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2011 Flyers Playoff Guide

May 9
5:28 p.m.

The Flyers took Saturday and Sunday off and came in for their annual ‘clean out your locker day’ at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Monday still with the sting of losing fresh in their minds.

“I’m not sure what happened in those four games, but we’re a better hockey team than that,” said Giroux. “I think the faster we put this behind us, the better it’s going to be.”

This day, and the one to follow on Tuesday, is also the day for exit interviews with coaches, management, fellow teammates as well as final media interviews before most players break for the summer months.

Unlike last year, the Flyers had to fight and claw their way into the playoffs. Playing desperation hockey at its peak in mid-March all the way through until the last regular season game which required a shootout to sneak in.

  Laviolette // Giroux // Boucher // Leino // Hartnell

This year was quite the opposite.

And the challenge down the stretch was to match the desperation of their opponents once it was on the doorstep.

“If you look at last year compared to this year, we hit the playoffs at almost full speed,” said Hartnell. “This year we got such a big lead with a month or month and a half to go and I’m not sure if we got comfortable or took it easy for a few games, but once that happens it keeps going and going and you can’t get back that fight or edge. Some games we looked great and some we looked average.”

“We had a nice start and we were top of the League and winning games by quite a few goals every night it seemed,” said Brian Boucher.

In the end, the taste left in the mouth of the team is much of the same as it was last year. After all, only one team can come away feeling good about themselves and that of course is the Stanley Cup Champion.

“Again, last year was the same objective as it was this year and when you don’t reach it it’s hard to find anything that you can hang on to,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette.

“There’s no question that we were inconsistent down the stretch in the last 20 games,” added Laviolette. “I think what our identity was and how we played the first 50-60 games… I think it’s an energy thing. Even though you can’t see energy, I think you can see it. When the team is going and they’re playing with a lot of energy and jam you can see that and when that gets removed I think you can also see that. That’s probably the biggest inconsistency in the last 20 games down the stretch, it was visible.”

The Flyers went 6-5-5 in the month of March, playing five games that went past regulation, including at one point four consecutive shootouts in which they posted a 1-3 record.

April brought a 1-2-2 record, however entering the playoffs the Flyers would face the NHL’s hottest team in the Buffalo Sabres, who went 16-4-4 down the stretch, including a 4-0-1 April in which they won their last four games and dismissed them in a tough seven-game series.

From the players, coaches and management, the focus now remains on evaluating and re-evaulating the season and looking ahead to next season.

One of those areas will no doubt be an effort to bring that energy that led them to the Stanley Cup Final at the end of 2009-10 and the domination that led them to the top of the NHL standings though the first 50 games of the 2010-11 season.

That consistency, however it is achieved, will be at the forefront, starting with Flyers training camp in early September and throughout the entire campaign that will be the Flyers 2011-12 season.

May 5
4:58 p.m.

The Flyers practiced for a good 30-40 minutes today at Boston’s TD Bank Garden in preparation for tomorrow night’s Game 4.

Having to face another three-game deficit, the Flyers media availability today was all about one question.

What will be needed to repeat history?

“We’re capable of giving more than we gave last night,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “I truly believe that. We’ve done it so many times and we did it in Game 2. If you want to get out of it, you have to be willing to fight for it the entire time.”

“Individually we’ve got to be accountable to ourselves. We have to make sure that we’re ready to play the game and we have to give everything we’ve got and we have to give all that we’ve got and more. That’s where we came up short last night.”

Richards // Giroux // Timonen

The Flyers obviously proved that no task is impossible after last year's run, however the recent Chicago Blackhawks rally from 0-3 down to force Game 7 (and even an overtime in Game 7) is even more evidence to suggest that comebacks are not a rare occurance.

With the cliché of one game at a time, one period at a time, the Flyers will certainly be looking for one other thing: goals, one goal at a time and more specifically the first goal.

The Flyers have failed to score the first goal in six of their 10 playoff games and are 1-5 when their opponent scores the first goal, but have a 3-1 record when they grab the opening tally in these playoffs.

“Everyone was pissed off this morning, being down 3-0 and we’re not where we want to be at this point of the year, but there are ups and downs and this is a down moment for our team, “ said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. “The one thing we can do is bring our forchecking and our skating tomorrow and that’s our game, so if we do that we’ll be fine.”

With last year still fresh on their minds, the Bruins will be looking for the exact same start as last night and will not be letting off the gas pedal like last year.

“We’re a determined group right now,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “We’re certainly not sitting comfortable by any means. We never have whether it was the last round or whatever. So we have the right mindset I think as we speak. And we know the importancy of tomorrow’s game and what it means and we’ll be prepared for that.”

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and forward Jeff Carter did not take to the ice with the team today, however that doesn’t mean they will be unavailable for Friday’s game.

Carter appeared in close to 17 minutes of ice-time in Game 3 after missing the previous five playoff games and recorded five shots, second-most on the team.

The Flyers will not have a morning skate prior to Game 4 on Friday due to the TD Bank Garden being used for Northeastern’s graduation ceremony during the day.

Puck drop is 8 p.m. on CSN in HD or live on the radio on 610 WIP.

May 4
6:34 p.m.


Moments before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Boston, Jeff Carter took to the ice for warm ups and will be in the line up after missing the previous five playoff games.

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger will not be in the line up and will miss his second straight game. Jody Shelley, who made his Flyers playoff debut in Game 2, is also scratched for Game 3

May 3
5:19 p.m.

In the absence of Chris Pronger, the Flyers defense did more than their share to pick up the slack in last night’s overtime game.

Ice time was increased for all d-men, but none more than Andrej Meszaros, who totaled 33:12 of time-on-ice to lead the Flyers and place second-most in the game.

(Bruins’ Dennis Seidenberg led all players with 36:26)

“You have to [play every shift]. It’s the playoffs and every game, every shift matters,” said Meszaros. “Any little mistake can cost you so you just have to stay focused and get ready for every shift you go out there for.”

Laviolette // Boucher // van Riemsdyk

The extra minutes are nothing new to the 25-year old Meszaros, who was the recipient of the Flyers’ Barry Ashbee Trophy for Most Outstanding Defenseman for the Orange & Black this past season.

With the added minutes doesn’t necessarily mean a change in role.  Most of the time, especially in the playoffs, switching lines and adding extra minutes becomes a chess game.

“Sometimes, you’re matching with other lines and other times you go out there and try to make something happen,” added Meszaros. “You have to be smart out there, but you have to play your way, like you’ve been playing the whole year.”

Meszaros has five points (1G-4A) in the Flyers’ nine games so far these playoffs, while leading them in average TOI (25:59).

Besides Meszaros, the other men on the blue line increase their minutes as well. Matt Carle posted 31:28, while Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn all played above or near the 30-minute mark in Game 2

The morning after the Flyers dropped a heart breaking overtime loss, 3-2, in Game 2 to the Bruins, one of the wounded Flyers took to the ice at it’s practice facility in Voorhees, N.J.

It marked the first time Carter has skated since he left Game Four of the first round series vs. Buffalo in the first period.

He has been out of action since Apr. 20, missing Games 5-7 of the Quarterfinals and the first two games against the Bruins in this series.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren updated Carter’s status as day-to-day while the other injuries out there, Chris Pronger, Michael Leighton and Andreas Nodl also remain day-to-day.

May 2
6:56 p.m.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren officially announced prior to the team's warm ups that Chris Pronger will not be available for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Bruins with an undisclosed injury.

Pronger missed the first five games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series vs. Buffalo, but returned for Games 6 and 7, recording one assist in the seventh game to help the Flyers to a 5-2 victory and 4 games to 3 series win.

Pronger also appeared in Game 1 vs. Boston on Saturday.

More information is likely to come following tonight's Game 2.

May 1
2:51 p.m.

The resounding theme around the locker room was pretty clear during the Flyers practice and media availability today.

Their effort wasn’t good enough.
“There was a lot of things on video that were revealing, but most of them had to do with attitude and competitiveness,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette.

Laviolette // Hartnell // Giroux // Pronger

Holding an optional skate today, the Flyers gathered at their practice facility in Voorhees to go over what went wrong in yesterday’s loss in Game 1.

The Flyers allowed for the first time in their history, allowed seven goals in Game 1 of a playoff series, and each time they seemed to show a spark of life and another comeback, it was quickly snuffed out by one or two goals by the Bruins.

The unfair, but convenient finger pointing could go to goaltending, however any notion of that was snuffed out immediately following the game.

“We could’ve been better as a group. Defense is played by five guys on the ice and a goaltender. We left our goaltender hanging tonight,” said Flyers captain Mike Richards. “Forwards didn’t come down and cover their men.  We could’ve been better as a five-man unit on the defensive end.”

Although there are no positives to take out of Saturday’s game, that in itself could be a positive.It is after all only one game of a seven-game series.

“Nobody feels good about what happened last night,” said Laviolette. “Because you didn’t do what you wanted to do in Game 1 that’s not an indication for Game 2.”

No one, but perhaps Boston and Philadelphia fans had hopes of a four-game series sweep in their favor. The size, physicality and talent on each team suggest a back and forth series.

“I think we can make adjustments, see what our opponents are doing well and see what we’re doing well and what we aren’t,” said Chris Pronger. “Again we’ll continue to work on those in practice and through video. We have been able to make some pretty good adjustments over the last couple years here, but we need to continue to do that to be successful.”

Some good news for Flyers fans… In the five previous series the Flyers have played against the Bruins, they lost all five Game 1’s, with yesterday’s loss bringing them to 0-6. Of the five series they have played, the Flyers have come back to win three times, including the Stanley Cup in 1974.

