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On The Fly archives:
2007-08 Season // 2008-09 Season // 2009-10 Season
2010-11 Season: Sept. 2010 // Oct. 2010 // Nov. 2010 // Dec. 2010 // Jan. 2011

Roster Schedule Flyers TV
2010-11 Media Guide

February 28
7:18 p.m.

Although no move was made on this deadline day in Phila., the other piece of the depth puzzle for the Flyers arrived for his first practice.

Nick Boynton spoke to the media today for the first time since being plucked off of waivers on Saturday and made no bones about it – he’s glad to be wearing Orange & Black at this time of year.

“Whatever they need,” said Boynton when asked what he wants to bring to the Flyers. “I’ve been around a bit and this is a great team and a great organization. I know personally my goal is to win and this team’s goal is to win and they definitely have the players to do it, so I’m just trying to help out in any way that I can.”

  Laviolette // Boynton // Pronger

Boynton has been in this situation before and hopes that history repeats itself.

He was placed on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks in February last year, and was picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks for their stretch run and playoffs.

“Well he certainly was that person in Chicago last season,” added Holmgren. “When they acquired him late in the year from Anaheim, they put him in the minor leagues and brought him up when they needed him and he was with them throughout the playoff run.

He played in seven regular season games and three Stanley Cup playoffs games for the Hawks, including Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final, in which Chicago beat Philadelphia 4-3 in overtime to claim the Cup.

With already 41 games under his belt this season, Boynton comes to Philadelphia healthy and ready to jump in.

“I thought he looked good. He told me at the end that he hadn’t skated, so he jumped into a practice that was moving up-and-down with a lot of competitive battles,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “So I think to be able to jump into the playoffs like that… you know he’s a veteran defenseman, who’s been around and has played a lot of games. That’s a good pick up that adds a lot more depth to our back end especially with out situation.”

It is that depth that Holmgren has set out to acquire immediately following Game Six of the Final and with Boynton has secured to give the Flyers the pieces to take another memorable run at a Stanley Cup Title.

“I know he talked to Peter [Laviolette] today and he said ‘I’m willing to do whatever you guys need, I’ll play when you need me and I’ll be a guys guy when you don’t need me, so that’s perfect,” said Holmgren.

Day-to-Day with injuries, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and center Blair Betts took part in a full-contact practice today for the first time since being out of the line up.

For Pronger, he suffered his injury towards the end of the Flyers’ 4-3 OT win vs. NY Islanders on Feb. 24, causing him to miss their last game at Ottawa on Saturday.

“From what I gathered, he was fine today,” said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. “His strength is coming back and I know he made it through a difficult practice, so I would say he should be good by Thursday.”

Betts has been out of actions since receiving stitches to his hand after blocking a shot during the Flyers-Hurricanes match on Feb. 18. He has missed the last four games, but is confident of his return on Thursday vs. Toronto.

"That's still the plan," said Betts. "We're still optimistic about that. We have two more days to hopefully see more improvement in it and each day I'll go out on the ice and see how it feels."

“Blair’s tough. I’d be surprised if he’s not ready to play on Thursday,” added Holmgren.

February 26
11:27 p.m.

  Laviolette // Boucher

Following the Flyers’ 4-1 loss at Ottawa, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced that they have loaned defenseman Erik Gustafsson back down to the Phantoms and recalled left wing James van Riemsdyk.

van Riemsdyk was loaned to Adirondack earlier in the day to make space for the acquisition of defenseman Nick Boynton.

Gustafsson in his NHL debut
For the third time this season the Flyers had a rookie make his NHL debut.

After a close call in late December when he was first called up to the big club, Erik Gustafsson finally played in his first NHL game.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Gustafsson after the first period. “I was really nervous and made a few turnovers that I usually won’t, but I guess you have to learn as you go on.”

Gustafsson took 22 shifts for a total of 16:06 of ice time, while spending four minutes in the penalty box in his debut.

The 22-year-old native of Kvissleby, Sweden is among the Flyers’ top prospects and is showing it with the team’s primary affiliate in Adirondack.

He is tied for the team lead in scoring with five goals an 28 assists for 33 points in 53 games. The 28 assists rank first among AHL rookies.

As for his first impressions of the NHL?

“It’s a lot faster, a lot quick, so you just have to keep it simple.”

* * *
2:04 p.m.

In order to make roster space for tonight's Flyers-Senators game following the acquisition of Nick Boynton, the Flyers have loaned James van Riemsdyk to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

The 21-year-old van Riemsdyk has 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points in 55 games this season for the Flyers. Recently he has recorded points in four of his last six games posting five points (3G-2A) in that span. van Riemsdy will miss his first Flyers game since Jan. 25 vs. Montreal. Overall, this will be the seventh game he has missed in 2010-11.

February 25
6:30 p.m.

Chris Pronger did not participate in this morning’s practice at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone, however there are no signs of concern from his teammates or by the coaching staff.

“He’s an important piece of the puzzle,” said Laviolette. “I’d much rather have him out there, but I think its better to be safe than sorry.”

As a precautionary measure the Flyers recalled 22-year-old defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who Laviolette believes if necessary, will have no issues adjusting to the system in place.

“I think they’re doing a lot of the same things down there that we do up here, so I don’t think that there’s too much… obviously we review everything, we’ll go over it, we get the pre-game scout and I think decisions will be made later on as to whether or not he plays.

“He only played a few games here. I know he’s had a good year down there, he moves the puck well, he sees the ice well, but it would be his first opportunity up here.”

The Flyers maintain an eight-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 86 points, which is also one point shy of the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the NHL.

So it’s kind of scary to think that the mindset of the coach and the players are that they still need to improve and haven’t shown the fans their true potential.

“We can play better. There’s no question,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “At times I think we play okay. We played pretty good in New York for a couple periods and then the third period we’re on our heels a little bit. It changes from game to game.

“I think just being in the scenario we were in last year, it was built-in automatic every game and now it’s more of a professionalism, a business-like approach where we expect to win.”

The Flyers will put their expectations to the test tomorrow when they close out the month of March with a matchup against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

Philly is 7-3-1 in the month of February with seven of their 11 games begin decided by one goal, owning a 4-2-1 record in that scenario.

“We’re going to go in there and prepare to win a hockey game,” said Laviolette. “It’s important that we keep winning and keep pace with the other teams that are doing just that. That’s our main priority is to just go in and make sure that we play well.”

* * *
11:31 a.m.


Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced this morning that defenseman Erik Gustafsson has been recalled from the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, and will join the team in Ottawa this afternoon.

This is Gustafsson's second recall to the NHL. He was previous recalled on Dec. 29 to Jan. 3, however did not play.

He currently has 33 points (5G-28A) and 10 penalty minutes in 53 games for the Phantoms. He leads the Phantoms in assists (28) and is tied for the team lead in points (33).

The Flyers take on the Senators at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa tomorrow night (7 p.m., CSN, 610WIP). Should Gustafsson appear in the line up he would be the third Flyer to make his NHL debut this season.

February 24
10:55 p.m.

