Flyers may get Briere, van Riemsdyk back
The Flyers are hopeful both will play tomorrow, but it depends on how they feel after today's practice, coach John Stevens said
Flyers center Jeff Carter may have injured line mates Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk back for tomorrow's game against visiting Ottawa.
Briere, who has missed the last four games - all wins - with a leg strain below his right quad, went through a full practice in Voorhees yesterday and said he felt no discomfort.
Van Riemsdyk also participated in a full practice; the rookie left winger suffered a broken left pinkie in Saturday's 2-1 shoot-out win over St. Louis and missed the last half of the game. He had the finger, which was also cut and required more than 20 stitches, heavily taped yesterday.
The Flyers are hopeful both will play tomorrow, but it depends on how they feel after today's practice, coach John Stevens said.
"I felt pretty good. I was able to do all the drills and I'm very happy with the way it went," said Briere, who was injured against Washington on Oct. 27. "I have to go back and see the doctor sometime between today and game time if I want to play. Before I make any comment, I have to see what the doctor thinks. All I can tell you is I felt good and it seems to be on the right path."
"Danny looked like he had a pretty good jump," Stevens said.
Van Riemsdyk, who has 14 points in 12 games and went into last night tied with Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly as the league's top rookie scorer, also reported progress and appears ready to play.
"Obviously it'll get better every day, so I'm just looking forward to that," he said. "It's something you just have to mentally push yourself through. It's probably not going to get much worse, so I don't have anything to worry about that."
Van Riemsdyk said it felt a little awkward to stickhandle and shoot. "You kind of have to adjust your grip a little, but it's probably better it was this finger than a thumb or an index finger. You just have to make a few adjustments," he said.
The Flyers' injury situation also improved when defenseman Ryan Parent (groin) and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (slight concussion) practiced yesterday. Tollefsen is doubtful for tomorrow, while a decision on Parent will be made today.
If Parent and Tollefsen can't play, Oskars Bartulis will make his NHL debut. The sturdy 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was recalled from the AHL Adirondack Phantoms on Monday.
"When you were a young kid you were dreaming of this, and now is your chance," said Bartulis, who would become the first player born in Latvia to play for the Flyers.
Bartulis, 22, practiced with the Flyers earlier in the season but did not dress for any games and was sent back to the Phantoms.
"When I went down, they said you're going to be here again at some point, so just wait for your chance," he said.
The Flyers are also high on Adirondack defensemen Kevin Marshall and Joey Mormina.
"You need to play every game hard because a lot of guys there want to be here," said Bartulis, a third-round draft selection in 2005. "You need to show your best hockey every night there."
If he plays tomorrow, Bartulis would be paired with Danny Syvret. The two were a duo with the Phantoms last season, so they are comfortable with each other.
Locker-room visitors. Nineteen soldiers, most of them from Fort Dix, N.J., visited the locker room and chatted and posed for pictures with the players.
"You guys are the heroes," Flyers winger Ian Laperriere told them.
As van Riemsdyk signed autographs, he also had words of encouragement: "Thanks for all you do for us," he said.
Said Stevens: "There's great appreciation for the commitment they give to us, and the time away from their families and putting themselves in harm's way. It's really a treat for us to spend some time with them."
This was the fourth straight year the Flyers have been visited by the military.
Stevens was presented a drawing of himself by the artist Calvin Thompson, who is a member of the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee, which serves as a liaison between civilians and the military.