The news was mixed on the Flyers’ injury front today.
Center Danny Briere (groin) skated for about 40 minutes before practice and did not sound optimistic about returning on Friday in Buffalo.
Defenseman Ossi Vaananen (finger) took part in practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, but is even more of a long shot to return for either game this weekend.
The most positive news came from enforcer Riley Cote, who is recovering nicely from a mild muscle tear in his left side, suffered during a warmup routine Nov. 6 in Ottawa. He practiced yesterday and coach John Stevens expects the winger to be able to return Nov. 29 in Toronto, the first game he is eligible to come off the long-term injury list.
“It kills me watching the games,” Cote said. “Just the way the injury happened is kind of embarrassing. It’s one of those freak things and just something you have to deal with it and come back stronger.”
Darroll Powe, recovering from a mild concussion, also returned to practice yesterday. He replaced Jared Ross, who was sent down to the AHL Phantoms.
Briere, who has five goals in eight games, hopes to be able to practice with the club on Thursday.
This injury, he said, is “more frustrating” than the abdominal surgery that sidelined him earlier in the season. “With the surgery, every day I came to the rink I could do something more than the day before,” he said. “The improvement from day to day was huge. With the groin, it’s frustrating….You’re sitting there two or three days without improvement.”
If he is able to practice Thursday without complications, “I might be able to play (Friday), but at the same time, if there’s a setback or it doesn’t improve, there’s no sense risking it _ even though it’s Buffalo (his former club) and I’d like to be in the lineup,”
As for Vaananen, he missed four games after having surgery on his right index finger, then tore the stitches in the finger Thursday in his first game back. He skated but avoided contact yesterday.
“Maybe we learned something,” Vaananen said. “Hopefully, we’ll let it heal properly so we won’t have any setbacks.”
Vaananen said “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist” to figure out he came back too soon.
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The Flyers have as many shorthanded goals (8) as Florida and New Jersey had on the power play entering tonight…..The Flyers will not practice Wednesday and will return to the Skate Zone tomorrow in preparation for Friday’s game in Buffalo. Marty Biron (3.13 goals-against average) will be in goal for the Flyers Friday.
_ Sam Carchidi