Andrej Meszaros just has a knack for coming up with a big goal every now and then.

Of his five goals this season, two have been game-winning-goals… in overtime.

Meszaros gave the Flyers a 4-3 victory with 14 seconds remaining in overtime to secure valuable two points in the standings and keep a strangle-hold on the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It was nice patience by [Ville Leino], and I saw the top corner, and it was the only shot I got actually,” said Meszaros. “That is the way I have been shooting in practice.  I tried it and it went in.  It was fortunate for me and for the team.”

Meszaros has even had one game-winning goal in each of the last four seasons, and had two in 2005-06.

  Laviolette // Meszaros // JVR // Holmgren // GAME RECAP

Hard to believe that this may even over-shadow his superb defensive play all season that has earned him a plus/minus rating of plus-24, which is tied for third overall in the NHL.

It’s exactly that type of play that has put a mark on the Flyers back for most, if not all, of the 2010-11 season causing teams to bring their very best against the Orange & Black.

“Everybody wants a piece of us I think,” added Meszaros. “We want to win every game now we play at home.  We want to be at the top of the league and have, if at all possible, a seventh game advantage, so we try to fight for that every game.  Every opponent is huge now because we know Vancouver is playing pretty good out on the west coast, so it is going to be a battle until the end.  We just have to play better than tonight, and start playing like we did a few games before, because lately we haven’t been one hundred percent.”

The win temporarily puts the Flyers in the No. 1 overall position in the NHL with 86 points and a record of 40-15-6. They are the first NHL team to reach the 40-win mark.

Chris Pronger missed most of the third period and overtime after blocking a shot.

Flyers fans shouldn’t be concerned however.

“The x-rays are negative and he’s fine,” said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. “ He was actually going to come back but the game ended.”

Pronger took 24 shifts in the contest for a total of 18:17 of ice time.

Holmgren knows all too well about blocking shots and the effect they have brought about. In mid-December Pronger blocked a shot in the second period at Montreal, but what looked like an innocent shot turned out to sideline Pronger for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his foot.

“Let’s face it, there’s been a lot of injuries from blocked shots over the course here,” added Holmgren. “I mean, the Rangers with the young winger there, [Ryan] Callahan.  Last night Pittsburgh lost Brook Orpik. So it’s dangerous.  Guys shoot the puck hard, guys are trying to block shots, and things happen.  We’re fortunate that he is okay.”

In other news on the injury front, Blair Betts is coming along with his injured hand.

“He continues to get better,” said Holmgren. “He practiced today with the stick in his hand.  I don’t think he’ll be able to play Saturday but he’s not that far off.”

* * *
7:32 p.m.


Flyers GM Paul Holmgren updated PhiladelphiaFlyers.com just after the start of the Flyers-Islanders game that defenseman Oskars Bartulis will require surgery on his shoulder.

"Surgery to repair shoulder instability will be performed in the next few days," said Holmgren. "Oskars (Bartulis) will be out 10-12 weeks."

Bartulis was injured in Tuesday's Flyers-Coyotes game when Scottie Upshall hit him into the end boards after the whistle had already blown. Upshall received a two minute penalty following the play and later was handed two-game suspension by the NHL the following day.

* * *
12:01 p.m.

According to Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, Flyers' forward Nikolay Zherdev has cleared waivers.

Zherdev did participate in the Flyers morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center.

February 23

5:07 p.m.

One of the storylines heading into tomorrow can be of the team’s remarkable success to bounce back from having a bad game or even a good game following a loss.

It’s certainly true.

The Flyers have not lost back-to-back games in regulation in over two months (Dec. 20 & 28). They have only lost back-to-back games in regulation four times this season, which included just one three-game losing skid and a total of five times if you include overtime/shootout losses over 60 games thus far.

However the Flyers will take on the New York Islanders tomorrow, a team that is 7-3-0 in it’s last 10 games and has won six of their last eight contests. They’re also a team that is an Atlantic Division rival of the Flyers and if stats tell us anything, then the Flyers are in good shape to walk away with a victory.

  Laviolette //   O'Donnell // Boucher

The Flyers have a record of 13-2-1 when they play Atlantic Division rivals. It is the best record that any NHL team has against its own division this season with a .844 winning percentage.

“I don’t know, but I think yeah there’s obviously some rivalries when you play in division games,” said Darroll Powe. “I don’t think we get up more for them, but there’s that little extra that is subconscious and gets put into those games.”

The Flyers own a perfect 3-0-0 record against the Islanders this season, having outscored them 11-4 in the process.

Likewise, Philly owns a perfect record against the Rangers (4-0-0), while owning a 3-1-0 mark against the Penguins and their most difficulty coming against the New Jersey Devils, with whom they own a 3-1-1 record.

“Well I think it’s more about when you play against teams that you play a lot, it’s a lot easier to get motivated,” said Giroux. “I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job to get ready for those games and obviously our record shows that.”

TSN is reporting that former Flyer and now Phoenix Coyotes’ forward Scottie Upshall has been suspended two games by the NHL for his hit on Flyers defenseman Oskars Bartulis in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win.

Upshall received a two minute boarding penalty 17 seconds into the second frame for hitting the unsuspecting Bartulis.

“I was just going hard to the net,” said Upshall. “I couldn’t see where the puck was actually. I didn’t intentionally go to hit him or drive him into the boards. I think he was kind of off balance.”

Following the game Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren admitted that he did not think a hit like that was necessary on his defenseman.

“You know, Oskars was just standing there minding his own business,” said Holmgren. “It was a late hit but it depends on how Oskars is.  I guess I have a little bit of a problem with it, yeah.  It’s not really like Scottie to do that, but things happen.”

* * *
1:27 p.m.

Word came down this morning from Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren that forward Nikolay Zherdev has been placed on waivers.

Zherdev registered 15 goals and 19 points in 47 games with the Flyers this season, however missed the last six games as a healthy scratch.

"His agent and Nik, they’re obviously not happy with the situation here," said Holmgren. "They’d asked us to look around for options. Nothing really came of that through trades, so we’ll see what happens with this.

"The request came to me if we could see if we could get him to another team and we’re following up on that."

February 22
11:11 p.m.

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette was disappointed in a lot of things tonight. However it wasn’t directed toward his club or their effort.

After all, the Flyers lost a 1-0 lead and battled back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period with just over a minute left to play, while their net was empty for an extra attacker, just to force overtime and gain a valuable point in the standings.

The disappointment lay somewhere else.

“I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that one and a lot of others,” said Laviolette of the penalty by Kimmo Timonen in overtime and others throughout the game. “We are preaching discipline and all we talk about is staying out of the box. We’ll kill the ones we have to but with points on the line and things really valuable at this time of the year, I did not like the call. There is a lot of stick work that goes on. We were fighting around that net offensively and with 4 on 3, I again did not like the call.”

There seemed to be more than a few posts that were hit on the Flyers side, as well as funny, flukey bounce that hand-cuffed Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Coyotes their 2-1 lead.

