Skate Update: Signs point to Kubina return

Skate Update: Signs point to Kubina return
April 13, 2012, 5:18 pm
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. Its company policy for the Flyers not to discuss lineup changes ahead of a game, but it looks as though defenseman Pavel Kubina, who was a healthy scratch for Game 1, will be in the lineup in place of Marc-Andre Bourdon tonight in Game 2.

Bourdon was injured during the Flyers 4-3 overtime win on Wednesday night, and is now listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He did not partake in Fridays morning skate.

Kubina, however, did.

The bulky defenseman, who was acquired just ahead of the trade deadline, has struggled much in recent weeks, likely a piece of why he was scratched in favor of Bourdon Wednesday night. Ever since returning from an upper-body injury (a presumed shoulder problem) in March, Kubina has seemed to struggle with his mobility and has been somewhat of a liability in the corners. In short, he has looked different from how he did after first arriving in Philadelphia and not in a good way.

Kubina refrained from discussing whether he was unable to play in Game 1 because of injury or if he was truly a healthy scratch it is that time of year in hockey, after all but he insisted he does feel comfortable in the Flyers system. He did admit struggling a bit because of some time missed toward the end of the regular season.

Always, when you miss a few games I missed two weeks in March it always slows you down at the end of the season, he said. You can practice and you can do anything, but its always different when you cant play a game, and it takes time to get your legs back. Its never easy to miss a long time pretty much at the end of the season.

That said, Kubina said he felt good after Fridays skate and should he be in the lineup tonight.

With the assumed loss of Bourdon, the Flyers defense will be significantly less mobile. Kubina, Andreas Lilja and Nicklas Grossman arent quick-skating offensive defensemen. That said, coach Peter Laviolette isnt concerned with the look of his blue line.

We have a tremendous amount of faith in all of our players, regardless of who makes the lineup, Laviolette said. Because one player comes out and one player goes in, we dont change an identity. You may change the look of a power-play unit if you were to lose a player because you have to move things around a little bit. But the identity and the system and whats worked for us for the entire year, I dont believe that you go in and you blow that up and you change it just because youve lost a player.

Finding Malkin
One of the things the Penguins say they need to do better in Game 2 is finding Evgeni Malkin on the breakout and getting him the puck.

We didn't create enough chances by breaking the puck out, Chris Kunitz said. We were maybe batting a bunch of pucks toward each other, but we were not making crisp, clean plays and giving us possession in the neutral zone.

Thats where Malkin really dominates. When he controls the puck and comes through the neutral zone and can find guys with speed. We have to get back to be able to work and get him pucks earlier so he can skate and back them off.

Winning Game 2
The Flyers are 18-12 in Game 2s after winning the series opener. They are 22-8 in winning a series after winning Game 1.

Now heres the rub: They are just 15-17 all-time when a series is tied, 1-1. On the other hand, they are 17-0 when leading 2-0 in a series.

Suffice to say, the odds favor the Flyers advancing if they come home leading this series, 2-0.

Historically speaking, the Flyers have only once gone 2-0 against Pittsburgh to start a series. That would be the 1997 quarterfinals which they won in five games.

E-mail Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com or Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

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