In the end that’s the prize that the team is playing for and perhaps it got lost for a single game, but if there is one thing fans and the Bruins can count on is that the team has a lot of fight to give them.

“If you look around the room, you have a lot of competitive guys,” said Scott Hartnell. “Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Prongs has been a steady d-man for us… that kind of attitude really filters throughout the group.”

April 29
4:55 p.m.

You can say what you want about matching up the forwards and the defense but the fact of the matter is the series between the Flyers and Bruins is going to be a battle to the bitter end.

“There’s not much difference,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “It went to seven games last year.  The teams are relatively the same.  The season series were all good games.  We finished second and they finished third.  The wins were one or two more in our favor.  The points maybe just a couple more in our favor.  It’s going to be a hard fought series.”
Despite using three different goaltenders in the first round, Brian Boucher posted all four wins against Buffalo.

During the regular season the teams split a pair of 2-1 victories, while the Bruins shut out the Flyers on Dec. 1 by a score of 3-0 and took a wild 7-5 victory on Jan. 13.

“You look at the goalies, we match up pretty well,” said Scott Hartnell. “Defensemen right through the forwards we all have good lines that can score, that can check.  It’s going to be a battle.  It’s going to be a fun series with a lot of stick hits.”

The Bruins have 11 forwards listed at 6’0’’ or more, while their defensive corp has seven players over 6’1’’, highlighted by Adam McQuaid at 6’4’’ and of course captain, and recently named Norris Trophy finalist, Zdeno Chara rounding out at 6’9’’.

“Boston has a good team,” said Danny Briere. “We know that we are in for a tough battle.  They have played well all year.  They are a big physical team.  They don’t seem to have any weaknesses anywhere.  It’s definitely going to be a tough round for us.”

Between the pipes is an interesting storyline to follow however. In fact, they couldn’t be more opposite considering the first round and even the regular season.

A Vezina Trophy finalist this year and the 2009 winner, the Flyers will face Tim Thomas.

During the regular season against the Flyers, Thomas held a 1.96 goals-against average and .942 save percentage starting all four games against the Flyers to post a 3-0-1 record.

Laviolette // Boucher // Briere // Hartnell

Briere, who leads the team in goals during the playoffs, also noted the differences in net between the Sabres and Bruins.

“He’s a completely different goalie than what we faced in the first round,” said Briere.  “Ryan Miller is big, tall, and plays the percentages.  You need a perfect shot to beat him.  Tim Thomas is smaller but he is all over the place.  Sometimes they are tough because you never know what he is going to do.”

Boucher has already toppled Ryan Miller, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner from last season. If you think one series was a fluke, consider last year Boucher ousted Martin Brodeur, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, and the New Jersey Devils.

He made three of the four starts in the season series, going 1-2-0, but posting a 2.95 GAA and .917 save percentage.

The numbers would no doubt give the advantage to Thomas, however this is the playoffs and it’s a completely different ballgame.

“For some reason, [Boucher’s] played well in the playoffs,” said Briere, who knows a little something about performing in the playoffs. “Apart from maybe one game where he got some unlucky bounces, he’s been strong in the playoffs.  If you look at his stats, his stats are very good.  We have confidence, and we have confidence in him.

That confidence is perhaps where Boucher’s mind-set comes from and as much as people would like to compare goaltending, he doesn’t really see it as a head to head match up.

“I don’t really focus on that too much, to be honest with you,” said Boucher. “There are a lot of good goalies in this league.  It’s a challenge every night to beat these guys.  They have a good team.  Tim Thomas is a great goalie who had a great year.  It’s going to be a good challenge.  Hopefully, we can keep the ball rolling.”

Despite starting three different goaltenders in the first round, Boucher has quietly posted a 2.10 GAA and .934 save percentage in his six appearances against the Sabres, going 4-1 in the process.

Thomas battled a speedy, offensive minded Montreal Canadiends team to post a 4-3 record and 2.25 GAA to go along with a .926 save percentage in the series.

Thomas Jefferson revealed a new declaration to encourage all Philadelphians to wear orange on all Philadelphia Flyers game days throughout the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The final signatures by Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and Flyers Alumnus Joe Watson were signed at the very spot that the original Declaration of Independence was inked 235 years ago. This event was held in conjunction with the National Hockey League’s “History Will Be Made” marketing campaign.

April 28
6:24 p.m.

IT’S 2011, NOT 2010
With the Flyers enjoying a full three days before their next series starts, they took to the ice for over an hour today following their day away from the rink yesterday.

During media availability they got their first chance to comment on their next opponent the Boston Bruins.

Which will no doubt bring back vivid memories for both Flyers and Bruins fans of last year’s epic series, it might surprise you that the Flyers won’t be thinking anything of the sort.

They will be focusing on this year and the Boston Bruins of 2011, not 2010.

“Every year is different,” said Chris Pronger, who returned to the Flyers’ line up for the last two games in the series. “You’ve got to focus on the book or whatever you want to call it, how they play this year. Every year you are going to have subtle changes and differences. They’re no different. Obviously, the biggest difference is going to be between the pipes. Last year we faced [Tuukka] Rask, this year [Tim] Thomas. It’s a completely different element in that atmosphere.”

Laviolette // Richards // Pronger // VLOGGIN with Ville's final entry

Reports suggest that Boston partially used motivation to play the Flyers in the next round, in their Game 7 victory last night over the Montreal Canadiens.

However, as the case has been all year long, the Flyers would rather focus on their own game and their own play rather than what the opponent is thinking.

“I don’t buy into that whole what happened last year or what somebody says in the newspaper,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “Are they going to play harder than they did last year because they…I don’t think it’s possible. You’re playing for the Stanley Cup. If you’re not unloading your tanks and putting all your eggs in one basket when something is happening originally the first time.”

Despite going 1-3-0 in the regular season, the Flyers are confident that the playoffs bring a clean slate, but know full well that with each round the stakes are raised and so too comes the physicality.

“As the playoffs go on they always do,” said Flyers captain Mike Richards. “Just thinking back to some of the games we have played against them this year, they have been very physical.  They have a team that works extremely hard and extremely well coached.  They have some players that are very physical on the ice, so we have to match it or better. I think it gets you into the game more when you start hitting.”

If coming into the playoffs brings a clean slate, both teams will be looking for a clean slate on the power-play.

The Bruins made NHL history by not recording a power-play goal the entire series, becoming the first team in history to win a seven-game series in that regard, going 0-for-21.

The Flyers didn’t have much success on the man advantage either, going 5-for-35 (15.4%), with two of the five goals coming in Game 7.

However as much as special teams are considered vital during the playoffs, consider this: The top two teams on the power-play in the first round did not make it out of the first round (Anaheim & Phoenix) and three of the top five teams with Buffalo being that third club.

The difference maker could very well lie in walking the fine line between putting your team down and still leaving a physical presence.

“I would imagine they’ll hit, they’ll hit and do whatever each team has to do to be successful,” added Laviolette. “With the physical play, the second word out of my mouth is discipline. It’s a fine line. You want come out, you want to be aggressive, you want to bang bodies, but you want to make sure we are going on the power play not the penalty kill.”

Over his career, Flyers center Danny Briere averages over a point per game in his career during the playoffs, recording 94 points (41G-53A) in 93 games.
Briere had six goals on his former teammate Ryan Miller in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Briere has once again gotten off to a quick start in the playoffs this year recording six goals, which ties for the playoff lead and seven points, ranking him tied for fifth in the NHL in playoff scoring.

If the regular season is any indication of how he will perform during this series then the Flyers are in good shape.

Briere leads all Flyers in career points against the Bruins with 38 points (13G-25A) in 41 games.

Last year during the playoffs, Briere led the team in the seven-game series against Boston with 10 points (5G-5A).

With much of the attention being brought on goaltenders and Danny Briere’s return to Buffalo, Claude Giroux has quietly gone about his business and ranks second in the playoffs in overall scoring.

In fact, his eight assists leads the NHL playoffs, while his nine points lead all active players in the playoffs.

(Montreal’s Michael Cammalleri has 10 points with three goals and seven assists)

Giroux is also rivaling his teammate (and housemate) Briere for points-per-game in the playoffs. Giroux now has 35 career playoff points through his first 36 postseason games.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren updated the media on Flyers’ injuries during practice:

Jeff Carter is day-to-day with a lower-body injury; Andreas Nodl is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, while Michael Leighton is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Forward James van Riemsdyk, who lead all NHL players in the playoffs in shots on goal, had a maintenance day and did not participate in practice.

April 27
10:12 p.m.

It’s fair to say that the Boston Bruins have been waiting 348 days for a chance at revenge.

With their 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the hockey gods haven given them that chance.

The Flyers will once again face the Boston Bruins for the second straight year in the Eastern Conference Semifinal setting up a rematch of the same circumstances as last year’s playoffs.

In last season’s run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Flyers completed its greatest comeback in franchise history coming from three games down, and three goals down in Game 7, to eliminate the Bruins in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  Relive: The Epic Comeback //   Regular Season Series Recap // FULL SCHEDULE

Looking back at the season series, the Flyers posted a 1-3-0 record.

“For me the Bruins present a balanced lineup,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette earlier today. “They have good forwards up front, depth up front.  Mostly when I look at the Bruins I see balance, that back end and up front. They can play a game with skill.  They can play physical, and that’s probably what I see most in them.”

The Flyers will host the Bruins in Game 1 of the series in a Saturday matinee as the Wells Fargo Center at 3 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC and 610 WIP radio.

* * *
5:17 p.m.

There was pretty much nothing going on at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees, N.J. this morning after the Flyers took it to the Sabres in Game 7 of their first round series last night. Mostly because there was no skate and the team had a complete day off according to Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette.