  Holmgren // Laviolette // Richards

“I have to look at it but it seems like it bounced funny,” said Laviolette. “Bounces are tough and I said going out in the second period that I just had a nervous feeling. I thought the game should have been 4-0 at that point and it wasn’t; it was 1-0. Even in the third period there were lots of looks and opportunities. They seemed like they were doubled up in our favor and we couldn’t break the one. We had to fight back. You look at it and you think you should win the game outright yet at the end of the day you are lucky to get a point.”

“He had huge saves for us and kept us in the game, and it’s going to happen,” said Claude Giroux, who scored the equalizer late in the game. “Goals like that, I think it was his first this season, so I guess it happens sometimes.  He is one of the reasons we got into overtime first of all, so it was good.”

In another turn of events, the Flyers, for the second straight game, had to roll five defensemen.

Scottie Upshall’s return to the Wells Fargo Center certainly had an impact. Early in the second period, Upshall ran defenseman Oskars Bartulis into the boards.

“It’s tough obviously. It’s not something we wanted to do,” said Flyers captain Mike Richards. “I didn’t even see the play so I can’t comment on that but it's tough. We pride ourselves all year on playing with four lines and six defensemen and when you have that out of your lineup, we’re just a little bit of a depleted team, I guess.”

Bartulis missed all but 17 seconds of the second period and the entire third period with an upper-body injury.

“Well, we won’t really know until tomorrow,” said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. “It’s a shoulder injury and he’ll get an MRI tomorrow just to see what we’re dealing with.”

Holmgren added that the injury should have never even happened and took exception to Upshall’s hit.

“You know, Oskars was just standing there minding his own business. It was a late hit but it depends on how Oskars is.  I guess I have a little bit of a problem with it, yeah.  It’s not really like Scottie to do that, but things happen.”

Bartulis was appearing in his first game since Jan. 11 vs. Buffalo after missing the previous 17 games. He was inserted into the line up in place of Sean O’Donnell who was originally slated to be out for 10 days to two weeks. But Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said he was back skating earlier today for approximately a 40 minute time period and could be ready to return as early as Thursday.

“Actually, Sean [O’Donnell] is a possibility for the next game,” added Holmgren. “He got good news yesterday on his MRI and it’s not a ligament problem that we’re dealing with.”

The Flyers do gain a valuable point in the standings however, improving their mark to 39-15-6 for 84 points, gaining one point over idle Pittsburgh, who is the Flyers’ next closest pursuer with 77 points.

February 21
5:01 p.m.

Kris Versteeg’s greatest hockey memory is playing the Wells Fargo Center. Unfortunately it was on an opposing team and breaking the hearts of Flyers fans everywhere while hoisting the Stanley Cup following Game Six of the Final back in June.

This time Versteeg is looking forward to the getting an ovation, rather than a reign of boos from the Philly crowd. It will be his first game at the Wells Fargo Center in an Orange & Black sweater since coming over from the Maple Leafs one week ago.

“Yeah I’m really excited. I said it before this is a really intimidating building to come into and play and now that I’m on the right side, I’m excited about it,” said Versteeg.

Versteeg is four games into his career as a Flyer, recording two points, including an empty-net goal to ice the game for the Flyers in their 4-2 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden yesterday.

  Laviolette // Holmgren // Versteeg

“I think there’s always an adjustment period,” added Versteeg. “You’re going to a first-place team, you want to work hard and just help them win. You don’t want to try and do too much at times. You want to go out there and learn the system as quick as you can and just play hockey.”

Versteeg has yet to find a permanent home with a particular line, but that is mostly due to injuries that have caused the likes of Ville Leino and Mike Richards to miss games last week. Over his four contests, he has averaged 21 shifts per game with ice time just over 15 minutes (15:14).

“I think you just have to try and mesh with the guys and gel, and get to know what they do,” added Versteeg. “Especially coming to a first place team. There’s so much skill and so much talent you want to fit in and blend in, and play a role that helps them win even more.”

Blair Betts will miss Tuesday's game vs. Phoenix with a hand injury he suffered in Carolina on Feb. 18.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren addressed the media following a recent string of injuries that have cause a few Flyers to be out of the line up.

The most serious and lengthy of which concerns defenseman Sean O’Donnell.

“Sean is probably out for 10 days to two weeks,” said Holmgren.

O’Donnell suffered a lower-body injury, related to his knee, in the first period of Sunday’s game vs. Rangers.

Inserted into the lineup in place of O’Donnell will be Oskars Bartulis, who last appeared in a game on Jan. 11 at Buffalo, having been scratched for the last 17 games.

Blair Betts, who left Friday’s game at Carolina with a cut to his right hand and missed Sunday’s game at New York, will also be out of the line up for Tuesday and is likely to play later in the week.

For the first time since being a part of the 2009 trade deadline deal with Dan Carcillo, Scottie Upshall will make his return to Philadelphia when the Coyotes take on the Flyers on Tuesday.

“He’s a great player and has a lot of energy,” said Danny Briere, who played with Upshall from 2007-09. “It’s no secret he was well-like here in the locker room and a great person to be around.”

A fan favorite, Upshall recorded 27 goals and 37 assists for 64 points and 145 penalty minutes in 134 regular season games.

Scottie Upshall played parts of three seasons with the Flyers from 2007-09.
He was a part of the resurgence of the Flyers that reached the 2008 Eastern Conference Final a year after finishing dead last in the NHL.

Of course in return, another fan-favorite grew in Dan Carcillo.

“There’s probably only three or four of the guys that are still on that team now,” said Carcillo. “But they gave me my start and I’ll always be grateful for that.”

The Coyotes are a team that the Flyers don't see much and certainly aren’t a team that one would consider a threat, but that’s exactly how the Flyers have to look at them tomorrow.

Phoenix comes into Philly with the hot hand. They have won seven straight games and most of them have been close, grind-it-out games. Six of the seven wins have been decided by one goal, including two that have gone past regulation play and one 1-0 game.

“Last year that was the talk, they surprised teams,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “They had another strong start. They dipped there a little in the beginning, but now they’re red-hot. Probably behind the New Jersey Devils, they’re the hottest team in the League, so I think you have to respect the fact that they’re going to come in here and play a good hockey game. We have to make sure we’re ready to do our work.”

February 20

6:46 p.m.

Throughout an 82-game regular hockey season there are many factors that contribute to why a hockey team is successful and what makes them a great team.

With a 4-2 victory today at Madison Square Garden over the Rangers, the Flyers proved yet again a major reason for their success is their ability to bounce back from whatever deficit they face.

“I thought we played a very clean game,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “I don’t think there was anything that should have been called against us. The game was called well and we needed to do that.”

  Laviolette // Boucher // O'Donnell

A big reason for their success in their Sunday matinee at MSG was the fact that they didn’t give the Rangers power play a chance to work.

The Flyers did not commit one penalty, coincidental or fighting majors, in the contest.

It was the third time in franchise history the Flyers have gone an entire game without a penalty.  The other two: (vs. St Louis, March 18, 1979, 5-3W, at the Spectrum & vs. Phoenix, November 26, 2000, 2-1L, at Wells Fargo Center).

