VOORHEES, N.J. -- Nothing is ever set in stone with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette.
Quite often, his starting line to open a game changes the next shift out.
So its hard to make much of his line switch-ups in practice Saturday as the Flyers prepare to face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Yet it appears safe to say that James van Riemsdyk, who returned late in the Pittsburgh series from a broken foot and played sparingly, is gearing up for more ice time against the Devils with a new line.
Briere will start the series between JVR and Jakub Voracek.
Brieres former line was pretty sharp in the Penguins series with eight goals. This isnt about them, however. Its about getting JVRs feet moving now that his healed left foot (fractured) is stronger.
Laviolette needs to utilize JVRs speed on a unit where puck possession is pretty much guaranteed.
Recall JVR only played 7:30 in Game 5 and 6:46 in Game 6 against the Penguins after missing the final 19 games of the regular season. The object was to work in him gradually. JVR played on a couple different units that series.
Laviolette went into Secret Squirrel mode when asked about his lines for this series.
No comments on lines, he said, adding, if you want to run with that theory on change you are more than welcome to; just leave me out of it.
Van Riemsdyk was also reluctant to talk about it.
Well see how it shakes out tomorrow, he said. Ive played with pretty much everyone in the room here. You know what to expect with playing with different guys over the year. You do what you do best and hopefully, it works.
We have a lot of great players on this team. Its tough to say you wouldnt enjoy playing with anyone, really. Whatever coach decides the lines will be, we are ready to go.
Briere seemed a little disappointed to lose his former mates, but he knows this is about JVR and not them.
It doesnt really matter, Briere said. I have pretty much played with everybody all year long. To me, its not a big change. I dont think it has anything to do with the way Brayden was playing.
I thought our line, apart from the two games we lost, was very good the whole series. Or the games we won. Well see. There are always changes in the course of a game. Peter has options there.
JVR was a very strong player in last years playoffs with seven goals in 11 games. The coaching staff would like to see that happen again.
This is the time of year when its really exciting, van Riemsdyk said. I love playing in these pressure games. Its an exciting time. I feel better on the ice. And look forward going from there.
Here is New Jerseys expected lineup.
Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora-Patrik Elias-Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky-Adam Henrique-David Clarkson
Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier
Bryce Salvador-Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene-Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov-Peter Harold
Johan Hedberg (backup)