“It’s really good. Especially today, the guys get to stay away from the rink, they don’t have to come in and think about hockey. Even coming to the rink sometimes, its that grind of coming in and your going to work. Sometimes just a day off and a break away from that is a good thing and with the extra days we are allowed here we can utilize this to our advantage to come in fresh tomorrow.

The Flyers 5-2 victory last night gave them back-to-back elimination game victories and advanced them to the Eastern Conference Semifinal for the third time in the last four years.

Even though the Flyers got a well deserved day of rest, some couldn't stay away from their own personal social networks. Both Flyers captain Mike Richards & sophomore forward James van Riemsdyk posted comments on their twitter accounts.
The stick racks were full today with a complete day off after the Flyers earned a Game 7 victory over Buffalo the night before.

@JVReemer21 (James van Riemsdyk)
"Hard fought series, happy that we're on the winning end!"

@MRichie18 (Mike Richards)
"On to the next one!!"

The Flyers are the second team in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, and because the only other team is the No. 1 seeded Washington Capitals, the Flyers must wait until both Game 7's tonight are finished to find out who their opponent will be.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (#4) will square off against the Tampa Bay Lightning (#5), while the Montreal Canadiens (#6) will visit the Boston Bruins (#3).

The Stanley Cup Playoffs get re-seeded according to the 'lowest plays the highest seed' remaining. Therefore, should the Boston Bruins win their game tonight, the Flyers will play the Bruins in the Semifinals, regardless of the Lightning-Penguins outcome.

Should the Montreal Canadiens defeat the Bruins, the Habs will play the Caps, while the Flyers would get the winner of the Lightning-Penguins game.

Before we dive too deep into what each series would bring, the favorable opponent from a regular season statistical point would be their intra-state rival Penguins, with whom they went 4-1-1 in the series series, winning three of their last four meetings.

The Flyers went 1-3-0 each against the Lightning and Bruins, however the Lightning series featured three of its four regular season series games being decided by just one goal, including the Flyers' only win coming by virtue of a shootout.

The puck drops on Habs-Bruins at 7 p.m., while Pens-Bolts gets underway at 8 p.m. Eastern. Stay tuned to late into the night for results, and previews of who the Flyers' Eastern Conference Semifinal opponent will be.

Game vs. Buffalo was the most watched Flyers game in Comcast SportsNet’s history, delivering a 12.6 rating (383,000 households), with a peak delivery of 14.7 (446,000 households) at 9:45 p.m.  Last night’s Game 7 ratings bested the previous high set on May 14, 2010 when the Flyers came back from a 3-0 deficit in the game, and in the series, to beat the Boston Bruins and advance to the Stanley Cup Conference Finals.

During the first round of the playoffs, Comcast SportsNet is averaging a 7.8 rating (237,000 Households), topping last year’s first round by 47%. In 2010, the Flyers defeat of the New Jersey Devils scored a 5.3 rating for the series.

Fans also tuned in before and after last night’s game, with Game 7’s “Flyers Pregame Live” delivering a 2.2 rating (67,000 Households) and “Flyers Postgame Live” scoring a 2.9 rating (88,000 Households).

April 25
4:45 p.m.

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said that Game 7’s are made for men. Following the Flyers’ 4-3 victory in Game 7 at Boston of last year’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Laviolette reiterated that sentiment.

“Tonight they proved themselves men.”

Tomorrow night, the Wells Fargo Center will house one of the most prestigious occurrences in all of sports and certainly the Stanley Cup Playoff’s greatest attributes.

  Laviolette // Giroux // Richards // JVR // Boucher

“It is obviously pretty exciting,” said Claude Giroux who will play in his second Game 7 of his young career. “I think it is important to not get too excited before a game and get your rest and to stay focused on what you do on the ice, but it is pretty exciting and that is why we play hockey for good games like that.”

Throw away the playoff seeds and look at the numbers in the series thus far and you will see just how close and evenly matched these two teams have been.

Through six games:

The Buffalo Sabres have won three games. The Philadelphia Flyers have won three games.

The Sabres grabbed the early advantage by winning Game 1 (Fly-bys), while the Flyers took Games 2 (Fly-bys) & 3 (Fly-bys), only to fall victim to two straight Sabres’ wins in Games 4 (Fly-bys) & 5 (Fly-bys).

Game 5 for the Sabres was as close as they come, being decided in overtime, while last night’s Game 6 (Fly-bys) victory also required extra time, but this time the decision went to the Flyers.

The Flyers have scored a total of 17 goals in the series, while the Sabres have tallied 16 goals. The Flyers also hold the advantage in shots with a 215-184 edge.

What’s interesting to note, and what has been a big part of the storyline in this series, is that the Flyers have been out-scored by Buffalo 11-5 in the first period, while the Flyers have come back to out-score the Sabres’ 8-2 in the second period and a total of 11-4 in the final two periods combined.

Hence, Game 7 has arrived, and with it excitement, probably a little bit of anxious-nervousness, but most importantly for this Flyers group - confidence.

“I think we have a really strong will to win,” said James van Riemsdyk. “We have a lot of guys in here that have played in the playoffs before and have had success, and everyone has the same goal.  We want to fight for that goal everyday, and when things get tough, we are not going to give up.”

If the confidence in the dressing room weren’t enough, all they would have to do is look to history.

This will be the Flyers’ 15th Game 7 in their 43rd season of play. They are 8-6 all-time and have won their last two Game 7’s (ECSF vs. Boston – May 14, 2010: 4-3 W & ECQF vs. Washington – April 22, 2008: 3-2 OTW)

This is, however, their first Game 7 at home in eight years.  The Flyers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-1, in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Apr. 22, 2003.

“It’s a lot easier to feed off the home crowd,” said Matt Carle. “We had a lot of success in the playoffs last year at home. Our fans are some of the best in the league and it’ll be a real treat to have that game. That’s what you play for in the regular season to make sure these big games are in your home building and we’ll take advantage of that tomorrow.”

The Flyers are 5-3 in Game 7’s when they have home-ice advantage and being their second consecutive elimination game, the Flyers are 29-34, having gone 5-1 in their last six times they’ve been under-the-gun.

Then again, being under-the-gun is what this team is all about and when they play their best. At about 7:41 p.m. at center ice in the Wells Fargo Center, they’ll have a chance to prove it to themselves and 20,000 fans on their side.

April 23
4:49 p.m.

The Flyers are facing elimination, and although they would like not to think about that fact, they will focus on what they had to do regardless of last night’s heartbreaking overtime loss.

Win one in Buffalo.

“We are going back to Buffalo and we needed to win this next game anyway, so nothing changes for us,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “We have to go to Buffalo and win, period.”

With that attitude, the Flyers had a more than normal up-tempo practice today before they boarded a flight to Buffalo.

Laviolette // O'Donnell // Boucher

“It was more to just blow off some steam, break a light sweat and then get on the plane and head [to Buffalo]. We won’t have a morning skate so anything that we wanted to do we had to get it done today.”

All series long, the Flyers have shown flashes of brilliance in their play like the one they displayed in the final two periods of last night’s game in which they outscored the Sabres 3-0 and 26-16 in shots before the overtime period.

That’s not to say the series hasn’t been close. In fact, it’s been too close to predict. Take away a 4-2 victory in which an empty-netter was scored in the final 30 seconds, four of the five games have been decided by one goal.

Still, there exists a confidence level in the locker room that the Flyers have played good hockey throughout the series and even though they are down, they are not out.

“We feel like we’ve played pretty well,” said defenseman Sean O’Donnell. “To be down 3-2 isn’t acceptable. There were thing where we have made some mistakes and we haven’t capitalized on some chances that we’ve had.”
The Flyers faced four straight elimination games against the Boston Bruins in last year's playoffs to win the series.

Of course in order to do that it means having to stave off elimination for the first time this season.

Given that it is on the road, may actually turn out to be an advantage for the Flyers, who put up a better road, than home record.

“I think the most important thing is the belief that you’re going to go in there and win a hockey game,” said Laviolette. “I think we can take a lot of confidence from the way we’ve played in the series… we just haven’t had the results and that’s what we need to change.”

In their run to the Final last year, the Flyers faced elimination five times (NOT counting the final game of the year against the Rangers).

The Flyers came out of that with a 4-1 record, but we would be remiss if we really didn’t call it 5-1 with the shootout win over the Rangers.

Overall in franchise history, the Flyers own a 28-34 record when facing elimination from the playoffs.

Michael Leighton came into last night’s game in relief of Brian Boucher to stop 20 if 21 shots, yielding only the game-winner in overtime.

The questions remains (and will undoubtedly continue to remain until the last possible minute) who will start in net for Game 6.

Leighton’s appearance was his first NHL action since his Dec. 30th appearance against the LA kings in which he won a 7-4 decision.

Prior to his recall, Leighton posted back-to-back shutouts with the club’s AHL affiliate in Adirondack. They were his fourth and fifth shutouts in 30 appearances with the Phantoms.

Brian Boucher on the other hand is the man between the pipes that has both Flyers’ victories in the series and currently sits with an 2.32 GAA and .929 save percentage.

Don’t rule out rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovky just yet either. “Bobs” began the series stopping 24 of 25 shots in a close 1-0 loss to the Sabres, but after a rocky start to Game 2, was pulled in favor of Boucher. Throughout his rookie campaign, Bobrovsky has shown incredible bounce-back ability and even rattle off two, three and even four-game win streaks after taking a few games off.

April 21
4:40 p.m.

The Flyers and Sabres will lock horns in a best-of-three series from here on out.

And one thing is for certain. It will get a lot more physical.

