Dan Carcillo was sweating and straining along with the rest of the Flyers during Saturday's 3-0 win in Montreal, except he was in a training room in the bowels of the Bell Centre, burning off his anger along with some calories.
For the first time during the Flyers' improbable playoff run, the hyperactive left winger and fan favorite was scratched. After the victory, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said pulling Carcillo from the lineup "was the toughest thing I've had to do this year."
Carcillo said Sunday he understood Laviolette's thinking. Jeff Carter returned from a broken foot and Ian Laperriere from an eye injury and brain bruise. Two valuable forwards were back. Someone had to go. Still, Carcillo is not thrilled about his predicament.
"It's tough," he said. "It's hard not to be [ticked] off, and if you're not [ticked] off, there's something wrong with you. Everybody wants to be playing at this time of the year. You battle the whole year to be in this position."
Typically, Carcillo was one of the first players on the ice and one of the last off Sunday as the Flyers went through practice for Monday's Game 5 at the Wachovia Center, where they can punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup final with a win.
He's working diligently, trying to be optimistic he'll be back on the thrill ride he helped along with an overtime goal that gave the Flyers a two-games-to-one lead in the first round against New Jersey, and with a hell-bent style of play that creates space and turns up loose pucks for line mates Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.
"A couple guys know it could have been them, and it makes them amp up their game, and I think that happened [in Game 4]," Carcillo said. "Every guy played really, really well, and we came out with a huge win, and that's the biggest thing right now, getting wins.
"It's a bit of a pride thing. It's a tough pill to swallow. But you've got to come to the rink with a good attitude and work hard and just hope you get another chance."
It's difficult to calculate Carcillo's chances of returning to the lineup. Carter and Laperriere said Sunday they were no worse for the wear.
Playing for the first time since April 20, Carter, the team leader with 33 goals during the regular season, snapped off four shots, won three of four face-offs, and practically screwed Montreal's Travis Moen into the ice with a great move to create a scoring chance for himself.
His right foot "felt better than I expected, a good sign it's getting better every day," said Carter, who still walks with a limp.
Laperriere showed no reluctance to mix things up.
"I'm relieved," said Laperriere who, at 36, is on the cusp of making it to the Cup finals for the first time. "I got into a shoving match [with Roman Hamrlik] on my second shift. He pushed my head pretty good, and I was, like, all right, if I can take that, I can pretty much take everything."
Carcillo isn't in Carter's class as a goal-scorer. He's not at Laperriere's level as a defender, a penalty killer. What he does better than either is grate on opponents, throw punches, and get involved in colorful sideshows. There was the finger-biting incident with Boston's Marc Savard. Then there was Montreal's Michael Cammalleri sticking out his tongue at Carcillo.
"It's not a hard decision to put Carter in my spot," Carcillo said. "Carter's an awesome player. Lappy's great defensively. It just comes down to a numbers game, and I was the odd man out. But you've got to look at the bigger picture. You've got to bide your time and work as hard as you can to get back in."