Claude Giroux is making progress from a head injury, but the Flyers star center will not play Tuesday night in Washington and appears questionable for Thursday's game in Montreal.

General manager Paul Holmgren said Giroux would not make the trip to Washington; he gave no word on whether Giroux would join the team in Montreal.

"We can't sit back and feel sorry for ourselves," center Danny Briere said after Monday's practice in Voorhees.

Giroux is "continuing to feel better," Holmgren said in a statement from Chicago, where he was attending a ceremony in which Ed Snider, the Flyers' chairman, was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.

The Flyers said Giroux, the league's leading scorer, will be examined again Tuesday; he was to be examined Monday, but the club gave no report on his visit or whether he has a concussion after colliding with teammate Wayne Simmonds on Saturday.

The Flyers do not allow reporters to talk to trainer Jim McCrossin.

Giroux, wearing street clothes, was at the Flyers' training facility in Voorhees but declined a chance to talk with reporters.

Briere doesn't expect Giroux, who is one of his closest friends, to miss a lot of time.

"He seems to get better every day," Briere said. "From the first night we saw him, yesterday and then today. There seems to be a step up every time. I'm hoping and confident it won't be too long.''

Rookie Sean Couturier, who had been the fourth-line center, will replace Giroux on the top line between Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell.

"It's new linemates, but I've just got to play my game - a solid two-way, control the puck [game]," Couturier said. "Obviously there's more offense on that top line, so it's fun to step up."

Giroux (39 points), Hartnell (26) and Jagr (24) have been a dynamic unit.

"When you're on the bench you say, 'Wow,' but when you're out there, you've got to be ready for those 'wow' plays," Couturier said. "I've just got to be ready and prepare to get some nice passes."

Couturier, who just turned 19, has excelled on the penalty kill, but he hasn't scored a point in the last 14 games. He has eight points (five goals, three assists) and is third on the team at plus-8.

"It's a great chance for me to show what I've got offensively," he said.

Couturier played most of the final period of Saturday's 5-2 win over Tampa Bay with Jagr and Hartnell as his linemates, and they created several scoring chances.

"I thought we played good," said Jagr, who will face his former team Tuesday. "We didn't spend much time in our zone. That was a positive. But of course [Tuesday] we're going to play a hungry team, Washington. But he's very good defensively for the age he is."

Jagr calls Giroux "little Mario Lemieux." His nickname for Couturier?

"Give me one more game," he said with a smile.

Added Jagr: "I think all of his game is underrated. . . . When he's had a chance to play, he's a very good player. He's got a lot of scoring chances on penalty kills. Not many guys can do that."

Jagr, 39, said he didn't think Giroux would be sidelined for long.

"I think if it would be up to him, he would play [Tuesday]," Jagr said. "On the other side, the doctors have to make sure. You don't want anything like what happened to [Sidney] Crosby. You have to be very careful because he's got the talent.

"You don't look just for the next game. You look for the next 10 years, not only two games. That's probably the biggest difference. If he would be my age, nobody would really care!"

The Flyers have won five straight. On Tuesday, they will be without their best offensive player (Giroux) and defensive player (Chris Pronger), each of whom may have concussions.

"We have to keep doing the same thing we've done," Briere said. "We missed Chris Pronger for many games. It gave other guys a chance to step up, have more responsibilities."

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi
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