“We love it,” said Kimmo Timonen. “I’m expecting us tomorrow to come out hard – really hard. I don’t know how many hits we had [last night], but I’m going to say we’re going to double it tomorrow.”

For those of you who don’t know, the Flyers registered 17 hits last night with at least one hit coming from 12 different players.

  Laviolette // Timonen // Richards // Vloggin' with Ville

“I think that’s good playoff hockey,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “There’s always emotion involved in a lot of games when you’re trying to get out of the first round and you’re giving everything you’ve got. Sometime emotions get high and tempers flare.”

Tempers built throughout Game 4 with altercations between after almost every whistle in the third period, including one's with Dan Carcillo and goaltender Ryan Miller.

The tension certainly was released at the end of the game when several scrums broke out involving Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Mike Richards and a brief verbal war between Patrick Kaleta and Claude Giroux.

The stakes will be higher and the tables will certainly be turned on the Sabres, who will no longer be in front of their home town fans, but in front of a tough Philadelphia Flyer crowd.

“I’m sure a lot of their guys won’t be heroes as much as they were,” said Ville Leino. “We’re going to be comfortable at home, come out charging and we have to set the tone. It’s going to be a hard game tomorrow and we have to come out flying.”
After the Sabres came into the Wells Fargo Center and stole Game 1, the Flyers responded with two straight victories to steal home-ice advantage back in their favor prior to Wednesday’s virtual Game 1 repeat.

Thus the Sabres and Flyers are back to square one all tied up in the series, but even though Buffalo won the last meeting, the Flyers believe the advantage is in their favor with two of the three games in the friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center.
They’ll be lots of jump tomorrow night and lots of jam. We need to harness that and use it to our advantage. - Peter Laviolette

“I’m a big believer in grabbing the energy,” said Laviolette. “It’s got to be within the realm of discipline, but they’ll be lots of jump tomorrow night and lots of jam. We need to harness that and use it to our advantage.”

This will be the 21st time in team history that the Flyers will play a Game 5 when the series is tied 2-2. They own a 12-8 record in the previous 20 games and when the series is tied at 2-2, the Flyers have gone on to win the series 13 times.

Since the NHL lockout (2004-05), the Flyers have only faced two Game 5 situations in which they were tied 2-2, having lost both Game 5's and the eventual series.

The most recent time was last year’s Stanley Cup Final against Chicago, while the time previous to that was against the Sabres in the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal in which the Sabres won Game 5 and the series 4 games to 2.

It’s important to note however, in each of those series the Flyers did not have home-ice advantage.

The last three series in which they were in the same situation, they have gone on to win Game 5 and the eventual series with the last time coming against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2004 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 4 games to 2.

* * *
10:03 a.m.

At approximate the five minute mark of the first period of Game 4 at Buffalo, Flyers C/RW Jeff Carter left the game and would not return due to a lower-body injury.

He is listed as day-to-day, along with defenseman Chris Pronger and forward Andreas Nodl.

April 19
5:31 p.m.

The team held practice today at HSBC Arena around 1:30 and with a pivotal Game 4 looming tomorrow, the Flyers know full well that the stakes will be raised and the Sabres’ back are against the wall.

“I think with any game there’s a slippery slope,” said Matt Carle. “Tomorrow night we have great opportunity to take a stranglehold on the series and I think that’s what’s important.”

The Sabres certainly don’t have history on their side. Buffalo has never won a playoff series when trailing the Flyers at any point during the series and if they didn’t have enough against them, they have never won a playoff series when trailing 2 games to 1.

The Flyers are no putting much stock into statistics as those, what they are preparing for is the Sabres to bring their best game yet to avoiding falling into a 3-1 series hole travelling back to Philadelphia

“If we go into tomorrow hoping we win we’re going to be in trouble,” said Danny Briere, who has posted goals in back-to-back games. “I think these guys are going to come with a lot of desperation… I expect to leave it all out on the line.”

Flyers’ radio play-by-play Tim Saunders and Comcast SportsNet analyst and color commentator Steve Coates were on hand for the morning skate and caught up with a few Flyers.

Some odds & ends from practice today include defenseman Chris Pronger, who continues to be listed as day-to-day with his hand injury, while Andreas Nodl is also listed on a day-to-day scale with his upper-body inury.

Mike Richards had a maintenance today and did not take to the ice today for practice said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

Goaltender Brian Boucher held his media availability today. The netminder talked about stepping into the series in Game 2 and carrying that play over into his start in Game 3.

Not long after his Game 3 victory, the National Hockey League cut one of their famous “History will be made” series of commercials staring Boucher.

April 18
12:54 p.m.

The Flyers took to the ice for the morning skate shortly after 11:30. Chris Pronger was out on the ice doing drills with the team for the first time since March. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren addressed the media earlier.

  Holmgren // Laviolette // Briere

Pronger is officially listed as day-to-day but will NOT be available for tonight's Game 3. Andreas Nodl meanwhile, is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He is out of tonight's line up as well.

Peter Laviolette announced after the team's skate that Brian Boucher will get the nod in net tonight. Boucher stopped 20 of 21 shots coming in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky in Game 2.

It will be Boucher's first playoff start since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins on May 10 of last season. Boucher was forced to leave the game due to a knee injury.

During last year's run to the Final, Boucher posted a 6-6-0 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He owns an all-time record of 18-14 with the Flyers in 34 postseason appearances, recording a 2.18 GAA and .914 save percentage.

He ranks third all-time among the Flyers in Stanley Cup Playoff games played by a goaltender (Hextall - 84, Parent - 63) and postseason wins by a Flyers goaltender (Hextall - 45, Parent - 35).

April 17
5:05 p.m.

There are many things that make playoff hockey standout from regular season play. Perhaps the biggest reason for that is the desperate play that we’ve talked about and seen for some time now.

Within that however is the fact that the two teams have become very well acquainted with each other, having played three times in the last nine days and are assured to meet at least three more times over the next week.

The Flyers’ Game 2 victory had high amounts of emotion for both clubs and with the series now shifting back to Buffalo tied at one game apiece and a fifth game assured, the Flyers expect the series to get more physical, more intense and even more nastier.

 Laviolette // Timonen // Hartnell // Vloggin' with Ville

“The battles, the fights that did happen, the one-on-ones, the confrontations in front of the net, their happening all over the League,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “That’s what the playoffs are all about. It’s about the emotion. You have to walk that line, it’s a fine line. You have to play with high tempo, a lot of energy and emotion but not cross it. We’ve done a pretty good job, but we can still be better.”

The Flyers will look to continue the offensive output of Game 2 and despite having a win under their belt there are no signs of them letting off the gas. (See Game 2: Fly-bys)

“If you relax in the playoffs you’ll be done quick,” said Laviolette. “You need that energy and you need to harness it in a positive way and a useful way to be ready to play the game.”

Game 3 now shifts back to Buffalo where the Flyers hope to retake home-ice advantage back. They went 1-0-1 in the regular season, recording a total of eight goals.

“It only gets worse in a seven-game series,” said Scott Hartnell, who dropped the gloves with Paul Gaustad in Game 2 after he upended Danny Briere off a center-ice face off. “Every hit adds up and you take a number on who’s hitting you, and who’s hitting you late… that’s why this is the best hockey of the year.”

Briere, like the rest of the Flyers, introduced himself to the series yesterday. He recorded the game-winning goal and his ninth point against the Sabres this season, having led the Flyers with eight points (3G-5A) during the regular season series.

“The amount of goals, the amount of penalties, also. It was a very chippy game,” said Briere. “I felt after every whistle they were taking shots, and I don’t know why, but they wanted to start scrums.  We just have to be a little smarter about it.”

Despite their record-breaking road record this year that saw them produce 25 of their 46 wins, the Flyers will no doubt face a tough Buffalo crowd tomorrow.

“That night where we clinched the playoffs, the building was rocking and we expect them to be just as loud and ready for us because they are just as excited as we are to go back home,” said Sabres forward Jason Pominville.

Game 3 is a 7 p.m. start, which you can catch on CSN in HD or listen live 94.1 WYSP or

April 15
5:32 p.m.

Mike Richards and Claude Giroux
A day after Game 1’s 1-0 shutout loss to the Sabres, the Flyers were very quick to point out that they believe their effort was there, but it means absolutely nothing without the results to go with it.

“I don’t think it’s the game we had a problem with, it’s the score, but that’s an issue,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “We’ll look to try and be better. We can be better defensively. We can be better offensively. There are thing that we could do better.”

A performance like the one goaltender Ryan Miller put up is not that hard to imagine, however the team is well aware that more pressure can be put on him which means more shots and more second and third chances.

“I think it’s important to keep putting pucks at the net and try to crash the net and see what’s going to happen,” said Claude Giroux. “We have to play the same way we did yesterday. We got a lot of opportunities.”

Even though on the scoresheet there seems to be a definite lack of goals, the Flyers are not as worried about that as you would think, and despite lack of success on the power play as of recent, the team knows there is a simple game plan that they must stick to and have the confidence that the goals will come.

Laviolette // Giroux // Timonen

“I thought that our players had a lot of energy. It was a hard-checking, fairly tight defensive game,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “We’ve scored a lot of goals this year, so I think there’s a confidence in our group.”

The Flyers finished the regular season third in the entire NHL in goals-per-game (3.12) and goals scored (256), not including shootouts, which turned out to be two goals shy of the NHL-leader, the Vancouver Canucks.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren updated the status of defenseman Chris Pronger, who skated today before the entire team took the ice for practice.

Holmgren stated that Pronger continues to be day-to-day and is a game-day decision for tomorrow’s Game 2 match up with the Sabres.

