Center Blair Betts, who has been bothered by a sore knee, pronounced himself ready to return when the Flyers open the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center.
That's good news for the Flyers' penalty-killing unit, which has struggled in Betts' absence.
Betts missed the last three regular-season games, during which the Flyers killed just 8 of 13 penalties. That kind of success rate would be disastrous in the playoffs.
After Monday's practice in Voorhees, Betts said he was nearly at 100 percent and there was "no reason to rest it anymore."
The penalty kill was superb in last year's opening round as the Flyers ousted New Jersey in five games.
After a brilliant first half - a 21-6-3 record with a 2.42 goals-against average and .920 save percentage - rookie Sergei Bobrovsky tailed off following the all-star break.
His post-All-Star Game numbers: 7-7-2, 2.84 GAA, .907 save percentage.
Veteran Brian Boucher was consistent in both halves:
First half: 11-6-2, 2.41 GAA, .916 save percentage.
Second half: 7-4-2, 2.44 GAA, .916 save percentage.
Coach Peter Laviolette said he is confident in Bobrovsky, who was yanked after allowing three goals in 12 minutes, 5 seconds of Sunday's 7-4 win over the Islanders.
"Every time Sergei has come back from a tough outing, he's responded well, and our team has been solid," Laviolette said.
Bobrovsky displayed a mask on Monday. On one side of it was Bart Simpson's tormentor, Sideshow Bob. The other side displayed Rocky Balboa and an American flag.
Defenseman Oskars Bartulis, who has been sidelined because of shoulder surgery, is making progress and is about a month away from playing, general manager Paul Holmgren said. . . .. The Flyers will ring the NASDAQ opening bell to commemorate the start of the playoffs Wednesday morning in New York City. Representing the Flyers will be Ian Laperriere, Bernie Parent, Bob Kelly, Joe Watson, and Derian Hatcher. . . . The Flyers will find out at noon Tuesday if defenseman Matt Walker clears reentry waivers. Is there any connection between trying to recall Walker from the Phantoms and Chris Pronger's availability?
- Sam Carchidi
Here is a look at the last time the Flyers played the Sabres in the playoffs. The Sabres won the best-of-seven 2006 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, six games to two:
Game 1 in Buffalo, April 22: Sabres, 3, Flyers 2 (2OT)
Danny Briere, now a star for the Flyers, tipped in a shot in the second overtime to account for the victory. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller had 30 saves.
Game 2 in Buffalo, April 24: Sabres 8, Flyers 2
Jason Pominville and J.P. Dumont both had hat tricks, and the Flyers got off just 22 shots.