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Monday, November 30

3:29 p.m.
Flyers left wing Simon Gagne, who played in just nine games this season before undergoing hernia surgery on November 3, rejoined his teammates for practice for the first time today since the injury.

FlyersTV: Gagne | Stevens

The original diagnosis after the surgery was that Gagne would miss six-to-eight weeks, which means he is still at least two weeks away from returning to game action. Still, he was encouraged by how he felt after the skate today, saying that everything feels the way it should at this point.

Gagne was originally hurt at Team Canada’s Olympic camp in August.

“I see the difference right away. When I’m skating I feel all of my muscles firing like they should be,” he said. “I’m not using different muscles that should not be firing. Right now, I feel like everything is in place and everything is in balance. I feel strong, and I don’t have that pain that I had before.”

“He actually looked pretty good. I was surprised that he was moving as well as he did, and he was able to participate in most of the practice and the [bag] skate at the end as well,” added John Stevens. “I was encouraged by that.”

Gagne has been visiting with his doctor once a week, and will see him again next Tuesday. For now, Gagne will not partake in any one-on-one drills or take any contact.

“Game-shape wise, shooting the puck, and making plays one-on-one I am still a step behind, but it will feel good skating the next two weeks with the boys.”

Also back on the ice today was Danny Briere, who missed Saturday’s game in Atlanta with the flu. There were some reports among the local media that Briere did not play due to his groin acting up, but Briere denied those, correctly pointing out that there was no way he would have taken part in the long skate at the end if that were the case.

Finally, Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen missed practice to take “maintenance days,” while Blair Betts and Darroll Powe, both out another month or so with their respective injuries, skated by themselves just to keep their conditioning levels up according to Stevens.

Van Riemsdyk responds to hit

Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk took a hard hit from Atlanta’s Colby Armstrong on Saturday, when the Thrashers forward caught him with a high hit as van Riemsdyk was battling in the corner. Armstrong was issued a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, but was not suspended by the league.

If van Riemsdyk was disappointed that Armstrong wouldn’t lose a few paychecks for the hit, he wasn’t letting on.

“Obviously, you’re kind of pissed off when it happens, but it’s all part of hockey and you just have to keep playing out there and not worry about that kind of stuff. That’s someone else’s job to worry about suspensions and all that.”

Van Riemsdyk, who is third on the team in scoring with 19 points, still has some battle marks from the hit on the right side of his face, but feels fine.

“Sometimes when you’re not expecting it, you’re going to get hammered like that. I haven’t gotten hit like that since probably last season at some point, but it’s all part of the game and you just have to battle your way through it,” he said.

“Whenever you get hit that hard with your head down you are kind of shocked at first, but after I settled down a bit I was fine.”

No more mustache

Flyers broadcaster Jim Jackson has graciously agreed to shave his mustache for charity.

The voice of the Flyers’ television broadcasts will be a guest at 93.3 WMMR’s Camp Out for Hunger on Wednesday morning, where he will raise money to help feed those in need this holiday season.

Check back here to philadelphiaflyers.com on Wednesday afternoon for pictures.

Saturday, November 28

10:54 p.m.
Although the Flyers dropped a 1-0 decision to the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night, ending their 14-game winning streak against that franchise, one bright spot was the continued impressive play of goaltender Brian Boucher.

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island native stopped 17 of 18 Atlanta shots, allowing only what was essentially a five-on-three goal to Rich Peverley (one of the Flyers’ penalties expired at the exact second as the puck crossed the goal line). Although his record fell to 2-3 on the season, his goals against average now sits at 2.01 and his save percentage an impressive .930.

Even before the game, Flyers head coach John Stevens was impressed with Boucher’s recent play when filling in for regular starter Ray Emery.

“There’s no question we brought Ray here to be ‘the guy,’ but I think like any player, [Boucher’s] play is going to dictate how much he plays, and in Boosh’s case, he’s played really well.

“That’s what you expect and that’s what you need from your backup goalie. Even though he’s termed the backup, he’s still and important part of your team and he still wants to play as much as he can. He’s worked hard in practice, he’s done a lot of extra work with [goaltending coach Jeff Reese], and he’s continued to get sharper and sharper. If he continues to play that way, he’ll certainly get more time in the net.”

Although it was another strong performance, it was still a loss, and Boucher was disappointed to allow what turned out to be the only goal of the game in the second period.

“[Peverley] didn’t get all of it, and it kind of fooled me. It was almost like a knuckler. If he had gotten all of it maybe I would have stopped it, maybe I wouldn’t have, but certainly the fact that he kind of fanned on it or didn’t get all of it certainly fooled me.”

Johan Hedberg ended up being the star of the game, stopping all 34 shots the Flyers threw his way, including 13 in a furious third period.

“That’s one of the things that is out of your control. If the guy on the other end stands on his head like he did tonight, there’s going to be nights where you lose the game,” said Boucher. “That’s the way it goes in hockey.”

“I think any time you see a 1-0 game you have to credit both goalies for the way they played,” added Stevens.

As the November portion of the schedule comes to a close, there’s no question that the Flyers will need both Boucher and Emery to play consistently, with no less than 15 games in 28 days (beginning on Thursday, December 3 at home against the Vancouver Canucks).

“I think it’s important that both guys play well,” said the head coach. “We’re going to need them both to win games, if you look at the way the schedule is set up.”

Other notes

Jared Ross took warmups, but missed the game due to precautionary reasons. Ross was hit from behind by Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta on Friday night, and will not be out long-term. Kaleta received a two-game suspension for the hit. … The Flyers have off tomorrow and will resume practice at 11:00 a.m. on Monday at the Skate Zone.

Friday, November 27

7:23 p.m.
When the Flyers acquired Ian Laperierre in the offseason, the reputation that came with him was that of a hard-nosed, gritty forward who would do anything to contribute to his team, no matter the cost.

That much was evident on Friday afternoon, when Laperierre took a slap shot to the face in the first period, lost seven teeth, but got stitched up in the locker room and returned for the start of the third period.

“I think he shocked his teammates,” said Flyers coach John Stevens. “I think they were a little worried about him wanting to come back, but there was no question in his mind.

“The most troubling thing to him through all of that was that he was missing as much time as he was, which tells you a little bit about him. He’s a ferocious warrior that seems to want to fight through everything to [play] the game. It was a pretty impressive effort by him.”

The sold out Wachovia Center crowd noticed Laperierre on his first shift, wearing a full cage to protect his stitched up mug. The fans gave him a loud ovation as he hopped over the boards, which got louder as he played the puck.

Jared Ross, however, wasn’t as lucky. After taking a headfirst hit into the boards from Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, who was assessed a boarding major/game misconduct and faces a probable suspension, Ross was kept out for precautionary reasons. He made the trip with the team to Atlanta, but the Flyers recalled Jonathon Kalinski from the Phantoms in case Ross is unable to go, according to Paul Holmgren. Kalinski has a goal and three assists in 15 games with the Phantoms this season.

(Speaking of reputations, Kaleta stayed true to his when he did his best impersonation of a turtle when challenged to a fight by Riley Cote after the hit).

The Flyers will also get Danny Briere back for the game against the Thrashers, now that his two-game suspension for hitting Colorado’s Scott Hannan is over.

One other note: Brian Boucher, who has won his last two starts, will get the call in net tomorrow against the Thrashers. Stevens said after the game that that was the plan regardless of Ray Emery’s performance today.

Some other notes from the game today…

- Holmgren announced between periods that defenseman Danny Syvret cleared waivers and was reassigned to Adirondack.

- With the loss the Flyers record sits at 13-9-1 and 27 points and a home record of 8-4-1.

