Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins

Statement made? Flyers earn third win in a row

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There’s a lot of games to be played, but so far, the Philadelphia Flyers’ off-season moves are smelling like roses. In fact, let’s take a little look at how the most notable ones are working out, as they earned their third win in a row by beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-4.

Claude Giroux seems awfully comfortable being “The Man” in Philly

Yes, Chris Pronger wears the “C” for the Flyers, but there’s a lot of pressure on the new top center duo of Giroux and Danny Briere to pick up the slack after Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were traded. Giroux already has three goals in three games in a large part because of his alertness during instantaneous breakdowns; just watch him take advantage of an incredibly lucky bounce against Roberto Luongo for the game’s first goal.

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The Ilya Bryzgalov gamble is paying off so far

On paper, Breezy didn’t have an amazing night on Wednesday, as he allowed four Vancouver Canucks goals. The thing is, he also faced 40 shots and was due a statistically questionable evening after allowing just one goal in his first two starts. People were so wrapped up in his questionable contract that they forgot that the guy can flat-out play.

New forwards are fitting in already

Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek were big wild cards coming into 2011-12, but so far, they’ve been looking pretty good. While those Czech wingers provide depth offense, the most pleasant surprise has been Wayne Simmonds, who’s done a little bit of everything for Philly. Sean Courturier might not avoid a demotion after his ninth game, but he’s been solid in his own right.

Don’t sleep on Pronger

If fantasy hockey draft selections are any indication, many in the hockey world assume that Pronger is next to done. Yet in three games, he has four points, including a goal tonight. He might not be the irresistible force he once was, but 90 percent Pronger is still better than almost any blueliner in the league – and it’s possible that no one is meaner.

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Yes, it’s early on, but this Flyers team defeated the two 2011 Stanley Cup finalists in their first three games. If they can beat their Western Conference doppelgangers the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, it might be time to start taking this Philly experiment seriously.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay