If there were questions about Derian Hatcher's ability to play again this season, he's about to end them.
According to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, the defenseman plans to skate with the team at practice today and is a possibility to play Saturday against the New York Islanders.
"In terms of injuries, everything is pretty much the same," Holmgren said yesterday. "[Hatcher] is still looking at Saturday for potentially playing. He cannot play prior to March 8 because of the rules with a long-term injury. But he is doing fine."
Hatcher, who has struggled with right-knee problems all season and had surgery to remove pieces of torn cartilage in October, has not played since Feb. 12, against the Islanders. He was placed on the long-term injury list and has been working to strengthen his knee since.
"The knee is stronger than it has been in a long time and we will see how he handles going on the ice [today] and the rest of the week," Holmgren said.
Hatcher would have skated with the team yesterday if they had not been given a day off after back-to-back games last weekend.
Holmgren added that both Joffrey Lupul (right ankle sprain) and Mike Richards (torn hamstring) are making progress.
"[Lupul] is still on track. He is listed as day-to-day but we don't really expect anything out of him until the weekend as well," Holmgren said.
"Mike Richards is coming along nicely. He has progressed a little more each day. But it's still something that we are looking at the initial diagnosis of a minimum of 3 weeks. That pushes him to somewhere around March 15 or 16, that weekend.
"Everybody else," Holmgren said, "is doing OK."
Mike Knuble was named the NHL's third star of the week for his play over the last four games. Knuble scored three goals and had five assists in wins over Buffalo, Ottawa and the Islanders and in the shootout loss to the Rangers on Sunday.
The March 16 game between the Flyers and Penguins in Pittsburgh has been moved from a 3 p.m. to 12:30 to accommodate NBC's "Game of the Week" schedule. *