VOORHEES, N.J. -- With all that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have experienced together, it's only natural the two have leaned on each other during their first foray into the NHL.
The Philadelphia Flyers rookies, drafted 13 spots apart in the first round in 2003, won a world junior championship for Canada in 2005 and were integral cogs as the Philadelphia Phantoms won the AHL's Calder Cup last spring.
They've had a fairly seamless transition into the Flyers lineup, and both said it helps to have the other around.
Richards and Carter live with each other as well, about five minutes from the club's practice rink.
"We've become really good friends and living together, going through everything together, hanging out off the ice every day, it's nice to have him around," Richards, who won the Memorial Cup in 2003 with the Kitchener Rangers, said. "It's fun to have someone to share this with. My first season has been unbelievable as well, on and off the ice. It has been a whirlwind."
Both 21-year-old centres said they hit the ground running with the Flyers after playing for the Phantoms. Each has contributed in his own way -- Carter has 19 goals and 16 assists in 70 games and has the ability to be a goal-scorer for a long time to come; Richards has 11 goals and 20 assists in 68 games and has been demonstrating for a while he's an above-average defensive player. If you need two rookies to use as cornerstones for the future, Richards and Carter are not a bad start.
The contributions of Richards, Carter and fellow freshmen R.J. Umberger and Antero Nittymaki have been crucial for the Flyers.
"Carter and Richards and Umberger are not really acting like rookies," Peter Forsberg said. "They know the game really well and they play in pressure situations. I don't know if you can treat them like rookies. They play like they have a couple of years behind them."
Carter, who spent his four-year junior career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, has picked up the pace after a bumpy start.
"I think I am pretty happy with where I am now," the London native said. "The team is winning and I am making the most of what I am getting. I'm enjoying it."