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Flyers Vs. Devils, Eastern Conference Semifinals 2012: Philadelphia Expected To Shuffle Lines For Game 1

With Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals a little over 24 hours away, the Philadelphia Flyers put in time at their Voorhees practice facility with a (nearly) full lineup for the first time in a long time on Saturday afternoon.

By the time the puck drops on Sunday, it will have officially been one week since the Flyers last played. While there may be some concern as to whether the red-hot Flyers have cooled off, the one dynamic that is undeniable is that the team finally had time to rest some banged up players.

With Andrej Meszaros, James van Riemsdyk and Nicklas Grossman all trying to battle back from injury (not to mention the countless others who probably have ailments that they haven’t admitted to) the week long break will allow the team to recharge their batteries prior to facing the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

While Meszaros isn’t expected to play in Game 1, it is believed that Grossmann will indeed make his return and if the team’s lines in practice are any indication, it appears as though van Riemsdyk is ready to take on more minutes.

Here are the line pairings that the team was using on Saturday:

Hartnell – Giroux – Jagr

Read – Schenn – Simmonds

van Riemsdyk – Briere – Voracek

Talbot – Couturier – Wellwood

In his first two games back, van Reimsdyk played only 7:31 and 6:46, respectively in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The lack of ice time appeared to be an instance of slowly weaning him back into the line-up rather than poor play.

With the line changes, it now appears that he is ready to play a more dynamic role in the team’s attack. If it’s any thing close to what he did in last year’s postseason, the addition will be huge for the Flyers.

By moving Read onto the Schenn-Simmonds combination, head coach Peter Laviolette is reuniting a trio that found a great deal of success back at the start of February. The changes he made are probably the smartest moves in order to make van Riemsdyk more involved and to take advantage of the Flyers’ depth.

The offensive lines weren’t the only group that changed. Here is the defensive pairings that Laviolette rolled out on Saturday:

Grossmann – Coburn

Carle – Timonen

Lilja – Gustafsson

With Grossmann back in the lineup, he can be reunited with Braydon Coburn to create the ideal shutdown pairing for the Flyers. However, the most interesting change is the absence of Pavel Kubina.

After playing only 6:52 and 4:31, respectively in Games 5 and 6 it seemed likely that Kubina had played his way out of the lineup. After a strong game from Erik Gustafsson in Game 6, it appears Laviolette has decided sitting Kubina was the best move for the team.


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