Flyers look to rookie to fill injury gap

The Flyers' Tye McGinn takes on the Hurricanes' Jussi Jokinen for control of the puck.
The Flyers' Tye McGinn takes on the Hurricanes' Jussi Jokinen for control of the puck. (ELSA / Getty Images)
Posted: February 06, 2013

With winger Wayne Simmonds sidelined indefinitely because of a concussion, more responsibility has been handed to rookie Tye McGinn.

In almost two full games since replacing Simmonds on the top line, McGinn has played solidly on a unit with Claude Giroux and Danny Briere.

"He's a big body, and he makes a lot of room for us," Briere said after a longer-than-usual practice Monday in Voorhees. "He creates a lot of turnovers. He's always on the puck. I was very impressed the first time I had to play with him. I think Claude, too, really liked the chemistry that formed quickly between the three of us."

McGinn, who began the season with AHL Adirondack and was a healthy scratch last Tuesday against the Rangers, was on the ice for power-play goals by Briere and Giroux in Saturday's 5-3 win over Carolina. He set a screen that keyed Giroux's score.

Giroux said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound McGinn reminds him a bit of James van Riemsdyk, the former Flyer who scored four goals in his first eight games with Toronto this year.

"They have the same size. They can shoot the puck very well," Giroux said. "He's a young player. He's still learning a lot, and so am I. Every day we're just going out there and having fun."

McGinn, 22, was sent down to the Phantoms during training camp, and he had 11 goals and four assists in 33 games with the AHL team before the Flyers recalled him because of a leg injury to Zac Rinaldo.

"It's been up and down, but it's been a great journey for me," said McGinn, a fourth-round 2010 draft pick whose brother, Jamie, plays left wing for Colorado.

In six games with the Flyers, McGinn has a goal and two assists, and he has impressed the brass with his penchant for winning board battles. He said he plays the same whether he's on the first or fourth line.

"Just work hard and get the puck to them," he said of his linemates. "Get it deep and just basically do what I've been doing this year."

On Tuesday, the Flyers will be hosting a Tampa Bay team that is 7-1-1 against the Flyers in their last nine meetings, including the Lightning's 5-1 victory on Jan. 27. The Flyers looked out of gas after having played the previous night.

"We were way too soft on the battles. We weren't moving our legs," Briere said. "Nothing really to help us win games. We have to change that mindset" on Tuesday.

The Lightning lead the NHL in goals (4.9 per game) and power-play percentage (36.1 percent). In their win over the Flyers, Tampa was 2 for 5 on the power play, while the visitors were 0 for 6.

"You look at the highlights, a lot of their goals come on the power play," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "You know that means we have to stay out of the box."

In the past, the Lightning have frustrated the Flyers with their trapping defense. They abandoned the trap in their first meeting and beat the Flyers at their own game - an attacking style.

"Sometimes there are teams like that that you just can't find a way," Briere said. "You look at the way we were against the Islanders or Atlanta before they moved. Even when we played bad, we found ways to win. Sometimes it's just the way it is. But at the same time, we're going in believing we can beat them."

Breakaways. Simmonds will not play Tuesday, said general manager Paul Holmgren, who hinted that the winger is questionable for Thursday. "We don't think it's serious, but you have to make sure you do the right thing," Holmgren said. . . . Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion) has done some skating with the Phantoms but isn't ready to return, Holmgren said, adding that Phantoms defenseman Erik Gustafsson is making slow but steady progress since returning to lineup after breaking a bone in his lower leg. . . . Former Flyer Matt Carle has six points in the Lightning's eight games.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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