Their best bounce-back quality is avoiding losing streaks that cost points and place in the standings.

The Flyers have not lost back-to-back games in approximately two months. The last time coming on Dec. 20 and 28 with a 5-0 loss to Florida and 6-2 loss at Vancouver respectively.

So far this season the Flyers have only lost back-to-back games in regulation just three times, which included just one three-game losing skid.

“It was,” said Boucher when asked if this was a character win for the team. “It’s our fourth game in a six-day span. We didn’t practice yesterday, sometimes afternoon games are tough and we had to battle through it with travel, but it was a gutsy win for sure.”

The Flyers rattled off three unanswered goals to take control of today’s game against the Rangers, after giving up the first goal. The Flyers are 11-12-3 when their opponent scores first.

Already down one of their best penalty killers in Blair Betts to a hand injury, yet again, the Flyers were forced to deal with an injury very early into game as defenseman Sean O’Donnell left in first period with a lower-body injury.

“I was going back for it [puck] and I went in the corner and just kind of tweaked my lower body a little bit,” said O’Donnell. “I could have come back, but with these kind of things [Jimmy McCrossin] said be precautionary.”

“Certainly we don’t like to lose a defenseman that early in the game,” said Laviolette. “When you have five defensemen that can take 23-25 minutes I don’t think its that big of a deal, but the fact that we haven’t had to juggle a lot and there’s been some stability, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”

If they didn’t have enough obstacles to overcome already, the Flyers received a scare five minutes into the final period as goaltender Brian Boucher was injured on a play right inside his crease.

“My body wrenched my neck to the right there and gave me a stinger down my right arm,” said Boucher. “I couldn’t feel my hand there. My whole right arm was numb.”

Boucher stuck with it for the final 15 minutes of play and stopped a total of 37 of 39 shots to pick up his 15th win of the season.

With the win, the Flyers end their four-game, six-day road trip with a 3-1-0 record and won their 20th road win of the season. They are now 20-7-3 on the road and picked up their 20th road win of the year in their 30th road game of the season, which marks the fastest run to 20 road wins in franchise history.  The previous record was held by the 1978-79 team.

The Flyers return home to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. start on Comcast SportsNet.

* * *
1:31 p.m.

Per Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, defenseman Sean O’Donnell suffered a lower-body injury and will not return to today’s Flyers-Rangers game.

O’Donnell suffered the injury in the first period, where he played just one shift and had 1:03 of ice time.

O’Donnell has appeared in all 58 regular season games for the Flyers this season, posting 12 points (1G-11A) and a plus/minus rating of plus-7.

February 18
11:58 p.m.

Following last night's Flyers-Hurricanes game center Blair Betts talked to the media revealing that he had a pretty nasty cut on his left hand/finger that caused him to miss all but 11 seconds of the third period.

"It was more of a pressure cut," said Betts, who admitted it wasn't broken. "It could be a quick turnaround, but who knows. We'll see how it feels tomorrow and re-evaluate it."

  Laviolette // Betts // Coburn

Betts was a major contributor in turning the momentum back on the side of the Flyers, who got caught in a 2-0 hole early in the first period against the Hurricanes. He got the Flyers on the board with a nice shot over Cam Ward's blocker while killing a Canes' power-play.

The goal was Betts' first tally in 44 games and was the Flyers' 10th shorthanded goal of the season, placing them in 1st place in the NHL in that department.

Betts also had a hand in killing a full two minute 5-on-3 power play that could have broken the game wide open for Carolina. A big strengh he brings to the PK unit has been face-offs, Recently, in the Flyers' eight games since the All-Star break, Betts is 64.7 percent (55 for 85) on faceoffs.

* * *
8:11 p.m.

Flyers captain Mike Richards was not in the line up for the Flyers' 3-2 loss at Carolina on Friday due to flu-like symptoms, according to Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

This is the first game of the 2010-11 season that Richards has missed. He is second on the team in assists (32) and fourth on the team in points (50) in 57 games.

February 17
3:34 p.m.


Brind'Amour was a key leader in the Flyers' 1997 Cup Final run.
Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes will have a special feel to it. Not just because it is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season and because of the obvious ties with Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, but the Flyers will be a part of a rare number retirement ceremony by the Hurricanes.

Rod Brind’Amour, the former Flyer who spent parts of nine seasons in Orange & Black, will have his famous No. 17 jersey retired by the Carolina Hurricanes with whom he also spent nine seasons with and led them to two Stanley Cup Final appearances and a Stanley Cup Title in 2006.

The head coach of that team was current Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, who is very glad to be a part of the night’s ceremony.

"Rod embodied the consummate professional athlete. He was dedicated, hard working, talented and passionate,” said Laviolette. “Rod exemplified all of these traits with a relentless desire to win.  His leadership accompanied with his play on the ice is a direct link to the championship banner that hangs at the RBC Center.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with him.  Rod is truly a special person."

Although things at first got off to a rocky start between player and coach, Brind’Amour is quick to admit that he owes the title and most of his success, and current friendship in Carolina to Laviolette.

“He named me captain and he basically gave me every opportunity that I could ever have as a player,” said Brind’Amour. “I played 24, 23 minutes as a player in every situation, and ultimately through his leadership we won that Stanley Cup.  I think you see it up there – he gets the most out of his players and he gets it in a way that everyone feels a part of it.  That’s the strongest asset – it’s not the X and O’s, it’s not dissecting plays, it’s getting his players to believe and care for each other.  That’s what he did here.”

Not to be remiss of his time in Philadelphia, Brind’Amour couldn’t have asked for a more perfect opposing team to be honored in front of.
“It's really special to me,” said Brind’Amour. “They're the team I played the other half of my career, essentially, with.  There’s so many great memories there.  I'm grateful that the team would pick that night to do that.  It couldn't really be better timing for me.

“I loved my time in Philadelphia. There are certain players that play in that city that really do well and love it, and I think I was one of them.  I’ve said this many times - the day I got traded from Philadelphia was one of the worst days of my career.  Up until that point I bled orange and black.  It was an extremely tough time for me to leave that place because I loved it so much.” 
Rod Brind'Amour was a Flyer from 1991-92 to 1999-00.

And the fans definitely took to him as well.

Over the course of his career as a Flyer, Brind’Amour tallied 235 goals and 366 assists for 601 points in 633 regular season games. Of course he is very well known for another stat – the iron man. During his time with the Flyers Brind’Amour holds the club record for most consecutive games played (484).

Additionally, he added another 24 goals and 27 assists for 51 points in 57 Stanley Cup Playoff games helping the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals twice, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1997.

Friday’s tribute to Brind’Amour will no doubt be a night for all Hurricanes fans, but in the back of Flyers fans everywhere, and even Rod himself, it is a night to pay tribute to one of the most popular players to don the Orange & Black.
“Philadelphia's always at the top of that list because of the organization and because of the following and the reception that you get there.  They keep you on your toes and they keep you honest, but they’re always there for you, and I think that says a lot about that Flyer fan base.”
* * *
2:50 a.m.

The Flyers went into the third period with a 3-0 lead, but that didn’t matter to a very determined Florida Panthers team.

