New Jersey Devils' Travis Zajac, left, battles for the puck with Philadelphia Flyers' Simon Gagne in the first period of an NHL first-round playoff hockey game, Tuesday, April 20, 2010, in Philadelphia. Gagne left the game in the third period with an injury. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Voorhees, NJ -- As the B's prepared to face Game 4 without David Krejci, the Philadelphia Flyers held practice and welcomed Simon Gagne back to the ice.
Originally slated to return to the Flyers lineup as late as Game 5, the Philadelphia club seemed buoyed by the possiblilty that the talented skater would return from injury in time for Game 4.
"There is no better way to get back into shape than by skating," said Gagne after the Flyers practice. "With my injury, it's good to know where I am at."
Where he is at -- presumably -- is nearing a return to play.
"Right now it's only the first time I am on the ice," cautioned Gagne. "I still have to see the doctor and we'll go from there...and we'll go day-by-day."
If tomorrow is that day, his coach and his teammates will welcome him back into the picture with arms outspread.
"Well, you have to come back at some point," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "You know?
"And whenever Simon comes back he'll provide a boost -- he's a good hockey player.
"So, when we get him back he'll be a good asset on the ice," he said.
Brad Richards said he was not surprised to see Gagne.
"No," said Richards, who also said he was not sure if the Flyers predicament (down 3-0 in the series) was a deciding factor in his quick progress. "If he is ready to play he is ready to play. If he is not, he is not.
"I think with that injury, it's something that you [can't be] forced to come back with."
But should he take the ice, Richards and the Flyers will welcoming back a valuable teammate.
"He's a good player," said Richards. "It's nice to have another goal scorer in our lineup, and hopefully he can provide us with that."
Flyer's goalie Brian Bocher was surprised to see Gagne out on the ice, but said his return would be big.
"Obviously, he is a big part of this hockey team and to get a guy like him back would be a big boost," said Boucher. "Hopefully things went well today for him and we'll see how it goes."