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Flyers vs Devils - 1/21/2012

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Lavy sticking with his top line

Sam Carchidi

Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Jaromir Jagr have been the Flyers' best line this season, but they have struggled recently and have a combined minus-17 in their last six games.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't panicking; he said the unit will remain intact for Saturday's matinee against New Jersey in Newark.

"I've tried to be patient the entire year with power plays and lines, and I'll continue to do that," Laviolette said after Friday's practice in Voorhees.

After Thursday's 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen suggested that Giroux - who has just one goal in his last 12 games and is goalless in his last eight contests - was putting too much pressure on himself.

"I like to put pressure on myself a little bit," the ultracompetitive Giroux said. "I think that's when I play my best."

Timonen "might be right in one way, but I'd rather have a player who puts a lot of pressure on himself than someone who doesn't care," Jagr said. "There are a lot of great [players] who don't care."

After playing well in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Minnesota, the Giroux line was a combined minus-7 in Thursday's loss.

Laviolette met with Giroux on Friday. The message: Have more fun on the ice.

"The last few games I'm playing frustrated, I'm playing out of position because I want to do too much," conceded Giroux, who is minus-9 in his last six games. "I think I just have to relax. I had a meeting with Lavy today and kind of talked about it. I think it's good to kind of put that behind you."

Laviolette said when you break up lines, it shows "you don't have the confidence, and you don't believe there's a way out. I do believe they have talent. I do believe there's chemistry there. I don't have a temptation or urge to do something."

Giroux and Jagr (one goal in his last 10 games) both are searching for goals. Both returned recently from injuries - Giroux had a concussion, Jagr a groin strain - that seem to have taken them out of their rhythm.

Laviolette said there is a fine line between playing hard and trying to do too much.

Giroux is walking that line.

"You're talking about somebody who has his success not only through his skill level, but through his competitive nature," Laviolette said. "And sometimes I think when things don't go your way, you compete harder. You bring more on yourself."

Giroux had been leading the NHL in scoring, but he entered Friday tied for sixth with 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists).

"There's more expectations on him. Probably over the last few years, he had the same kind of stretch - 10 games when he scored one goal - but nobody paid attention," Jagr said. "It happens to everybody. I bet it happened to [Wayne] Gretzky, bet it happened to [Mario] Lemieux. It happens to everybody, but those players came back and they're going to score 15 goals in 10 games."

Last season, Giroux had eight- and 10-game goalless streaks.

While Giroux was kept off the scoresheet Thursday, he did try to create energy with a second-period fight against Dylan Reese.

"I like to have one fight a year, put it behind me as quick as possible," he said. "It's always fun. It's a part of the game, and I know the fans here like it, too."

"Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Jaromir Jagr have been the Flyers' best line this season, but they have struggled recently and have a combined minus-17 in their last six games."

Might be time to change the line up a bit. Hartnell with Briere?

Voracek - Giroux - Jagr

Hartnell - Briere - Talbot

Simmonds - Schenn - Read

Harry Z - Courts - Rinaldo

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"Lower body injury" probably is groin again. I didn't see anything happen, but I was a little distracted early in the first period with other stuff.

It's nice to see a Flyers goalie thoroughly outplay the opposing goalie. I'm glad that pulling Brodeur with almost 3:00 left backfired, good on Fitzgerald for taking advantage.

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LBI because the trainers let him go back too soon. Again. He'd better be deactivated until after the all-star break, bare-minimum at this point, and maybe enrolled in some Yoga. Dude needs to stretch.

He's a fitness freak but at some point the body just needs a break. 3 weeks of not skating might do him some good. Ride a bike if you want to keep your cardio up.
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