Simon Gagne, trying to make a successful recovery from last season's concussion, hopes to play his first exhibition game Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Gagne, whose return to form is the Flyers' biggest question in training camp, said he hasn't had any side effects during camp, but it's taking him a while to get into game shape.
The 28-year-old left winger did not dress for Monday's 4-1 exhibition win over the New Jersey Devils, and he isn't expected to play preseason games tonight at Ottawa or tomorrow against the New York Islanders in London, Ontario.
"Right now, we're looking more at this weekend; it'll give me time to practice a little bit more," Gagne said after the team's session yesterday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. "If you look right now, we're at Day No. 4 of training camp and we have two more games coming up [before Saturday], so I think it might be a little too early with the way things are going. I feel all right, but I need a couple of more practices to get comfortable."
Gagne scored a total of 88 goals in the two seasons before last year. The concussion limited him to 25 games last season.
"It's been almost seven months since I played a game, so I think I need a good week of practice, and after that, I should be ready," he said. "So I may target the game at the Spectrum Saturday. My conditioning is not bad and my legs feel good when I skate; it's more about getting in game shape and finding my sharpness in my game."
Flyers coach John Stevens said Gagne was "fitting in at practice and getting sharper every day. [But] just like with some of the other guys, we want to give them a few more days on the ice before we stick them in a game."
Strong debuts. Defensemen Ossi Vaananen and Steve Eminger, two newcomers, played solidly in Monday's exhibition win. Eminger was on the ice for 22 minutes, 51 seconds - two seconds shy of Braydon Coburn's team-high total - and Vaananen played 19:37.
"They love to close on people quickly and they like to get involved physically - and they have the size to do so," Stevens said.
Vaananen, a good-natured Finn who could assume the aggressive role played by Derian Hatcher, is 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds; Eminger is 6-2, 212.
Slow start. Highly touted rookie forward Claude Giroux wasn't a factor in 13:12 of ice time against the Devils.
Stevens said Giroux was "trying to hit a home run" - in other words, attempting to do too much.
Comedy central. Smallish Flyers broadcaster Tim Saunders described himself and his new color commentator, Chris Therien, as "the shrimp and the blimp" to his radio audience Monday.
Webcast a hit. Even though there were some glitches - times when the screen would turn black for several seconds - the Flyers' first-ever Webcast was a success Monday. There were 52,299 page views by fans who watched the Flyers-Devils game on their computers, according to the Flyers.
The club will Webcast its Oct. 1 exhibition game against Washington.
Notes. Stevens said 32 players would travel with the team for the next two games; the remaining 34 are with the Phantoms. Stevens said that there was no added significance to which players were with which group, and that some of the players with the Phantoms still could end up with the Flyers. . . . Coburn blocked a team-high three shots against the Devils.