back into the lineup tonight does not guarantee that the sad-sack Flyers are going to go on a long winning streak.
But it should be a step in the right direction.
Betts, sidelined since Nov. 21 with a dislocated right shoulder, will return against the visiting Penguins, who embarrassed the Flyers on Tuesday.
"It's been pretty frustrating the last four weeks for sure, but that's over with now," Betts said after yesterday's optional practice in Voorhees. "My shoulder is where it needs to be and I'm ready to play."
With Betts in the lineup, the Flyers are 10-3. Without him, they are 5-13-1.
Before dislocating his shoulder for the second time this season, Betts centered an energetic fourth line that included Dan Carcillo and Ian Laperriere. He was also a superb penalty killer and face-off man.
With Betts, the penalty-killing unit was consistently in the league's top 10. Without him, it has slipped into a tie for 22d.
"He's a big guy who can skate and play against anyone," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Being able to play against other teams' best players is an important role.
"He takes important minutes, and takes them away from other guys, so they can be more energized in their game."
Betts, who acknowledged that he would probably have shoulder surgery after the season, downplayed the Flyers' record with him in the lineup.
"I don't think anyone can read too much into that," he said. "Timing has a lot to do with that number. We have guys that can step in."
the former Hurricanes goalie who signed Tuesday, had his first workout with the Flyers yesterday and said he needed a few more practices to be sharp.
He will serve as Brian Boucher's backup tonight.
Goalie Johan Backlund, who did not appear in any games, was sent to the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms, along with forward Andreas Nodl.
Excluding the rehabbing players, winger
was the lone regular who took part in the optional practice. . . . The Flyers are 0-2 against the Penguins this season. . . . The Penguins'
has 21 goals and 28 assists in his last 28 regular-season games against the Flyers. . . . There is a chance center
(shoulder) will return to the lineup Saturday afternoon against the visiting New York Rangers.
- Sam Carchidi
Flyers Notes: Blair Betts Project
The Flyers' record with center Blair Betts: 10-3
Their record without him: 5-13-1