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Flyers hope Gagne returns to give team better chance at avoiding elimination

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PHILADELPHIA - The Boston Bruins keep losing players to injury. They keep beating the Flyers, too.

Forward David Krejci will miss the rest of the playoffs after dislocating his right wrist in Game 3. Marco Sturm was lost for the season with a right knee injury in Game 1. And defenceman Adam McQuaid is doubtful for Game 4.

About the only consolation for the injury pile-up is the 3-0 lead Boston holds going into Friday. Sweep the Flyers, and that's more time for the Bruins to rest and work on possible new line combinations for the Eastern Conference finals.

"Teams go through those situations. Sometimes it pays off because you've played through adversity and through the grind, and it makes you a stronger team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday.

Julien just hopes they can escape Philadelphia without additional injury. The Bruins are one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.

"We just have to keep finding ways, and we have to continue to do that. We have to stay focused," Bruins centre Marc Savard said.

Savard missed 24 games during the regular season with a concussion. He wasn't even around when the Bruins made their late-season run toward the post-season.

No one who watched the Bruins only months ago could have imagined they'd be five wins away from playing for the Stanley Cup. Boston lost 10 straight games in one stretch. The Bruins even lost 10 in a row at home.

"It was finding our identity as a team. I thought we struggled with that this year," Julien said. "We didn't have that identity that we had been looking for. At the end of the month, we somehow found a way to find our identity and it seems like it's getting stronger. You just hope it keeps going that way."

Julien has found the right mix down the stretch and into the post-season. He'll have to keep mixing when he decides if Trent Whitfield or Brad Marchand will get the call to sub for Krejci in Game 4.

Krejci collided with Flyers captain Mike Richards just before Boston scored the go-ahead goal on Wednesday. Krejci had surgery to repair the wrist at a Baltimore hospital following the game.

He has four goals and four assists in nine post-season games, after scoring 17 goals and 35 assists in 79 regular season games.

That's a double whammy after Sturm tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee in Game 1.

"It's never easy to lose two guys like that. It's part of the game," Julien said. "It's one that you can't dwell on because it takes away your focus on what you have to do to succeed."

The expanding injury report hasn't stopped Boston from handling the Flyers. The Bruins have trailed only once in the first three games and they promptly wiped out that lead with goals 94 seconds apart.

Trying to spark the team, forward Simon Gagne returned to practice Thursday a little more than two weeks after he broke a toe on his right foot and is questionable for Friday's Game 4 against Boston.

Gagne was a surprise participant when the Flyers hit the ice. He wore a protective soft shoe this week and was originally hopeful he could start skating this weekend.

Now, he could play Game 4.

Gagne, who had 17 goals and 40 points this season, had a protective cover over his skate.

"It's only the first practice, it's one step closer to playing a game," he said. "For whatever reason, when I started walking on it, I felt good. I removed the boot and started walking on it. It started feeling better and better. And that's why I decided to try putting the skate on."

Philadelphia has never won any of the six series it trailed 3-0 in. Only two NHL teams have done so.

"These circumstances can bring out the best in people," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Lots of teams have rallied from 0-2, 0-3. That's part of the story here. We've got to come back."



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