McGinn impressing new linemates Briere and Giroux

McGinn impressing new linemates Briere and Giroux

February 4, 2013, 5:30 pm
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VOORHEES, N.J. – There were very few positives to come out of the Flyers’ ugly 5-1 loss in Tampa Bay just over a week ago.

But one silver lining, according to Danny Briere – and one that has continued to pay off – was the play of rookie Tye McGinn.

“We had a terrible game, but I remember leaving that game and saying to a few of the guys around, ‘This kid can play,’” Briere said. “He’s fun to play with. He makes a lot of room. He creates a lot of turnovers. He’s always on the puck. I was very impressed with the first time I had to play with him.”

McGinn, 22, has found himself on the Flyers’ top line alongside Briere and Claude Giroux, thanks to the concussion Wayne Simmonds suffered in Washington, D.C. last Friday. He remained on the line for Saturday’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and he’ll likely stay there for the foreseeable future.

He’s a natural fit. At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, McGinn is the kind of player Giroux has needed out on the ice with him. In the brief time he’s played on the first line, he’s helped take some of the pressure off of the Flyers’ captain by using his size to create space and win puck battles along the boards. The chemistry, Giroux agreed, was instant.

“He’s playing well for us,” Giroux said. “He’s a big kid, he protects the puck well. Me and Danny are having fun playing with him. Off the ice, he’s a great guy, too. He’s good to have around the room.”

It’s been a strange season for McGinn, who began his campaign in Glens Falls with the Adirondack Phantoms. He was invited to the Flyers’ abbreviated training camp last month, but was sent back to the AHL after only four days. In 33 games with the Phantoms this season he netted 11 goals – just one shy of his total in 63 games a year ago.

McGinn returned to the Flyers on Jan. 22 against the New Jersey Devils and was immediately entrusted with time on the power play. But when Zac Rinaldo returned on Jan. 29, McGinn was scratched. In the two games since, he’s averaged about 16 minutes on the ice, and his responsibilities have grown.

“It’s been up and down, but it’s been a great journey for me,” he said. “The organization has been unbelievable to me with all the positive things they’ve said to me, and I’m just trying to do my best to contribute back to the Flyers organization.”

In six games with the Flyers, McGinn has contributed a goal and an assist, along with a plus-2 rating. It’s a lot more than was expected of him when he arrived here to take part in camp.

“Tye’s done a really nice job since he’s been here,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Getting the chance to watch him a little bit in the minors, I thought his training camp was real strong, with guys out of the lineup due to injury, there’s always opportunity. And he’s practiced well. Whether it was the training camp or regular practices or games that he’s been involved with, he’s done a nice job.

“He’s a big body on that line that can make some space out there. He’s done a nice job.”

As for McGinn, playing on a line with the Flyers’ two most-skilled players has been a pleasant surprise. Still, he said he hasn’t really noticed a big difference between the competition in the NHL and AHL.

“They’re all great players,” he said. “Pucks are always on their sticks, and guys are in the right position. The game might be a little faster (in the NHL), but everybody is just so good that you’re just kind of flowing into it.”

McGinn didn’t have any points in Saturday’s win, but Briere and Giroux both added a goal and an assist. Both players needed a jump start and had been in search of necessary line chemistry. They’re counting on more of the same going forward.

“I think Claude, too, really liked the chemistry that formed quickly between the three of us,” Briere said. “Hopefully it keeps going.”

Simmonds update
Wayne Simmonds will not play Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Flyers’ winger is now considered day to day as he works his way back from the concussion he suffered Friday, after taking an elbow to the face from Capitals defenseman John Erskine, whose been suspended by the NHL for three games (see story).

Simmonds hasn’t been experiencing headaches, according to GM Paul Holmgren, but “just doesn’t feel right.”

“We don’t think it’s serious,” Holmgren said. “But you’ve got to make sure you do the right thing.”

Loose pucks
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon continues to work his way back from a concussion and is being treated by Dr. Ted Carrick in Atlanta. Carrick is the doctor who treated both Giroux and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. … Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who recently returned from a broken leg, has now played four games with the Phantoms. When he is 100 percent healthy, Holmgren said, he very well could return to the Flyers.