Flyers' Lauridsen makes impressive debut

Boston Bruins' Nathan Horton (18) checks Oliver Lauridsen (38), of Denmark, in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Philadelphia. (Michael Perez/AP)

So far, so good.

Oliver Lauridsen made an impressive NHL debut on Saturday, helping the Flyers surprise the Boston Bruins, 3-1, and inch to within four points of eighth place in the East.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lauridsen was part of a makeshift defense that was used because of injuries to Braydon Coburn, Nick Grossmann and Andrej Meszaros. Of that trio, only Grossmann is expected to return in the regular season.

If he performs like he did on Saturday, Lauridsen will remain in the lineup. Playing alongside Luke Schenn (team-high 23:42 of ice time), Lauridsen contributed three hits, three blocked shots, and numerous shrewd decisions in 17:12.

“He’s got a good stick and he’s really smart with the puck,” captain Claude Giroux said. “I’ve never seen him play before, but he’s a really good player.”

Lauridsen, 24, a stay-at-home defenseman, was recalled from the AHL Phantoms because of Coburn’s separated shoulder.

“I was really stoked. It was a great feeling,” he said of the promotion. “It’s what you’ve been waiting for….This is what you work for your whole life, and it’s nice to get a shot in Philadelphia with the big show.”

Lauridsen conceded it took him a while to feel comfortable.

“Obviously I was a little nervous at the start,” he said. “It felt really good to get the first period out of the way, and then my instincts kind of took over after that.”

Schenn had been paired with Kimmo Timonen most of the season, but coach Peter Laviolette broke up the duo Saturday.

“If you look at the matchups, I thought it would be best to split up our game, put him (Lauridsen) and Luke out there against that big line of big bodies,” Laviolette. “I wanted to put big bodies on big bodies as much as possible.”

Lauridsen said he and Schenn “kind of play the same way, so it was pretty easy; I could anticipate what he was wanted to do, and I think he could do the same with me.”

 Laviolette showed confidence in Lauridsen, putting on the ice in the waning minutes despite his inexperience.

 “I think when a young player comes in, you want to watch him and see how he’s doing in his first game and see how he progresses….and he did a good job defensively,” Laviolette said. “If you have a guy that’s playing a good game and doing what he’s asked to, it doesn’t make sense  keep him on the bench and change things up in the final five or ten minutes. He played a strong game for us.”

Before the game, Laviolette tried to calm down Lauridsen.

“Coach Lavy just told me not to be nervous and that there was a reason I was here _ and to go out and play like it was any other hockey game,” Lauridsen said.

Lauridsen became the eighth Denmark native to play in the NHL and the first to play for the Flyers.

Quotable.  Flyers chairman Ed Snider, talking before the game about goalie Ilya Bryzgalov:  “I don't think Bryzgalov has been the problem. I mean, he's had to face so many breakaways and two-on-ones where we turn over the puck suddenly. I think it's the team. I think we're fine in goal.”

Bryzgalov then made 33 saves to spark the win.

Breakaways. Lauridsen’s strong debut means newly acquired Kent Huskins will probably be a healthy scratch Sunday against visiting Washington. Huskins was acquired Saturday from Detroit for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2014. “He’s an experienced guy who can give us a little depth,” GM Paul Holmgren said….On Sunday at 6 p.m., the Flyers will try to make it two straight wins _ which, believe it or not, would match their season high…. The Flyers won 56 percent of the faceoffs and outhit Boston, 33-24….Brayden Schenn had an assist, seven hits and won nine of 13 faceoffs…..Giroux and Luke Schenn were each plus-2. Lauridsen was even in the plus-minus ratings…..Ruslan Fedotenko’s empty-net score was his first goal in 29 games…..Sean Couturier had his first point in 16 games.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.