Selfless hero Ian Laperierre can see and be seen better.

The veteran Flyer has scrapped the full-face plastic shield prescribed for his cranial protection after he blocked a puck with his face, fracturing the right orbital bone and bruising his brain April 22.

He returned May 22 with a full face shield. He had never before worn a shield.

It projected away from his face. It distorted his vision when he looked down and saw the line where the shield ended. It clouded with the condensation from his breath.

It drove him nuts.

It lasted four games.

At practice Tuesday, with his doctors' permission, Laperriere wore a half-shield, modified to be slightly longer than a typical half-shield.

He was delighted.

He wore the new shield in Wednesday's game and at yesterday's practice.

"It was a big step, going from no shield to a full shield. You don't see as much. You don't breathe as well, when you have a full shield," Laperriere said. "This one is better made."

There's still the chance the butt end of a stick could sneak under the face and jar the right front portion of his skull, which is the area that covers the bruise. Laperriere is willing to chance it.

"It's not 100 percent safe," he said, "but, in our sport, nothing is."

Puckish

After the flap created by gamesmanship expert Chris Pronger, as many eyes were on the ultimate postgame destination of the puck as were on the celebration on the ice.

Pronger swiped the pucks being used at the end of the first two games after the Blackhawks' wins in Chicago, forgoing any shot of the Hawks snagging them as mementos. When Claude Giroux scored the overtime winner Wednesday, teammate Darroll Powe grabbed the puck.

It wasn't a slap at any possible payback sabotage, Powe said. He just saw a souvenir for his teammate.

"It wasn't a conscious thing. It was at my feet when I jumped on the ice. I picked it up," Powe said. "I gave it to Giroux."

Homeboys

Now 8-1 at the Wachovia Center, the Flyers have the best home playoff record.

"Maybe it's sleeping in our own beds. Maybe it's how we feed off these crowd," said Darroll Powe. "Whatever it is, it's something we thrived on. We like this building. We like this ice surface."

To that point, he agreed that the ice at the Center shamed the soft and bumpy surface the teams endured at the United Center for the first two games. As is often the case during warm spring days, the ice at the United Center suffered because of hot, humid conditions - which Philadelphia has experienced in abundance through the playoff run.

"Philly's got the best ice in the league, in my opinion. It's fast. It's well-maintained," Powe said. "Even this time of year, when it's hot outside and you've got 20,000-plus people in the building, it holds up pretty well."

Slap shots

TSN reported yesterday that Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk, scratched the last two games, could return tonight in place of physical Dan Carcillo, who replaced van Riemsdyk the past two games. Carcillo lent an air of physicality but he also took an unsportsmanlike penalty in Game 2 and a boarding penalty in Game 3; he went pointless and was a minus-2 . . . The top line of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter is a combined minus-14.