SCOTT HARTNELL will pay for his stick-swinging incident on Sunday afternoon.

Luckily for him, the hit from the NHL's Department of Player Safety will be on his wallet - and not the Flyers' lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series in New York against the Rangers.

Hartnell was fined $5,000 yesterday for spearing Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore. He received a 5-minute major on the play and an automatic game misconduct. It was half the maximum fine ($10,000) he could have received.

The fine was handed down by new disciplinarian Stephane Quintal, who took over for Brendan Shanahan last week after Shanahan left to become president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I was going to the net and I got a slash on my wrist," Hartnell explained Sunday. "I turned around and obviously stuck the guy and there was a little bit of a melee. Those things happen. It wasn't the smartest thing to do, especially going into the playoffs."

The money will go to the NHL's player emergency assistance fund. Through this season, Hartnell has earned $38,357,500 in his career, according to CapGeek.com. He just finished the first season of a 6-year, $28.5 million deal.

Who's in?

Aside from whether Steve Mason practices this morning, the next most interesting lineup question surrounding the Flyers is who will play at forward in Game 1 on Thursday night.

Zac Rinaldo will return to the lineup after serving his four-game suspension. But Craig Berube has his pick from Steve Downie, Tye McGinn and Jason Akeson to fill the last remaining spot at forward. Winger Chris VandeVelde likely would be part of the equation if he was not suffering from a lower-body injury.

Downie, 27, closed the regular season as a healthy scratch in six of the last eight games. Berube was not pleased with his defensive play last Thursday in Tampa Bay.

McGinn, 23, would appear to be the front-runner. He played 10 games at the end of the season after being summoned from Adirondack, collecting one goal and one assist. He has never appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game - but has played against the Rangers three times this season.

Akeson, 23, is a bit of a darkhorse. The Phantoms' leading scorer for each of the past two seasons, Akeson has netted a point in each of his two NHL games - on the final day of the last two regular seasons. He scored in his NHL debut in his hometown of Ottawa on April 27, 2013.

"We will look at it, discuss it and make a decision," Berube said. "I think you have to look at it both ways - what kind of team you are playing and how a player is playing."

With seven 20-goal scorers, the Flyers don't seem to need anymore scoring pop. Defensive lapses need to be kept to a minimum in the playoffs, when one goal can swing an entire series. Akeson has been criticized for his defensive play in Adirondack, which has prevented a more extended call-up in the past; that probably slots him behind McGinn. Berube liked what he saw of Akeson on Sunday, though.

"He's a heads-up player," Berube said. "He's got skill and he has composure with the puck. I thought he played a good game."

DIY Gardening

Want to take a trip to the Garden this weekend to see the Flyers take on the Rangers in Round 1? Just keep in mind: New York is expensive. According to TiqIQ.com, the average ticket price for a Flyers-Rangers game is $292.24 - the highest among eight first-round series.

Of course, none of the other first-round series pit two rivals located just 90 miles apart.

The average playoff game at Madison Square Garden costs $429.50, compared to $182.45 at Wells Fargo Center, according to the same data. The cheapest ticket at the Garden as of yesterday was $161.

Something to Nash on

It was an emotional scene in Nashville yesterday, as the Predators relieved head coach Barry Trotz of his duties after 15 seasons on the job. Trotz, 51, compiled a 557-479-60-100 record for a .533 points percentage. He was the second-longest-tenured coach in pro sports behind the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich and the only coach ever to step behind the Predators' bench.

His firing was intriguing from two Philadelphia perspectives: 1) Peter Laviolette is listed as the front-runner to replace Trotz; 2) Predators GM David Poile said: "Shea Weber will definitely be here. He's not going anywhere."

Flyers fans have been fixated on the defenseman since the Predators matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet the Flyers signed him to in 2012. It makes sense to believe Poile, too, since Weber will have already been paid $41 million of that $110 million in front-loaded money by the time July 1 rolls around.

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