Flyers will try youth on blue line

Rookie defenseman Kevin Marshall (right) talks with fellow rookie blueliner Erik Gustafsson during training camp. Marshall will have a chance to fill the void left by the injured Gustafsson.
Rookie defenseman Kevin Marshall (right) talks with fellow rookie blueliner Erik Gustafsson during training camp. Marshall will have a chance to fill the void left by the injured Gustafsson. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)

Because of injuries, rookie defenders Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall are getting a shot.

Posted: November 30, 2011

With a defense weakened by injuries, the Flyers will give rookies Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall a look in the next couple of weeks before they decide a trade is necessary, a source close to the situation said.

"We want to see what they can do," the source said on Tuesday.

The Flyers defense will be without captain Chris Pronger (knee) and impressive rookie Erik Gustafsson (wrist) for about four weeks, while Andreas Lilja (ankle) isn't expected to return for five-plus weeks.

Pronger, 37, underwent surgery on his left knee on Tuesday, his fifth operation in the last 16 months.

"He's a hard guy to replace," general manager Paul Holmgren said after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees. Holmgren said the other veteran defensemen need to step up, "and you have to hope the young kids kind of hold their own."

Bourdon has played well in four games; he is plus-1 and averaging nearly 13 minutes, 16 seconds a game. Marshall has played in two games, averaging 10:40, and is minus-2.

Coach Peter Laviolette hasn't seen enough of Marshall to evaluate him, but he has been impressed with Bourdon.

"He seems to be in the right place. His head's up, he's physical," Laviolette said.

The Flyers may explore the trade market down the road, but for now they are content to go with two rookies on defense - and are contemplating trying to get Matt Walker or Oskars Bartulis through reentry waivers. Both are with the Phantoms, and Bartulis has been battling an injury.

As for acquiring a defenseman, Holmgren did not sound optimistic.

"It's not like they grow on trees," he said. "I'm not sure if anybody has an excess of defensemen right now. From people I talk to, it seems like everybody is looking for a defenseman."

Nodl claimed. Winger Andreas Nodl, who spent parts of four seasons with the Flyers, was claimed off waivers by Carolina on Tuesday.

"That's the risk you take," Holmgren said. "It's probably a good move for Andreas. He can go to another team and get an opportunity to work his way into the lineup there. He was having a tough time here for whatever reason. He was good for us for a couple years."

Nodl, 24, selected by the Flyers in the second round (39th overall) of the 2006 draft, had just one assist in 12 games this season. Known for his solid defensive work and penalty killing, Nodl had his most productive season last year, scoring 11 goals and compiling a plus-14 rating.

In 127 career games, he had 12 goals and 16 assists and was minus-4.

War of words. The war of words continued between Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley and Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky.

Dubinsky returned verbal fire on the little-used Shelley on Monday. Shelley had called Dubinsky a "weasel" in HBO's 15-minute 24/7 preview.

"It won't be long before he's out of the league because he's a terrible hockey player," Dubinsky told the New York Daily News on Monday. 

Dubinsky didn't stop there.

"First of all, if I was him, I'd keep my mouth shut if I don't play, especially since I never see him on the ice," Dubinsky said. "He's usually just yapping from the bench, and I guess now he's yapping from behind the video camera."

Shelley seemed amused by Dubinsky's remarks when asked about them after Tuesday's practice.

"I didn't mean to hurt his feelings, and obviously I did," he said with a smirk. "That's all I got."

The two were teammates with New York for part of the 2009-10 season before Shelley signed with the Flyers in the following offseason.

Dubinsky also called the Flyers' Zac Rinaldo "an idiot" because of his reckless style.

The Flyers and Rangers will meet in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

Breakaways. Laviolette reiterated that Ilya Bryzgalov, who was the backup in the last two games, is his No. 1 goalie. . . . Jaromir Jagr (groin) took part in power-play drills at practices and appears on target to play Friday in Anaheim. Injured winger James van Riemsdyk is doubtful for Friday and is 50/50 for Saturday in Phoenix, Holmgren said. . . . Brayden Schenn, who has recovered from a broken foot, was back at practice Tuesday and played on a line with Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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