Flyers sign JVR, their No. 1 pick in 2007

  The Flyers finally signed James van Riemsdyk today, and the left winger could play for their AHL affiiliate, the Phantoms, tonight.

   Van Riemsdyck, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, played two seasons at the University of New Hampshire.

   More details to come.

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  TORONTO _ Realistically, the Flyers could finish anywhere between third and eighth in the parity-filled Eastern Conference.

   The fourth-seeded Flyers have seven games left and trail third-seeded New Jersey by six points _ and have a game in hand on the Devils.

    If the Flyers go 6-1 the rest of the way and the Devils go 3-3, the teams would finish tied with 104 points, but New Jersey would win the Atlantic Division _ and, in all probability, the No. 3 seed _ because it would have more wins than Philadelphia.

    The the Flyers need to pick up at least seven more points than the Devils to pass them.

    That's not likely. Then again, how many thought the Devils would be in the middle of a five-game losing streak?

    The Flyers will play a home-and-home series with Toronto (Wednesday and Friday)  before going to Ottawa on Saturday. Their other four games are against Florida, the Rangers (twice), and the Islanders.

    New Jersey has a difficult game Wednesday in Pittsburgh. After that, the Devils' schedule lightens as they face Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, and Carolina.

    The Flyers say they aren't focusing on New Jersey; they're focusing on securing the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round. They have one point lead on fifth-seeded Carolina and a two-point edge on sixth-seeded Pittsburgh.

   Even eighth-seeded Montreal is just four points behind the Flyers.

   On Wednesday, Marty Biron will face Toronto's Curtis Joseph ..

   It's not true that Joseph has been in the league since the days of Bobby Hull.

  It just seems that way.

   Joseph will turn 42 later this month. He will be in goal Wednesday because Martin Gerber will be serving the final game of a three-game suspension for shooting the puck at the officials last week.

  That's a break for the Flyers, Joseph is 4-8-1 with a 3.62 GAA and an .863 save percentage. Gerber is 8-12-1. 2.87 and .904.

   Biron is 26-16-5, 2.72 and .916. He has been sharp the last five weeks, although he has allowed too many juicy rebounds in his last two outings.

    The Flyers will be trying to force the play and draw penalties Wednesday because Toronto has one of the NHL's worst PK units _ 29th out of 30 teams with a 75.3 success rate. Only Atlanta (75.2 percent) is worse.

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   Notes.  Simon Gagne has 27 shots on goal in his last four games. "Earlier in the season, I was not shooting the puck enough on net," Gagne said. "I was looking maybe to pass first. Now I'm a little bit back to basics, trying to put it on the net, and my teammates go for the rebound." . . . Riley Cote (dislocated finger on right hand) is questionable for Wednesday and be may be replaced by Andreas Nodl. . . . Claude Giroux centered Danny Briere and Arron Asham in practice Tuesday.