Fortunately for the Flyers what seemed like a collapse forming, was just in fact a wake up call to play all 60 minutes and the knowledge that no lead is safe at this time of year.

Like so many other close battles this season the Flyers did eventually come out on top with a 4-2 victory, although the Panthers threatened with two goals in the third period to make it a one-goal game with just over seven minutes to play.

“I thought we started the game well. The second period was give and take both ways and then they got that goal early in the third and they really generated some life from it,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “We were on our heels and Bob [Bobrovsky] played big in the third.”

“That’s not the way you want to end the game, but we survived and at the end of the day that’s what matters the most,” said Danny Briere. “The last 10 minutes we kind of gave them some life, we let them come back in the game.”

  Laviolette // Richards // Briere // Nodl

Minus his usual linemate Ville Leino, Danny Briere earned #1 star for the night, recording two assists and added an empty-net goal, his 28th of the year to ice it for the Flyers.

Briere played on a line with Hartnell with Andreas Nodl filling in for Leino. Nodl tallied his 10th career goal after a great set up from Briere.

“It worked out today,” added Briere. “He plays a simple game. He plays hard. He goes to the net. He plays hard along the boards and that’s why you see him bounce from line to line, he plays a simple game that can mesh with anybody.”

Nodl’s goal marked a few firsts in this game. It was his first goal in 18 games, while line mate Mike Richards scored the game’s first goal, marking it his first tally in nine contests.

“As long as the team’s having success, it’s obviously all about that,” said Richards. “As long as you’re doing something to contribute to the team, whether it’s giving hits, winning face offs, blocking shots or penalty kill, it’s something that you want to do. Obviously you want to score but it’s not going to happen every night. As long as you keep plugging away, eventually they’re going to go in.”

Richards’ goal came off a great dish from Kris Versteeg, who registered his first point as a Flyer on the play.

With Versteeg in the lineup, the Flyers now have 10 players who have scored 10 or more goals on their roster, more than any other team in the NHL. At the same time, they also have 10 players who have registered 25 points or more on the season.

The Flyers are scheduled to have a complete day off on Thursday following their back-to-back road wins.

February 16
7:06 p.m.

Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren announced just prior to tonight's Flyers-Panthers game that left wing Ville Leino will be out of the lineup tonight for the Flyers' game against the Florida Panthers.

Leino is suffering from a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Leino currently has 39 points (13G-26A) and has a plus/minus rating of plus-18 in 56 regular season games. This is the first regular season game of 2010-11 he has missed.

Further details to come following tonight's game...

* * *
1:56 a.m.

When you think of all the players in the Flyers’ lineup to post a Gordie Howe hat trick James van Riemsdyk is one that doesn’t come right to mind.

But that’s exactly what he did in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I don’t know what the odds would be if someone bet on it in Vegas, but I’d say pretty unlikely,” said van Riemsdyk. “I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of heat from this from my buddies.”

JVR got the Flyers on the board first. A crucial first goal that gave them a 1-0 lead and confidence that they could solve the Lightning’s 1-3-1 defense that shut them down in their last meeting.

  Laviolette // Boucher // Versteeg // Timonen // JVR

With the Lightning countering to tie it up at 1-1, van Riemsdyk almost has his second of the night, but his shot was deflected in front by Hartnell to give him the helper.

“I thought he had a great game and that’s what we needed from him,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “He was physical tonight, he was skating, he factored into the game offensively and that was good.”

The two points for van Riemsdyk merely capped off Mr. Hockey’s hat trick. The surprise of the game, and perhaps even a key rallying point for the Flyers, came early.

Moving through the neutral zone, center Claude Giroux was hit with what appeared to be a knee-to-knee hit by Lightning defenseman (and former Flyer) Randy Jones.

van Riemsdyk immediately went after Jones and quickly dropped the gloves.

“Yeah a little bit,” said Laviolette on if he was surprised to see van Riemsdyk fight. “But it was really good to see. I thought it was kind of a cheap hit and for him to jump in there like that, I think that says a lot about him and where he’s coming.”

Tampa may also have some sort of comfort level with van Riemsdyk.

In his eight career games against the Lightning, JVR averages over a point-per-game with nine points (2G,7A).

Kris Versteeg took a late night flight from Toronto to Tampa to join his new teammates.

He didn’t have to wait long for his debut and as he found out on Tuesday, the pace and the intensity surrounding this team and the games is something he’s excited for.

“You could definitely tell it was like a playoff game right from the puck drop, so this is nice to be a part of,” said Versteeg. “It was high-intensity and that’s how it’s going to be the rest of the season.”

Overall, Versteeg played nearly 18 minutes (17:44) and recorded two shots on net playing on a line mostly with Mike Richards and either James van Riemsdyk or Andreas Nodl at times.

“I’ve been dropped into this situation half-way through a year and it’s never an easy thing,” said Laviolette. “By the end of the game I thought he really started to find his stride a little out and generate offense. It seemed like his line started to click offensively and they started to get that cycle-game going.”

February 14
9:44 p.m.

Not many teams can brag about having the Flyers number this season. Well the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of those teams.

“We’re playing one of the top teams in the East and we haven’t put a win in the column against them and that should motivate us, said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette following practice today.

Tampa owns a 3-0-0 mark against the Flyers this season after victories on Oct. 14 (3-2), Nov. 18 (8-7) and their last meeting, a 4-0 shutout victory at the St. Pete Times Forum on Feb. 1.

“They’re a good team. They seem to play well against us,” said Blair Betts. “They do a good job in the neutral zone by not giving us a lot of room to make plays.”

    Laviolette // Betts // Briere

The Flyers kick off their four-game road trip on Tuesday to take one more crack at the Lightning before their regular season series comes to an end.

“They came out really hard the last time we played them,” said Laviolette. “Their game, whether they have the lead or not, they sit back a little bit. They’re an old-style team almost trapping and countering. They do it a little different than they did a few years back, but its trap and counter and trying to get you to turn pucks over at the red line, so we really have to pay attention with what we do with the puck and make sure we’re in good position defensively.”

The Lightning own two of the top two offensive players in the League, among them the NHL-leader in both goals (40) and points (74) in Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos has had a pretty good time feasting on the Flyers with five goals and six points in the three games thus far.

Danny Briere and Martin St. Louis have been leaders on their respective teams this year.

Playing alongside Stamkos is Martin St. Louis, who ranks fifth in the NHL in scoring with 66 points and has three-game points streak with four assists recently. St. Louis leads all players in the season series with nine points, all of which are assists.

Their record however may be a little misleading. The Lightning may have walked away with all three victories, however the first two games were decided by one goal, including a wild 8-7 victory in which the Flyers did hold a two-goal lead at one point.

Despite being shut out at their last meeting, the Flyers did create opportunities and chances, but ran into a hot goaltender in Dwayne Roloson, who stopped all 38 shots the Flyers threw at him.

“With the exception of maybe the first 5-10 minutes of last game I thought we probably outplayed them, out-chanced them and put a lot of pucks at the net, we just didn’t created enough traffic at the net and maybe work hard enough to get second opportunities.”

