stuck out his tongue, sending the group into hysterics.

Flyers communications director Zack Hill got a good shot of it; so if you haven’t seen the pictures yet, check them out here. The picture of the big screen is the last one in the photo gallery.

JVR skates

Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk was back on the ice today for the first time since he was forced to leave the home opener against Washington on October 6 after going hard into the boards. John Stevens said afterwards that the club would monitor his status the rest of the week with the hopes that he can return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the Panthers.

Saturday, October 10

10:37 p.m.
Playing against his former team on his 35th birthday, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger scored a power play goal to put his team ahead 2-0 in the second period. It was his first goal with the Flyers.

Just when it looked like it would be a happy occasion, though, the Anaheim Ducks scored a pair of third period goals and stole a victory away from the home team in the shootout, 3-2.

Pronger was asked about the loss after the game.

“I think at this stage we’ve got to look at it as a learning experience,” he said. “It sucks to lose, but the mistakes we’re making right now, we’re beating ourselves. We take solace in the fact that we’re playing good enough to win, but we haven’t. We’re doing a lot of good things; it’s the little intangibles.

“Things that championship teams do day in and day out…we’re a young team that needs to learn that.”

John Stevens had the following to say about the loss:

“A 2-0 hockey game, two points has to be in your pocket,” he said. “We let that point slip away. The only saving grace is that it’s to a Western Conference team.

“I thought we played great in the first period and did all the things necessary to win hockey games, then [got] a little bit off page in the second period, turned some pucks over…I mean, those are things you can’t do if you expect to win hockey games. We should push that team further away and make them react to us, and I thought we let them hang around.

Some other notes from tonight’s game…

- Defenseman Matt Carle has recorded at least a point in four straight games, recording eight points (1G,7A) during that stretch.
- The Flyers have scored 11 of their 19 goals on the season in the second period, and have outscored their opponent 11 to 5 in the second frame.
- Jeff Carter (4G,4A) and Mike Richards (6G,2A) both extended their five-game point scoring streaks, having posted at least a point in every game this season, and both have recorded eight points on the year.
- Richards now has scored a goal in four of the Flyers’ five games thus far.
- Pronger has now recorded points in four straight games.
- The Flyers concluded their three-game homestand with a 1-1-1 record. They now have five days between their next contest when they travel to Florida to take on the Panthers on Friday, Oct. 16, before returning home again for another three-game homestand.

12:04 p.m.

The Flyers had an optional skate this morning at the Wachovia Center, where tonight they will face the Anaheim Ducks (7:00 p.m., CSN-HD, Tickets). It marks the first time (and only time this season) in which Chris Pronger will face his old club, as well as Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa’s return to Philadelphia.

There won’t be any lineup changes from Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh. That includes goaltender Ray Emery, who will make his fifth straight start.

John Stevens talked about the 1-1-1 Ducks after the skate today.

“I’m impressed with their team. They’ve got two really good lines. [Ryan]  Getzlaf, [Corey] Perry and [Bobby Ryan] have been somewhat dominant at times,” he said. With the addition of [Saku] Koivu, who plays with [Teemu] Selanne there and sometime Lupul, they’ve done a good job into building that team with two really good lines.

“They are a dangerous hockey team.”

Ryan, chosen second overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft behind Sidney Crosby, is a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey and will be playing his first game at the Wachovia Center. In his first full NHL season last year, he collected an impressive 31 goals and 26 assists for 57 points. He has one goal in three games so far this season, coming on Thursday in the Ducks’ convincing 6-1 defeat of the Boston Bruins.

Friday, October 9

3:04 p.m.
Flyers forward Scott Hartnell today addressed the allegation from the Pittsburgh Penguins that he bit Kris Letang during a scrum at the end of last night’s 5-4 loss at the Wachovia Center.

FlyersTV: Hartnell speaks

Hartnell had a 15-minute conference call with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell at 10:00 a.m. this morning and it was later revealed that he would not be fined nor suspended.

“[Letang] had me in a headlock, his free hand was in there, and I can’t tell you what happened but I definitely didn’t bite him,” said Hartnell after practice this morning at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. “I know he was complaining like he did, but his bare hand was scratching my face and hands were everywhere.”

Hartnell is known to play a physical game while also trying to agitate his opponents.

“I’m a pretty honest player, I think I’ve said that all along. I play the game hard; I play the game the right way. You don’t want to take liberties with anyone in fights, hits, or anything. I think if you ask guys in our dressing room here they’ll say the same thing, and around the league.

