JAMES van Riemsdyk arrived at the Flyers practice facility in Voorhees, N.J. for a noon meeting yesterday less than 12 hours after returning from Buffalo on a postgame charter.

Van Riemsdyk was feeling fresh, not at all sluggish from a bone-crunching hit along the boards with 6:20 to play in Buffalo.

In fact, van Riemsdyk even skated briefly in an option practice to shake off any lingering cobwebs, a normal game-day routine to get his blood flowing.

He arrived at the Wells Fargo Center at his normal time last night, fully expecting to play in last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils. He kept to his normal pregame ritual. He took part in the Flyers' pregame warmups, skating on his line with Danny Briere and newcomer Sean Couturier.

Then, van Riemsdyk was scratched from the lineup without explanation.

According to a team source, speaking to the Daily News last night on a condition of anonymity, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was "especially critical" of van Riemsdyk's performance on Wednesday night - despite the fact that he scored a highlight-reel goal against the Sabres - and called him out during a team meeting.

Officially, the Flyers said van Riemsdyk is "day-to-day" with a nondescript "lower-body injury."

Contrary to reports, van Riemsdyk was slightly injured on a hit from the Sabres' Andrej Sekera late in the game, but it was not his knee that was affected. Van Riemsdyk tweaked his groin or hip area, as he was stretching out to move the puck when he was awkwardly crunched on the boards. Still, it was not an injury that would have normally kept him out of last night's game.

"He could have played and expected to play," the team source said.

Van Riemsdyk played 14:12 in the Flyers' win against Buffalo, which was not a season-low. He also collected an assist on Couturier's first-period tally in that game. Neither his play nor his on-ice work ethic appeared to be a departure from the norm.

Van Riemsdyk, 22, signed a 6-year, $25.5 million contract extension with the Flyers last summer, which does not kick in until next season.

What head-butt?

Jakub Voracek was more than a little surprised yesterday afternoon to hear that a hit he received on Wednesday night in Buffalo warranted a four-game suspension for Sabres' forward Patrick Kaleta.

Kaleta was penalized by NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan for "leading with his head to deliver an illegal hit to the face" with 4:58 remaining in the first period.

"I didn't even know he hit me with the head, to be honest," Voracek said. "I felt some hit and when I saw it on the replay [yesterday] morning, I found out he head-butted me."

Flyers' Wives Carnival

Given a choice, Claude Giroux said he would rather play Guitar Hero with the fans at the 35th anniversary Flyers' Wives Fight for Lives Carnival on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012.

Going head-to-head in Guitar Hero is one of the many attractions at the event, which raises funds for more than 100 charities in the Philadelphia area.

But Giroux will be participating in a unique combo-package, in which fans can purchase both a photo and an autograph with him.

In the 34 years of the Carnival, the Flyers' wives have raised more than $23 million.

This February, they are hoping to top $700,000. Their husbands will participate in several activities, including a dunk tank, Wii Boxing, and even pictures with the Stanley Cup.

"It was interesting, we didn't have a Carnival during the 2004-05 lockout, because we weren't allowed to talk to the players, but people still called to participate," said Mary Ann Saleski, the vice president of Comcast-Spectacor charities. "Since then, interest has been nearly constant. This year, we're looking to raise more money than ever. Everyone loves an anniversary year."

Tickets to the carnival are available at www.flyerscarnival.com.