The Flyers' defense got some good vibes Tuesday.
Defenseman Andrej Meszaros practiced for the first time since his March 21 back surgery, wearing a no-contact jersey during drills at the Flyers' facility in Voorhees.
"I'm really encouraged," said coach Peter Laviolette, whose team is awaiting its opponent for the second round of the playoffs.
At the time of the surgery, the Flyers said Meszaros would miss six to eight weeks.
Based on that estimate, the earliest he could return would be midway through the second round. Meszaros hasn't played since March 1.
Defenseman Nick Grossmann skated before practice but did not participate in team drills. He apparently suffered a concussion in Game 4 against Pittsburgh after absorbing hits from Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy.
The Flyers' power play led the way as they upset the Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, converting on 12 of 23 chances (52.2 percent). It was the most power-play goals the Flyers had scored in a playoff series in franchise history.
The first power-play unit usually has Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek at the points, with Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, and Claude Giroux up front. Hartnell and Simmonds are the net crashers.
The second unit has Matt Carle and Matt Read at the points, with Danny Briere, Brayden Schenn, and Jaromir Jagr up front. This unit gives a different look from the first one, and frequently has Schenn and Briere darting around the net.
Not many NHL teams have the firepower the Flyers do on both units. In fact, the Flyers' second group is arguably as talented as most teams' first units.
That wears down opponents.
"If we need to go 45 seconds, one minute with our second unit, we're totally comfortable with it," aid Joe Mullen, the Flyers' power-play coach. "You can't always start the power play with the first group, and so it's a big help to have depth."
No fear of Rangers
Even though they went 0-6 against the Rangers in the regular season, the Flyers aren't leery of facing New York in the playoffs.
"You've got to beat every team to raise the Stanley Cup above your head," Voracek said. "They beat us six times this year, but I don't think they're going to be able to do it 10 times. They would have to beat us 10 times if they want to go through us in the playoffs."
General manager Paul Holmgren was bypassed when the NHL announced its three finalists for the GM of the year award. The nominees were St. Louis' Doug Armstrong, Nashville's David Poile, and Florida's Dale Tallon.