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Jets will be facing bigger, tougher Flyers

Blue-liners Kubina, Grossman large units

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PHILADELPHIA -- Pavel Kubina is happy to be a Flyer.

After his first practice on Monday at Voorhees following his acquisition Saturday from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Kubina talked about how eager he is to get things started with his new team. An unrestricted free agent after the season, he also discussed his desire for a relationship with the Flyers beyond the season and his anticipation about playing before the home fans.

As is life in the NHL, Kubina won't have much time to settle in. Following practice the Flyers traveled to Winnipeg, where they begin a four-game road trip tonight

The Flyers will be in Edmonton on Thursday, Calgary on Saturday and end the trip on Feb. 28 at San Jose.

"It's good to go on the road and get to know the guys," Kubina said after practice.

He also said he's looking forward to playing at the Wells Fargo Center.

"It was always hard to play in this building," he said. "They have passionate fans and I am glad I can play for them now."

The 6-foot-4, 258-pound defenceman was acquired for second- and fourth-round picks along with minor-league forward Jon Kalinski.

"It's a great organization and a great team and always has been one of the top teams in the league," Kubina said. "I'm 34 years old and it's a great opportunity to play for a team like that."

Kubina, who won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He hopes his stay in Philadelphia lasts beyond this season.

"If I play well for this team and they want me, I don't want to go anywhere and test the water," he said. "That is the way I am and hopefully, it will go that way."

With Kubina and 6-4, 230-pound defenceman Nick Grossman, who was acquired Thursday from Dallas, the Flyers have added another dimension.

"I think the guys we picked up more than anything bring size and physicality," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said.

The Flyers coach then expanded on Kubina.

"He's a big, hulking type guy who provides a presence back there," Laviolette said. "He plays with a little bit of an edge."

Kubina is also the only right-handed Flyers defenceman.

"He's a right-handed shot so that is something different to our back unit that we don't have," Laviolette said. "Plus his experience, he has won a Cup before and what he is able to bring to the table from a physical standpoint will be an important fact."

Kubina's new teammates are glad they don't have to compete against him anymore.

"It's just so tough to get to the net on him," said forward James van Riemsdyk. "It's not only his size, but his experience, and he is a great player with good pedigree."

Notes: Jakub Voracek left practice after sliding into the boards, but the Flyers said there were no injuries to report... van Riemsdyk, who had missed 15 games with a concussion before returning to play 14 minutes, 23 seconds in Saturday's 6-4 loss to visiting Pittsburgh, said he is feeling well. "My timing could have been a little better but I played a lot and it was fun to be out there," he said.

Forward Danny Briere on the two recent acquisitions: "Usually when you have the team shaken up a little, it's a little bit of a wake-up call for everybody... management is also doing their part for us to kind of get out of that little funk we're in."

-- The Philadelphia Inquirer

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2012 C2

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