Flyers center Briere wants to play but he can't rush his return
Asking Danny Briere if he wants to play could be the stupidest question the Flyers forward hears these days. His answer is just a look that says: "What do you think?" He wants to play today against Carolina. He wanted to play Wednesday in Carolina.
Asking Danny Briere if he wants to play could be the stupidest question the Flyers forward hears these days.
His answer is just a look that says: "What do you think?" He wants to play today against Carolina. He wanted to play Wednesday in Carolina.
But he won't be on the ice today and probably not tomorrow in Toronto, either. Coming in on the side of caution, the Flyers' top center is going to wait until probably Tuesday against Tampa Bay at home to come back from his groin tear.
"I'm close," he said yesterday. "But I'm just not 100 percent there yet and it's better to be safe and healthy. I won't play today, and probably not [Saturday in Toronto] either."
Briere has played in just eight of the Flyers' 21 games this season, recovering first from abdominal surgery and now from the groin tear.
He's been skating again and is feeling a little bit better each day, but yesterday after a quick Thanksgiving practice there was still no clear answer to when he would absolutely be ready to go.
"I wish I could tell you," Briere said. "I'd like an answer, too."
If there were more on the line, putting Briere in right now would make sense. But a groin pull is one injury that can reoccur, and with the Flyers coming into the Wachovia Center on a six-game win streak, there is no pressure, other than Briere's desire to resume his season.
"With him, he's a good player and if he's healthy, he plays," coach John Stevens said. "Saying we won six in a row would have nothing to do with it.
"But we wouldn't rush him back, by any means. He's had flexibility tests, strength tests, and now it's just a matter of his comfort level, can he get out of the hole.
"Once you get moving and you're warmed up and moving already, you don't feel it as much. But can you get out of the hole from a dead stop, or can you stop to get back to your defensive zone coverage, or you have to transition onto an attack offensively, that's the question.
"You know how it is in a game. You have to react and we have to make sure he'll be ready to react and be confident with that."
The more things change the more they stay the same, at least in
case. Sent to Tampa Bay in the trade for
and then assigned to the team's AHL affiliate, Downie was suspended for three games for a check from behind on Worchester's
last Wednesday. Yesterday, after the suspension ended, the Lightning announced that they had recalled Downie, which means if he stays up with the team he will be in the lineup against the Flyers on Tuesday in the Wachovia Center.
With the 3-1 win over Carolina in RBC Center on Wednesday night, the Flyers climbed to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, jumping ahead of the Hurricanes but staying just behind New Jersey, which has managed to keep pace with the Flyers even without goaltender Martin Brodeur.
The winning streak is helping John Stevens forget about the Flyers' poor start; in fact, the coach is even beginning to see it differently.
"It was a horrible start in the fact that we went 0-3-3, but we had opportunities to win all of those games, and as a coach you have to be objective at times and view the body of work," he said. "There were good things we were doing there. We just had to tighten up a little bit to win hockey games, we were playing a little bit to loose, and we've done that.
"I love going on the road, giving up just one goal and winning a hockey game. To me that's a real good sign that we've playing better defensively." *