VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers defense got a much-needed lift Monday in practice with the return ofNicklas Grossmann, who said hell be ready for Game 1 of the Penguins series on Wednesday.
Grossmann missed the final three games of the regular season after a knee-on-knee hit from Penguin Joe Vitale. Grossmann (right knee sprain) will wear braces on both knees.
Ive done this before, so hopefully, it wont be a problem, he said of the dual braces. Its just getting used to it. This was a good day. It was nice to get out with the boys. Ive been skating. Im ready. I feel good.
He said the braces would not change how he fiercely defends the crease, nor will it limit his mobility.
No, it doesnt change, Grossmann said. You cant go out and think about stuff like that or it wont make you successful. You just got to keep playing the game and do things you can contribute.
Grossmann is excited to be going back to the playoffs. His former club, the Dallas Stars, justmissed the cut for the fourth consecutive year.
Its a great time, he said. Every player feels this time of year is exciting. Thats why you play 82 games to be in this. Its going to be fun. These will be hard-nosed games. Weve got a great group of guys in here and a couple days to prepare for the first game.
Looking ahead to Pittsburgh, Grossmann says the defense has to be wary of the Pens snipers James Neal (bruised thigh, 40 goals), Sidney Crosby and of course, Evgeni Malkin (50 goals), who should be a lock to win the Hart Trophy. He led the NHL with 109 points.
Crosby averaged 1.68 points a game in just 33 games coming off post-concussion syndrome.
Its their firepower up front, Grossmann said. Look at the players they have, and they are point-leaders.
They have a lot of skill up front, which is something we have to respect. At the same time, we have to play our game and not focus too much on what they do. Respect them, play hard and prepare.
Last week, Grossmann re-signed with the Flyers four-years, 14 million. He said peace of mind on re-upping was important to him. By doing so, he passed up on free agency this July.
Its something pending free agency that is always a little in the back of your head, Grossmann said. When you take care of that, you can focus more on the hockey side. You know where youre going to be, and its a first-class organization like this. Its a good feeling. I can put it behind and focus on hockey.
Ive only been with one other club. I heard a lot of guys and people talking about what kind of organization this was. A top-notch organization, a great club to be on. Just being here is a pretty short period of time, I see that. Im real happy and excited to be part of it.