- The Flyers are 1-2-0 against Buffalo this season, with the final game of the season series taking place on Mar. 5… The Flyers all-time record against the Sabres stands at 71-55-20-3, including a 43-19-12-3 mark on home ice.

- Mike Richards has recorded a goal in two straight games and at least a point in each of his last three games (2G,1A)… He has points in seven of his last eight contests, posting (3g, 4a) in that span.

- Richards increased his career scoring total to 21 points (9g, 12a) in 16 games against the Sabres.

- Jeff Carter has recorded at least a point in each of his last three games, posting four points (2g, 2a).

- The Flyers own a 3-2-0 record in the first half of games on back-to-back days… They own a 2-2-0 record in the second half.

Wednesday, November 25

12:56 p.m.
The Flyers’ pregame skate today at Nassau Coliseum was optional, as the team concludes its road trip tonight with the New York Islanders (7:00 p.m., CSN, 1210 am).

Brian Boucher will get the call in net for Philadelphia, making his first start since an impressive 37-save performance in Los Angeles in the first game of this trip on November 18; a 3-2 Flyers victory. Boucher is 1-2 with a 2.80 goals against average and .914 save percentage in three games this season.

“We feel that it is important to get Boosh back into the net,” said John Stevens after practice yesterday. “He has played better and better. He was sharp when he came in relief [Monday in Colorado]. We planned to play him [tonight] regardless of what happened [Monday]."

It will be a familiar face in net on the other end of the ice, as Martin Biron will make the start for the Islanders against many of his former teammates.

With Danny Briere out of the lineup for the next two games due to suspension, the Flyers were forced to make some changes up front, the most notable of which is Jeff Carter moving to the wing on a line with Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk.

Also, Arron Asham will make his return to the ice after a four-game absence due to a strained oblique muscle. Asham practiced on the wing with Claude Giroux at center and Scott Hartnell on the other side.

One other roster note is that David Laliberte has been reassigned to the Adirondack Phantoms.

Tuesday, November 24

6:35 p.m.
When the Flyers take to the ice tomorrow night against the Islanders, they could be facing an old friend.

Goaltender Martin Biron signed with New York in the offseason, and at the very least, will be the backup goaltender when the teams face off at Nassau Coliseum (7:00 p.m., CSN).

A couple of the Flyers were asked today what it would be like to see their old friend, Biron, who spent parts of three seasons with Philadelphia.

"We're not sure if he is playing tomorrow, but being a teammate of his for two years, I know he's a great guy who loved to be at the rink every day and loved to have fun,” said Scott Hartnell. “Seeing him between the pipes will be a little different.”

"It will be nice to see him again,” added Mike Richards. “Obviously, we have been through a lot the last couple of years when we were teammates. I know that he is having some success out here, which is nice to see. It will be nice to see him out there."

Biron is just 2-6-2 this season for the Islanders, but his 2.85 goals against average and .912 save percentage are essentially on par with that of counterpart Dwayne Roloson (2.86, .916). Roloson is coming off of a 58-save performance in Toronto on Monday, a 4-3 overtime victory for the Islanders (9-8-7).

Of course, the Flyers (12-8-1) are much more concerned with putting an end to their three-game losing skid than catching up with old pals. Their five-game road trip, which began with a 3-2 win in Los Angeles on November 18, ends tomorrow night. The club would like to finish on a high note.

“It is obviously not going the way we wanted it to go,” said Richards of the trip thus far. “But, if we win tomorrow, we could salvage a couple of points out of it and head back home where we feel more comfortable. I think tomorrow is going to be more mental than anything."

“We have one more game left and it isn't going to be easy,” said Hartnell. “The end is near, but we have to bear down here and have to skate a full 60 minutes tomorrow.”

Brian Boucher, who picked up the win in Los Angeles, will make his third start of the season. The Flyers will return home on Friday afternoon for their annual Black Friday game against the Buffalo Sabres (1:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

"I think when you struggle as we have on the road, like we have on this trip, you always want to get back to where you feel more comfortable and back to friendly confines,” said Chris Pronger.

Asham Update

Forward Arron Asham joined the team for its afternoon practice on Long Island today. Asham has missed the last four games with a strained oblique muscle after getting hurt in the team’s last home game on November 16.

The team could use his services, as it is short another forward tomorrow night with the two-game suspension of Danny Briere.

"Everything is going well. I had a good practice today,” said Asham. “The rib felt pretty good and I did a couple of battle drills and it was pain free. I am here if they need me. Hopefully, I can be in the lineup tomorrow."

1:15 a.m.
It’s one of the biggest clichés in hockey, but it was a phrase that was uttered repeatedly in the locker room following the Flyers’ loss in Colorado.

Playing “60 minutes” of hockey is what the Flyers failed to do; rather, they showed the kind of effort needed to win in the third period but it was too little, too late. Philadelphia closed a 5-2 deficit to 5-4, but that was how the game ended as the Flyers dropped their third straight match.

“I’m pleased that we have that kind of effort in us [in the third period], but it’s unfortunate that we have to waste that kind of effort and lose the hockey game,” said John Stevens. “If we play like that for 60 minutes, we’re going to win most games. We put ourselves in a position where the hill was too big to comeback, and that’s the bigger concern right now.”

“It’s always easier said than done,” added Danny Briere, who had a four-point night with two goals and two assists. “When we were on our little streak there (winning seven of eight games before the current three-game losing streak), that’s what we were so good at. That’s the difference right now. [We have] periods where we aren’t going offensively, and on top of that, we’re giving up goals. That’s where we’re getting into too much trouble right now.”

Chris Pronger explained a bit what went on in the locker room between the second and third periods, and what has to be done for the Flyers to become a consistent team that avoids losing streaks like the one they are in now.

“It was gut-check time. It’s going to have to come from guys in this room, and we certainly understand what’s at stake. We need to play better. There’s no sugar-coating it. The way we played in the third period is the way we need to play each and every period of each and every game.

“Until we figure out how to play consistently like that, we’re going to have the ups and downs that we’ve had thus far.”

The Flyers will try and end their five-game road trip on a good note on Wednesday night when they are in Nassau Coliseum to face the New York Islanders (7:00 p.m., CSN).

Monday, November 23

4:05 p.m.
With a number of hurt forwards out of the lineup right now, including the two most recent injuries to Darroll Powe and Blair Betts (who will be gone for at least a month each), the Flyers have turned to a couple familiar names on the AHL’s Phantoms to help them through the current stretch of games.

Jared Ross and Andreas Nodl both played a number of games with the big club last year, and will be looking to make an impression with the opportunity they have been given after being recalled yesterday from Adirondack. Both will be in the lineup for tonight’s game in Colorado (9:00 p.m., CSN).

“I feel more comfortable knowing that I played last year a few games,” said Ross, after the morning skate today at the Pepsi Center. “The nerves aren’t where they were last year, but I’m just looking forward to being back up here again and doing what I can to help out the team.

“Obviously you want to be here as long as you can, so you want to go out there and realize that every shift makes a big difference. Hopefully we can stick for as long as we can.”

Last season, Ross made his NHL debut with the Flyers and was scoreless in 10 regular season appearances. He recorded one goal in six playoff games. He has one goal and six assists for seven points in 15 games with Adirondack this season.

Nodl played 38 games with the Flyers, the majority of which came at the beginning of the season, but recorded just four points (1g, 3a) in that span.

“I think last year was an eye-opener for me,” he said today. “I know what I had to work on in the summer, like get in better shape and get stronger along the walls, don’t turn it over and shoot the puck more.”

John Stevens was asked what can be expected out of them, starting with tonight.

“They’ve got some experience playing at this level, so we’re confident they can come in and help us.

