(Chelsea Piers, NY, January 3) – The last time Peter Forsberg was forced from the lineup do to injury, Head Coach John Stevens said the team's emotional level went "off a cliff." Now, however, the longest winning streak of the season may have built enough confidence in the team to overcome the captain's mild right groin strain that will keep him off of the ice for an undetermined amount of time.
"There's definitely more confidence just from winning," said Derian Hatcher after an afternoon practice in New York. "We're obviously not winning pretty but that doesn't matter. We've won some games and hopefully we can get some confidence and get better.
"[Robert] Esche has played really well, I don't think there's any hiding that, but hopefully we can use that confidence and get better as a team. We still have a lot of areas to clean up and hopefully we can do that."
Stevens also hopes that the notches in the win column will help down the line as Philadelphia plays at least the next few games without its captain.
"We're obviously very concerned with Peter but our team responded from that point forward and to me, that's the thing I'm most encouraged with," he said.
"Our commitment to team defense and puck battles, which in my opinion has gotten a lot better lately, has got to continue to get better. We can't be satisfied from winning three games, but certainly we have gained confidence from this little bit of recent success."
Still, it's no secret that the Flyers are a better club with Forsberg in the lineup. The captain obviously did not skate with the team on Wednesday but still attended practice and updated the media on his condition. Forsberg was set to return home to Philadelphia later in the day.
"It's just a groin strain. It's the same as before. The next question is 'does it come from the foot?' and I don't know if it does. It's a good guess it would be, I just don't know for sure.
"It's not 100 percent. It got better, I have to say that, but it's still not 100 percent. I want to be 100 percent and I'm not going to give up on it until it's 100 percent. We still have some work to be done and that's what I'm doing now. While I have this groin strain, at least it's a good time to go do it. We just have to keep on trying."
Forsberg also said that he expects to be out a week to 10 days, but does not know for sure. He reiterated the fact that he will not need surgery on the groin.
Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin said the following:
"Peter has a mild groin strain in his right groin and the skate is still not sitting right. The foot is still not sitting straight in the skate. He's going to go home tonight and he's going to go back and see the Temple people that created a few different orthotics for him prior to the road trip. He's going to try those and see how the foot sits in the skate with the orthotics.
"I spoke with [Flyers General Manager] Paul Holmgren and he said to do what we need to do and we've been doing that. That's why we're sending him home, so we can work with these people down in Temple again and our podiatrists. I have it set up that he can see a doctor up in Boston, too, a completely different foot and ankle specialist [on Friday]."
Kapanen and Niittymaki to Join Team Wednesday Night
Flyers forward Sami Kapanen (upper body injury) and goaltender Antero Niittymaki (mild left hip strain) will join the team at its hotel on Wednesday night. Both skated at the Flyers practice facility in Voorhees, New Jersey on Wednesday morning and take part in the pregame skate on Thursday.
McCrossin updated the conditions of those two players, as well.
"Kapanen was cleared today and skated with Niittymaki and both felt very good," he said. "Niittymaki said [his hip] felt a little tight and a little sore, but he attributed that to not being on the ice for two days. But otherwise, he said it felt really good."
Downie Having Success at World Juniors
Flyers prospect Steve Downie has three goals and two assists for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. Canada will play in the gold medal game against Russia.
Downie was Philadelphia's first round draft choice in 2005.