“I like to chirp a little bit and get in the mix a little bit after the whistles, but that’s part of my game. That’s how I play, and that’s how I have to play to be effective.”

* * *

Don’t expect James van Riemsdyk to return to the lineup tomorrow. The rookie did not skate today, and will likely take advantage of the Flyers’ five days off between Saturday and their next game on Friday, October 16 in Florida.

FlyersTV: Stevens

Also, Claude Giroux spent some time on the wing with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne in practice today, while Mika Pyorala centered Arron Asham and Darroll Powe.

“It was really [Giroux’s] coming out last year when we put him with Richie on that road trip [in late December],” explained the head coach. “We just wanted to have a look at it today."

Thursday, October 8

10:42 p.m.
After giving up five goals in consecutive games, it’s become obvious what John Stevens and the Flyers need to work on before Saturday's game against Anaheim: avoiding turnovers. That was the difference tonight in a 5-4 loss to the hands of their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, their first of the season after three straight wins.

“I think the last two games we’ve absolutely gift-wrapped some of the best chances for the other team,” said Stevens after the game. “We get some good momentum and work so hard to score a goal, and then you give one right back with just some blatant turnovers – there’s no question we have to clean it up.”

Braydon Coburn was singled out by the media after the game, due partly to his firing the puck at his own goaltender, Ray Emery, from the corner boards. The puck slipped through Emery and across the goal line to give the Penguins a two-goal cushion at the time.

“He’s a big man, he’s a pro… he’s got to be better. He knows that,” said Stevens.

“I would agree with that,” said Coburn. “It was just a couple of bad bounces really, and maybe trying to do too much on one or two plays. But, I basically got outside of my game a little bit.”

Emery has been hung out to dry on a number of goals the last two games, and Stevens was asked how he would evaluate his goaltender after tonight’s performance.

“Well, by no means do I put the blame on Ray,” said Stevens. “But, I think Ray has looked sharper. I think the one with [Coburn], it just surprised him and everybody that it got towards the front of the net.

“Across the board, we have to be sharper. We have to play with more urgency.”

Danny Briere, who had a couple of goals on the night, reminded everyone that as much as there were defensive breakdowns, the team only lost by a single goal.

“We had lots of chances. We had lots of shots on net. We’re creating in the offensive zone, but it’s just plays where we’re kind of brain dead.

“I don’t know what the term is or what exactly it is but those are the little areas you’d like focusing at all time when you’re on the ice, that’s what we’d like to improve on.”

The Flyers will convene at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Friday at 11:30 for practice.

Some other notes from tonight’s game…

- Despite their first loss of the season, both Carter (2G,2A) and Mike Richards (2A) extended their scoring streak to four straight games… Carter now has seven points (4G,3A) in his streak, while Richards also has seven points (5G,2A).
- The last time Carter posted four points in one night was April 3, 2009 vs. Toronto (3G,1A).
- Briere had his first multi-goal game since March 20, 2009 vs. Buffalo… Briere’s two goals gives him 26 career points (9G,17A) in 29 career games against Pittsburgh… Briere’s first goal of the night was his 100th point as a Flyer.
- The Flyers have scored 10 of their 17 goals on the season in the second period, and have outscored their opponents 10-5 in the second frame.
- Defenseman Matt Carle now has points in three straight games, recording seven points (1G,6A) in that span. His seven points lead all NHL defensemen.
- Defensemen Kimmo Timonen (1G,4A) and Chris Pronger (4A) have recorded points in three straight games.

11:55 a.m.
Flyers coach John Stevens this morning confirmed a number of lineup changes for tonight’s home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

Riley Cote and Arron Asham will be in up front in place of Blair Betts and James van Riesmdyk. And Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will make his Flyers debut on the blue line for Danny Syvret.

Tollefsen, who had a minor lower body injury at the start of the season, is looking forward to playing in his first game since February 7, 2009 when he was still with the Columbus Blue Jackets and suffered a season-ending knee injury.

“It’s an honor being on this team,” said Tollefsen after the pregame skate at the Wachovia Center. “I knew it was going to take a little bit of time to get back into game shape, and I was ready for that.”

“He was a little bit banged up there and we wanted to get some practices under his belt,” said Stevens. “He’s worked hard, so we didn’t want to keep him out of the lineup too long. We wanted to get him back in here and get him playing.”