“They’re here to help us now, they’re here because they are good players, and we will evaluate their play as we move along each game.”

Line shifting

Ross and Nodl will be playing on the same line tonight along with another recent call-up in David Laliberte, but that’s not the only new combination to expect tonight.

The other forward groups this morning consisted of Jeff Carter centering Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux; Mike Richards between James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere; and Mika Pyorala centering Dan Carcillo and Ian Laperriere.

“We just feel like we’re still a pretty good defensive team right now, but we’re not creating as much offensively as we’d like to,” said Stevens. “Sometimes you make a switch. We’re just trying to freshen things up a little bit and hopefully bring the focus back.”

Saturday, November 21

11:09 p.m.
Flyers center Blair Betts will miss approximately four weeks after suffering a dislocated right shoulder during Philadelphia’s 3-1 loss in Phoenix on Saturday night. Betts tried to jump up off of the ice to glove an airborne puck when he got hurt, and immediately went to the locker room with his right arm limp in the first period.

It is the same injury that forced him to miss seven games earlier in the year.

“It’s going to be a significant amount of time,” said Paul Holmgren after the game.

Darroll Powe also has an upper body injury, suffered on Friday night in San Jose, and did not play Saturday night. Riley Cote was inserted into the lineup in place of Powe, but saw just two minutes and three seconds of ice time.

The Flyers will have to recall at least one player from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, prior to their game on Monday night against the Avalanche (9:00 p.m., CSN). Philadelphia flew to Denver immediately after the game in Phoenix.

While Holmgren would not speculate on whom the Flyers would recall, the possibilities include Jared Ross (1g, 5a in 15 games); Jon Matsumoto (7g, 7a in 16 games); and Patrick Maroon (2g, 8a and 30 penalty minutes in 16 games).

Betts has a goal and an assist for two points and two penalty minutes in 13 games this season, while Powe has six goals and 12 penalty minutes in 19 games.

5:07 p.m.
Before the season started, one of the biggest points of emphasis made by John Stevens, the coaching staff, and the veteran leaders is that good teams find ways to avoid losing consecutive games. After the 6-3 loss in San Jose last night, the Flyers find themselves in that position in Phoenix (8:00 p.m., CSN).

“Good teams find ways not to lose two in a row,” said Danny Briere before the game. “It’s something that John [Stevens] brought up today. We had that same mentality in Buffalo [when he and Sabres made the Eastern Conference Final in 2006-07], that we find ways. We dig down. We might have a bad game here and there, but we don’t let it happen twice in a row.

“As soon as you lose one, if you’re able to rebound right away and get on another winning streak, it goes a long way after awhile. We have to find that can’t-accept-losing mentality.”

By starting his top goaltender, Ray Emery in back-to-back games, Stevens is making a point to his club that he wants to get back in the win column as this five-game road trip continues.

“I think Ray realizes that the team believes in him, that we believe in him, and I think he'll come back with a strong effort tonight,” said the head coach before the game.

“We went to Ray and asked him how he was feeling (after the San Jose game), and you could tell by his reaction that he wanted this game.”

Emery is 2-0 with a 1.44 goals against average in the second of back-to-back games this season.

Powe sits out

Flyers forward Darroll Powe will miss tonight’s game with an upper body injury and will be replaced by Riley Cote. … The Flyers fly to Denver immediately following tonight’s game in Phoenix, and will play the Avalanche on Monday night (9:00 p.m., CSN).

Thursday, November 19

6:58 p.m.
When a team has won seven of its last eight games, it’s easy to find the bright spots among the roster. One that sticks out, though, is the play of defenseman Matt Carle, who continues to lead the league in plus-minus rating with a +18.

Carle returned this afternoon to the building in which he started his NHL career, the HP Pavilion, as a member of the San Jose Sharks in 2005. The Flyers skated here today as they prepare to face the team at the top of the Western Conference standings tomorrow night (10:00 p.m., CSN).

I asked Matt if he puts any stock into being one of the NHL’s league leaders.

“We’re still early into the season, so not really,” he said. “If we’re sitting here at Game 80 or Game 82 then maybe that’s another story. I’ve been able to kind of get off to a good start, so it shows there.”

It goes without saying that Carle is reaping the benefits of playing with former league-MVP Chris Pronger, who is second in the NHL in plus-minus with a +14 mark. But Carle’s success can’t be solely attributed to Pronger. After all, the Anchorage, Alaska native put up 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points during his best season with the Sharks in 2006-07.

John Stevens isn’t surprised in the least to see Carle, who was acquired from Tampa Bay just over a year ago as part of the Steve Downie trade, playing so well at both ends of the ice. In fact, he expected it.

“I think if you go back to the end of the year last year, we thought he was one of our best players the last quarter of the season and the playoffs,” said the head coach. “We just thought he elevated his game and we counted on him in all kinds of key situations.

“I know in our exit meetings (last season) he was excited about moving forward with the organization. He loved it here, and he loved the way we played, and I think he’s been a great addition to our team. But, there’s no question that playing with Chris Pronger, those two have chemistry. They compliment each other, they can play in all key situations, they are a perfect fit on the power play, and I think Matt is thriving in the environment that he’s in.”

One reason the Carle-Pronger pairing has been so successful, said Stevens, is that while Pronger can stay at home or hang back while the Flyers are on the attack, Carle can jump up and make plays. Offensive production from the defense has been one of the biggest reasons the Flyers are among the top goal-scoring teams in the league so far this season.

“He has great vision offensively, [and] he makes a lot of slick plays,” said Stevens.

For now, though, Carle is just concerned about beating his former club tomorrow night, and helping the Flyers avenge a 4-1 loss at home to the Sharks on October 25.

“Any time you play one of the best teams in the league, you want to see where you’re at with them,” he said. “I thought we had that kind of test the other night against New Jersey and we showed up, so hopefully we can do it again tomorrow night.”

Flyers notes

Ray Emery will expectedly be back between the pipes for tomorrow night’s game with San Jose, but Stevens said that Brian Boucher could get another game in before the five-game trip concludes. … Ian Laperierre doesn’t see any easy games on this road trip, which continues with Phoenix, Colorado and the New York Islanders after tomorrow’s date with the Sharks. “All the teams we’re playing, there are no easy games, even the teams that nobody saw [doing well] like Colorado, Phoenix and even L.A.,” he said. “It won’t be an easy task. There’s no more easy road trips in this league, everyone is hard.”

1:44 a.m.

When John Stevens announced this morning at the Staples Center that Brian Boucher would be making his second start of the season, it was a little surprising. After all, Ray Emery led the Flyers to wins in six of their last seven games, and Philadelphia was not in a back-to-back situation having not played since a Monday night victory over the New Jersey Devils.

(Quick note: if you missed the game, Comcast SportsNet will have the replay Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.).

With 37 saves on the night, Boucher was the biggest key to the 3-2 win in which Philadelphia seemed to lack some energy at times after a cross-country flight less than 48 hours earlier.

Stevens knows that he will need Boucher throughout the season, especially now that the game schedule picks up. The Flyers began a five-games-in-eight-days stretch tonight.

“Our schedule has been very unusual the first part of the year. [Emery] played most of the games, but he’s played a lot less than a lot of the other goalies in the league, just because of the way our schedule has been,” said the head coach after the game. “Clearly we’re going to need [Boucher] to win us some hockey games as we move through the schedule here in November and December and on throughout the year, so it’s great to see him get in and have some success.”

After a subpar outing in his first game of the year, a 4-1 home loss to San Jose on October 25, Boucher didn’t get off to an ideal start. A shot by Jarrett Stoll from a wide angle somehow snuck through his skate and the post to give the Kings the lead late in the first period.

