The Flyers may have yet another player return after suffering what was believed to be a season-ending injury.
Goalie Brian Boucher, who sprained ligaments in both knees May 10 while making a second-period save against Boston in the conference semifinals, practiced with the team Wednesday in Voorhees and said he is hoping to dress for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday in Chicago. He said he "got over another hurdle" by being able to practice without any setbacks.
Forwards Jeff Carter (broken foot) and Ian Laperriere (brain bruise, broken orbital bone) recently returned to the lineup after their seasons were in jeopardy.
While being sidelined and unable to practice, "you feel out of touch. You're not with the guys in the locker room, and I didn't travel with them to Montreal, so you kind of feel like you're an outsider," Boucher said. "For me, it's just nice to be back in the locker room and being back on the ice with the guys."
As Wednesday's practice wore on, "I got into it a bit more and felt more confident to do stuff, so I felt pretty good," he said. "There were some hurdles I needed to clear to get to this point."
Boucher will travel to Chicago with the team Friday afternoon. He said there was still pain in both knees, "and I've been told there's going to be pain for another month or so. But they say it's healed, and I just have to kind of make the pain manageable.
"My goal is to be good enough to be in uniform for Game 1 and help in any way."
Boucher conceded that if it were the regular season, he probably would have taken more time before returning.
But in the playoffs, "there's a lot more motivation," he said, adding that "you have to fight through it."
Simon Gagne, Carter, and Laperriere have returned during the playoffs.
"Simon wasn't even skating when he came back, and they said he was fine and he did it. And Jeff, too," Boucher said. "Jeff had been on crutches for weeks, and a couple days later he's playing. Lappy's a different situation because it was his head. But these guys, it's a credit to them. It's not like they've been practicing for a couple weeks and were able to jump back in. They stepped into some tough situations and did a great job and provided a big boost for this team."
In 10 playoff games this year, Boucher is 6-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. In the conference quarterfinals against New Jersey, Boucher keyed the series win with a 1.59 goals-against average, which was the best in the NHL at the time.
Boucher made two of three saves in the shoot-out on the last day of the regular season, enabling the Flyers to outlast the New York Rangers, 2-1, and qualify for the playoffs.
Peter Laviolette is trying to become the third coach in NHL history to win Stanley Cups with two franchises.
Scotty Bowman won Cups coaching Montreal (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979), Pittsburgh (1992) and Detroit (1997, 1998, 2002), and Tommy Gorman directed Chicago (1934) and the Montreal Maroons (1935) to Cups.
In 2006, Laviolette coached Carolina to the Cup.
The Blackhawks are heavily favored, based on odds posted by bodog.com.
You have to bet $275 to win $100 on Chicago.
Conversely, you have to bet $100 to win $225 on the Flyers.
Chicago's Jonathan Toews (1/2) is favored to be named the playoff MVP (Conn Smythe Trophy), followed by teammate Antti Niemi (5/1), and the Flyers' Mike Richards (7/1) and Michael Leighton (8/1).
Sports Illustrated picked Chicago to win in six games. Before the season, S.I. chose the Blackhawks to defeat Boston in the Finals.
Andrew Ladd, a third-line Chicago left winger, did not skate during practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury. Ladd is expected to play Saturday. . . . The Hawks worked primarily on breakouts at Wednesday's practice. . . . In the playoffs, Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with a plus-10 rating. Next in line: Matt Carle (plus-8), Braydon Coburn (plus-7), Richards (plus-6), Gagne (plus-6), and Kimmo Timonen (plus-6). . . . Because of his strong play, Darroll Powe will continue to get time on the penalty kill, Laviolette said. Laperriere will be eased back into his penalty-killing role. In the last game against Montreal, Powe played 4:36 on the penalty kill, while Laperriere played 1:21. One of the players has been teamed with Blair Betts, and they helped the Flyers kill 21 of 22 penalties against the Canadiens. . . . In the Flyers' 3-2 regular-season win over Chicago, the Hawks were 1 for 4 on the power play and the Flyers were 0 for 3. Chicago won 51 percent of the face-offs in that game.