Flyers defenseman Nick Boynton met up with his 2nd cousin, Phillies second baseman Pete Orr, today at Citizen Bank park prior to their game against the Marlins.

Boyton (Nobleton, Ontario) & Orr (Richmond Hill, Ontario) grew up 30 minutes from each other in Canada, just north of Toronto.

April 14
11:41 a.m.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Chris Pronger will be unavailable for tonight's Game 1 vs. Buffalo. He continues to be day-to-day with his hand injury.

It will be his first playoff game missed since June 4, 2007 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final with the Anaheim Ducks. Previously he had played in 43 consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff games, including all 23 games to help the Flyers reach the Final in 2010.

This will be Pronger's 17th consecutive game missed following his hand injury, missing the previous 16 regular season games.

April 13
5:13 p.m.

EXCLUSIVE DOWNLOAD: the 2011 Flyers Stanley Cup Playoff Guide is now available! Click Here!

For a third straight day the Flyers have been working, practicing and having meetings about their opponent, the Buffalo Sabres, who will arrive sometime today in Philadelphia for tomorrow night's game.

The extra days are certainly a welcome for the Flyers, who find it a luxury to have that extra time to get into the mind of the Sabres identity.

“The bonus to starting on Thursday is that it’s allowed extra days for preparation and we’ll utilize that to our advantage,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “When you can dial in on one opponent it gives you an opportunity to really look at it and sometimes you just have to look at it and then try and implement it into your team, so I think its important that we take the time and get everything straight.”

Of course the Flyers video archives wouldn’t have to look back too far to analyze their last meeting. It happened less than a week ago, and although it was a regular season game, it had plenty on the line for both teams.

Laviolette // Timonen // Briere

“It was a big game for them too,” said Laviolette. “They needed to win and get points so I think you see a lot of what it is they’re trying to do and how they mix things up. I think it gives us a good base of their identity and their system. I think we can utilize for preparation.”

A big part of that preparation has been fine-tuning the special teams.

The Flyers power play during the season suffered from their inconsistent play, but ended up scoring three goals in their final three games showing flashes of life.

During the regular season the man-advantage went 16.6 percent, going 49-for-295, while the penalty kill enjoyed much better success, operating at 82.2 percent and stopping 259-of-313 of the opponents power plays.

However, the Flyers may not want to tweak the man-advantage in preparation for the Sabres. During the four-game season series, the power-play is operating at 41.7 percent against Buffalo, scoring five times on 12 attempts. (see
“Tale of the Tape”)

The PK has been equally good, killing off nine of 11 attempts, going 81.8 percent in the process.

While this series is not short of storylines, one that has popped up every now and then is Danny Briere’s return to Buffalo.

Now, obviously this isn’t Briere's first trip back to Buffalo since he came to the Flyers, but this isn’t just a game or two during the season. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a chance to send his former team to the golf course early.

Briere finally addressed the media today about facing his former club and some comments they had about it, although it’s not what you might expect.

“Not really,” said Briere if this series means payback for him. “It’s different now in a sense that the people that didn’t want me there are gone now, so no there’s really nothing personal about it.”

That’s not to say there aren’t any sentiments he feels for his former club.

“Motivations is easy to find,” said Briere. “I played there for so long. I know a lot of the guys and I still have a lot of friends on that team from in and around town, but I don’t feel like it’s about payback at all.”

Briere, in fact, has now played more games in a Flyers sweater (260) in the regular season, than any other team in his NHL career. His previous mark had been with the Phoenix Coyotes (258), while the Buffalo Sabres only saw him for 225 regular season games.

Flyers & Alumni open the stock market in Times Square on Wednesday.
(click for photo gallery)
In perhaps a twist of the ironic, Briere passed his 258 mark with Phoenix, in the Buffalo Sabres game on Apr. 8.

And in case you were wondering, Briere has haunted his former club ever since coming to the Flyers. He has recorded 15 points (7G,8A) in 18 games against the Sabres in his career not including the shootout winner on Feb. 25, 2008 to snap a 10-game losing streak by the Flyers.

* * *
11:36 a.m.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced during practice that center Mike Richards is not on the ice due to a maintenance day. The Flyers will have another morning skate before they take on the Sabres in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (ECQF) tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

* * *
9:19 a.m.

Members of the Philadelphia Flyers and Alumni officially marked today's opening of the stock market of NASDAQ this morning. PHOTO GALLERY

Ian Laperriere, Bernie Parent, Bob “Hound” Kelly, Joe Watson and Derian Hatcher rang the "Opening Bell" at 4 Times Square – 43rd & Broadway shortly after 9:15 a.m.

April 12
5:43 p.m.

Chris Pronger addressed the media today on the big mystery on whether he will or won’t play in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Buffalo.

“Very,” said Pronger when asked how confident he was of his return.

As for Thursday’s opener, Pronger made sure to keep that more of a mystery.

“I guess you’ll have to wait and find out won’t you,” laughed Pronger. “Everyday is a new day. Every day you feel better. Some days you have set backs, other days you have steps forward, so it’s just the nature of the beast.”

  Laviolette // Pronger // O'Donnell // Carle

Pronger did admit that he had been skating for the past seven days, although not with the team.

Flyers general manager continued to state that Pronger’s status is still day-to-day, but said that he sees his progress as coming along nicely.

Holmgren also did reiterate that both he and the team have no doubts that when he does return, there will be no concern over his level of play.

“He’s played 1154 games and 170 playoff games in the NHL. I think you can give him the benefit of the doubt in that regard,” said Holmgren.
The Flyers focused on special teams during practice today.

With or without Pronger, the Flyers are a confident group. They have managed 32 regular season games without him and ultimately are going on the assumption that they will be without him until he rejoins the full squad at practice.

“Certainly you’d like to have your pieces in there, but we don’t,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “So at this point, today in practice, he’s not there and not available to us so we prepare and plan to play Buffalo today with the guys that were on the ice and that changes daily.”

The Flyers will go into this series having to face a standout goaltender in Ryan Miller.

“I think he’s one of those goaltenders that established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the League,” said Laviolette. “He’s a big guy and a guy that they have counted on for the last four-five years to be their clear-cut no. 1 and he’s had a good career up until this point.”

Miller appeared in the third period of their game on Apr. 8 and turned aside all eight shots he faced in the third period and overtime to earn the 4-3 victory.

As with any goaltending, there are strengths and weaknesses, but rather than be concerned with one man and his game, the Flyers remain focused on their own.

“You’re rarely going to beat him with your initial shot,” said defenseman Matt Carle. “I think that we have to get bodies in front of him and a lot of the time you’re going to score on him with second and third opportunities, but our forwards are big and strong and need to get themselves established in front of the net and they’ve been great at that all year.

* * *
9:44 a.m.

A lot of odds & ends are happening this week as the Flyers prepare to open up the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here is a just a quick look.

Starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky showed off a new mask yesterday, however did not wear it in practice.

Bobrovsky clearly has taken to his nickname "Bobs" and has several figures on his mask to prove it, including Bob The Builder, Bob's Bigboy and most prominant, Sideshow Bob.

In preparation for the upcoming National Hockey League Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres, Comcast-Spectacor’s ice crew placed Stanley Cup Playoff logos in ice at Wells Fargo Center today at 9 p.m. (see photo below)

The Philadelphia Flyers will ring the NASDAQ Stock Market Opening Bell and “Drop the Puck” on the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs  on Wednesday, April 13 at the NASDAQ MarketSite (4 Times Square – 43rd & Broadway) at 9:15 a.m.

Representing the Flyers will be Ian Laperriere, Bernie Parent, Bob “Hound” Kelly, Joe Watson and Derian Hatcher.
The Philadelphia Flyers and NBC Sports Group will turn a Zamboni into an ice cream truck for the day. Flyers fans will receive FREE ice cream sandwiches shaped like hockey pucks outside of the Comcast Center at lunchtime. Flyers Alumnus Bob "Hound" Kelly, In-Arena Host Shawny Hill and Flyers Ice Girls will be on hand to Flyer Up the crowd. Packaging of the ice cream will contain a peel-and-win sticker for different levels of prizing.

The Bud Light Block Party is back! The Bud Light Block Party, which begins three hours before the start of every home Flyers and Sixers game, features live music, delicious barbecue food, Best of Philly's Dapper (Hot) Dog Cart, a Rockstar Energy Drink Lounge, The Bud Light "Bottoms Up" Portable, a kids zone and much more.

April 11

6:09 p.m.

The mood around the Flyers dressing room was clear.

“We’ve been waiting 82 games to get back to this position,” said Scott Hartnell. “Losing last year in the Final, it’s devastating and you think about it a lot. We waited all year and maybe that’s kind of why we had the slide the last couple of weeks. We knew we were in… We’re excited to get this going.”

Thursday’s Game 1 opener at the Wells Fargo Center will be the first playoff game since June 9 of last year in the Stanley Cup Final.

  Laviolette // Briere // Hartnell // Giroux // Vloggin' with Ville: Day 1

This year the Flyers made it a little bit easier to get in compared to last year’s playoff push, and despite the fact that the Flyers are the no. 2 seed in the East, just like last year, they are once again considered an underdog to the Sabres.

“I like that people are not seeing the Flyers as the team to beat,” said Briere, who during last season’s run broke the franchise’s single-season playoff scoring mark with 30 points (12G-18A) in 23 games.

“It’s not a big deal to us. Yes, we’ve had a tough stretch at the end, but it was the same thing last year. You have to show up when things matter the most and I really believe, just like I did last year in my team and my teammates. I think we have guys that for some reason are playoff performers and I look around the room and I know I can trust everybody.”