To his credit, Boucher didn’t let the bad goal get to him, and got stronger as the game went on. The Kings outshot the Flyers 21-5 in the third period and 39-20 for the game.

“I don’t know what the [heck] happened on the first goal. I’ve had a couple weird ones this year, but I was determined that that wasn’t going to be a factor in the game,” said Boucher. “The boys rallied around and had a great second period (scoring twice) and made the difference.

“I thought [the Kings] third period was pretty strong. It was a strong test there, but we were able to hold the fort and get the win.”

His teammates were also happy to see him pull through, as the Flyers won their 12th game of the year in 18 tries (12-5-1).

“He’s only played one game in two months, and it’s tough to stay sharp, especially in game-night situations,” said Chris Pronger. “He made some great stops in the third period to keep the lead for us, and ultimately get the win.”

Pyorala gets his first

Along with Boucher’s first win of the season came another first – Mika Pyorala’s first goal of the season and of his NHL career.

The Oulu, Finland native has had plenty of scoring chances lately, and tallied a shootout winner earlier this month, but had yet to score in regulation. His backhander beat Jonathan Quick at 7:52 of the second period tonight to tie the game 1-1 at the time.

“Of course, it is a big relief for me,” he said. “I have had really good scoring chances before. I don't even want to know how many I've had. But I am glad I got this one tonight."

Pyorala’s teammates seemed especially happy for him, including Scott Hartnell, who gave him a big tap on the helmet after the goal and grabbed the puck to make sure he would get to keep the valuable memento.

“It was interesting to see how excited the guys were for him,” said Stevens. “He’s really fit in well here, and has had a lot of good games and good chances, but the puck just hasn’t gone in for him. Hopefully, that will get him going here.”

Tuesday, November 17

7:53 p.m.
After a red-eye, cross-country flight in the middle of the night last night following an impressive 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t have much time today to enjoy the picture-perfect weather here in Southern California. The team took part in an afternoon skate at the Los Angeles Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo today as its gets ready for the first of a five-game road trip tomorrow night (10:30 p.m., CSN).

Joining the team for practice was David Laliberte, who was recalled from Adirondack to take the roster spot vacated by an injured Arron Asham (left oblique strain). Laliberte will take Asham’s spot on the ice as well, skating on the wing with Claude Giroux at center and Darroll Powe on the left.

FlyersTV: Stevens | Giroux/Laliberte

Laliberte had a long day getting to Los Angeles, taking a 3:45 a.m. limo to the airport in Albany, New York. He had to change planes in Chicago.

“It was a long day, so I’m going to have a good sleep tonight,” said the rookie, who added he didn’t sleep much on the flight to L.A. as he was stuck between two “old ladies.”

Laliberte made an immediate impact on the team the first time he was called up, scoring three points (2g, 1a) in four games while filling in for injured forwards like Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk.

He hopes to have the same kind of success this time around.

“Claude Giroux sees the play so well, and he’s quick with the puck,” said Laliberte. “For me, it’s drive the net and play simple.”

As mentioned here yesterday, Giroux seemed to get an offensive jump-start by moving back to the center position last night after having played on the wing with Scott Hartnell and Mike Richards for a few games.

“Last game it went pretty well with Powe, so hopefully next game with Powe and Laliberte will go pretty well,” said Giroux.

“I played with Laliberte in the AHL (last season) and we had pretty good chemistry. He works pretty hard, so we’re pretty excited for tomorrow.”

A native of St-Liboire, Quebec, Laliberte has two goals and five assists for seven points in 10 games with the Phantoms this season. His seven points ties him for third on Adirondack in scoring. In parts of three seasons of play in the AHL (2007-08 to 2009-10), Laliberte has recorded 64 points (33g,31a) and 66 penalty minutes in 107 games, all with the Phantoms.

Scoring early

One stat that jumps out after 17 games this season, is that the Flyers have opened the scoring in 14 of those games. It’s one of the biggest reasons the team is 11-5-1 so far (and 11-2-1 when scoring first).

“Our team has done a great job this year of keeping the game simple early, getting pucks deep, and for the most part not taking penalties,” said John Stevens. “It helps your start, it helps everybody get into the flow of the game, and it helps your team play with a lot of energy early on.

“Our starts this year have been great, and been a big factor in our early success this year.”

One final note from today’s practice is that Mike Richards did not skate, taking a “maintenance day,” according to Stevens. He will be fine for the game tomorrow.

Game replay

If you’re unable to catch tomorrow’s Kings game at its scheduled time, you can catch the replay on The Comcast Network at 6:00 a.m. on November 19, or on Comcast SportsNet at 7:00 p.m. on November 19.

Monday, November 16

11:08 p.m.
It didn’t take long for Claude Giroux to make John Stevens look good.

Stevens moved the sophomore forward to the center position between Arron Asham and Darroll Powe for the game, while also moving Mika Pyorala to the wing on the Mike Richards-Scott Hartnell line.

Just 7:11 into tonight’s matchup with the New Jersey Devils at the Wachovia Center, Giroux made a gorgeous pass to Powe for an easy goal to give Philadelphia the 1-0 lead.

Giroux later added another assist on Scott Hartnell’s tally on the power play – a good sign that the sophomore forward could start picking up his scoring pace after finishing last season on a tear. He now has 10 points (1g, 9a) in 17 games this season.

Stevens has said over and over again from training camp that he likes Giroux in the middle, allowing the quick playmaker to use his tremendous vision and passing skills to generate offense. He started the year with James van Riemsdyk as one of his wingers before van Riemsdyk suffered an upper body injury that caused him to miss a few games. Since that time, Giroux has had a number of different linemates and played both center and wing.

“I liked him last year in the middle, [and] I like him this year,” said Stevens. “It's a credit to him, he's worked hard in the faceoff circle but I think he has that ability to bounce around like a lot of our guys do.”

Powe was the immediate beneficiary of the move, scoring his sixth goal of the season.

“[Giroux is] a talented player. He creates open ice, and all you have to do is go to the net, and he’s going to find you,” he said. “He’s good with the puck in open ice, and being in the middle gives him a lot more room to maneuver.”

Stevens was also happy with Pyorala, who probably should have scored on a setup from Richards with Brodeur looking the wrong way. Unfortunately for him, his shot hit Brodeur in the backside and the Finland native remains without a regulation goal.

“He could've had a couple goals, but he's just having a hard time finding the net,” said Stevens. “But, he's getting great chances and doing a lot of good things.”

Asham injured

The Flyers suffered a casualty in the game, when it was learned that forward Arron Asham would miss up to two weeks with a left oblique strain and did not accompany the team on its post-game charter flight. Philadelphia recalled forward David Laliberte, who will meet the team in Los Angeles tomorrow.

Laliberte has two goals in three games with the Flyers after filling in for van Riemsdyk last week.

Some other notes from tonight’s 3-2 win…

- The Flyers arae the first team to hand the Devils a road loss this season, ending New Jersey’s bid to tie the NHL record for 10 consecutive road wins to start a season, held by the Buffalo Sabres (2006-07).

- The Flyers have won six of their last seven games, going 6-1-0 and outscoring their opponents 28-12. They have outscored opponents 7-1 in the first period and 17-6 through the first two period. The Flyers have scored the game’s first goal in 14 of 17 games this season.

- Philadelphia completed its four-game home stand with a 3-1-0 record, and overall has an 8-3-1 mark on home ice.

- Tonight was the 200th all-time meeting with the New Jersey franchise. The Flyers own a record of 95-79-18-8 and 60-27-10-4 mark in Philadelphia.

- Mike Richards increased his point total to 25 pts (5g, 20a) in 30 career games against New Jersey.