Tollefsen, who is known as a physical player, will be paired with Ryan Parent. The Penguins have some physical players of their own, so it should be a good test for the 6’2’’, 211-pound Norwegian.

“I think that element with [Tollefsen] is always going to be there, we just wanted to make sure he had a good enough practice time to get himself ready to play.”

Stevens also updated van Riemsdyk’s condition after practice. The rookie did not skate today, but that doesn’t mean he won’t play on Saturday against Anaheim.

“He’s feeling better, [but] he’s still not feeling 100 percent. With a young kid early in the year here, we don’t see a need to take a chance unless he’s 100 percent healthy.

“It rules him our for today, but I wouldn’t rule him out past today.”

Wednesday, October 7

2:27 p.m.
With Blair Betts and possibly James van Riemsdyk unavailable for tomorrow night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, there will be some changes in the Flyers’ lineup when their Atlantic Division rivals make the first of three appearances at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 700 tickets remain).

FlyersTV: Cote/Asham/JVR | Stevens

Arron Asham and Riley Cote, who have been healthy scratches for the first three games, could both be in the lineup. Look for Asham to take the place of van Riemsdyk and Cote to take Betts’ place on the fourth line with Ian Laperriere moving to center.

Betts is out at least a month with a dislocated shoulder while van Riemsdyk is day-to-day after going hard into the boards during last night’s 6-5 overtime win against the Washington Capitals. His status for tomorrow night is still undetermined.

“Ash and I have been waiting patiently, and you just have to wait for your turn,” said Cote after practice today at the Skate Zone. “All you can do is be ready, and when you get your chance take advantage of it.”

“I’m hoping to stay in for the rest of the year,” added Asham. “I’m going to work hard and keep my spot. I just have to keep working hard and keep playing hard.”

As for van Riemsdyk, he appeared fine today although he did not partake in practice.

“I feel a lot better today, so I’m sure that’s a good sign,” he said. “Everything looks pretty good, so far. I’m going go to the rink tomorrow and see how it feels.”

“We gave him a day of rest today, but that decision will be made tomorrow, in the morning probably,” said John Stevens of van Riemsdyk’s status for the Penguins game. “There might be some mixing and matching on our third and fourth lines.”

Stevens also mentioned that defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will be making his season debut “soon.” Today in practice, Danny Syvret lined up as a forward at times so that could mean Tollefsen would play tomorrow against Pittsburgh.

Syvret played a little more than 10 minutes last night, the fewest of any of the six Flyers defensemen.

One more note: Mike Richards took a “maintenance day” today and did not practice.

Come early on Thursday

Comcast-Spectacor will open the AT&T Pavilion on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. to allow fans to watch the Phillies-Rockies playoff game on the more than 30 high definition flat screen TVs. The AT&T Pavilion also features food from Chickie’s & Pete’s and drinks from Pepsi and Budweiser.
“While we want to encourage our fans to arrive earlier than usual to avoid any traffic delays, we also know how excited the City is about the Phillies right now,” said Flyers Senior Vice President Shawn Tilger. “Now, Flyers fans can come early, enjoy the Phillies game in the AT&T Pavilion with other Flyers fans and avoid any traffic delays.”
In addition, the Flyers are offering anyone attending the baseball game to bring their ticket stub to the Wachovia Center box office at the end of the baseball game where they then can purchase a $25 ticket to the Flyers game that evening.

A little more than 700 tickets remain for the Flyers-Penguins game on Thursday, while there are just over 400 tickets left for Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Tuesday, October 6

10:51 p.m.
The Flyers exciting 6-5 win over the Capitals tonight came at a cost.

James van Riemsdyk and Blair Betts were both hurt during the game. Betts will be sidelined at least a month with a dislocated shoulder after leaving the ice late in the match, while van Riemsdyk had his “bell rung” and will be reevaluated on Wednesday. Both of these injuries are per general manager Paul Holmgren, who spoke with the media after the game.

Van Riemsdyk returned for portions of the third period after getting helped off of the ice in the second, but went on the ice for just two shifts totaling about a minute and half.

* * *

With the win, this is the 10th time in Flyers history that the team has started the season with a 3-0-0 record and first time since 1998-99. Of the previous nine times, the Flyers have improved their record to 4-0-0 seven times.
Matt Carle's four assists in the second period of tonight's game is a new Flyers record for most assists in a period by a defenseman. It also ties an NHL record for most assists in one period by a defenseman. The last time a defenseman recorded four assists in one period was Rob Blake in the second period with Los Angeles, vs. Calgary on January 29, 1998. Carle’s four assists in a game is also a new career high.