The official 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs logo being place in the ice at the Wells Fargo Center.
Among others in the room that were playoff performers last year were on Briere’s left & right. Linemates Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino combined for 38 points, while Leino’s  21 points (7G-14A) set a Flyers’ all-time scoring record among rookies in the playoffs.

Other than this past regular season where he led the team in scoring with 76 points (25G-51A) and was named the team’s MVP, the playoffs are where third-year forward Claude Giroux has particularly flourished.
“I almost have chills right now and some goose-bumps thinking of that. It’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s going to be real easy to get up for the games” - Ville Leino

After posting five points (2G,3A) in just six games in the 2009 postseason, Giroux put up 21 points (10G-11A) in 23 games last season, including several key goals which included the overtime winner in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

While it’s true that the Flyers have their eyes on Lord’s Stanley Cup after coming oh-so-close last season, what they have more in focus are the Buffalo Sabres.

“Guys have proven themselves in the past, in the playoffs I think,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “[We have] a lot of veteran players in here and a lot of experience to draw on, so we move forward and our intention is to be successful and it starts with making sure we’re ready to play the first game.”

Game 1 opens at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on Comcast Sports Net or listen on 610 WIP radio.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren gave a brief injury update on Chris Pronger and Blair Betts.

Pronger continues to be listed as day-to-day with his hand injury, while Betts is also day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Pronger missed the last 16 regular season games, while Betts missed the final three games of the regular season.

April 8
11:34 p.m.

One might think you wouldn't be able to draw any positives from losing a third period lead and suffering a fifth straight defeat.

However, playing a desperate hockey club fighting their way into the playoff picture, a hard-fought point was earned and the passion and energy that seemed to be lacking the past couple of weeks has found it’s way back into the Flyers game.

By no means is anyone from the players and coaches standpoint are happy about the loss tonight, but it sets the stage for the Flyers to close out the regular season with a bang once more.

For the second time in as many seasons, tomorrow’s regular season finale will have significant post-season implications for the Orange & Black.

While it isn’t nearly as important or dramatic as last year, what it will have is the Atlantic Division crown on the line. Something definitely worth fighting for.


The stage was set when the Pittsburgh Penguins won in a shootout against the NY Islanders to give them 104 points, while the Flyers’ 4-3 loss in overtime gave them 104 points as well. The Flyers own the tie-breaker (regulation/overtime wins) with each team playing once more.

The Flyers control their own destiny. With a win tomorrow, they are Atlantic Division champions for the first time since 2004. With a loss, they will have to play the waiting game as the Penguins take on the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday.

Should the Penguins lose to the Thrashers, the Flyers win the Atlantic. In fact, any scenario in which sees the Pens tied with the Flyers after the regular season, the Flyers win the division with the most regulation/overtime wins.
PIC OF THE GAME: Kris Versteeg fires a shot past Jonas Enroth for a shorthanded goal.

One thing is for certain on the Flyers front. They are guaranteed to either play the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning or tonight’s Buffalo Sabres. No other opponent can line up in the seeding to play Philadelphia.

The Flyers take on the Islanders tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center in a 7 p.m. start. They will present their annual end of the season team awards in a pregame ceremony.

Tonight’s turning point came just past the midway point of the third period when Nathan Gerbe’s spin-o-rama, seeing-eye goal found it’s way past Bobrovsky to tie the game up at 3-3.

Prior to that, the Flyers had stormed back from a 2-1 deficit to take a 3-2 lead with goals 39 seconds apart, including a nice shorthanded tally from Kris Versteeg.

By virtue of going to overtime, the Sabres secured one point and a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sabres put the finishing touches 1:16 into overtime as Thomas Vanek scored to give the Sabres two points.

In his return to the line up (and return to his former team), Danny Briere recorded a goal and an assist to go along with a +1 rating on the night.

The goal was also his 33rd of the season to give him a new career high, but it also gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead heading into the third period. He also assisted on the Flyers’ first goal of the night by Scott Hartnell, who also had a two-point night with a goal and an assist.

Briere’s goal was also his first in six games.

*  The Flyers went 2-1-1 in the season series against the Sabres and 1-0-1 in Buffalo… They still remain unbeaten in regulation at Buffalo in their last seven games, going 5-0-2 with their last regulation loss coming on Dec. 21, 2007 (3-2).

* Danny Briere recorded his 33rd goal of the season, which is a new career high. His previous (32) was set in 2006-07 in Buffalo & 2001-02 in Phoenix.

* With an assist in tonight’s game, Sean O’Donnell has registered at least one assists in five of his last eight games. He now has 17 points on the year, the most since 2006-07 when he was on Anaheim the year they won the Stanley Cup.

* Kris Verteeg’s shorthanded goal was the Flyers’ 13th shorthanded tally of the season which ties for the second most in the League this year.

* Claude Giroux recorded his 51st assist of the season in tonight’s game, which is the most by any Flyer since Peter Forsberg had 56 in 2005-06.

* Mike Richards was 10-for-13 on faceoffs in tonight’s game, while Claude Giroux went 9-for-13 off draws.

* The loss marks the first time all season that the Flyers have not won in five straight games.

"We had a good cycle shift and did a good job at getting the puck behind their net. Danny Briere is so good behind the net. He outwitted their defenseman and made a great pass to me.  I was able to get off a quick one-timer and I went upstairs."
     -- Scott Hartnell on his first period goal
"In the neutral zone I saw that it was a 2-on-2.  I was yelling at Scotty to get the puck to my side.  When I saw that little spin-o-rama move I was in shock a little bit. But what a great play on his part. After that when he gave me the puck, which I guess was a payback for first goal that he scored, I was just trying to put it on net and the puck found a hole."
     -- Briere on his 2nd period goal.

“We have to win a game tomorrow. Again we continue to fight for home-ice. Where it ends up you never know, but we have one game left tomorrow, in our building and we’ll play a good game.”
     -- Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette

April 7
6:01 p.m.

Danny Briere knew something just wasn’t feeling good for a few days. He had just three points in his last six games and didn’t have that jump in his game over the last few days.

It was later revealed that he was suffering from nagging lower-body soreness that kept him out of the last two Flyers games.

Well those two games are over and Briere, after a quick rest & recovery period, made clear after today’s practice, so is the soreness.

“I felt great today,” said Briere. “I came in this morning and all the pain was gone which is a good sign and out there [practice] I was able to do everything as far as pushing it and being able to do all the drills and all of that stuff. I still have another day and a half before the game so I’m happy with the way it’s looking right now.”

LAVIOLETTE // BRIERE // LEIGHTON // Flyers Mourn McGuire

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren lists Briere as day-to-day and possible for Friday’s game at Buffalo, the penultimate game of the regular season.

Briere isn’t the only one in the locker room who feels that tomorrow’s game against the Sabres will have a certain familiar feeling to it.

It should, because the Sabres are in a very similar position the Flyers were in just one year ago.

Coming down to the final weekend, the Sabres are one of four teams in which only three will make the playoffs and one going home early.

The Sabres currently sit in seventh place with 92 points and two games remaining, the ninth place Carolina Hurricanes also have two games remaining and are three points behind Buffalo and two points behind the eighth seeded New York Rangers, who also have two games left.

In short, a regulation win tomorrow will clinch a spot a berth in the playoffs.
Practice at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone today.

“I think our guys are focused and ready to move forward,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “The Buffalo Sabres are waiting for us. They’re a hungry team and are ready to play and we have to be the same way.”

“We have to be ready to play a playoff-type game tomorrow because that’s what they’re going to be coming with,” added Briere.

Already in the playoffs and now facing a desperate situation themselves with the Atlantic Division title on the line, the Flyers need to match that intensity, but more importantly want to match that intensity now that the playoff picture is a little cloudier.

“There’s an expectation in this room to be successful and you can break that down in any way you want,” said Laviolette. “We move forward now and talk about what we can do because we can’t do anything about that anymore. It’s over. We have a good hockey team and there’s a lot of confidence in this room that we’re going to be successful, but we have to put our work-boots back on and dig in a little bit, that’s all.”

Less than 24-hours after clearing re-entry waivers, Michael Leighton was back with the Flyers, texting and having dinner with his teammates again.

Oh, he was also back on the ice practicing with them as well.

“It feels good. I got in late last night and had dinner with some of the guys and it was just good to get out and practice with them and get back at it,” said Leighton.

Although he thrived with Adirondack, posting stellar numbers in his half of a season with the Phantoms, he admitted one of the toughest parts was when he did watch the team play mostly because he knows first-hand the potential they have.

“You want to see them do well regardless of whether you’re playing, so things will turn around here pretty quick.”

In 27 regular season appearances for the Flyers last season, Leighton was 16-5-2 with a 2.48 GAA and a .918 save percentage.  He went 8-3 in the playoffs with three shutouts, posting a 2.46 GAA and .916 save percentage.

After being loaned to the Phantoms on Jan. 3 of this season, Leighton posted a record of 14-12-1 with a 2.22 GAA and a .926 save percentage in 30 games.  He posted five shutouts, including his last two in consecutive appearances.

* * *
1:03 p.m.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren gave an injury update following practice today on a few Flyers:

Chris Pronger
is day-to-day with a hand injury.
Danny Briere is possible for tomorrow's game at Buffalo with his lower-body injury
Blair Betts is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is doubtful for tomorrow's game
Jody Shelley has been cleared to play

April 6
7:07 p.m.

As nice as it is to earn any regular season achievement, the Flyers’ mind-set all year has not been the regular season title, but the one after it.

Making the easiest path towards that goal has been the focus of the regular season, and to clarify, it would be nice to see both Atlantic Division Champions & Eastern Conference Champions (regular season) banners go up next October, but the true goal is the one and only tru Championship banner.

