Flyers' Hartnell not taking preseason lightly

Posted: September 24, 2010

LONDON, Ontario - Don't tell Scott Hartnell that NHL exhibition games are meaningless.

The Flyers winger might take offense. To him, performing well in the preseason is the first step to his team's goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

"Even though it is an exhibition, it's time to prove yourself," Hartnell said Thursday before the Flyers dropped a 3-2 shoot-out decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the John Labatt Centre. "You want to start off well even though it's an exhibition, get some hits, make some good plays, score a couple of goals, and get ready for Game 1."

The Flyers served as hosts of a preseason game at the London arena for the seventh straight season. The arena is managed by Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Flyers.

Because all of the Flyers did not make the trip, Hartnell skated on a line with Andreas Nodl and rookie Andrew Rowe. Last season, Hartnell, Danny Briere, and Ville Leino teamed up on the Flyers' best line of the postseason.

Hartnell had a lot to do with the Flyers' advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder scored eight goals in the final 14 games of the postseason. He was one of the club's best players against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, with five goals and nine points in the six-game series.

"I thought he played his best hockey down the stretch," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He seemed to be getting stronger as the season really wore on in the end, to the point where he was one of our players that factored most in the opportunities we got."

That was a big difference from the 28-year-old's regular-season performance.

Coming off a career-best 30 goals in 2008-09, Hartnell was expected to dominate last season. However, he scored just 14 goals in the regular season and had three goal-scoring droughts of at least 12 games.

"You look at my career, I have always been a streaky player," Hartnell said.

Perhaps that's why Hartnell has not set a number of goals he expects to score this season. He said his only goal is to duplicate what the Pittsburgh Penguins did two seasons ago. They won the Stanley Cup in 2009, one season after losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the finals.

Brian Boucher, expected to be goalie Michael Leighton's backup, played the first two periods for the Flyers and gave up one goal Thursday night.

Going 11th in the shoot-out for the Leafs, Colby Armstrong fired the puck past Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for the win.

The Leafs improved to 2-1 in the preseason, while the Flyers dropped to 1-0-1. Both of the Flyers' exhibition games were decided in shoot-outs.

Loose pucks. The Flyers who played Thursday were expected to fly home after the game. On Friday, a different group of Flyers will play a preseason game in Toronto against the Leafs. That group will travel to Minnesota for Saturday's game against the Wild.

Thursday was a homecoming for Flyers center Jeff Carter, who grew up playing hockey in London. He had a cheering section of about 100 people.


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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