PITTSBURGH - Flyers coach
changed the club's defense again last night, inserting recently acquired
onto the third blue-line pairing with
In three games, Eminger has had three partners - Braydon Coburn, Lasse Kukkonen and Alberts.
The Flyers' defense has been revamped because of injuries to Randy Jones (hip) and Ryan Parent (shoulder). Each is going to have surgery and miss about three months.
As a result, the pairings have had a different look than in the preseason, and the shutdown pairing - Kimmo Timonen and Coburn - has been separated.
Not surprisingly, the pairings have been a little out of sync, though Coburn downplayed the effect the switches have had on the defense.
"It's just the way hockey is; you're out there with different players constantly," he said before last night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. "As a group, we just have to concentrate a little more and have a little more defensive focus. We're doing a good job down the other [offensive] end."
The Flyers took an 0-2 record into last night and had been outscored, 9-6.
"It's nice to play with one guy, but with the guys we have in the room, everybody can play with anybody and it's not going to affect your play that much," Coburn said.
Stevens said he would like to have continuity among his defensemen, "but we had to deal with these injuries late in camp and we're just going to try to find some chemistry in the pairings that work. It's no different than what any team goes through when you have injuries. Once these guys are together more as a group, it'll be less of a factor."
Coburn praised the play of his 18-year-old partner, Luca Sbisa.
"The kid skates unbelievably and seems to be able to make strong and confident plays, and playing with him is really good," he said.
Kukkonen, who played much better Monday against Montreal than he did in the opener against the New York Rangers, was among last night's scratches.
Part of the reason the Flyers lost narrow decisions in their first two home games: They failed to capitalize on five-on-three power plays that lasted about 1 minute, 30 seconds in each contest. They managed only a total of three shots in those situations, and they came up empty on a five-on-three chance last night as well.
"We had chances, but we just didn't finish," Stevens said. "You need to score in those situations and take advantage of it. You have to bear down around the net and maybe have a little more puck movement and take advantage of our shot opportunities."
In a bout that lasted more than a minute,
and the Penguins'
slugged it out in a wild first-period draw last night. . . . The Flyers entered the game with a 139-76-31 record against the Penguins. . . . Last night was the Penguins' 69th straight home sellout. The Pens have 2,500 fans on a season-ticket waiting list. . . . Coburn recently filmed a commercial for Versus. "I was a little nervous to do it and how it would come out," he said. "But it was really cool to make and see the process and how it all comes together." The commercial runs for 30 seconds and took four hours to film.