- Scott Hartnell leads the Flyers in power-play goals (6). All six of his goals have come with the man advantage.

1:39 p.m.
Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk will return to the lineup tonight after a one-game absence with the flu. He took part in the full-team morning skate today at the Wachovia Center as the team prepares for its game against the New Jersey Devils tonight (7:00 p.m., Versus, Tickets).

“It’s a night-and-day difference between the last two days and today,” he said. “I’ve been feeling a lot better. It’s good to be back on the ice instead of sitting in bed.”

Van Riemsdyk, who is tied for second in the league in scoring among rookies with 15 points (despite playing seven games less than the leader, the Islanders’ John Tavares, who has 18 points), will be back on a line with Jeff Carter and Danny Briere.

He’s also looking forward to the extended road trip that begins with a cross-country flight to Los Angeles immediately following tonight’s game.

“It’s definitely a huge thrill. Kansas, I think, is the farthest West I’ve been,” he said. “It will be pretty cool to see the whole country. I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean. It will be great to go out there and see those buildings and the atmosphere out there. It’s obviously a different experience, so that will be a pretty big thrill.”

The road trip also takes the Flyers to San Jose, Phoenix, Denver and Long Island.

One notable change for tonight is that sophomore forward Claude Giroux, who has one goal on the year, will be placed in the middle of wingers Arron Asham and Darroll Powe. Giroux had been playing wing with Mike Richards in the middle and Scott Hartnell on the other side.

Stevens thinks Giroux’s game is more suited at the center position.

“I think ideally, he’s most comfortable in the middle and plays his best hockey there, so we’re going to move him back there for tonight,” said the head coach.

“He’s played very well with Ash before, and he’s played some with Powe before, and we feel like it gives us four really good lines and four lines than can all check and contribute offensively. He’ll still get his power play minutes with Richie and play four-on-four, and play in key situations like he has up until now.”

Mika Pyorala will take Giroux's place on the wing with Richards and Hartnell.

Finally, Stevens talked about how his team is approaching the Devils tonight. New Jersey will be trying to tie the NHL record for most road wins at the start of the season with 10.

They also lead the Atlantic Division with 28 points, seven more than Philadelphia.

“We’re just looking at it as a game against a team ahead of us in the division and the conference,” said Stevens. “I always look forward to these Devils-Flyers matchups. Obviously, there’s a lot at stake and a little more extra motivation [for New Jersey], but there’s a lot at stake for us, as well. I’d anticipate it would have an effect on our readiness to play.”

Saturday, November 14

10:32 p.m.
Despite losing 3-2 on Saturday night against Buffalo to break their winning streak, the Philadelphia Flyers were happy with their effort in what was one of the more entertaining games played this season at the Wachovia Center.

The Sabres are proving to be one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, and the Flyers have now split two games with the Ryan Miller-led club, including a 5-2 win in Buffalo last week. It’s likely the teams will be battling for playoff position for most of the year.

The Flyers kept coming at the Sabres despite trailing for most of the game, scoring twice in the third period, but couldn’t quite tie it up. The loss ended their five-game winning streak.

“I think the game had a lot of intensity,” said John Stevens. “You have two teams who are really fighting for position in the conference. I think we made it harder there by playing catch-up with the penalties in the first period, and I just think we got frustrated. Then we allowed them to get a little momentum, but I really thought we responded in a good way. We did everything but tie the hockey game.”

“It’s disappointing, but I thought we played well,” said Mike Richards. “The effort was there which was encouraging, and we never quit. The game could have gone either way.”

The Flyers were also on the wrong end of some bad-luck penalties, which hurt their momentum at times, according to the captain.

“I don’t know if they were retaliatory [penalties] tonight,” he said. “I thought it was some bad luck. Penalties with [the opponent’s] sticks breaking is just bad luck. You’re not going to get a good batch of sticks every time.”

Some other notes from tonight’s game…

- With his goal in tonight’s game, Chris Pronger now has a six-game point streak, recording seven assists and nine points… Pronger has recorded at least a point in 12 of his first 16 games of the season and as a Flyer.

- Jeff Carter leads the Flyers in scoring with 19 points… He has recorded points in five of his last six games (3G,6A)… His goal tonight was the Flyers’ first shorthanded goal of the season.

- With an assist in tonight’s game, Kimmo Timonen recorded his 400th point in the NHL… Timonen has recorded at least an assist in six of his last seven games (7A).

4:40 p.m.

James van Riemsdyk will miss tonight’s game against Buffalo with the flu, head coach John Stevens announced moments ago.

“He woke up this morning and was fighting the flu. It was a little bit different than what the other guys had. There was a little more nausea, and that kind of stuff,” said Stevens.

“He’s got to get some rest. The case with the guys before was a low-grade fatigue more than anything else. They got some rest and they felt good again quickly. [Flyers trainer] Jimmy [McCrossin] is going to touch base with [van Riemsdyk] before the game here to see how he’s doing.”

Several Flyers have battled the flu in the past couple weeks including Matt Carle, Dan Carcillo, Danny Briere, Ryan Parent and Arron Asham.

As for the lines tonight, look for Darroll Powe or Mika Pyorala to take the place of van Riemsdyk on the Carter-Briere line. Riley Cote will be inserted into the lineup for the first time since October 27.

Van Riemsdyk is tied for third on the team in scoring with 15 points (4g, 11a). He is second in the league in scoring among rookies.

Friday, November 13

3:33 p.m.
Winning five straight games, the Flyers' longest such streak since December 2008, and outscoring their opponents 27-8 in the process, takes a number of things falling into place.

One of those, of course, is the power play. Philadelphia continues to have the league's top-ranked power play at 27.9 percent through Thursday night's NHL games. During the winning streak, the Flyers have a 31.5 percent success rate (6-for-19).

FlyersTV: Pronger/Kimmo/Parent | Stevens

Chris Pronger's presence allows the Flyers to have two strong power play units, with the former Hart Trophy winner acting as the quarterback with one group and Kimmo Timonen doing the same on another. Pronger thinks that both units bring a different dimension while the team is on the man advantage, and that has made it more difficult for the opposition to defend.

"Both units are different, and that's good," said Pronger. "It gives opposing teams a different look. Preparing for two separate units that do two different things is difficult. Usually a penalty kill wants to do one thing and prepare one way, and when you've got different units doing different things out there, it poses a problem."

Pronger's rocket slap shot and precision passes have helped him accumulate 16 points on the season, third in the league among blueliners, and has been arguably the best defenseman in the NHL so far regardless of if he's on the power play or not. Timonen doesn't have quite as many points (11), but constantly has his feet moving while looking for open teammates.

"Pronger and Timonen, in my opinion, are two of the better back-end guys in the league on the power play, and they seem to always make the right play, have a lot of composure up top there, and it kind of sets up everyone else away from the puck."

Busy schedule

There's no denying that the Flyers' schedule has been quirky so far this year, to say the least. They have already had two five-day breaks between games; one four-day break; and two more three-day layoffs.

That is now behind them, as Philadelphia plays nine games in 15 days beginning with tomorrow night's matchup with the Buffalo Sabres (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets). The players are excited about the hectic pace that is about to start.

"I think it's a good thing. [I] would rather play games than practice, personally," said Timonen. It's going to be a tough stretch down the road, but I think we're ready for that. There's been a lot of breaks, and that's actually tough."

Stevens doesn't necessarily mind the early breaks, though, giving him time to hammer out certain things he wants to address during the ample practice time that is available.

"We've tried to use the stretched out schedule in the beginning to work on our team game, get our conditioning up and get healthy," said the head coach. "Now, you have to manage your rest when you get into this many games.

