Danny Briere said he would be the first to admit that Joe Vitale’s hit on Sunday in Pittsburgh, which sparked a near line brawl with just 1:03 left in a 6-3 game, was a clean hit.
But Briere certainly wasn’t willing to concede that Vitale’s intent was pure, searching for a hit that has ultimately ended his regular season prematurely.
Briere said on Tuesday morning that he believes Vitale was sent to the ice with the intent to injure. Peter Laviolette was fined $10,000 on Monday for his on-ice antics with Penguins assistant Tony Granato and his subsequent comments for coach Dan Bylsma, whom he called “gutless.”
“Look, everybody knows that (they) put the line that was on the ice, on the ice with a minute left in a game that was out of hand,” Briere said. “Everybody knows the intent, what the intent was. Was it a bad hit? No. It was a clean hit.
“But obviously, you knew what he was doing. He was obviously trying to hurt me. We all know that.”
Now, Briere said he “doesn’t have the option” of playing another game before the playoffs start. He is officially sidelined indefinitely with an upper-back contusion. He has undergone MRIs and all kinds of tests and is currently undergoing treatment for the injury.
We wrote more about Briere and Nick Grossmann's injuries, plus much more, in Tuesday's paper.
Briere said he is not sure when he will return to the lineup. There is never a good time for an injury, but Briere’s line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn was one of the Flyers’ most potent recently. The trio had netted a combined 19 points in the last 5 games alone.
“I don’t know much at this point,” Briere said. “All I know is that my back is in spasms. They have some fancy words for it that I don’t understand. There is no timetable.
“I’d like to be ready for the playoffs, I just don’t know at this point.”
Briere said he likely saved himself from a concussion since he was able to quickly brace himself before Vitale drove his shoulder into him.
“I tried to take the hit,” Briere said. “It’s just one of those things sometimes that turns out bad. It was weird. I was sore right after but it wasn’t that bad, I thought I’d be fine. A couple hours later, that’s when it started seizing up on me.”
With a score to settle, Briere is now hoping he will get another crack at the Penguins.
“There’s not much else to say or do,” Briere said. “I guess it just makes for a more entertaining series coming up if we face them in the first round.”
PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS: With any overtime action in Tuesday's matchup with the Rangers, the Flyers will clinch a matchup with the Penguins. Home ice can still be flip-flopped in the final week. But one point won by New York or lost by Pittsburgh will clinch the No. 1 seed for the Rangers. One point won by the Flyers would lock the Devils into the 6th spot.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers