Tim Thomas

No lineup changes expected in Boston-Philadelphia; American-born players to watch

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The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping for some big changes in tonight’s Game 2 match against the Boston Bruins, but those alterations must come from improved execution rather than fresh faces. Joe Haggerty reports that both teams are expected to feature the same lineups as Game 1 (yes, that includes Brian Boucher as the Flyers’ starter).

Boston @ Philadelphia (Versus)- 7:30 p.m. ET; Bruins lead series 1-0

Along with paying special attention to Lauren Hart (and Kate Smith) singing “God Bless America” tonight, especially patriotic fans might be curious to follow American-born players tonight. As you can see from this list, there aren’t a bunch of players from the United States, but many of them will play a prominent role in Game 2. (Birthplace information via the two teams’ official Web sites.)

Notable American Flyers (who are expected to play)

James van Riemsdyk (winger) – Middletown, New Jersey.
Matt Carle (defenseman) – Anchorage, Alaska.
Boucher (goalie) – Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Notable American Bruins (who are expected to play)

Tim Thomas (goalie) – Flint, Michigan.

Again, this is a quality-over-quantity list. Both starting goalies are American, JVR is in the middle of a breakthrough playoff campaign and Carle’s had his struggles in the playoffs (his -7 rating indicates things haven’t always gone well), yet he’s still an important Philly defenseman who has been averaging 22 minutes per game in the playoffs. Obviously, all eyes were going to be on Boucher anyway, but now some fans might find more of a reason to root for him.

Thomas is the only prominent American on a Canadian-heavy Bruins roster. Boston might not have a ton of Americans on their roster, but Thomas is one of the best goalies in the NHL. He backed up Ryan Miller in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but if those games took place this year, he probably would have been the No. 1 guy.


The natural question is: how are players reacting to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death? While Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is Canadian, he’s made a connection with many fans in the Boston area and had perhaps the most interesting reaction to the news. Here’s what he told Joe Haggerty.

Obviously most of the Bruins players are Canadian-born and prefaced any statements with that little bit of info, but many guys like Andrew Ference have planted roots in the Boston area – and have become friends with many B’s fans actively serving their country and joining in the hunt for bin Laden over the last 10 years.

Ference said his mind was on those people Monday morning, and on others who wouldn’t be at rest until justice was served with the terrorist leader that set the 9/11 tragedy in motion.

“I texted my friend Lucas right away and said ‘did you guys get him’ because they’ve all been watching Bruins games over there,” said Ference, referencing a US Army Ranger he’s befriended from Massachusetts. “We’ve been keeping tabs with them, and I know he’d been out for a couple of days because he told me they were going to ‘go out hunting for bad guys.’

“I texted him right away. He was excited because he said there were a lot of sleepless nights searching for [Bin Laden]. I’m really proud of those guys, you know? I didn’t feel it myself, but knowing them and how they put their butts on the line for us. To get a victory like that is pretty cool.”

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.