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Flyers Hoping for Boost from Returning Players

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
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Hatcher and Lupul talk after practice: FlyersTV
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(Voorhees, NJ) – It has already been well documented that the Flyers are suffering through some key injuries at the moment. Derian Hatcher, Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Joffrey Lupul, Jaroslav Modry and Danny Briere are all among the players that are either out of the lineup or banged up.

The team got a boost on Thursday when Briere returned from a one-game absence for the tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning when it was originally thought he would be on the sidelines. Briere scored a goal in his return as the Flyers went on to a 3-2 victory.

Now, the Flyers are hoping that a key veteran defenseman will be back on Saturday in Derian Hatcher, who has missed the last 12 games with a sore right knee. Hatcher skated with the team again on Friday morning at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone, as he has been doing all week.

“It felt good today. We’ll see [Saturday] morning and go from there. I’ll go to bed preparing [to play],” said Hatcher.

John Stevens thinks that when players return from injury, both in practice and in games, it provides a boost to the entire club on the ice as well as emotionally.

“Any time the numbers go up in practice it seems like there’s more life out there. Some guys are happy they get to go less in the drills, I guess,” joked the head coach. “I think it boosts the confidence in your team, especially when they’re veteran players.”

“It seems every time somebody gets back it gives you a little bump,” added Briere. “Especially now, we won a game and we’re getting guys back and we’re thinking we’re even better now. For the confidence and the atmosphere, it definitely helps.”

Braydon Coburn, whose development has grown by leaps and bounds this season, has been paired with the veteran Hatcher for much of the year. He’s also hoping to have his partner back should Hatcher be able to play on Saturday against the New York Islanders (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).

“Hatch has been great for me this season. He has taught me so much,” said the 22-year-old. “He’s a force out there and is so steady. To have a guy out there that you’re playing with that does things right means a lot for me, [and] when I mess up he’s there to cover up for me.”

While Hatcher’s status is the good news, right wing Joffrey Lupul is frustrated at the rate his high ankle sprain is healing. Lupul has been out since February 17, missing the last 10 games.

He skated again on Friday but cannot put a date on his possible return.

“I’ve still got a ways to go,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be healing very quickly. My skating feels fine, it’s just the starts and stops and little battles for the puck. Shooting is probably the toughest.

“It’s a little frustrating. All you can do is give it time.”

Cote reacts to Roy’s rage

While Jeff Carter’s two goals were the biggest highlights of the 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night, Riley Cote’s knockout blow of the Lightning’s Andre Roy is also being shown over and over again on local and national sports shows.

Roy challenged the Flyers’ bench and Cote late in the third period with the game still tied at 2-2, and continued to yell in that general direction before being restrained by Lightning coach John Tortorella.

“No one wants to lose, especially that way,” said Cote. “[George] Parros dropped me and I was [ticked] off and I went after him again. No one wants to get dropped. It’s just a pride thing.”

Cote was referring to a game earlier this season against Anaheim, when Parros delivered an uppercut to his jaw, knocking him down.

While Cote’s fists have endeared him to Flyers fans this season, he has established himself as a player that doesn’t hurt the club when he is out on the ice. Still, as other players recover from their injuries, guys that are currently in the lineup will have to come out. Cote said there is nothing he can do about that, should it be him who has to sit.

“I know how to play the game; it’s not like I just strap on skates and fight,” he said. “It might seem like that to some people, but it’s not like that. I’ve been in the lineup regularly, and I just want to keep doing the things I can do to stay in the lineup and keep it simple and be responsible.

“I’m just going to keep doing my best and being an energy guy and a positive guy. In or out of the lineup, I’m going to be the same way. I’ll just keep working.”

FLYERS NOTES

Martin Biron will be in net on Saturday. … Briere did not skate on Friday, but will play against the Islanders.
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