Who will play at forward for Flyers in Game 1?
Aside from whether Steve Mason practices this morning, the next most interesting lineup question surrounding the Flyers is who will play at forward in Game 1 on Thursday night.
Zac Rinaldo will return to the lineup after serving his four-game suspension. But Craig Berube has his pick from Steve Downie, Tye McGinn and Jason Akeson to fill the last remaining spot at forward. Winger Chris VandeVelde likely would be part of the equation if he was not suffering from a lower-body injury.
Downie, 27, closed the regular season as a healthy scratch in six of the last eight games. Berube was not pleased with his defensive play last Thursday in Tampa Bay.
McGinn, 23, would appear to be the front-runner. He played 10 games at the end of the season after being summoned from Adirondack, collecting one goal and one assist. He has never appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game - but has played against the Rangers three times this season.
Akeson, 23, is a bit of a darkhorse. The Phantoms' leading scorer for each of the past two seasons, Akeson has netted a point in each of his two NHL games - on the final day of the last two regular seasons. He scored in his NHL debut in his hometown of Ottawa on April 27, 2013.
"We will look at it, discuss it and make a decision," Berube said. "I think you have to look at it both ways - what kind of team you are playing and how a player is playing."
With seven 20-goal scorers, the Flyers don't seem to need anymore scoring pop. Defensive lapses need to be kept to a minimum in the playoffs, when one goal can swing an entire series. Akeson has been criticized for his defensive play in Adirondack, which has prevented a more extended call-up in the past; that probably slots him behind McGinn. Berube liked what he saw of Akeson on Sunday, though.
"He's a heads-up player," Berube said. "He's got skill and he has composure with the puck. I thought he played a good game."
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