Flyers' Hartnell part of annual charity Beard-a-thon

Posted: April 20, 2011

BUFFALO - Only a few weeks ago, an unforgettable sign in Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center caught our attention:

"Don't feed the Hartnells," it read, with two pictures, comparing Flyers forward Scott Hartnell to an orangutan.

Hartnell, with his shaggy mop, might play like an animal in front of the opposition's net and in the corners. And if the Flyers' run in the Stanley Cup playoffs goes on long enough, Hartnell might actually look like an animal, with a thick playoff beard.

But it's all for a good cause. Hartnell is serving as the "Chairman of the Beard" for the NHL Players Association's annual playoff Beard-a-thon. It is a charitable endeavor to help the Heart and Stroke Foundation purchase automated external defibrilators for local hockey rinks across Canada.

"They asked me to do it and I was really glad to, it's something that's very special to me," said Hartnell, whose mother survived a stroke in 2001. "This is a foundation that is near and dear to my heart, I know how important getting more AEDs out there will be.

"I can't wait to grow the best beard and raise money. And, I happen to think I look pretty good with a mean beard."

Fans can contribute in one of three ways on by growing a beard and seeking donations, pledging to donate to a friend, or pledging to donate to their favorite NHL player. Claude Giroux is another Flyer involved in the Beard-a-thon.

Hartnell shaved the day after the Flyers' final regular-season game and will not trim again until the Flyers are eliminated from the playoffs . . . or win the Stanley Cup.

All Pronger, all day

Chris Pronger skated with his teammates for 30 minutes yesterday, then spent an extra 30 minutes on the ice at HSBC Arena with the Flyers' other scratches.

Pronger, who will not speak to the media until after his first game back, seems to be making progress daily with his passing and shooting. The defenseman had successful surgery on March 15 to repair a small fracture in his hand and has missed the Flyers' last 19 games.

While he probably is getting close to the point at which coach Peter Laviolette could use him in a pinch, the Flyers' 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series might have bought him a few extra days of rest.

Andreas Nodl sat out the Flyers' practice yesterday, and he remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury, according to general manager Paul Holmgren. Nik Zherdev replaced Nodl in the lineup on Monday and scored the Flyers' game-winning goal.

Captain Mike Richards was the only Flyers regular to miss yesterday's brief skate, which the Flyers said was a "maintenance" day.

No ROY for 'Bob'

The NHL announced the three finalists for the Calder Trophy, which will be awarded to the league's Rookie of the Year on June 22 in Las Vegas, and Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was not among them.

San Jose's Logan Couture, the Islanders' Michael Grabner and Carolina's Jeff Skinner are the three finalists. Couture, 22, ranked second on the Sharks in goals with 32. Grabner, 23, led all rookies and the Islanders with 34 goals. And Skinner, 18, led all rookies in points with 63.

Any votes for Bobrovsky, with a 28-13-8 record and .915 save percentage, were likely canceled out by those for Chicago rookie Corey Crawford, who had similar statistics.

Sabres' edge

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff stressed yesterday that his team needs to cut down on turnovers in the defensive zone, which led to two of the Flyers' three goals in Game 3.

"There were a lot of turnovers," Ruff said. "When you do that against the likes of [Jeff] Carter and [Danny Briere], you're putting yourself in a tough spot. But we made mistakes pushing forward and not sitting back."

Ruff then compared the Sabres' 2-1 deficit in this series to when they were 13 points out of a playoff spot in mid-January.

"To me, we're in the same position as we were 4 months ago," Ruff said. "We're a young team getting on-the-job training, so it's something you have to sit and wrap your arms around. Mistakes will be made. I'm in their corner."

Philly fan heaven

No Philly sports team had a monopoly on Monday, with Joe Blanton battling the Brewers, the Flyers facing off against the Sabres in Buffalo and the Sixers getting shellacked in South Beach, all simultaneously.

So fans, glued to your couch, what did you watch?

Turns out, Philly is still a baseball town - even in April, even with the Stanley Cup and NBA playoffs in full bloom.

More than 653,000 households tuned in to watch the games. The Phillies won the ratings war with a 12.9 rating (392,000 households) on Channel 17; the Flyers collected a 5.6 rating (170,000 households) on Comcast SportsNet, and the Sixers netted a 3.0 rating (91,000 households) on the Comcast Network and TNT.

Saturday, the Sixers slightly edged the Flyers with their afternoon game in Miami on Channel 6, with a 7.0 rating, compared to the Flyers' 6.6 on Comcast SportsNet. *

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