February 13
7:29 p.m.

The Flyers suffered their fifth shutout of the 2010-11 season, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort.

The Flyers fell victim to the hot hand of Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, who stopped all 40 shots the Flyers threw at him, including 15 in the third period.

“I thought we were pretty consistent with it throughout the period,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “If there were 20 chances it was probably 6, 7, 6 or 7, 7, 6.  Whatever it was, I thought it was consistent throughout the game.  It was tight out there, as we expected.  I think their goaltender deserves some credit, he played a heck of a game.”

  Pronger // Laviolette // Bobrovsky

“Their goaltender played extremely well,” said captain Mike Richards. “Both goaltenders did actually. The one that went off Bob [Sergei Bobrovsky] went off my skate. They played well and you’re going to have games like that. Its unfortunate but it happened.”

The loss brings an end to the Flyers domination of the Kings in recent years, having previously gone unbeaten in regulation in their last six contests with a 5-0-1 record since 2003-04.

To go back further in history with these two clubs, Sunday was Los Angeles’s first regulation win in Philadelphia since April 1, 1993.  It was a game replayed in its entirety after blizzard conditions shattered a pane of glass on the Spectrum concourse after the first period on the originally scheduled date of March 13, 1993.  The Kings won the replay 3-1. 
Chris Pronger hit from behind during the third period of a 1-0 loss to the Kings. Pronger was called for a retaliatory roughing call at the end of the play.

Pressuring at moments during the second period, the Flyers made a big push and seemed to have the Kings on their heels with under 10 minutes to play in the game.

Much to the dismay of the fans and the team, the officials called a roughing penalty on Chris Pronger for retaliation on a clear check from behind by Kings’ forward Jarret Stoll, to which no penalty was called.

“I don’t think anything surprises me anymore,” said Pronger following the game. “He got me from behind. I knew he was coming, he told me he was coming. I mean there was no where I could go. I had my stick on the puck so I couldn’t really put my hands up to protect myself or anything like that. There’s not really much else I can do there.”

The call came with 6:23 remaining in the third period.

The Flyers complete their four-game homestand with a 3-1-0 record as all four games were decided by one-goal.

Up next, the Flyers will embark on a four-game road trip beginning with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

February 12
2:22 p.m.

One hails from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The other from Novokuznetsk, Russia.

Yet, the goaltending tandem of Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky (I’ll let you figure out which one is from R.I. and which is from Russia) seems to be a perfect match. It is certainly one that nobody would have predicted coming into a year removed from the Stanley Cup Final.

And even if that were the case, you would probably guess that the team had been riddled with injuries and forced to recall their goalkeepers from their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

The fact of the matter is that Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher have made the coaching staff, management and ultimately the fans of Philadelphia very happy campers.

“You’re right, I don’t get the feeling that there’s an ‘I’m the #1 guy here and you’re the #2 guy’,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette about his goaltenders. “But it’s at the point where you say ‘go ahead and pick out our first line or our first D [defense] pairing, who’s our #1 power-play unit’?. We’re built without numbers here.”

  Laviolette // Pronger // Boucher

Defenseman Chris Pronger echoes Laviolette’s sentiments.

“You have to get used to them at some point and it gives both of them a chance to stay fresh,” said Pronger. “I look at it as a luxury that both guys can go in there and we feel comfortable with both of them.”

Going into Sunday’s game vs. the Kings, Bobrovsky has posted a 22-7-3 record with a 2.48 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in just over 1,900 minutes of play and 34 appearances between the pipes.

His 22 wins lead all rookie goaltenders in the NHL while ranking 12th overall among all NHL net minders, and all of this having played at least six less games than everyone above him in the standings. He has also won seven of his last eight contests.

“You have to get used to them at some point and it gives both of them a chance to stay fresh.” - Chris Pronger
Boucher on the other hand comes into his 11th season in the NHL and has won 13 of his 23 appearances in net to earn a 13-6-2 record. He has won his last two starts, allowing just one goal in the process, while his goals-against average of 2.25 is good enough for 8th in the NHL while his .918 save percentage ranks 10th.

“I think with the way he’s been rotating us it’s easy to stay in it and stay ready,” said Boucher. “If you don’t play a game or if you don’t play two games, you know you’re going to eventually get in there.”

Laviolette has yet to make his decision about who will start in net in Sunday afternoon’s Flyers-Kings tilt, but then again judging by the numbers above, I don’t think he’s overly concerned about that decision.

Why would he? The most important number of all is 77, the number of points the Flyers hold with a 36-13-5 record placing them in first place of the Eastern Conference.

February 10

10:56 p.m.

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette would prefer the team not be so good at one-goal games.

“I think we can plan those one goal games, I think also we can play better, instead of defending a one goal game, we should be, ya know, looking for more attack in that game, not sitting back,” said Laviolette. “In the end, you don’t want to get into those types of games with a desperate team and that’s where we were tonight.  A lot of it was good, but to win a one goal game in a tight game, you’d rather make it two-nothing, three-nothing, four-nothing.”

However, he is very pleased at what his team has done in one-goal games. The Flyers own a very impressive 15-4-5 record when edging an opponent by just one goal.

“Well, you have to start learning how to win them and tonight was a good start,” said defenseman Chris Pronger. “It was goose eggs going into the third, you don’t see that very often, but you have to stick with the game plan and stick with how you need to play to be successful.  We were able to do that tonight and were fortunate to get the power play goals to get the win.”

Tonight’s 2-1 victory over a hungry Carolina Hurricanes proved to be no different.

The Flyers held a 2-0 lead, but that quickly vanished as the Canes scored 40 seconds later to make it a one-goal difference with just under eight minutes left to play.

Like so many other times this season, the Flyers defense stood tall and shut down Carolina for the victory in a scrambling finish.

“You guys seem to think it’s frustrating to play in these games so I don’t know,” added Pronger on the comfort of playing in close games. “I hear that word an awful lot out of you guys.  But, I think our ability to refocus between periods.  It wasn’t our best second period by any stretch of the imagination, but we were able to counter that and come back in the third with a lot better effort.”

Not to single out the defense, but a large part of the Flyers game is the forecheck from the guys up front.

“It seems lately that’s all those games we are playing, which is good coming down the stretch and getting ready for the playoffs,” said Danny Briere, who tallied his team-leading 27th goal. “We’re going to be facing a lot of teams that are fighting for their lives too, like Carolina tonight hanging on to 8th place.  They are going to play hard.  Looking at our schedule, we have a lot of team that are right around there in the next few games also.”

Another stat to go hand-in-hand would be getting that early advantage in hockey games, and although neither team scored until the third period, it was the Flyers who got on the board first.

Their record now stands at 26-3-2 when scoring the games first goal, which is good enough for second in the entire NHL in that category with a .839 winning percentage.

February 9
4:36 p.m.

Although many of the players and coaching staff in the locker room have an air of confidence about themselves and realize as of right now they are the best in the Eastern Conference, they know there is a lot of work to be done and team’s can fall rather quickly in the standings of today’s NHL.