Mike Richards became the first Flyers player to record a hat trick in a home-opener. It was his second career hat trick and first since February 8, 2008 vs. the New York Islanders. The Comcast-Spectacor ice crew removed 492 hats and 104 t-shirts that were tossed onto the ice following Richards' third goal.

“The puck just found its way in. Some nights it just ends up on your stick and some nights it just goes in the net,” said a modest Richards after the win.

12:52 p.m.
The Flyers held a pregame skate today at the Wachovia Center, where they will play their first of 41 home games tonight against Washington (7:00 p.m., Versus).

There won’t be any lineup changes for Philadelphia from the first two games, and that obviously includes the goaltender, as Ray Emery will try to help the Flyers to a 3-0 start for the first time in 11 years. Emery has surrendered just two goals this season, both in the third period of Saturday's 5-2 win in New Jersey after the game was well in hand for Philadelphia.

As usual when it’s the Captials, the pregame chatter centered around Alex Ovechkin and how the Flyers will defend against him. Expect both Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen to see ice time against the two-time NHL MVP.

Timonen has gained some notoriety in the past couple of seasons when it comes to defending Ovechkin, stemming from the Flyers’ seven-game first round series victory in 2007, so it sounds like he will be the first option for John Stevens. The Flyers will get the last change since they are the home team.

“The strength of [Kimmo’s] game is the ability to defend. When you get a dominant player on the left side like Ovechkin is, Kimmo can read the play and defend as [well] as anybody. “

Stevens noted that Ovechkin likes to take long shifts, meaning that the Pronger-Matt Carle defensive pairing will probably see Number 8 along with the Timonen-Braydon Coburn duo.

“It gives you a couple different pairs that can hopefully defend him,” added the head coach. “One guy is big and physical with a great stick (Pronger), and the other guy just takes away all your time and space (Timonen). We’ll see how the game unfolds.”

Something else to watch for tonight will be the return of Mike Knuble to the Wachovia Center ice for the first time since he signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Captials this summer. The big right winger spent the previous four seasons as a Flyer, and was one of the more respected and liked players in the locker room.

Here’s video of Knuble talking about his return, courtesy of the Washington Capitals.

Monday, October 5

2:47 p.m.
After a day of rest yesterday, the Flyers were back at practice on Monday morning as they prepare for the first of three straight home games beginning on Tuesday night with the Washington Capitals (7:00 p.m., Versus, Tickets).

FlyersTV: Pronger/Richads/Emery | Stevens

The home opener is always exciting, but when the best player in the world comes to town, it makes it that much more compelling of a matchup. Combined with the fact that it will be Chris Pronger’s first game against Alexander Ovechkin, and it could be a memorable night at the Wachovia Center.

Ovechkin already leads the league with six points for the 2-0 Caps, but he has yet to face a defense like Philadelphia’s, with a one-two punch of Pronger and Kimmo Timonen on the top two pairings.

Pronger, for one, is looking forward to seeing Ovechkin after not getting much of a chance to play against him while with Anaheim.

“It’s got to be done the right direction,” Pronger said of how he plans to take on Ovechkin. “You can grind on players like that and dishearten them a little bit and frustrate them a little bit, and deny him the puck. Players like that, they want the puck, and you’ve got to do a good job of keeping the puck away from him and not allowing him easy opportunities and easy shots.”

Pronger was asked if he was excited to introduce himself to Ovechkin as a member of his new team.

“I have already, but not as a Flyer,” he smiled.

Ray Emery has seen plenty of the Captials’ superstar, despite his one-year absence from the NHL. Washington will be the most offensively gifted team he’s seen so far in this young season, so the Flyers’ new goaltender is trying to study up for the job.

“I’ve played against [Ovechkin] quite a bit, so I might watch a bit of their power play and things, but I kind of know how he shoots the puck,” said Emery. “I’ll probably watch tape on some of their other guys that I haven’t seen as much.”

* * *

Coming home with two impressive wins on the road to start the year should make for a raucous atmosphere in the Wachovia Center for opening night. Mike Richards said the team is looking forward to showing their stuff on their home ice.

“I think everyone is excited to get our home opener underway,” he said. “Early in the season right now we have to learn to play at home and be a tough team to play against.”

