Mike Knuble understands role with Flyers

Mike Knuble understands role with Flyers
March 5, 2013, 12:00 pm
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NEW YORK -- Mike Knuble has been around the National Hockey League 16 seasons. He knows about sitting down a few games.
 
He understands it is often very different when that happens to a rookie, as opposed to a veteran such as himself.
 
“As a young player, you're searching [to find] who you are and how you're going to fit into this league,” said the 40-year-old winger.
 
“Now, I'm a more veteran guy and I am what I am, and if you can use me that way, then use me that way.
 
“I think that's sort of the attitude that you have to have. You don't doubt yourself. You don't say what can I do better? At this point you are what you are. Whether you can help out ... you just try to fill a spot when you can. You love to stay there.”
 
Tonight at Madison Square Garden, the Flyers will meet the Rangers, a team that has owned them right down to their skate blades for two seasons.
 
Knuble will be back in the lineup because young Harry Zolnierczyk will begin the first of his four-game suspension for a charging hit last Saturday that left Ottawa’s Mike Lundin concussed.
 
The club also recalled Eric Wellwood from the Phantoms this morning. Wellwood, the organization's fastest skater, will be available to play in tonight's game against the Rangers but likely won't.
 
Knuble, an American winger, who also holds Canadian citizenship, left the lineup last week when Simon Gagne arrived on Feb. 27 against Washington. Truth is, were it not for Zolnierczyk’s suspension, Knuble would likely still be sitting.
 
“I'm not going to beat myself up,” Knuble said. “Of course, you don't like it, but there's a difference between not liking it and beating yourself up about it.”
 
Knuble was signed as a free agent on Jan. 25, three days after the Flyers found out that Scott Hartnell would miss significant time with a broken bone in his left foot. Hartnell is back.
 
Knuble played 17 consecutive games before Gagne took his spot and has six points (two goals) with a minus-3 rating as a Flyer.
 
“I thought I've played very well, to be honest,” Knuble said. “To be asked to come in and adjust to a lot of things very quickly and be thrown right into the fire, I thought I did a great job.
 
“I think I was very responsible defensively. I chipped in offensively and I don't think I held players back. That's my take on it.”
 
This is a critical week for the Flyers who face three teams, that for the most part, have been ahead of them in the standings since day one in the Eastern Conference – the Rangers, Penguins and Bruins.
 
All three play an up-tempo game where the 25-year-old Zolnierczyk’s speed would have been a welcome addition this week.
 
The Rangers have won five straight games over the Flyers at Madison Square Garden. They have also won eight of the last nine meetings, regardless of where played.
 
Some players would see that as daunting. Not Knuble.
 
“This is the fun part,” Knuble said. “You've gotta look at it as fun. This is great. This is what you're playing for. All those months when guys are around the world and guys are sitting back home just dying to get back on the ice, this is the stuff you can't fear.
 
“This is what you want to be in. You want to be in the mix and fighting for it every year. You've got 24 games, half the season and you're right there. This is the fun part when every game is more important than the last one.”
 
On Henrik Lundqvist
King Henrik has a rather imposing advantage going into this one with a 23-11-0-3 record in 39 lifetime games against the Flyers. He is 12-6-2 in 22 games at The Garden.
 
Lundqvist’s 23 victories against the Flyers is second among active NHL goaltenders (behind Marty Brodeur’s 47). Those 23 wins also rank second among any goaltender since 1987-88.
 
In fact, according to Elias Sports Bureau, Lundqvist’s 23 wins rank third all-time in NHL history (since the Flyers came into being in 1967). The breakdown: Brodeur 47; John Vanbiesbrouck 26; then Lundqvist 23.
 
All of which would again suggest the odds are overwhelmingly against the Flyers tonight, as they are in any game in which Lundqvist faces them.

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