There are several things about

Peter Forsberg

that 23-year-old center

Ryan Potulny

would like to emulate.

The ability to skate nimbly and dodge defenders, the great hands and vision, the reputation to make defenders back off. An aching right foot, however, is not on that list.

Potulny's season has been marred because of a right-foot and ankle problem that is somewhat similar to what Forsberg has endured.

"Not quite like him, thankfully," said Potulny, who dressed for the Flyers for the first time this season in last night's game against the Penguins.

Potulny has been bothered by a recurring bursa-sac injury and infection in his right ankle. He missed most of training camp, as well as 10 games with the Phantoms. It seems his right ankle does not fit snugly into his skate boot. Sound familiar?

"I had a pair of skates made in Montreal," Potulny said.

That's also what Forsberg continues to do.

"They made a mold of my foot and made the skates so the foot fits right into the pocket around the ankle, the way it is supposed to. My ankle sits forward a little bit."

Potulny found that the skate boot would rub against his incision, causing infection in the ankle. Unlike Forsberg, who has a congenital defect in his foot, Potulny thinks his problem is solved. (A free agent, Forsberg remains in Sweden.)

Potulny centered a line with Ben Eager and Sami Kapanen last night, and assisted on the last of R.J. Umberger's three goals. He would like to stick around with the Flyers.

"He's a really competitive kid," coach John Stevens said. "He's known to be a scorer. He does a lot of little things well defensively that are overlooked. I was really impressed with how responsible he was last year.

"We have questioned his skating, but when you watch him, he has great quickness. He doesn't necessarily have high-end speed, but great quickness. A lot of the game is quickness - short spurts from A to B."

The one area of concern for Stevens is Potulny's conditioning, which has to improve because he has missed so much time. It could very well determine how long he remains with the team.

Loose pucks. The Flyers said fluid built up in defenseman Derian Hatcher's surgically repaired right knee, causing him to miss the game. Trainer Jim McCrossin has him listed as day-to-day but said it is not serious. "If you have fluid there, the [quadriceps] begin to shut down," McCrossin said. "And we just want to make sure that when Derian goes back there to play, he's healthy and there's no risk for injury. This is just a recent flare-up. We're just holding him off." . . . Last summer's first-round pick, James vanRiemsdyk, will suit up for Team USA in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. The tournament takes place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. VanRiemsdyk has collected 15 points at the University of New Hampshire.

- Tim Panaccio