“They’re all dangerous,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette on the remaining eight team’s fighting for position in the Eastern Conference. “But like I said, you address things, you present everything and hope that you play the game the right way.”

And playing their game the right way consists of practice. Practice in all areas, most of which consists of the power play, which despite a misleading 17.4 percent (currently sitting 17th in the NHL), has proven to be a key force and key moments.

  Laviolette // Hartnell // Richards

“Well, I don’t think anything is wrong with it,” said Scott Hartnell. “During recent hockey games our power play has stepped up in a few games that has given us a late goal to tie it up or win it and those are the positive things you have to stick with.”

The Flyers scored three power play tallies against the Montreal Canadiens, which proved to be the difference in a 5-2 victory on Jan. 25, while a close 3-2 win over the Predators on Feb. 3, the Flyers scored to break a 1-1 tie in the third period while on the man advantage.

“I thought we had a great practice today, we had lots of zip out there and you hope that continues over to tomorrow,” said Laviolette. “We can go out tomorrow and take care of our business and not worry about the them so much.”

Although practice often consists of specific drills and plays, it serves more to a team that wants to emphasize what they want to accomplish, not what problems the Hurricanes or any other opponent present on any given night.

“Overall for us to keep playing better and getting better as the season goes on,” said captain Mike Richards. “That was a goal for us at the beginning of the year, so we just have to keep working hard like we did today and hopefully bring it out tomorrow.”

“I think it’s really important that we worry about our game down the stretch, not the opponent,” added Laviolette. “You always need to know where they’re at and what’s going on in their locker room, but it comes down to our game and how we play.”

So far the way the Flyers have been playing is leading to a lot of success, both on the offensive and defensive side of the puck, but most importantly, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference with a 35-13-5 record and 75 points.

The only thing remaining? No. 1 in the entire NHL, and they have their sights set on the Vancouver Canucks who currently sit a top the League with a 35-10-9 record for 79 points, but its isn't for bragging rights. Its for one important reason.

“Home ice in the playoffs is the only thing we think about,” said Richards.

February 8

4:49 p.m.

Although the Flyers have had much success this past decade, one position they haven’t been in is where they are now – first overall in the conference, and a serious contender to bring home the President’s Trophy as the top team in the NHL.

As of today, the Flyers sit in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 35-13-5 record, three points ahead of their closest pursuers (and rival) Pittsburgh Penguins who have 72 points (34-16-4) but have played one more game than the Flyers (54).

“It’s a different feeling because we know we’re a great team, and last year we were an ‘I think we’re a great team’,” said Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. “This year it’s a solid belief that everyone in this dressing room knows that we’re a great team and we want to stay on top and it’s a challenge every night do that.”

  Richards // Coburn // Laviolette

It that level of confidence that leads the Flyers to believe that they can finish the regular season with the League’s top record and earn home-ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs.

To give you a little bit better of an idea, this year’s Flyers, in terms of points, have kept pace with the 1973-74 club for the third-best record in franchise history after 53 games (75 points, 35-13-5).  The 35 wins are the most the team has ever had at this point except for two seasons – 36 wins after 53 games in both 1979-80 and 1985-86. 

As of right now, they have one game in hand over the Vancouver Canucks, who have 79 points with a 35-10-9 record.

Shifting back to the road ahead for the Flyers.

The team has won their last two games, as well as four of their last five and eight of their last 10 contests and shows no signs of slowing down.

They resume a schedule that from now until the rest of the season will see just one more four-day break in action (Feb. 27-Mar. 3) and upcoming for the Orange & Black is a schedule that has nine games in a 17-day span with a majority of them on the road.

“The break for the players is not such a bad thing,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “It shouldn’t be forgotten that we played until mid-June and guys didn’t get out of here. We had a lot of guys that played in the Olympics, a few in the All-Star Game. To have a break like this you can utilize them, you can complain about them if you want, but they’re here and you may as well accept them.”

What is different is the situation they find themselves in from just one year ago.

Although it’s been established that there are no easy games in the NHL nowadays, it’s nice to have the breathing room at the top, rather than last season when they were the chasers and fighting for their playoff lives.

“Obviously there’s a different feeling because we’re doing a lot better and that’s nice to see,” said Richards. “It’s a lot better when you can work on things in stead of stressing out and feeling like every game is a die-hard game. I think when you’re like that it’s mentally draining.”

The first test begins on Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town. The Flyers own a perfect 2-0-0 record against the ‘Canes this season while outscoring them 11-3 in the process.

The Hurricanes are currently in a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with the Atlanta Thrashers at 58 points.

“Carolina’s coming in here and they’re fighting for a playoff spot, so it’s not going to be an easy game, so everybody’s in the same boat,” added Laviolette.

After the Flyers celebrated their 1,000th franchise victory at home a short while ago, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette honored another special 1,000th win.

Laviolette presented Paulsboro High School (NJ) wrestling coach Paul Marino with a jersey honoring the high school’s wrestling team which recently won its 1000TH match. They became the first team in the state and only the third team in the country, joining Granite City, IL and Vacaville, CA, to reach the coveted mark.

February 5
11:11 p.m.

There are many things that the 2010-11 Flyers can boast about so far, perhaps none greater that confidence. And having too much confidence is never a bad thing

Confidence that their offense, which has four, 40-point scorers (with Ville Leino knocking on the doorstep with 39 pts), eight players with 10 or more goals (with Andreas Nodl knocking on the doorstep with nine tallies), will produce not just a larger amount of goals, but score big goals at big times from not even the top players.

“It is obviously great anytime when guys like that can chip in,” said Jeff Carter of Darroll Powe’s shorthanded goal in the second period. “It is always good to see and it got the boys all fired up.  You love to see when guys like that get goals because of how hard they work.  It is always nice for them to get rewarded for it.”

  Laviolette // Boucher // Betts

Confidence that their defense, which are a combined +99 (with Andrej Meszaros leading the NHL with a +27) and blocks an average of 8.26 shots per game, will clear pucks and the opposing player away from the net in timely fashion night in and night out.

“They’ve got some really good forwards,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette of the Dallas Stars. “I know they were missing some guys, but there were more of those workers and the guys that grind it out for them, not the skilled guys, who we really have to pay attention defensively.  They fired quite a few pucks at our net, but we defensively I thought we did a good job at taking away real prime scoring chances and second opportunities in front of our goaltender.  We did let up a couple of really quality chances, but that’s when Boosh made the big saves that he needed to make so, defensively I though we were pretty good.”

“We have a really good defensemen here, and everybody is trying to generate offense,” said Meszaros. “The main thing is defense for us, but every time we get a chance we go in up in a rush and try to create something."

And last, but certainly not the least, confidence between the pipes.

The Flyers boast a combined 2.53 goals-against-average with Brian Boucher owning a 12-6-2 record with a 2.31 GAA and .919 save percentage. While his partner, 22-year-old rookie Sergei Bobrovsky stands at a tie for ninth in the NHL with 22 wins and has a 22-7-3 record to date with a 2.48 GAA and .918 save percentage

Laviolette has been making decisions on a game-by-game basis and Boucher got the call tonight after sitting out the two previous starts. He was once again stellar.

