Flyers to start three rookie centers vs. Capitals

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers will put three rookie centers on the ice Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.

Not many NHL teams have that many first-year players at such a
critical position, but coach Ken Hitchcock has no qualms about
using Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and R.J. Umberger.

"The future starts tomorrow night," Hitchcock said after practice Wednesday.

Umberger was called up to replace injured Keith Primeau. With the All-Star center sidelined indefinitely with a concussion,
Umberger could be around for a while.

"Players get hurt and we don't how long they're going to be out
for," Hitchcock said. "We're going to get a real hard look at
these guys right away."

Richards has gotten off to a quick start and is tied for fifth
among NHL rookies in scoring with nine points.

After a slow start, Carter has goals in two of the last three

The Flyers said Umberger, who made his NHL debut Sunday in
Ottawa, was one of the most impressive players in the preseason.

"We just love his competitiveness," Hitchcock said. "He's a
reckless player, and that type of player seems to have a lot of
success in the NHL right now."

Adding to the drama will be the Flyers' first regular-season
look at Washington rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin, who leads
all first-year players in goals with eight.

The Richards-Michal Handzus-Jon Sim line is likely to draw the
checking assignment against Ovechkin.

"If I lived in Washington, I would pay whatever the season
ticket was to watch this kid play," Hitchcock said. "He's a
special player, a unique player who comes around once every 10