"That will be the challenge as we get into this next stretch of games."

Parent ready

All indications point to Ryan Parent's return to the lineup tomorrow against Buffalo. Parent suffered a lower body injury back on October 16, missed four games, and then re-aggriaved the injury on October 31. He has been out of game action ever since.

"I'm feeling good. I haven't been told whether I'm playing or not, but I'm feeling pretty good," said Parent, who has been taking part in full practices since Monday.

"If [Flyers trainer] Jimmy [McCrossin] says go, he's in," said Stevens.

Oskars Bartulis, who made his NHL debut on Thursday night, would likely come out of the lineup should Parent make his return.

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen remains out with a mild concussion.

Turkey time

The Flyers and Classic Rock 102.9 WMGK are encouraging fans to bring a frozen turkey or coupon for a free turkey with them for Saturday's game. Donation bins will be located at the 11th and Broad Street entrances of the Wachovia Center, beginning at 5:30 p.m. All fans who donate a turkey will receive passes for a free ice skating session at any of the four Flyers Skate Zone locations, plus a 10 percent discount at the Fan Gear store inside the Wachovia Center, and discount coupons for both Flyers December home games and the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival.

Thursday, November 12

10:40 p.m.
The soft-spoken Ray Emery didn't want to admit it, but this game meant a little bit more than some of the others.

Asked about it all week since the Flyers hadn't played a game since last Saturday, Emery remained politcally correct when the topic of facing his former club for the first time was brought up by local media, saying that he just wanted to get the win and it wasn't any different than any other of the 82 games.

After the 5-1 win was in the books, his reaction was still somewhat reserved, but there was no question he was glad to come out with the W against his former teammates and friends.

"Those are fun ones to play. Definitely, nerves are going," he said. "It’s a different situation but it’s two good teams and a little personal story for myself.”

Even if he didn't want to admit it, his teammates all sensed this game was an important one for their goaltender, who is now 10-3-1 with a sterling 2.18 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

"It was special. There was a lot the last couple days about him facing the Sens again for the first time," said Danny Briere, who made a triumphant return with a pair of goals after missing the last four games with a lower body injury.

"We're happy for him. He's been playing well, he's been a great teammate so far for us this year, so it's good to give that back to him."

Emery certainly appreciated the effort.

"I think you could see out there that we played an amazing defensive game. The boys, I thought, we’re really mindful of that and sacrificed a bit and then started to roll and buried our chances.”

Betts, linemates continue production

Whether it's a coincidence or not, the Flyers improved to 8-0 when Blair Betts is in the lineup. The gritty centerman got hurt in the Flyers' third game of the season, and returned just in time for the beginning of the current five-game winning streak after being out for a stretch with a dislocated shoulder.

He tallied his first goal of the season tonight by banking the puck in off of goaltender Pascal Leclaire in the second period to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.

"You play a half dozen games or so and you are kind of wondering when that first one is going to get in and you can start feeling good," he said. "It was a simple play. I think the goalie made a little bit of a misread there and wanted to play the puck but didn’t and it ended up just banking off of him.
His shoulder hasn't been bothering him and his line, which also consists of Ian Laperierre and Dan Carcillo, continues to be effective, with six points in the last three games.

Other notes from the Flyers' fifth straight win...

- The Flyers own a 10-4-1 record for 21 points and a 7-2-1 mark on home ice. It is the quickest the Flyers have hit 10 wins since the 2005-06 season.

- The Flyers have won five straight games, having also outscored their opponent 23-7 (not including shootout goals). The last time the Flyers owned a five-game winning streak was Dec. 6 to Dec. 16, 2008.

- Chris Pronger now has a five-game assist & point streak, recording seven assists and eight points.

- With his goal in the second period, James van Riemsdyk has recorded at least a point in five of his last six games (3G,5A) and in 10 of his first 13 games in the NHL. He is currently tied for the NHL lead among all NHL rookies in points (15).

- Defenseman Oskars Bartulis made his NHL debut for the Flyers tonight. He is the fourth player this season to make his NHL debut with the Flyers.

Wednesday, November 11

3:42 p.m.
It appears that Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk will be good to go tomorrow against Ottawa (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets), but Ryan Parent and Ole-Krisitan Tollefsen will continue to rest in the hopes of playing on Saturday against Buffalo (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

All four took part in practice today at the Skate Zone.

"It's encouraging they are all back on the ice and are full participants in practice. We'll hopefully get them all back at some point this weekend," said John Stevens.

Ray Emery will be facing his old team for the first time since the Ottawa Senators bought him out, FlyersTV's Tim Saunders sat down with the goaltender today after the skate. To see that interview, click here.

Emery's .922 save percentage places him ninth in the league in that category, while his 2.27 goals-against average is 10th overall.

Tuesday, November 10

2:20 p.m.
There was good news on the injury front today as the Flyers practiced once again at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

The entire team took to the ice this morning, except for Simon Gagne, and all said they felt good afterwards. That includes Danny Briere, who has been battling a lower body injury and missed the last four games, and James van Riemsdyk, who suffered a broken/cut pinkie finger from a Jeff Carter shot on Saturday and had to leave the game against the Blues prematurely.

FlyersTV: Briere/JVR | Stevens

"I felt pretty good. I was able to do all of the drills that we had to do today," said Briere. "That was just my first practice, but I'm very happy with the way it went."

The biggest scare when Briere got hurt was that it was a re-occurance of his groin problems that kept him from playing the majority of last season. The center-turned-winger was never 100 percent after getting hurt early last year, and worked hard this summer to come into camp in tip-top shape. It has shown in his play, as Briere has five goals and two assists in 10 games.

"Last year when I had my problem it was right in the crease (between his leg and hip), or in the abdominal area," he said, pointing to the place where he required surgery. "This wasn't near any of that stuff. Even right when it happened, I wasn't worried that it was something related to what happened last year."

Briere's status for Thursday's game against Ottawa is unclear (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

"I can't really say at this point. I have to talk to the medical staff," he said.

Van Riemsdyk's chances to play seem better than Briere's at this point. One of NHL's leading scorers among rookies (his 14 points ties him with Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly, despite the fact he has played six fewer games), van Riemsdyk will have to get used to playing with a little bit of discomfort in his hand for the time being.

"It's just something that, mentally, you've got to push yourself through," said van Riemsdyk.

"[I] have to kind of adjust [my] grip a little bit, [but] it's probably better that it was this finger than the thumb or one of the main fingers."

Ryan Parent (lower body) and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (mild concussion) also skated for the duration of practice, and John Stevens was non-commital about all of his injured players after the skate when asked about their playing status.

"I think tomorrow will be the true test after they recover. They skated pretty hard today," said the head coach. "It's certainly good to see everybody back in practice participating full-out."

Working on shootouts

The Flyers struggles in shootouts since the beginning of the 2005-06 season have been well documented, but so far this season, the team is 2-1 when a game goes past overtime. That includes Saturday's win over St. Louis.

Still, Stevens and the team took part in a shootout drill at the end of the skate today, with the losing team doing pushups afterwards.

"We've tried to put in some kind of a challenge, where there's repercussions at the end and consequences," he said. "Guys have to do a little physical workout or something at the end of it. We've had some success in the shootouts lately with that routine, so we've stuck with it."

Two names come to the forefront when talking about the Flyers' early success in shootouts - Claude Giroux, who has two goals on two tries with a pair of dazzling moves; and Ray Emery, who has made the key saves when needed.

"I don't think it's an exact science. A guy like Giroux has come in and scored a few, and Ray has made some big saves," said Stevens.

On The Fly will return on Tuesday, November 10.

