There is no chance that he will be in the lineup tonight against Pittsburgh, and there is still a real likelihood that he won't play this month, but Simon Gagne is finally making significant progress in his recovery from back-to-back concussions.
Gagne not only skated a full practice yesterday, he stayed on the ice for extra conditioning work and drills.
"I feel pretty good," said Gagne, who is still wearing the white jersey and red cross signifying that he is off limits for contact. "I had a good skate [Sunday] with the team and a good practice [yesterday].
"I don't want to say that all the symptoms are gone. I'm still feeling a little pressure in the back of my head, but I skated and stayed for more at the end and that's a good thing."
Gagne left the lineup after suffering concussion symptoms on Nov. 8. He has missed 12 consecutive games and 15 total from the two concussions he has suffered this season.
Unlike the first injury, the Flyers and Gagne are taking their time getting him back on the ice. And while he is making progress, Gagne repeated yesterday what he has been saying since last month, that he will only come back when he is healthy and has had a chance to get his game conditioning back in practice.
"This is the first week where I am starting to push myself," Gagne said. "And I feel like it's getting better. I felt good [Sunday] after practice and it was the same thing [yesterday morning] when I woke up. No big symptoms came back."
By "big" symptoms, Gagne meant dizziness, headaches and a feeling that he was not himself. He still has some pressure in the back of his neck and head and he is treating that with acupuncture.
But his return date is still uncertain.
"I would love to play [today] but that's not going to be the case. Right now, I'm better not thinking about when I would come back. It's safe to say that next week might not be it either."
That's not something the Flyers can think about with the Penguins coming in. While the Flyers have beaten Pittsburgh twice this season, the Penguins have been getting their game together and winning. The Flyers have had trouble staying consistent.
Over the last 17 games, the Flyers have been locked in a bad cycle of mostly "win one, lose one" with most of the losses coming at home.
Maybe this is a good time to break the pattern, since their last game was a road loss instead of a win.
But the fact that the Penguins are playing well and have Sidney Crosby on his game means this is going to be a tough task.
"[Crosby] is a good player, everybody knows that," said Daniel Briere. "With a guy like Crosby you don't stop him, you just try to contain him."
Coach John Stevens knows the Penguins are a better team than on Nov. 10, the last time they visited the Wachovia Center. They've won four in a row and are coming off a very successful swing through western Canada.
"I expected that they would get things going," Stevens said. "They're a good hockey team. They just had a great trip out west and we'll have to be prepared.
"Pittsburgh is a team that last year had success and they have a lot of expectations now. We've played well on the road, and then come home and drop the ball a little bit.
"But I'm really encouraged by our practices the last 2 days. We've had a lot of energy, probably the best this year."
Both Ryan Potulny and Lasse Kukkonen will be back in the lineup tonight. Potulny has played in only one game this season - Oct. 20 against Carolina - and has had problems recovering from bursa-sac surgery on his right ankle all season. Potulny missed most of training camp waiting for the injury to heal, only to have it open up twice, taking him out of the lineup. "The cut kept opening up," he said. "There was a lot of pressure on the wound from my skates but I got some custom skates made and it feels great" . . . Jesse Boulerice continues to practice with the Flyers and has nine games left on his 25-game suspension. "I'm trying not to think about it," he said yesterday . . . It wasn't as if there were a chance they would play in a game together anytime soon, but the Flyers broke up the Timonen brothers yesterday. Kimmo Timonen's younger brother, Jussi, to the Dallas Stars for a conditional pick in the 2009 entry draft. Jussi Timonen had been playing with the Phantoms, the Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate. "With the Phantoms having two defensemen coming back from injury, we will have a logjam on defense," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. "This will give [Jussi] an opportunity to play. He is a good kid and we wish him all the best." Jussi Timonen, 24, recorded seven assists and 14 penalty minutes in 14 games for the Phantoms this season. *