Could Forsberg help Flyers?

OK, it’s a longshot _ let’s say 80/20 _ that Peter Forsberg will return to the Flyers.

    But it’s not as long as it was yesterday and, by the time the Flyers find out the medical status of Danny Briere on Thursday, the odds could become closer to 50/50.

    Briere will have exploratory surgery Thursday to find out why he is still having so much groin pain.

    The Flyers are hoping it’s just scar tissue, in which case the center should be able to return in two weeks.

    But if it is a severe groin tear that will require an adductor release _ an injury Mike Richards suffered two years ago _ Briere could be out for six weeks. Or longer.

    That means he wouldn’t be back until March, and there are no guarantees he would be effective if he returned this season.

    The Flyers’ offense has sputtered the last few weeks _ notwithstanding last night’s 5-3 win (with an empty-net goal) against

Atlanta . They have not been getting much scoring from their third- and fourth-line centers.

    If Briere is going to miss six weeks, it’s likely that general manager Paul Holmgren will add a veteran forward to the mix.

    Brendan Shanahan would have been a perfect fit _ and the Flyers made a strong run at him. At one point, Shanahan was leaning toward the Flyers, but he ended up signing with New Jersey because it’s closer to his

New York home and his kids don’t have to change schools.

    Forsberg, 35, has been skating and testing his ailing right foot in and mulling a comeback; he reportedly would be willing to play for

Colorado or the Flyers. 

     “If it doesn’t work now, I’m forced to give it up for good,” Forsberg told the Swedish tabloid Expressen on Tuesday.

   Forsberg made a late-season return to

Colorado last year, but injuries kept him out of nine of 18 regular-season games and three of four games in the second round of the playoffs.

    Forsberg won two Stanley Cups with the Avalanche, who are currently a longshot to earn a playoff berth this season.

   The Flyers are one of a handful of strong Eastern Conference contenders, but they need a healthy Briere. Or a suitable replacement _ preferably someone with good size who can match up against physical teams like Boston and

Washington in the playoffs.

_ Sam Carchidi