Carter a game-time decision

It will be a game-time decision in New York Friday on whether high-scoring center Jeff Carter can return to the Flyers’ lineup.

Carter skated Thursday, the first time he practiced since he broke his left foot while blocking a shot against Atlanta on March 21.

“I thought Jeff did fine in practice, but I think we need to see how this responds (Friday) before we make any decisions,” said general manager Paul Holmgren after watching the practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.

The Flyers end the regular-season with a home-and-home series against the Rangers - Friday at Madison Square Garden, and Sunday afternoon at the Wachovia Center.

Both teams have playoff berths at stake.

Carter has missed the last eight games, during which the Flyers have gone 3-4-1 and averaged just 2.4 goals per game.

During a surgical procedure, Carter had a screw inserted into his foot. Because of that, Holmgren said, the chances of him re-injuring the foot “are slim. But obviously we’re not going to put Jeff at any risk.”

It may come down to how much pain Carter can tolerate.

“There’s going to be pain for a long time,” Carter said. “I’ve got a screw in my foot, so…."

Carter, who has a team-high 33 goals, will “have a hand in the process, and let us know how he’s feeling,” Holmgren said of the decision on when he will return to the lineup.

Holmgren said he was pleasantly surprised by Carter’s work at practice, where he was mostly on a line with wingers Scott Hartnell and Arron Asham.

“He looked better than I thought he would,” Holmgren said. “Right where the surgery was done, or where the break is, it’s right up against the inside of his boot and I know they put a big donut in there to try to alleviate some of the pressure on the actual injury. I’m not sure how they fit in all in the skate, to be honest with you, but I thought he looked fine.”

Carter wouldn’t commit to whether he thought he could play this weekend.

“We’ll see,” he said, adding it has been “tough sitting in the stands watching, especially with what’s going on in the standings. Even if I don’t get back in the lineup, just to get out there and skate with the boys and have a little fun makes the days a little easier.”

He conceded that it would take a while to get into game condition.

“There’s not much legs right now,” he said. “You can do whatever you want upstairs (in the weight room) on the legs, but as soon as you get on the ice, it’s totally different…..Obviously I don’t have the legs I had when I first got injured, so it’ll take a bit to get back.”

Carter called being sidelined “a little vacation at a bad time, basically.”