Figuring Out the Flyers: Depleted defense

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Figuring Out the Flyers: Depleted defense

Each day between now and the Flyers first game, Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker will take a stab at answering one big question facing the 2012-13 Philadelphia Flyers.

Up first: How will the Flyers compensate for injuries along the blue line?

Tim: This is the most dicey aspect of the Flyers' entire roster. There is no sugar-coating that their depth has been blown apart with starters Erik Gustafsson (foot) and Marc-Andre Bourdon (post-concussion syndrome) both injured and with top-three D-man Andrej Meszaros admitting hes not sure he is ready for game competition after rehabbing his right Achilles tendon the entire lockout. Suddenly, Bruno Gervais, who was signed as a free agent for depth purposes, will become a full-time starter in the No. 6 spot. If Meszaros cant go, it means Gervais and Andreas Lilja are your No. 5 and No. 6 D-men. No way this defense is anywhere as mobile, skilled or defensively sound as it was in October 2011 with Chris Pronger and Matt Carle. One of the reasons goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was so strong in March was because the Flyers' defense was performing well in front of him. Double-trouble ahead.

Sarah: Anyone who's followed Tim and me over the offseason knows we're both concerned about the state of the Flyers' defense. But maybe, in a weird way, the injury-weakened D might not be as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. Really bear with me for just a second. Back in Phoenix, Ilya Bryzgalov faced a lot more shots than he has so far here in Philly. In 2010-11 with the Coyotes, for instance, Bryz faced 2,125 shots. Last season with the Flyers? 1,554. With some goaltenders, facing extra pressure allows them to get in more of a rhythm, and perhaps this could be the case with Bryzgalov behind a Flyers defense corps thats maybe not blocking as many shots as it was last year. If not, the other sort of good news is: minor-leaguers the Flyers recalled last season on defense fit in seamlessly with the club (i.e. Brandon Manning). Theyre hopeful thats once again the case.

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

Best of NHL: Sergei Bobrovsky ties career high with 32nd win as Blue Jackets top Rangers

Best of NHL: Sergei Bobrovsky ties career high with 32nd win as Blue Jackets top Rangers

NEW YORK -- Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg each scored twice to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots to tie his career high with his 32nd win. Josh Anderson also scored and Oliver Bjorkstrand had two assists to help the Blue Jackets win for the fourth time in five games.

Columbus won for the second time in two days after its bye week and moved past the Rangers into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Blue Jackets won three of five in the season series -- including both games at Madison Square Garden -- after losing seven straight meetings coming in.

Rick Nash scored a tying goal for the Rangers early in the first period. Jesper Fast scored in the final second, and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 26 saves (see full recap).

Surging Blackhawks beat Blues on late Anisimov goal
CHICAGO -- Artem Anisimov scored with 5:20 left in the third period to lift the Chicago Blackhawks over the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night for their fourth straight win and ninth in their last 10.

Anisimov beat Jake Allen on the glove side from the right edge of the crease for his 22nd goal after taking a pinpoint cross-ice pass from linemate Artemi Panarin. Tanner Kero added an empty-netter with 2.6 seconds left.

Patrick Kane assisted on Anisimov's winner and scored a power-play goal. Jonathan Toews also had a goal and an assist for surging Chicago, which pulled one point behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had an assist for his 500th NHL point.

Magnus Paajarvi and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Blues, who played their first game following their bye week and lost their third straight (see full recap).

Gaudreau's 2 goals helps Flames down Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist to help the Calgary Flames beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Sunday.

Micheal Ferland also scored for the Flames. They have earned at least one point in six straight games, going 5-0-1 in that stretch to move into playoff position in the Western Conference.

Victor Rask scored on the power play for Carolina. The Hurricanes have lost six of seven to fall into last place in the Metropolitan Division.

Brian Elliott made 34 saves for the Flames, with his best coming with roughly 15 minutes to play when he stopped Jeff Skinner from point-blank range.

Eddie Lack finished with 21 saves. He made his second straight start for Carolina (see full recap).

Turris, Anderson lead Senators past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kyle Turris scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and Craig Anderson stopped 37 shots to lift the Ottawa Senators over the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday night.

Zack Smith had an early short-handed goal for the Senators, who have won four of six.

Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida, and James Reimer made 31 saves. The Panthers have lost three straight after sweeping a five-game road trip, and dropped their last four home games overall.

Turris put Ottawa ahead when his wrist shot went over Reimer's glove at 9:58 of the second for his 21st goal of the season.

The Senators took a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal by Smith. Reimer blocked a shot from Erik Karlsson, but Smith grabbed the rebound and poked in the puck at 6:28 of the first. Smith has 12 career short-handed goals (see full recap).

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in a trade including goalie Peter Budaj and an exchange of draft picks.

The Kings will pair Bishop with Jonathan Quick in a remarkable veteran goaltending tandem down the stretch of the regular season. Quick returned only Saturday from a 59-game absence with a serious groin injury.

The Kings gave up Budaj, junior defenseman Erik Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and another conditional pick. Los Angeles received Bishop and Tampa Bay's 2017 fifth-round pick.

Both teams are scrapping to get into playoff position over the next six weeks. The Kings (30-27-4) are just outside the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference, while the Lightning (27-25-8) are seven points back of a playoff spot (see full story).

Wild get Martin Hanzal, Ryan White from Coyotes
The Minnesota Wild have acquired Czech center Martin Hanzal from the Arizona Coyotes in a trade that includes several draft picks.

Arizona got a 2017 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick, conditional 2019 fourth-round pick and minor leaguer Grayson Downing from Minnesota for Hanzal, forward Ryan White and a 2017 fourth-round pick. The Coyotes announced the deal Sunday night.

Hanzal was considered one of the top rental players available ahead of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has 16 goals and 10 assists in 51 games this season and 313 points in 608 NHL games, all with the Coyotes.

White, who turns 29 next month, has seven goals and six assists in 46 games this season for the Coyotes.

The move signals an aggressive approach from the Wild, who lead the Central Division and Western Conference (see full story).