There was good and bad news on the Flyers injury front Monday as they prepared for Tuesday's game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

The good: Winger Matt Read is ahead of schedule and expects to be playing much sooner than expected. He skated at practice in Voorhees and was able to absorb contact.

The bad: Defenseman Andrej Meszaros, sidelined since Jan. 24 with a dislocated left shoulder, missed practice because of an illness, and his comeback is behind schedule.

Read suffered torn rib-cage muscles in Pittsburgh on Feb. 20 - at the time he led the Flyers with seven goals - and general manager Paul Holmgren said he would miss six weeks. But Read said he will be back much sooner than early April.

"It's getting better," Read said after Monday's practice. "It's not 100 percent yet. In skating, I feel it. In shooting, I feel it. But it's definitely getting better every day."

Monday was a testing ground for Read.

"I asked a couple of guys to give me a bump here and there during practice," he said, "but I don't want to hurt myself again. Just trying to ease myself in."

As for Meszaros, Holmgren said on Feb. 21 that Meszaros would return in seven to 10 days. Tuesday is the 12th day since he made that assessment.

Even though Meszaros and Read won't play Tuesday, the Flyers will be healthier than the last time they faced the Rangers. In that 2-1 loss in New York on Jan. 29, they were missing Meszaros, Scott Hartnell and Erik Gustafsson with injuries.

The Flyers have a difficult week. Besides the Rangers, they host Pittsburgh on Thursday and travel to Boston for a Saturday matinee.

"This is the fun part," said winger Mike Knuble, who will replace the suspended Harry Zolnierczyk in Tuesday's lineup. "This is what you're playing for. All those months when guys are around the world [during the lockout] and guys are sitting back home just dying to get back on the ice, this is the stuff you can't fear. This is what you want to be in."

The Flyers (11-11-1) are in eighth place, one point ahead of the Rangers. They have played three more games than New York (10-8-2).

"We're slowly climbing," forward Danny Briere said. "We put ourselves in such a deep hole early on. We knew it wasn't going to happen overnight. It was something that you have to chip away slowly."

The Flyers have won three of their last four games and have a chance Tuesday to accomplish two "firsts" this season - get above .500 and put together a three-game winning streak.

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed just one goal in each of the last two games, wins over Washington and Ottawa, and his defense has been anchored lately by Nick Grossmann.

Grossmann leads the NHL with 66 blocked shots, including 24 in his last five games.

"He's a mountain of a man out there," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's moving well, making a real good first pass out of our end. He's blocking shots, he's physical."

Breakaways. Zolnierzcyk said he apologized to Ottawa's Mike Lundin for his hit that resulted in a concussion, adding he didn't mean to injure the defenseman. "I don't like it," he said of his four-game suspension, "but ultimately, I respect it. My job is to go out there and deliver a hard hit. That's what I tried to do.". . . The Flyers have lost five straight in Madison Square Garden since 2011.