THE FLYERS may get one of their walking wounded back tonight.
After skating on his own this weekend, forward Jake Voracek said he could return to the lineup as soon as tonight against New Jersey, after suffering a head/neck injury 1 week ago in a brutal hit by Detroit's Niklas Kronwall.
Voracek, 22, said he took and passed a baseline concussion test.
Yesterday, Voracek skated with injured defensemen Pavel Kubina and Kimmo Timonen and the assistant coaches. Peter Laviolette opted for a team meeting rather than practice for his regulars.
"We'll see how I feel," Voracek said. "It's not so much headaches, but my neck was hurt. It wasn't that bad. When I saw [video of] the hit, [the pain] wasn't as bad as I expected it."
The heart of the defense corps - Kubina, Timonen and Andrej Meszaros - are not yet ready to return to action. All three remain "day-to-day" with undisclosed injuries. Meszaros, the only one to not skate yesterday, and Timonen have been out since March 1 with "lower-body" injuries.
Voracek received stitches on his upper and lower lips after being temporarily knocked unconscious by Kronwall's bone-crunching hit. He has 12 goals and 23 assists this season.
"I skated a few times, just so that I wouldn't fall out of shape," Voracek said. "I haven't practiced with the team yet. And that might make a difference, when there are players skating around you. I'll know [today]. It all depends how I feel."
Ilya Bryzgalov was named the NHL's First Star of the week yesterday for his play from March 5-11. During that span, Bryzgalov stopped nearly 98 percent of his shots faced (94-for-96) and posted two shutouts in his three starts, all wins.
He edged out New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk (nine points) and St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak (3-0-0, 1.00 GAA and .962 save percentage) for the top weekly award. It was his first honor since joining the Flyers last June.
"His game has been excellent for a while now," Peter Laviolette said. "He seems dialed in. He's very competitive and in control of his net. It's a well-deserved honor."
Bryzgalov was not available for comment. He carries a shutout streak of 136:13 into tonight's battle for fifth place with New Jersey. Overall, Bryzgalov is 8-2-1 (one no-decision) with a .933 save percentage and 1.95 goals against-average in his last 12 starts.
"He's been awesome," Scott Hartnell said. "For the last five, six games, we haven't played offensively the way we've wanted to, but we've only needed to score one or two goals to win the game. That's what you want out of your No. 1 goalie. He's got a lot of confidence right now, he's playing well."
Peter Laviolette told his players they "can't forget our identity" after posting one goal in two games this weekend. Laviolette said the Flyers' "attack" and "the way we march in the offensive zone" is what has been missing. Scott Hartnell estimated the Flyers had just four or five quality scoring chances in Sunday night's 4-1 loss at New Jersey . . . Defenseman Braydon Coburn will present a check for $5,000 to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) today. PAWS also will have animals up for adoption at the Broad Street atrium inside the Wells Fargo Center at tonight's game . . . Emergency recall Harry Zolnierczyk was sent back to Adirondack yesterday.