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Flyers Notes: Van Riemsdyk returns for Flyers in Game 5

PITTSBURGH - James van Riemsdyk returned to the Flyers lineup for the first time in 23 games Friday night.

James van Riemsdyk returned to the ice in Game 5 after missing time with a broken foot. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
James van Riemsdyk returned to the ice in Game 5 after missing time with a broken foot. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

PITTSBURGH - James van Riemsdyk returned to the Flyers lineup for the first time in 23 games Friday night.

The 22-year-old left winger underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot after blocking a shot March 1. He wore a hard plastic protective shell over both his skates to better shield his feet.

"This is the time of year, no matter what, when your number is called, you suck it up and deal with [the pain]," van Riemsdyk said Thursday.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson replaced the injured Nick Grossmann and skated in his first career playoff game. Grossmann, out with what is believed to be a concussion, did not make the trip to Pittsburgh.

The Penguins were without injured defenseman Paul Martin and kept seven defensemen in the lineup for the second straight game.

Officially speaking

Preparing for Friday's Game 5, Flyers star Claude Giroux said he would add one thing to his pregame ritual: checking to see who was officiating.

It was a surprising admission but a necessary reality with the stark contrast in the way Game 3 - with 168 penalty minutes doled out - was called in comparison with Wednesday's Game 4.

"I think it's important we know who is reffing," Giroux said. "We know who is going to let us play a little bit and who is going to call everything."

Speaking at the Associated Press Sports Editors meeting in New York on Friday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said it was not a coincidence that whistle-happy refs Wes McCauley and Chris Lee parachuted into this series for Game 4. Paul Devorski and Dan O'Rourke - a more evenhanded pair of officials - handled the penalties in Game 5 on Friday.

"Sometimes in a particular series, there are more scrums after the whistle," Bettman said. "When we decide there is a little bit too much, we warn the clubs that we are not going to tolerate the extracurriculars."

Bettman noted the average regular season game has 45 hits. He said that entering Thursday night, the average was 68 hits per playoff game this spring, with three games topping 80. Six suspensions have been handed down in the first 10 days of the playoffs, with a hefty seventh about to be added on Saturday with Phoenix's Raffi Torres.

Flyers rookies snubbed

For the 44th time in Flyers franchise history, the Calder Trophy for the NHL's rookie of the year will find a home in another city.

It is one of two major awards (the other the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly conduct and sportsmanship) that no Flyer has ever won.

The NHL announced the Calder finalists on Thursday - Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog, Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and New Jersey's Adam Henrique - and left viable candidates in Flyers forwards Matt Read and Sean Couturier off the list.

The Flyers scored a league-best 128 points by rookies this season.

Read, 25, led all rookies with 24 goals and finished fourth with 47 points. Couturier, 19, was one of two players from the 2011 draft class to skate in more than 70 games and finished second among rookies with 207 shorthanded minutes.

Landeskog, Nugent-Hopkins, and Henrique finished as the top three in the rookie points race. Nugent-Hopkins tied Landeskog for the lead with 52 points despite playing 20 fewer games.

The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, will be handed out on June 20 in Las Vegas.

Many voters discounted Read because of his age, even though this was his first professional season out of Bemidji State.

"Being older, maybe I don't qualify," Read said Friday. "All three of those players are great players. They deserve to be there. You can't take anything away from those guys. They all had great years.

"It's like being a true freshman in college. They're 18 and 19 years old. They're coming right out of junior hockey. That's what a rookie of the year should be, someone who is a young guy. I wouldn't put myself over those three guys. Congratulations to them."

Read was able to quickly brush off not being selected, choosing instead to focus on Game 5.

"All I care about right now is the team continuing to play better and to keep winning," he said.

More finalists will be announced next week. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren figures to be a finalist for executive of the year, and Claude Giroux is a possible Hart Trophy finalist for league MVP.