Now, the Flyers recent inconsistent play is not the end all-be all that it seems. After all the club sits with 103 points, a record of 46-23-11 and has set a franchise record in road wins (25) during a season. That's also not to say that last night's loss was meaningless. It may have had more meaning that it should be given credit for.

The fact of the matter is that they are still in position, and following last night’s loss to one of the NHL’s last place teams, may have just opened their eyes to what lay ahead of them if they lay off the gas pedal only slightly because in the NHL’s second season, there more often than not is no ‘next-game’.


“I think the playoffs bring that out in you. You’re either winning in the first round or you’re going home, so I think that [passion] comes with the playoffs themselves. That’s why we play the regular season,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “You don’t really need to know the game that well to figure out what happened last night. We got out-worked. I was real happy with today and the practice that we had, and we need to have another one tomorrow.”

Take away an early March loss to the Rangers, the majority of the Flyers’ skid have been close games, one-goal games and even shootout losses, which don’t exist in playoff hockey.

Working on drills at the day's practice.
It’s the type of loss in Ottawa towards the year's end that can very well wake up a sleeping giant, and despite the recent play, a team that is very confident in their abilities as a whole.

“We’ve had meetings the last couple days and we all know that we love our team,” said Scott Hartnell. “How much skill, how much grit and everything we have we just haven’t been putting it on the ice for the last couple of games. We had a great practice today. Up-tempo with everything and we just have to use it.”

“I think that a good dose of hard work and heavy competitiveness will take care of a lot of things that may look like bad habits,” added Laviolette. “If we ratchet up our speed and our intensity and our passion, all of those tangibles that are so important to a game not the passing or turnovers or the power-plays, but more of the ‘what makes us great’ as a team.”

Danny Briere skated with his teammates today in practice for a good, solid 40 minutes, and this already after getting to the rink early to workout before he took the ice.

Perhaps the most important fact, and what’s good news to Flyers fans, is that he skated without the yellow “no contact” jersey.

“I don’t know yet,” said Briere if asked if Friday’s game in Buffalo is a possibility. “It’s a little too early to tell. Today was just to get on the ice. I went 40 minutes plus all of the workout that I did before, so I actually went fairly hard today, now we have to wait and see how it reacts tomorrow coming to the rink and if everything is good I’ll go full tilt in practice and hopefully play Friday.”

While fans hope for a return to the line up in these last two games to help win the Atlantic and even the Eastern Conference, Briere is quick to point out that the most important thing is to return at 100 percent.

“I’ve dealt with lower-body injuries before. It’s not the same thing, but I want to make sure this time… and he other thing is we’re expecting to make a long run in the playoffs, so I don’t want to push it for no reason and have to drag that throughout the playoffs.”

* * *
12:01 p.m.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has just announced that goaltender Michael Leighton has cleared re-entry waivers and will now report to the Flyers this afternoon.

Leighton was placed on re-entry waivers yesterday at noon. This will be Leighton's first trip back to Philadelphia since Jan. 3 when he was originally placed on waivers and sent to the club's AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

Following surgery on his back and rehab for most of the early part of the 2010-11 season, Leighton appeared in one game with the Flyers, earning a 7-4 win at Los Angeles on Dec. 30, making 32 saves in the process.

April 5
11:46 p.m.

The Flyers clearly missed out on an opportunity in tonight’s 5-2 loss at Ottawa. Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals won their respective games to make the race for the Eastern Conference title and Atlantic Division crown a real dogfight.

The Caps’ 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs causes them to jump ahead of the Flyers with 105 points, while the Pens’ 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils places them one point behind the Flyers in the Atlantic Division.

PIC OF THE NIGHT: Bobrovsky in full stretch to make a save.

Washington Capitals – 105 pts (2 games remaining – at Florida & vs. Florida)
Philadelphia Flyers – 103 pts (2 games remaining - at Buffalo & vs. NY Islanders)
Pittsburgh Penguins – 102 pts (2 games remaining – at Atlanta & at NY Islanders)

Despite the loss, the Flyers’ magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division remains at three points of any kind, meaning should the Flyers come way with a victory in Buffalo and the Penguins lose in either regulation, overtime or shootout, the Flyers capture their first Division title since 2003-04.

The bigger concern however is getting back to steady play, which both the players and head coach agree wasn’t there in tonight’s game.

“No jump. No jump everywhere out there,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “We’ll continue to work at it.”

The loss brings the Flyers’ recent skid to four straight. It is just the second time all season they have gone winless in four consecutive contests.  They have not lost five in a row at any point in the entire season.

“It’s very alarming,” said defenseman Sean O’Donnell. “We took some penalties and we didn’t do the little things Ottawa did and we had a 1-0 and 2-1 lead and we were just flat. I can’t explain it.”


* Claude Giroux has points in four of his last five games (1G-4A). He leads the team with 75 points (25G-50A).

* Ben Holmstrom participated in his first NHL fight, taking on Senators’ Chris Neil, in just his second NHL game.

* Tonight was Mike Richards’ fifth two-goal game of the season & 20th of his career. Ironically his last two-goal game was also against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 20.

* Richards posted six goals and three assists for nine points in the four games against Ottawa this year.
* Richards and Jeff Carter each had six shots on goal and an additional four apiece that either missed or were blocked.  Carter was 12-for-17 (71 pct) on faceoffs; Richards was 7-for-11 (64 pct). 
* The Flyers lost their seventh in a row in Ottawa.  Their last win there was Nov. 24, 2007 (4-3 W). 
* Washington’s magic number to clinch the Eastern Conference is now at three points.
* The Flyers directed 10 more shots towards the net than Ottawa did (62 to 52) but the Flyers had 19 of their shots blocked and took an additional 14 that missed the net.
“We have two games left, so if we play the same way over the next two games obviously there will be some concern, but like I said I don’t know if we can just turn on a switch or if it works like that, but if we play like that in the playoffs we’ll be in trouble.”
     -- Claude Giroux

“This situation is not something we want, but we know the team we have in here is a good team. We’re not worried about that, but we just need to find ways to win and we can change that on Friday and get onto a roll heading into the playoffs.”
     -- Kris Versteeg

“We need to look in the mirror and get ready to go here Friday night – we actually need to get ready for tomorrow, then Thursday and then Friday an Saturday because this is just unacceptable.”
     -- Sean O’Donnell

* * *
1:32 p.m.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren confirmed early this afternoon that the club has placed goaltender Michael Leighton on re-entry waivers.

Leighton will have to wait the 24-hour period to clear re-entry waivers, and during that time can be picked up by any of the 29 other NHL teams and be responsible for half of his salary on their cap with the Flyers paying the other half.

According the rules of the CBA, if only one team makes a claim for the player, then he will be transferred to the claiming team. If more than one team makes a claim, then the player will be transferred to the team having the lowest percentage of possible points in league standings at the time of the request for waivers.

Leighton is coming off of back-to-back shutouts with the Flyers AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, this past week. He currently owns a 14-12-3 record to go along with a 2.22 goals-against-average and .926 save percentage in 30 games played. His five shutouts on the year with Adirondack are tied for sixth in the AHL, as well as his 2.22 GAA. His .926 save percentage is tied for fifth.

Leighton was originally placed on waivers by the Flyers on Jan. 3 and he was sent to the Phantoms the following day.

April 4
5:59 p.m.

If this were horse racing, the Flyers would have blown well past the ¾ pole in March. Now that we’re in April the Flyers are well down the homestretch in the last couple furlongs.

With three games left to play they are in a tight race for both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference regular season crowns.

The good news is – they’re in the lead.

Although tied with the Washington Capitals with 103 points, each with the same amount of games to play, the Flyers own the tie breaker with more regulation/overtime wins (Flyers - 43 , Caps - 42, Penguins - 37).

In the final three games, the Flyers have a favorable remaining schedule. Facing two teams with under .500 records (Ottawa & NY Islanders), while they face a desperate Sabres team at Buffalo fighting to make the playoffs.

Laviolette // Leino // Timonen // Flyers Recall Ben Holmstrom

The Caps will face off against the Maple Leafs at Toronto and end the year with a home-and-home series against the Florida Panthers. The Pens face off against a tough New Jersey Devils team at home, before going on the road for their final two games visiting the Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers respectively.

As much as the Flyers would like to scoreboard watch these final three games, their focus remains on their own game, pulling out of their inconsistent play, to which there are definite signs of encouragement.

“I honestly think it’s one of those things that you go through some bad times with every team and this is our bad time,” said Kimmo Timonen. “I’m glad we’re actually going through this before playoff starts because I think hard times with a team bring you together more and everybody’s in a good mood today and hopefully we can play better tomorrow.”

Tomorrow may seem like an easy match up, however the last time the Flyers visited Ottawa, the Senators took it to them and walked away with a 4-1 victory.
Dan Carcillo screens Brian Boucher at practice today.

“We’re in a good spot,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “We should just go slow with it. I think before we start talking about winning three games and just make sure we win one game and really make sure our efforts are concentrated on really what is going to be a tough game [against the Senators].”

The recent climb out of inconsistent play that seems to have been a roller coaster ride for the Flyers the past month or so is not necessarily a bad thing, but can spark a playoff run as improbable as last year for the Flyers.

“I know that when the playoffs start it’s its own identity, own separate set of events and for as many cases you can make one way, you can make the same amount in a different direction,” added Laviolette.

Lest we forget, the Flyers did not exactly streak into the playoffs last season. In fact, the club went 4-7-1 in their final 12 games last season.

“I think it’s good that we have it now so when we go to the playoffs we need to fight every night and be as competitive as we can and work really hard to win those games.”

