SAN JOSE, Calif. _ At this morning's skate, coach John Stevens decided to put his No. 1 defensive pairing together for the first time this season.
Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn have been reunited for tonight's game in San Jose (4-1). Ossi Vaananen and Luca Sbisa will be the No. 2 defensive pairing, while Steve Eminger and Andrew Alberts will be the third pairing.
Having Timonen and Coburn together should give the defense more cohesion, and Stevens is confident that Vaananen, who has played well thus far, will be a mentor of sorts to the 18-year-old Sbisa.
Antero Niittymaki will be in goal tonight.
Yesterday, in a move that was somewhat expected, Stevens changed the lines for tonight's game.
Hey, when you start the season 0-3-1, a change can't hurt.
At practice yesterday, Stevens unveiled three different lines than he had been using this season; he did use them last year.
Tonight, Danny Briere, returning to center, will be back with wingers Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble. Richards will center Scott Hartnell and Steve Downie; and Jeff Carter will center Scottie Upshall and Joffrey Lupul.
Briere had been playing right wing with Richards (center) and Gagne (left wing) this year. Carter had been centering Knuble and Upshall. On Thursday, the third line had Lupul centering Downie and Hartnell.
The moves give the Flyers strong centers on their first three lines. Like last season.
“We started last year with Danny, Gags and Knuble before Gags got hurt,” Stevens said. “We just don’t seem to have the continuity on our lines right now. Richie has played very well with Hartnell and Downie before, and Carter, Upshall and Lupul have played together, so hopefully it’ll give us a little more depth and more continuity through our first three lines.”
“We read off each other well,” Richards said of his “new” linemates.
In Thursday’s loss to the Avalanche, the Flyers’ offense was sporadic. They were outshot, 34-18 and they committed 12 penalties _ four more than Colorado _ and allowed three power-play goals in 11 chances.
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The Flyers have changed the starting time of next Saturday’s game against the visiting New Jersey Devils, moving it from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m. to alleviate some of the World Series traffic. The Phillies play in the Series that night at Citizens Bank Park at 8 p.m.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said the club also wanted “to give our fans the opportunity to view Game 3 of the World Series.”
The Flyers’ game will be telecast by Comcast SportsNet.
In case you were wondering, 4 p.m. is the earliest the Flyers can play the game next Saturday. They can’t play earlier because of an NHL Players’ Association rule that requires a certain amount of time between games on back-to-back nights. On Friday, the Flyers play in New Jersey.