If the way the Flyers defensemen Andreas Lilja and Matt Walker played last night against Montreal in a 5-1 loss is a sign of how things are going to be without Chris Pronger, it’s about to get real ugly in Philly.
Lilja saw just over 15 minutes worth of confidence-sapping ice time while Matt Walker wasn’t trusted enough to see double-digit minutes. The rest of the defenseman struggled to keep up with play, especially Matt Carle who looked lost without his usual defense partner in Pronger.
Topping off the crappy sundae was the play of Ilya Bryzgalov who couldn’t corral his rebounds while Canadiens forwards went uncovered to pounce on them for goals. Bryzgalov hasn’t looked at ease yet in Philadelphia and fans are already grumbling about it.
Do Peter Laviolette or Paul Holmgren have any backup plans to cover things while Pronger is out? Not yet, but they may have to start exploring options if things continue like this. Rolling with essentially five defenseman (Walker played just over seven minutes last night as the sixth) that have no confidence defensively nor the defensive dedication that Pronger does could mean the Flyers start working the phones.
There’s no help in the AHL for Philly so either they run with what they have or it’s time to look for a trade. All we know is that if we were Scott Hartnell, we might not be looking to buy a house in eastern Pennsylvania until things get figured out.
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.
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.
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.
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.