“Boosh looked really good tonight. He was in control of everything,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “Like I said, we came back with Bob for a different reason the other night and I think that there is a lot of confidence not only from me but in our team in both goaltenders. When we make the call, it’s not like we’re worried about how we might play in front of one in opposed to the other. They have both had very strong years from start until this point. I think our guys have played well in front of them and certainly they both deserve a lot of credit for where we sit."

The Flyers have a full four days off from game action and will resume a normal schedule on Thursday when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen still has yet to record a victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Lehtonen is 0-10-1 against the Orange & Black after allowing three goals on 32 shots in tonight’s loss.

Of his 11-game winless skid against the Flyers, nine came while a member of the Atlanta Thrashers (2003-09) and the other two coming with Dallas.

February 4
4:45 p.m.

If there is one thing that the new NHL (post 04-05 lockout) has proved it’s the parity among all 30 teams and the ability to either fall or rise from the ranks year to year.

“I think it happens every year,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “I don’t know if you should be surprised if somebody comes in and has a good year. You shouldn’t be surprised by Tampa – they have good players and a good team. Dallas - the same thing. Nashville you probably shouldn’t be surprised [because] they have a competitive group and they showed that last night.”

And the Stars, who just happen to be the Flyers next opponent, are a prime example of this, and Philly is certainly aware of the firepower that they bring despite coming in having lost four of their last five contests.

  Laviolette // Pronger // Leino

“Dallas comes in here ranked very high in the West,” added Laviolette. “I think any time you lose games the urgency gets ratcheted up a little bit. Then it becomes a little bit more intense. You lose one [then two], then three, then there’s a special meeting behind closed doors, when there’s normally not closed doors. The heat gets turned up a little bit.

The Stars are one of seven teams in the NHL with 30 wins, owning a 30-17-5 record for 65 points and currently sitting in the third position in the Western Conference, including a five point lead in the top spot of the Pacific Division over the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.

Last season was a different story.

Dallas finished short of the playoffs with a 37-31-14 mark for 88 points – good enough for 12th place in the West and last place in the Pacific.

The Flyers recent 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay is another reminder of that fact. (34-36-12 for 12th place in the East in 2009-10 to leading the Southeast Division with 69 points and a 32-15-5 mark this season for the Lightning).

"As we know, anything can happen in a season," said Chris Pronger. "They obviously have guys that can play the game and they're having guys that are having a great season, so I don't know if it's a surprise."

Of course even without the examples of the recent and future Flyers opponents, you would have to look no further than the Orange & Black themselves to solidify that point.

The 2005-06 season saw the Flyers reach 101 points (45-26-11). The very next season was certainly a season the team would like to forget as they posted a record low 56 points and a 22-4-12 record in 2006-07.

While the very next year, dubbed “Back with a Vengeance” the Flyers made off-season moves to force their way back into the NHL’s elite, posting a 42-19-11 record for 95 points on their way to an Eastern Conference Finals bid.

In today’s NHL there are no “days off” and if the Flyers hope to secure the top spot in the NHL, Conference and even home-ice advantage, they will certainly have to be aware that the points in early February are just as important as the ones early in October, and late in March and April.

February 2

4:48 p.m.

Make no mistake about it, although the Flyers continue to sit atop the Eastern Conference, there are many teams hot on their tail.

In a League with as much parity as this one, the remaining games are certain to bring a challenge. The fact of the matter is that with just about three quarters of the season in the books, the remaining games, no matter the opponent, it will be a dogfight from here on out.

"It's probably going to get tougher as March comes around," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "The further you get towards the playoffs, the harder teams compete for positioning, to get in or for home ice. There's a lot at stake it seems for every game."

Laviolette // Pronger // Giroux

"At this stage of the season you're going to be playing teams that are fighting for a playoff spot or trying to solidify a playoff spot," added Pronger. "All teams are hungry and wanting to win hockey games."

After a 4-0 shutout loss to the Lightning on Tuesday one would think that the Flyers would regroup and ponder what went wrong.

"I wish we had the two minutes back, but we out-shot them 13-6 in the first period," said Laviolette. "I don't know necessarily if it was that we were completely flat or that we got caught with a couple of tough bounces right off the start."

"We're a team that bounces back pretty well from losses," added Pronger. "That's been a big part of our success this year. When we do have a loss, we rally the troops quickly and get back on the right side of the win column."

While it's true that they do look at some things, they are quick to move on and focus at the next game, which the coaching staff and each guy in that locker room will admit is no easy team to take lightly either.

"They're playing really well," added Laviolette of the Predators, who come into tomorrow night with a 27-17-7 record and 61 points to sit in the fourth spot in the West.

"They're pretty tight defensively and they get good goaltending and they've had a good season. It seems like everybody always counts them out, for whatever reason... they're just one of those quiet teams that effectively does their job every year."
All-Star center Danny Briere did not participate in practice today, however Flyers GM Paul Holmgren stated that it was a maintenance day for Briere, who did not receive a break due to All-Star festivities.

February 2

2:31 a.m.

Sitting atop the Eastern Conference, you wouldn't think there are too many teams that have the Flyers' number.

After Tuesday's 4-0 victory there seems to be one. The Tampa Bay Lightning own all three victories over the Flyers in each of their three meetings this season thus far.

"They have a good team and they've had a good year," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "Tonight we got behind early ad it seemed that we had an attack going and just couldn'd find anything at the end of the night."

  Laviolette // Boucher

Although unlike their recent win, its important to note that the first two losses by the Flyers were one-goal affairs - A hard-fought 3-2 loss on Oct. 14 and the rather unusual 8-7 contest on Nov. 18.

The numbers game certainly wasn't with the Flyers during this game either. To change that trend, they were facing the NHL's best team on home ice. The Lightning now own a 17-4-2 record at the St. Pete Times Forum, while also allowing the fewest goals (50).

Like so many teams this season, perhaps the Lightning have revenge on their minds from the 2009-10 season. The Flyers swept their four-game season series last year with the Lightning, having outscored them by a 22-7 margin.

The Flyers fell victim to back-to-back goals very early in the opening period and another goal with just over five minutes to play put them behind the eight-ball, 3-0, after the first period.

"I don't think we were out of sorts in the first, I just think they were very opportunistic," said Mike Richards. "We gave them too many scoring chances. two of them, one went off of my skate and the other one was a funny one off the end boards, so it was just one of those games I guess."

After a scoreless second frame, the Flyers got things back on track the rest of the contest and fired a total of 38 shots at Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

"He played well tonight. I don't think we had a ton of traffic in front of him which allowed him to see the shots and a great goaltender like Rollie is going to stop them if he sees them," added Richards.

Although it hasn't happened many times this season, but when the Flyers have a full four days off between games, they have lost all three games.

The good news is that the Flyers will have a chance to get back into the win column when they face the Nashville Predators on Thursday. The contest also opens up a four-game, 11-day homestand.