“Certainly, the new guys are excited to play in front of this crowd,” said John Stevens. “I think we just have to caution that emotion doesn’t run over. We still have to keep our emotions in check and play with energy that doesn’t cross over the line and lead to penalties and not try to do too much.”

Getting healthy

Brian Boucher and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen have recovered from their lower body injuries and were back at practice today. Marc-Andre Bourdon was reassigned to the Phantoms yesterday.

Look for Emery to play in all three games this week, especially after his strong start, but Boucher will make his season debut soon enough.

“I don’t anticipate it being this week. I think it will be good for Boosh to continue to work on his game now that he’s getting this injury behind him,” said Stevens. “There are some back-to-back situations coming up down the road this month, so that might be a good time to get him in.”

The next time the Flyers play consecutive games is October 24 against Florida and the next night against San Jose (both at home).

Stevens also said that he isn’t sure when Tollefsen will get in the lineup, but that right now he provides good depth should anyone on the blue line get hurt or need a rest.

“We just want to make sure everyone stays ready,” said the head coach.

Programming note

Two quick reminders for tonight regarding programming on Comcast SportsNet.

First, as part of their expanded hockey coverage, “The Orange Line” will debut at 7:00 p.m. as Keith Jones and John Boruk host the new magazine style show. Each week, the show will take you inside the locker room and offer a look at the players off of the ice.

The weekly show will air on CSN every Monday at 7:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Secondly, a documentary on the Spectrum, “Building a Memory,” will air at 9:00 p.m. The hour-long show is the result of over 200 hours of interviews and is told by the people that called the Spectrum home.

Saturday, October 3

8:06 p.m.
Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk, a native of Middletown, New Jersey, said before tonight’s game against the Devils that he expects over 100 family and friends to be in attendance to cheer him on at the Prudential Center.

Does that put any more pressure on the rookie? If so, he’s not letting on.

“It just makes it a more fun situation. I'm just excited to go out there and play,” he said before the game. “My phone has been lighting up the last couple of days with people telling me they were going to be here. It's going to be pretty cool to play in front of them.”

JVR posted his first NHL point in his first NHL game last night in Carolina, and is happy to get one out of the way.

“I feel a lot more comfortable now. I've got the first-game butterflies out,” he said.

Boucher update

Flyers coach John Stevens said before tonight’s game that goaltender Brian Boucher is feeling better, and hopes to have him back at practice next week.

“He's pretty much pain free right now, so we're hopeful he'll be back on the ice with us when we get home,” said Stevens.

Boucher suffered a lower body injury a week ago in a preseason game against the Devils.

The Flyers will likely have off from practice on Sunday, and will resume on Monday morning at 10:30 in Voorhees. Philadelphia has three straight home games next week, beginning with the home opener on Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals.

About 500 tickets remain for that game including some lower level locations.

Friday, October 2

7:56 p.m.
John Stevens mentioned before tonight's game who will wear the "A" as alternate captains for the season.

During home games, Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen will sport the A's, while on the road, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger will have the honors. Should any of those players be out of the lineup, Danny Briere will be the so-called "alternate alternate." Halfway through the season they will flip flop, with Gagne and Timonen wearing the "A's" on the road while Carter and Pronger will do so at the Wachovia Center.

Along with captain Mike Richards, those six players currently form Stevens' "leadership group," which he consults with on a regular basis about any number of issues with the team both on and off the ice.

2:17 p.m.

The Flyers had a full team morning skate at the RBC Center, and are ready to open the 2009-10 season tonight against the Hurricanes (7:00 p.m., TCN-HD).

It appears that the healthy scratches for tonight will be Riley Cote and Arron Asham. James van Riemsdyk will be making his NHL debut on a line with Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe, while Chris Pronger, Ian Laperriere and Ray Emery will all be playing their first regular season game with the Flyers.

Van Riemsdyk mentioned after the skate today that a number of his friends are making the drive down from New Jersey. Tomorrow night, when the Flyers face the Devils at the Prudential Center, his personal cheering section could exceed 100.

On the injury front, the Flyers are still without Brian Boucher and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. Carolina will be without former Flyer Joni Pitkanen, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on September 10.

Philadelphia finished 3-0-1 against Carolina last season, with Jeff Carter leading the way with six points (2g, 4a). Further, the Flyers are 6-0-1 in their last seven games overall against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

Thursday, October 1

4:35 p.m.