Tomorrow the Flyers battle the Senators at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa in a 7:30 p.m. start on The Comcast Network (TCN-HD) or listen in live on 94.1 WYSP.

April 3
5:28 p.m.

James van Riemsdyk wanted to make sure he was prepared for the end of this regular season.

Not only is he prepared, his off-ice conditioning and work over the summer months have proved to make him a force coming down the stretch for the Flyers.

“He has been really good,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “When his feet are moving, being physical, and driving the way he does, good things are happening offensively for him. That’s nice to see at this time of the year. The games are really competitive for different reasons and with it being his second year and the playoffs approaching fast, we can really use James’ speed, intensity, and offense in a lot of different situations. We are happy to see that.”

van Riemsdyk opened the scoring in today’s game, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead just past the midway point of the first period. It was his second straight game with a goal and fifth goal in his last six games, where he has six points (5G-1A).

The 21-year-old is playing good hockey and surpassed both his career-highs in goals (21) and points (39) from his rookie season last year.

Danny Briere was a last minute scratch from the line up as general manger Paul Holmgren announced that he was dealing with lower-body soreness just prior to today’s game.

Holmgren addressed the media following the game and said that Briere will not play in the Flyers next game at Ottawa on Tuesday either for precautionary measures. He is likely to appear in the line up at Buffalo on Friday.

In addition to Briere, Blair Betts did not play in the third period after suffering a lower-body injury. Betts registered just over eight minutes of ice time through the first two periods, while winning 8-of-12 faceoffs he took.

“Obviously we still want to finish as high as possible but I don’t think you can be short sighted and push when guys are banged up,” said Holmgren. “That’s like Danny [Briere], there’s nothing really serious with Danny but we just want to keep him out now.  With Blair [Betts], I think we’ll have a better idea tomorrow but nothing is going to keep him out of the playoffs.  When we get to Friday’s game, is he an option? Well, we will probably air on the side of caution with him too.”

* The Flyers wrapped up their season series against the Rangers with a 4-1-1, but dropped it’s last two meetings.

* Henrik Lundqvist started five of the six meetings with former Flyers goaltender Martin Biron picking up the other start… On the Flyers side, Brian Boucher went 3-1-0 against the Rangers and Sergei Bobrovsky posted a 1-0-1 mark.

* Today was the Flyers’ 40th one-goal game of the season and 11th time in their last 17 games. They currently own a 20-9-11 overall record in one-goal decisions.

* The Flyers have appeared in 10 shootouts this season, moving their record to 3-7.  They have lost four of their last five shootouts since March 17.

* Nikolay Zherdev scored his first goal since Jan. 23 at Chicago.  He was credited with six shots, which ties his personal season high, and four hits.

* Kimmo Timonen (6) and Andrej Meszaros (5) combined for 11 of the Flyers’ 16 blocked shots.

* Danny Syvret made his season debut for the Flyers, playing in 14:48 of time-on-ice.

* Jeff Carter was credited with 13 shots toward the net – six on goal, four that were blocked and three that missed.

* Claude Giroux’s two-point game moved him to 74 points on the season.  It’s his eighth two-point game since the all-star break.  Giroux has not gone more than two consecutive games without a point since Feb. 16-18.

* Giroux also finished the season series against the Rangers with eight points (1G-7A) in six games to lead the Flyers.

Holmgren // Laviolette // Hartnell // Carcillo // GAME STORY

“I think this third period we flipped the switch. The first two periods I didn’t think we really had anything going. We were kind of dead. Going into the third period, we had more jump, we battled for the puck, and got traffic in front of their goalie. The guys got more involved.”
  -- Claude Giroux

“We talked about that lately.  This has to be a hard place for teams to come in and play, and they have to know that it’s hard.  Lately, we’ve been pretty bad at home in front of our fans.  That definitely needs to change, and we have a couple more games to get this right before we start the playoffs, so hopefully this turns around pretty quick for us.”
  -- Dan Carcillo on playing in front of the hometown crowd.

“I thought in the first period that we came out and we were hard charging. We are playing a team whose back is up against the wall and they played a competitive game tonight. It was the second period at the beginning where I thought we could have been a little bit better. We were flat. I thought we gained the steam back towards the end of the second period maybe with six or eight minutes to go.”
  -- Peter Laviolette

“He’s really worked hard and I’m proud of him.  He spent a lot of time with the assistant coach and a lot of time just by himself.  He’s worked and it shows.  We knew at some point that he’d come up as a pretty nice option for us to get in there.  Credit to Nik, he worked out and he’s played good in the games he has played lately.”
  -- Paul Holmgren on Nikolay Zherdev

* * *
10:23 a.m.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that center Danny Briere will not be in the line up for today’s game against the New York Rangers due to lower-body soreness. He is listed as day-to-day.

Briere ranks second on the Flyers in goals (32), including game-winning-goals (6) and tied for third overall in points (63) in 75 games this season.

This will be the fourth game he has missed all season and first due to injury. His three previous games missed were a result of suspension from the NHL from Nov. 1-6 following his cross check on NY Islanders’ forward Frans Nielsen on Oct. 30.

April 2
8:27 p.m.

The Flyers announced that they have recalled defenseman Danny Syvret from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, according to general manager Paul Holmgren.  Syvret will wear #26 and will be available for tomorrow's 12:30 contest against the New York Rangers.

* * *
1:59 p.m.

Not a complete off day here at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone as the Flyers held meetings and an optional skate.

The Flyers are preparing for their final four games, and while they are looking for a clean sweep of all four games to wrap up home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, their biggest challenge lies in tomorrow’s match up against the New York Rangers.

“We have to focus on getting things straightened out here and we probably have the biggest game of the year coming up tomorrow against New York,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette.

  Laviolette // Betts

And the Rangers right now are playing the epitome of desperation hockey.

They currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 87 points and hold a three-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes, who have one game in hand on the Rangers.

In addition to trying to lock up the Atlantic Division and keep Washington at bay, the Flyers just have to go back and look at their last meeting with the Rangers to exact revenge on a 7-0 loss at Madison Square Garden they suffered on March 6 to find extra motivation.
Sergei Bobrovsky won his only start against the Rangers this season.

“I think that you remember that and certainly hold on to it and leverage that against the opposition,” added Laviolette. “The reality of it is that we have to continue to win to put ourselves in the top seed in the Eastern Conference for home-ice reasons, and their facing a game in which I’m sure they’re looking at it as all their eggs in one basket because if they don’t win it there’s a chance that they won’t make the playoffs.”

Tomorrow is the series finale between the two clubs, which prior to their last meeting, the Flyers have owned this season. They are 4-1-0 including a perfect 2-0-0 at the Wells Fargo Center this season and have won their last four meetings in Philadelphia dating back to last season.

Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux has been a Ranger killer this season by posting five assists and six points in the five games thus far, while both Ville Leino and Jeff Carter each have two goals and two assists against the Blueshirts.

The game has been moved from its original timeslot of 3 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET after being chosen by NBC as the “Game of the Week”. This is the third consecutive time that the Flyers and Rangers have battled it out as the game of the week on NBC.

April 1
11:42 p.m.

Despite last night’s  4-2 setback to the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers remain in control of their own destiny with regards to playoff seeding.

The Flyers, who have a 46-22-10 record for 102 points, own a one-point advantage over the Washington Capitals, who own a 45-22-11 record for 101 points, each have four games remaining in their schedule.

Trying to wrap up the Atlantic Division is an easier task. At 98 points, the Pittsburgh Penguins also have four games remaining with four points behind the Flyers, who have to earn four points of any kind to wrap up their first division title since 2003-04.

Should the Flyers win three of their remaining four games, they can finish no further than second place in the East.

The Flyers’ remaining four opponents feature two away games and two home games. Two of the remaining teams are fighting for their playoff lives, while the other two are sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

  Laviolette // Boucher // Zherdev // Carter


* Nikolay Zherdev made his first appearance in the Flyers line up since Mar. 6 vs. NY Rangers. He recorded one assist, 5 shots and 17:43 of ice-time playing mostly with Jeff Carter & Claude Giroux.

* The line of Zherdev, Jeff Carter (5) and Claude Giroux (4) recorded 14 of the Flyers’ 36 shots.

* James van Riemsdyk recorded the first Flyers goal of the night. He has four goals in the six-game season series against the Devils.

* The Flyers’ have a 16-4-2 record against the Atlantic Division with two of the four regulation losses coming against the Devils… They close out the season series with New Jersey with a 3-2-1 record.

* JVR brings his season total to 20 goals, becoming the seventh Flyer to reach that mark this season… He also has six points (4G-2A) in his last six games.

* The Flyers committed just one giveaway tonight, tying the season low set at Columbus on October 25.
* The Flyers lost in regulation when scoring the first goal for just the eighth time this season.  They are now 33-8-5 under that circumstance. 

"Richie kind of took the puck in and slowed everything down. Me and Versteeg drove to the net and I found it going back door. It always makes it a little more special to score in front of family and friends.  Playing in front of them kind of gives you that extra little jump in your step.  It feels good to score a goal here."
    -- JVR on his goal and scoring it in front of family and friends.

“Yeah, I mean if we win hockey games we’re fine. Unfortunately the last two nights we haven’t picked up any points. We have a big game on Sunday against a team that has lost two [games] as well, so it’s going to be a hungry game on both sides.”
    -- Brian Boucher on winning the Atlantic Division & Eastern Conference

“As a group, a whole, I thought there were a few bright spots, but not enough within the concept of our team… The objective is to win every game we play and to finish first in the Conference. That’s still the objective.”
    -- Peter Laviolette