: Betts/Bartulis/Parent | Stevens

Saturday, November 7

11:06 p.m.
The flu bug making its way through the locker room. Several of your top forwards out of the lineup already, and a few more injuries during the course of the game. Flying home late the night before to face a rested opponent.

All of these would normally add up to a tough night on the ice. The Flyers, however, managed to gut out a 2-1 win over St. Louis and increase their winning streak to a season-high four games.

"We played a hard game, a physical game," said Scott Hartnell, who scored a power play goal for the fourth time in the last five games. "We knew they were hungry for a win. Right from Razor [Ray Emery] through the D [defense] to the forwards, we battled hard even though it took an extra five minutes and the shootout to win.”

"It’s great to see us win one like that on the road in Buffalo (on Friday), and then come back with very little rest, grind it out and win a really physical, hard-fought game," added John Stevens. "It was two totally different games, but certainly pleasing to see our guys respond the way they did.”

One of the keys to the winning streak has been the play of goaltender Ray Emery, who collected his ninth win of the year and lowered his goals-against average to 2.22. His save percentage is an impressive .922.

"He’s keeping us in games and making the saves that he needs to make," said Chris Pronger.

Unfortunately, the Flyers suffered a couple more injuries along the way. James van Riemsdyk cut his pinkie finger and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen was diagnosed with a mild concussion, according to general manager Paul Holmgren. The team is still without Danny Briere and Ryan Parent, who have lower body injuries.

"Tollefsen has a mild concussion and the fact that he’s had them before, we just kept him out of the game, obviously," said Holmgren. "We’ll see where he is tomorrow, but he’ll be out for a little bit, anyway.

"James [van Riemsdyk] is in the training room right now getting his left pinky finger stitched up. He got hit with Jeff [Carter's] shot and it’s a nasty cut…probably a little break on the end, too. I would say he’s probably day-to-day.”

The Flyers will have an off day tomorrow before reconvening for practice in Voorhees on Monday at 11:00 a.m.

Other notes from the game...

- Mika Pyorala is the fifth player in the history of the NHL to have scored a shootout game-winning goal before recording his first goal in the NHL.

- The Flyers now own a 9-4-1 record for 19 points and a 6-2-1 mark on home ice.
- Tonight’s shootout victory is just the third time in Flyers history that they have won consecutive shootouts, and first time since Jan. 16 & Mar. 28, 2009.
- The Flyers have also outscored their opponents 18-6 (not including shootout goals) during the four-game winning streak. The last time the Flyers owned a four-game winning streak was when they had a five-game win streak from Dec. 6 to Dec. 16, 2008.
- The Flyers all-time record vs. the Blues now sits at 83-39-17-0, including a 47-12-10-0 mark on home ice.
- With an assist in tonight’s game, Chris Pronger extended his point streak to four straight games, posting six points (1G,5A), he has also recorded a plus/minus rating of +7 during that stretch… Pronger has registered at least a point in 10 of his last 13 games, scoring all 14 of his points (3G,11A) in that span.
- Scott Hartnell has recorded a goal in four of his last five games, posting eight points (4G,4A) during that stretch.

Friday, November 6

11:23 p.m.
John Stevens has never liked "ranking" his lines. After all, in today's NHL, it's important to have scoring balance throughout all of your forward groups.

That was evident on Friday night in Buffalo, when the trio of Dan Carcillo, Blair Betts and Ian Laperierre combined for two goals and three assists while players such as Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux were kept off of the scoresheet in the 5-2 win over the first-place Sabres.

After the game, he was asked about the so-called fourth line - which had just a combined three points before tonight's win.

"I'm not sure who you're referring to as the fourth line," he said. When told it was the Carcillo-Betts-Laperriere line, which seemed to be all over the place providing energy, physical play and offense, he said: "That line has been tremendous. Tonight, more than other nights, they created a lot of offensive opportunities just from really good work below the goal line and playing really good defensive hockey. It's nice to see that line get rewarded with a couple goals."

Carcillo notched his first two-goal game as a Flyer (albeit one of them an empty-netter), and was perhaps the most effective forward on the ice for Philadelphia.

"We play the same type of game, and just compliment each other really well," he said of his linemates after the game.

"It's fun to play with guys like Betts and Carcillo," said Laperriere. "They work hard, you know what to expect, they go to the net, and that's what happened with Daniel's goals. He was just in the right place by hard work. It worked tonight."

The win overall was maybe the Flyers' biggest victory of the young season. Buffalo suffered just its second regulation home loss of the year in eight games, and was supposed to be a much harder challenge than Carolina and Tampa Bay, whom the Flyers had defeated handily in their previous two games by a combined 12-3 score.

They will go for their fourth straight win on Saturday night at home against St. Louis (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets).

"Buffalo's been a hot team all year and this was a real good test for us," said Stevens. "I thought we came in here with a real team effort."

"You want to get on a roll. You want to get those points, especially before Christmas," added Laperriere.

1:28 p.m.

The Flyers held their morning skate today at HSBC Arena in which the whole team took part, in preparation for tonight's game against the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m., TCN).

Matt Carle, who had been stricken with the flu for the past two days, declared himself fine to play tonight.

"I'm getting better every day. The days I missed practice it seemed like it was just getting worse and worse, but the last day or day-and-a-half I've been getting better," he told me this morning. "I'll just keep things simple, take short shifts and get my legs going."

Carle enters the game tied for eighth in the league for scoring among defensemen with 12 points (2g, 10a).

With Carle healthy, John Stevens will dress the same lineup tonight as he has for the previous two games, both victories. That means Ray Emery will be in the net and David Laliberte, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Danny Svyret will all play.

Stevens also gave a brief update on Danny Briere, who remains out at least through tomorrow night's home game against St. Louis. Already battling a lower body injury, Briere was hit hard by the flu this week.

"He probably got hit with the flu bug worse than most of the guys, so he's been away from the rink a little bit and not able to do all his rehab," said Stevens. "We're hopeful that after the weekend he'll get back skating and join the team at some point next week and hopefully be back soon."

Thursday, November 5

4:21 p.m.
After a shortened practice session yesterday due to a flu outbreak, the Flyers gathered at their practice facility today to prepare for Friday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Newtork). Everyone who was too sick to skate yesterday was in attendance today, except for defenseman Matt Carle, who met the team charter later in the afternoon with the hopes of being able to go on Friday.

FlyersTV: Hartnell/Syvret | Stevens

Danny Briere and Ryan Parent, still nursing lower body injuries, will not be available to play against the Sabres.

"We'll have to do much like we did the last two games and try and use our whole bench," said John Stevens after practice. "We'll utilize everybody that's playing in our lineup."

The Sabres, who always seem to be in the mix in the Eastern Conference, are off to a hot start with an 9-2-1 record after barely missing the playoffs last year. Their 19 points puts them in first place in the Northeast Division.

"I think Buffalo has got one of the better offensive attacks in the league," said Stevens. "They really pressure you in the offensive zone, and [Ryan] Miller has really proven to be one of the upper echelon goalies in the league.

"I think the big change in Buffalo this year has been their ability to keep the puck out of their net. I think they've always been a good offensive team, but it seems they're more committed to playing defense right now then they maybe were in the past and I think it's showing in their record."

Miller, a leading candidate to be Team USA's goaltender in the 2010 Olympics, leads the NHL with a .941 save percentage, and is tied for fourth in wins with nine. Buffalo allows just 2.0 goals per game; the fewest in the league.

The Sabres will likely pose more of a threat than the Flyers' last two opponents in which Philadelphia won by a combined 12-3 score (6-1 over Carolina on Saturday; 6-2 over Tampa Bay on Monday).