The Flyers held one final practice today in Voorhees at their practice facility before boarding a bus to the airport, and arrived at the team hotel here in Raleigh moments ago. The much-anticipated 2009-10 season begins tomorrow night when Philadelphia visits the Carolina Hurricanes (7:00 p.m., TCN-HD).

FlyersTV: Stevens | Emery/Hartnell/Briere

The news of the day was the club agreeing to terms with unrestricted free agent forward Blair Betts, who signed a one-year deal early in the afternoon. Betts came to Flyers training camp on a try-out basis and earned a spot on the final day before the season is to start. The gritty veteran will provide some depth at the forward position as well as eat up key minutes on the penalty kill, where he excels.

“I’m relieved,” said Betts, in the team’s official press release. “Throughout training camp I was pretty confident something was going to happen.

“I think we made the right decision to come here.”

As for the season beginning, the players are undoubtedly upbeat heading into the season opener.

“This first game in Carolina is going to have a lot of emotion,” said Scott Hartnell after practice. “Guys are excited about the season, so we’ll be jacked-up, for sure.”

“There’s some excitement around this team, and we can’t wait to get going,” added Danny Briere, who is looking forward to a rebound year after an injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign. “I believe we have the tools to make something special happen here.”

The beginning of the schedule is no picnic for Philadelphia, which will obviously be looking to get out of the gate much stronger than last season’s 0-3-3 start. Right away, the club will face four playoff teams from a year ago in Carolina, New Jersey, Washington and Pittsburgh (the latter two are at the Wachovia Center).

“The start is really important. It’s not going to be easy to go to Carolina and New Jersey to start and then come home to some tough games,” said coach John Stevens. “I don’t see any easy games on the schedule now. There’s a lot of parity in the league now so it’s important that we get off to a good start, play good hockey right away, and get some points on the board early in the season.”

There is no shortage of noteworthy debuts tomorrow night. Chris Pronger will make his first appearance in the orange and black, as will goaltender Ray Emery and former second overall pick James van Riemsdyk.

While many hockey minds are picking Philadelphia to be among the NHL’s elite clubs, the biggest footnote to those predictions is: how will Emery respond in his first year back in the NHL after a season in Russia?

If his play in preseason is any indication, Emery could end up being one of the team’s strengths rather than one of its question marks.

“It’s been pretty good from the start [of camp],” said Emery. “You definitely continue to get more comfortable and familiar with the guys you’re playing with.”

Injuries and recalls

The Flyers begin the season with two players on injured reserve: Brian Boucher and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. Both have lower body injuries.

Philadelphia brought in some insurance from the Phantoms today, as defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon and goalie Michael Teslak were recalled. Neither Bourdon nor Teslak has ever played in an NHL game.

Bourdon made the trip with Philadelphia and will be an emergency seventh defenseman, while Teslak was returned to Adirondack after practice.

Cote’s community contribution

Riley Cote today presented a check to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America of more than $27,000. The money came from his second annual “Cote Carnival,” held in August to benefit MS.

Cote and his sister, Jaime, who was diagnosed with MS eight years ago, are actively involved in the community in the fight against the disease.

Over 500 people attended the carnival, held at Swanky Bubbles in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Wednesday, September 30

4:02 p.m.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren just finished meeting with the media. He revealed that the club has not as of yet signed forward Blair Betts, who has been in camp on a try-out basis, and that defenseman Randy Jones has been assigned to the Phantoms. Jones cleared waivers earlier in the week.

James van Riemsdyk and Mika Pyorala have earned roster spots, as has defenseman Danny Syvret, according to the G.M., and all will be with the team on opening night in Carolina this Friday (7:00 p.m., TCN-HD).

Here's a link to the complete roster as it stands today.

12:00 p.m.
Welcome back to the third season of On The Fly, the official blog of philadelphiaflyers.com.

Once again, I will be using this space here to provide daily updates on the team, (hopefully) before anyone else has the news. Me (or a very reliable intern) will be in the locker room after every practice, at every press conference, in every city and at every home and road game, providing multiple updates throughout the day of what is happening with the team both on the ice and off of it.

Also, in a new feature this season, I'll be holding a live pregame live in the hour leading up to each and every game, at home and on the road. There, you can send in your questions and get the latest news and answers about the team. That will begin on Friday in Carolina when the 2009-10 season begins against the Hurricanes.

Finally, don't forget to follow the Flyers on Twitter, which you can see in the widget on the right. Many times that will be updated before anything on the website here, so to make sure you get all of the breaking news before anyone else, follow @flyersonthefly!