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Limping Into the Break

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Voorhees, NJ – Already practicing with only 15 players, Flyers center Peter Forsberg had to leave Tuesday's practice after just 35 minutes, with tightness in his groin. He announced after practice to the local media that he would not be playing on Wednesday when Philadelphia hosts the New York Islanders at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., CSN).

"I didn't want to stay there if I had a chance to re-injure it," said Forsberg. "It was getting tight and I didn't want to take any chances.

"It's very frustrating and it is bad timing. I definitely wanted to get back playing and to play some games here before the Olympics."

The Flyers have been struggling with injuries all season, and it seems to finally be taking a toll on the team's performance on the ice. The team has lost its last three games, and nine of its last 12.

"Everybody knows our situation," said Ken Hitchcock. "We played nine first-year players in Montreal. The league knows our situation. They know where we are at. It's a tough time for everybody."

Nevertheless, the Flyers will receive a much-needed boost on the blue line with the return of defensemen Eric Desjardins, who has been out since early December after undergoing right shoulder surgery. Desjardins passed his physical on Wednesday morning.

Petr Nedved, who is also nursing a groin injury, went through the entire practice on Tuesday and will be reevaluated Wednesday morning to determine his status for the game against the Islanders. He sat out the teams' 5-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

Despite all of the injuries the Flyers are still just one point out of first place in the Atlantic Division. The team realizes the importance of their three remaining games before the Olympic break.

"Ottawa is in New York tomorrow [against the Rangers], and we have the Islanders," said Hitchcock. "We could be in first place if we win the game [Wednesday]. That's our whole focus. We have three games before we have a big break and then the cavalry comes back."

Simon Gagne agreed with Hitchcock's sentiment.

"These three games could be very helpful for us to have a nice break," said Gagne. "We are looking to stop the losing streak right now."

The incoming Islanders have struggled all season and are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They are coming off of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. The Flyers have won three of four against the Islanders this season, with the last meeting coming November 29 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Flyers won 4-3 led by Simon Gagne's two goals and one assist.

Robert Esche will be in net on Wednesday.
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