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Flyers Notes: Carcillo an unlikely star in playoff series

Five games into this NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, it's not Jeff Carter, Mike Richards or Simon Gagne or any of the other highly regarded players who lead the Flyers in the plus-minus ratings. It's Dan Carcillo - the same player who had zero goals in 20 regular-season games after he was acquired from Phoenix in an unpopular trade for Scottie Upshall.

Five games into this NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, it's not Jeff Carter, Mike Richards or Simon Gagne or any of the other highly regarded players who lead the Flyers in the plus-minus ratings. It's Dan Carcillo - the same player who had zero goals in 20 regular-season games after he was acquired from Phoenix in an unpopular trade for Scottie Upshall.

Carcillo is plus-3. No one on either team, including Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has a higher plus-minus playoff rating. Pittsburgh defenseman Hal Gill is also at plus-3.

Carcillo has made the most of his limited playing time - an average of 8 minutes, 20 seconds - since returning from his Game 2 suspension.

"He's really played well for me," Flyers coach John Stevens said yesterday. "He makes a lot of strong plays on the wall; he gets in on the forecheck; he's been a responsible player and brings a lot of energy and plays with a lot of courage. Now he's starting to contribute offensively, so I'm not sure we can ask anything more of a guy playing his position."

Carcillo, Arron Asham and Jared Ross have formed an impressive fourth line, one that has more goals (three) and points (five) than the heralded Carter-Scott Hartnell-Joffrey Lupul line (two goals, four points).

The NHL leader in penalty minutes during the regular season, Carcillo has concentrated strictly on hockey since Game 3.

"I don't have to worry about fighting, which is nice," Carcillo said. "That's one of the reasons I came here, because they wanted me to play. Obviously, Scottie [Upshall] was a player who could play and put up points. That's something I've always been able to do, and this year, I haven't been able to put up many points, but it's definitely something I can do and want to do."

Goalie numbers

With his 3-0 win Thursday, the Flyers' Marty Biron (2.29 goals-against average; .927 save percentage) has playoff numbers almost identical to Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (2.27; .929).

Power-play woes

In the last three games, the Flyers are 1 for 19 on the power play, and the Penguins are 1 for 16. After going 3 for 9 to start the series, the Flyers have failed to score in their last 18 chances; the Pens haven't connected in their last nine power plays.

Breakaways

Rookie Claude Giroux and Richards lead the Flyers with four points apiece in the series, while Malkin (seven points) and Crosby (six) have paced the Penguins. . . . Carter, a 46-goal scorer in the regular season, has just one goal on a series-high 26 shots. . . . Entering last night, Giroux and Anaheim's Bobby Ryan, a Cherry Hill native, were the leading rookie scorers in the playoffs. . . . About 200 tickets remain for today's game. . . . Singer Lauren Hart will miss today's game because she and her husband are en route to Ethiopia to adopt their first child. A video of Hart performing "God Bless America" in a duet with the late Kate Smith will be played before the game. It's the first time in eight seasons Hart will be unavailable to perform live.