Laviolette: Flyers forwards will need to be prepared to switch positions at any time

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mikerichards3.jpgIf you’re a head coach in the NHL and you’re going to get creative with your players and have them try out new things, training camp is the place to do it. For Peter Laviolette and the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s got a host of guys that are naturally centers that have played on the wing the last few seasons.

This time around, he wants them all to be ready for anything be it up the middle or along the wings. Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly has the details from Coach Laviolette.

“I’ve had a conversation with all the centermen and all of them feel they are better suited for the middle,” Laviolette said. “That’s what they’ve done, that’s where they’re comfortable. All of them can play the wing. They’ve all proven that at some point in time.

“I don’t have a direct answer for you as to who we’re turning into a right winger or a left winger. … We’re fortunate to be a position where we have four centermen to fill those top three spots and have three lines that can go out and hurt you.

“If that’s the case, I told those guys, you may find yourself on wing for a game or part of a game. Maybe you mix it up shift to shift. If Carter and Richards are on the ice together, I doesn’t it really matters who plays center. Cartsy (Carter) can play and Richie (Richards) can play.

“Same with Richie and Giroux. If we’re healthy all year and I have to battle that, then it’s a good thing.”

Well at the very least, we’ve learned half of the nicknames for the Flyers forwards so that’s fun. As for the position shuffling, this is something these guys have to be prepared for anyhow. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux, Darrol Powe, and Blair Betts are all naturally centers and with four lines all rolling with different purposes, not everyone is going to get to play where they’re most comfortable.

It’s a nice problem to have when these guys are all overly talented players and some of them have already had experience playing the wing. It’s not as if Laviolette is dealing with uncharted territory here with these guys, but where his job comes into play is finding the guys that best work at the pivot for the Flyers. Keeping everyone on virtual notice to be ready for anything is a good way to keep everyone sharp.

Lundqvist will start four of five remaining games

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Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.

The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.

But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.

Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.

“I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”

With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.

Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.

The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.

Raanta will start one of the final two games.

The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

Reinhart suggests benching him for an entire game might’ve been a stretch

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Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.

“It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.

“I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”

Reinhart also had this to say:

Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.

The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”

In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.

Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.

And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.

“We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”

North Dakota’s Poolman turns pro, signs with Jets

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Another day, another North Dakota departure.

Having already lost freshman Tyson Jost (signed with Colorado) and sophomore Brock Boeser (signed with Vancouver), the school has now learned that junior blueliner Tucker Poolman has signed an entry-level deal with the Jets.

Poolman, 23, was taken by Winnipeg in the fifth round (127th overall) at the ’13 draft. From the Free Press:

UND’s top defenceman was playing between 25 and 30 minutes per game and was the fourth-highest scoring blue-liner in the NCHC. He finished the season with seven goals, 30 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-18 rating in 38 games.

Poolman’s final campaign ended on a sour note. He suffered a shoulder injury during the NCHC championship game and was unable to play in North Dakota’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the NCAA championships.

Coming to America: Jackets assign Carlsson to Cleveland

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His Swedish season over, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson is coming to North America to play some hockey.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that Carlsson, the 29th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has been assigned to AHL Cleveland.

From the press release:

Carlsson, 20, recently completed his second full season with Linköping HC in the Swedish Hockey League where he collected two goals and two assists for four points with six penalty minutes and a +8 plus/minus rating in 40 games.

Linköping was eliminated from the SHL playoffs on Tuesday.

Carlsson is listed at 6-4 and 191 pounds.