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Simon Gagne Out Three Weeks, Jeff Carter Out Six-Plus; Laliberte, Leino In For Game 5

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UPDATE 5:00 PM: Anthony SanFillippo reports that Carter will be on crutches for six weeks, meaning he would be able to return to the Flyers deep in the Conference Finals (again, by my quick estimation).

UPDATE 4:00 PM: The Flyers have announced that both Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne will have foot surgery on Friday. Gagne will miss three weeks, which would likely mean, by my estimation, a return around Game 3 or 4  Game 7 of round number two, should the Flyers get there. Carter is out indefinitely, according to the team. Tim Panaccio reported that he Carter was seen wearing a boot and wearing crutches today.

According to the Flyers' official site, both Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter will be out for tomorrow's Game 5.

Clearly, this is bad news.  It's safe to say Ville Leino will play, but whether Riley Cote also dresses is unclear.

With this being the playoffs, the official release said they both "suffered injuries to their right foot" and are officially "day-to-day."  It's pretty safe to say that a Flyers win on Thursday would be huge.

It also helps that the Flyers have more options than Riley Cote to suit up.  Due to the expanded rosters for the playoffs, the Flyers could also dress Jon Kalinski, Andreas Nodl, or David Laliberte.

Figuring out who will play largely depends upon the line combinations, so lets have some baseless speculation, shall we?

Jump for speculation.

UPDATE 12 PM: Leino and Laliberte will replace Gagne and Carter, according to Anthony SanFillippo. Still, jump for speculation anyway.

In the last game before Jeff Carter returned to the lineup, these were the lines the Flyers deployed:

van Riemsdyk – Richards – Giroux
Gagne – Briere – Leino
Hartnell – Powe – Asham
Carcillo – Laperriere – Betts

Honestly, those don't really help since the Flyers are now without 2 of their top 5 forwards.  With Carter out, I think it's more likely than not that Danny Briere slides back into the center position.  Really, it's between him and Giroux, but Briere seems more likely.  So Briere takes Carter's spot.  Let's try these lines:

Carcillo - Richards - Giroux
Hartnell - Briere - Leino
Betts - Laperriere - Asham
van Riemsdyk - Powe - (fill-in)

Just remember this is pure speculation.  Powe shifts back to center as Giroux gets bumped up to replace Gagne.  van Riemsdyk could swap with Hartnell (JVR had more TOI than Hartnell in Game 4), but that a) is extremely unlikely; and b) would result in a rather small and un-physical line.  Yeah, I invented a word.  Got a better one?

Here's why I think these will be the lines:  JVR already isn't getting much ice time, and he gets even less in NJ when he could be easily outmatched.  When you shift Powe back to center, he won't be getting too much ice time either.  Naturally, the two of them get paired together.  Then, when you add the fact that you're inserting into the lineup someone who has played at most 89 minutes (Nodl) in the NHL this year, that fourth line won't see much time on the ice.  Why not throw them together?

So you have a fourth line that will likely get less than ten minutes of ice time, does it matter which scrub you put in?  Yes, yes it does.  Simon Gagne kills penalties.  So far this series, he has averaged just under 3 minutes of PK time per game.  With him gone, Giroux (1:24 PKTOI/G) will likely double his PK time, with Darroll Powe (1:14 PKTOI/G) picking up some slack.  You could really use somebody to play 70 to 90 seconds on the PK to replace the contributions of Giroux and Powe (who are replacing Gagne and Giroux, respectively).  This leans me towards playing Andreas Nodl.  He averaged 1:00 of PK time per game this year with the Flyers.  He can definitely fill that role.

Now, some might say "but Gagne's a goal scorer!  Carter is a goal scorer!  Nodl isn't!"  True.  But Leino is a goal scorer, and neither Kalinski or Cote are.  Laliberte did score 46 points in 66 games for the Phantoms, so he might have an argument to be one.  But remember, these guys aren't going to score goals in the NHL playoffs.  More importantly, the team isn't going to ask them to or give them the chance.  Whoever gets inserted into the lineup will play on a little used fourth line.  Any contribution from the new player will be a bonus, and as such, you should insert the guy who can actually fill a need:  Andreas Nodl.

What do you guys think?