The grunts chip in

Lesser-known players will continue to have key roles.

Mike Richards has been Captain Clutch during the playoffs. Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, already popular with the Flyers faithful, gained further recognition for their post-injury heroics during this magical run. Goalie Michael Leighton has captured fans' hearts as a spectacular fill-in for Brian Boucher.

There is also Chris Pronger, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound defenseman; winger Scott Hartnell, easily recognized by his long locks; and the battered-but-far-from-out Ian Laperriere.

Scoring ace Danny Briere, veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, and up-and-coming winger Claude Giroux are also among the mix of players who will be front and center for the Flyers when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

And while the play of Richards, Carter, Gagne, and Co. will largely determine the Flyers' ability to bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to Broad Street for the first time since 1975, the contributions of some of the club's lesser-known players also will make a difference.

Here is a closer look at a few of the Flyers who toil in the background but are important to the team's quest to win four games against the Blackhawks and chug from the Cup:

Arron Asham

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound right winger, signed as a free agent by the Flyers in July 2008, delivered a second-period goal, his third of the playoffs, in Monday's Eastern Conference finals-clinching win over Montreal.

Asham, 32, took a pass from Matt Carle and wristed a shot over Jaroslav Halak's glove to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage.

"Everyone's dreamed of doing this their whole life, and to get the opportunity to do it this year is great," Asham said after the Flyers ousted the Canadiens in front of 19,986 at the Wachovia Center. "It's a lot of hard work, and we're not done yet. We still have to go to Chicago and, hopefully, steal a couple of games over there."

In beating Halak, Asham gave the Flyers their first lead of the game and atoned for his miss on a breakaway (Halak made a glove save) late in the first period.

Matt Carle

In Game 5, in addition to his nifty second-period feed to Asham, the 6-0, 205-pound defenseman blocked three shots and had a takeaway while logging 26 minutes, 5 seconds of ice time on 32 shifts.

Carle, 25, notched a team-best six blocks in a Game 4 win at Montreal. A second-round pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft, he was acquired by the Flyers in November 2008 as part of a trade with Tampa Bay.

Ville Leino

To gain offensive depth, the Flyers acquired the 6-1, 190-pound left winger from Detroit in February, giving up defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round draft choice in 2011.

Leino, a onetime phenom in Finland, produced a second-period goal in a Game 4 victory at Montreal. In the first four games against the Canadiens, he collected five points.

From the Flyers, only Leino, 26, and Pronger have appeared in a Stanley Cup Finals game. With the Red Wings in 2009, Leino had two assists in a seven-game series loss to Pittsburgh.

Blair Betts

At 30, the 6-3, 210-pound center is one of the team's veterans. A second-round selection (33d overall) in the 1998 NHL entry draft, he was signed as a free agent last October.

In the clinching win over the Canadiens, Betts, a solid penalty killer and face-off man, logged 11:30 of ice time on 21 shifts and took one shot. He blocked two shots and had one takeaway.

Betts, who has one assist in 17 playoff appearances, produced eight goals and 10 assists in 63 regular-season games.

Before coming to the Flyers, Betts played with the New York Rangers for four seasons (2005-09). He totaled 25 goals and 15 assists in 304 games.


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com.