"They're a pretty offensive-minded team," said defenseman Danny Syvret. "Their D are up on the rush all of the time, and their forwards are really creative off the rush. We have to be strong back-checking and have good placement with our dumps."

"They have some really skilled forwards and I heard their goalie is playing pretty well, so we're going to have our work cut out for us," added Scott Hartnell.

Ray Emery, 4-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average in his last five starts, will get the call in net for Philadelphia. The Flyers host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night (7:00 p.m., CSN, Tickets), but Stevens would not comment on who would be between the pipes for that game.

Philadelphia was a perfect 4-0 against Buffalo last season. ... The Sabres do not have anyone in the Top 30 in the league in scoring, but have seven players with at least three goals. ... Briere skated by himself on Tuesday for about 30 minutes. "He just wanted to get on the ice and kind of skate around at half-speed," said Stevens.

Wednesday, November 4

2:31 p.m.
The Flyers convened this morning at the Skate Zone to resume practice after a day off yesterday, but the crew on the ice was noticeably smaller than usual. The reason? No fewer than five players have the flu and were sent home, while several more are battling through symptoms.

FlyersTV: Timonen/Laliberte | Stevens

Matt Carle, Dan Carcillo, Arron Asham, Danny Briere and Ryan Parent all were unable to practice today with the illness (although Parent was not going to participate anyway as he battles a lower body injury).

John Stevens also mentioned that assistant coach Joe Mullen wasn’t at practice, and that players like Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere are not feeling 100 percent. The team skate was a little more brief than usual lasting a little more than 40 minutes, and Stevens canceled a post-practice dryland session that had been on the agenda.

“We decided just to lighten up practice a little bit, and get everybody who wasn’t feeling well outta here,” explained the head coach. “When practice was over we had a dryland scheduled, but to have them all hang out in the same room, we thought was not a good idea. So, we wanted to get them off the ice, get them out of here, and get as much rest as possible.”

Chris Pronger, ever the veteran, was seen walking around the facility with a surgical mask.

“Maybe that’s the way to go,” said Stevens.

There was no word as of this afternoon if the Flyers would recall anyone from Adirondack for Friday’s game against the 8-2-1 Buffalo Sabres.

Special teams thriving

As of Wednesday morning, the Flyers own the league’s top power play percentage at 28.1 percent. The penalty kill is not too far behind in terms of success, checking in at 86.5 percent – good for fifth in the NHL.

According to Kimmo Timonen, the success with the man advantage comes from having two strong units and getting players in front of the net. Timonen and Braydon Coburn man the points on one line, while Chris Pronger and Matt Carle have had success together as the other pair.

“If we have a shot we’re going to take that shot [from the point], but the [forwards] are doing a great job in front,” said Timonen. “Nowadays, if there’s nobody in front you can’t score, I don’t care how good your power play is. [You want to] get one or two guys in front of the goalie and you’ll get rebounds or screen the goalie. We’ve done a good job doing that.”

Among those forwards recently is Scott Hartnell, who is proving to be a force on the power play the club was hoping for since Mike Knuble departed for Washington as a free agent. Hartnell has four goals on the year, all on the power play, tying him for the team lead in that category with Mike Richards. He has scored a power play goal in three consecutive games.

The penalty kill has been just as effective, thanks largely in part to the additions of players like Blair Betts and Ian Laperriere, who thrive in those situations and are fearless when getting in front of shots and sacrificing their bodies.

Also of note is that the Flyers are, coincidentally or not, 5-0 when Betts is in the lineup. He missed seven games with a dislocated shoulder he suffered late in the home opener on October 6, and the team went just 2-4-1 without him.

History for Laliberte?

Flyers rookie forward David Laliberte will try and make history on Friday night in Buffalo. No player has ever scored a goal in his first three NHL games in franchise history, but Laliberte will get that opportunity against the Sabres. As we mentioned on Monday, Laliberte is the first player to score in his first two NHL games since Eric Lindros back in October of 1992.

Of course, Laliberte is still just living the dream, and hoping to stick around.

“I don’t think about [the record]. I just want to keep my game simple, drive the net, and play strong defensively and we’ll see after that,” he said after Wednesday’s skate.

“I just try to work hard and improve every day. It’s my goal to stay here as long as I can.”

When training camp began, Laliberte was not among the players that were thought to have a shot at making the club or be among the first of the recalls. After all, current Adirondack Phantoms like Jared Ross and Jonathon Kalinski had some success playing NHL games last year, and other guys like Pat Maroon were thought to be closer to the pros than Laliberte.

But, that’s what camp is for.

“In training camp, everyone thought that he really made progress,” said Stevens. “We thought he would be a guy that could play games and help us this year.

“We put him on a line with Carter and [James] van Riemsdyk, and he compliments those guys well. He’s a straight-line player who gets to the net and shoots the puck well. He’s really taken advantage of that opportunity. He’s been a really responsible player without the puck as well, which allows him to get more ice time.”

Monday, November 2

8:37 p.m.

With three assists on the night, Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk has taken over the scoring lead among NHL rookies. His two goals and 11 assists on the year give him 13 points; one more than Rangers rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

He was asked about it after tonight’s 6-2 win over Tampa Bay, and answered the question like a veteran, putting the importance on the victory rather than any personal statistics.

“I didn’t really have expectations coming into this year. I just wanted to come in, work hard, and chip in where I could and just help the team win,” he said. “We’ve gotten some wins here the last couple of games and now we just have to keep the streak going.”

With Danny Briere and Simon Gagne out of the lineup, players like van Riemsdyk will be counted on more heavily to fill that scoring gap. The first three-point night of his career, and six points in the last three games is certainly a good way to start.

“It’s a team game out there and they’re two huge parts of our team, obviously,” he said. “When they go down it’s up to all of us to pick it up, and pick up the slack.”

David Laliberte, recalled from Adirondack before Saturday’s win over Carolina, also got on the board for the second straight game, becoming the first Flyer to score in his first two NHL games since Eric Lindros in 1992.

“Gagne and Briere are always welcome in your lineup because they’re going to score all year long consistently, but it’s great to see the Laliberte’s and van Riemsdyk’s and these guys take advantage of the extra ice time and use it as an opportunity,” said John Stevens.

Some other notes from tonight’s win…

With the win, the Flyers improve their record to 7-4-1 for 15 points, including a 5-2-1 record at home, where they have won four of their last five contests.

- Six players recorded multiple points in tonight’s game, four of which have posted three-point nights (Carter, Richards, Hartnell, van Riemsdyk).

- Hartnell recorded his second consecutive three-point game, posting a goal and two assist in the win over Tampa Bay… Hartnell has also recorded points in four of his last five contests for eight points (3G,5A).

- Richards posted his second three-point game, and fourth multi-point game of the year… He leads the Flyers in goals (8) and points (15), and also has a three-game point streak (2G,3A).

- The Flyers improved their record to 36-22-8-2 all-time against the Tampa Bay Lightning, including 17-8-7-2 on home ice.

10:34 a.m.

With the early start today, the Flyers opted to practice yesterday morning at the Skate Zone and will not have a morning skate.

Expect Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday, to be re-inserted back into the lineup for tonight's game as defenseman Ryan Parent will be out with a lower body injury. Paul Holmgren said yesterday after practice that Parent will be shut down for a week after re-injuring himself on Saturday. He had missed the previous four games.

Danny Briere is also out for tonight, which is never good news, but Holmgren said yesterday that Briere's current injury is not related to his groin issues that kept him out for the majority of last season. Briere will hopefully get back onto the ice this week, and would no doubt love to play against his old team in Buffalo on Friday night.

As for Simon Gagne, there is still no timeframe for his recovery as of this morning.