PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers have their captain for Game 7.
Forward Mike Richards sidestepped a punishing hit instead of delivering one Monday and will be in the lineup for a win-or-else Game 7 tonight against Buffalo in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
That's good news for the Flyers. That's bad for the Sabres, who are seething.
Buffalo wanted Richards suspended by the league for plowing center Tim Connolly headfirst into the boards in Game 6. Connolly, who has a history of head injuries, left the game and will not play tonight. Coach Lindy Ruff said Monday that Connolly was "not doing very good."
Richards was penalized for boarding. In Game 4 he was whistled for a 5-minute major for elbowing Patrick Kaleta. That's two questionable hits too many for Buffalo. Goalie Ryan Miller called Richards reckless.
"The guy who was complaining the most about how we were getting away with murder has delivered two of the dirtiest hits in the series," Miller said. "A blatant elbow to the face, that is something that the league said they were going to try and take away, and driving Tim Connolly headfirst into the boards … it wasn't just a hit. It was a push. It was blatant."
The league didn't punish Richards further, nor did it hold a disciplinary hearing on the hit.
Richards isn't disputing the hit was hard. He's just glad he has the opportunity to play tonight.
Though he said earlier in the series the Sabres got away with "murder" on the ice, Richards wasn't interested in another heated exchange of words. "I'm worried about helping the team out and getting one by the goaltender (today)," he said.
In Connolly's place, the Sabres should have Derek Roy in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 23.
Roy was their leading scorer when he tore a quadriceps. Ruff teased that Roy might not be ready to play. But Roy insisted he'll be in the lineup.
'hawks-canucks: Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis blasted the officiating as one-sided in the West series, which is tied 3-3 after his team blew a 3-0 lead. Game 7 is tonight, with Vancouver facing the possibility of becoming the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after winning the first three games. Gillis cited a number of statistics, but Chicago has a 27-16 advantage in power plays, 22-12 in the past four games. "You can say it's sour grapes," Gillis said. "I'm not sure how you explain that discrepancy." Coach Alain Vigneault, who pulled a stunner in goal in Game 6 by starting backup Cory Schneider, said he will go back to Roberto Luongo tonight. Schneider left the game with cramping in his right leg. … Chicago forward Bryan Bickell had surgery to repair a lacerated wrist tendon and is out tonight. He was injured in Game 2 when he was hit by a skate. He missed Game 3 but played in 4-6.
Best defenseman finalists: The Bruins' Zdeno Chara, the Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom and the Predators' Shea Weber are the finalists for the Norris Trophy. Lidstrom, a six-time winner, was second among defensemen with 62 points. Chara, the 2009 winner, had 44 points and led the league in plus-minus at plus-33. Weber is a finalist for the first time after scoring 48 points. The winner will be announced June 22 at the league's awards ceremony.