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by Anthony SanFilippo / Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers were hoping for the best. Instead, they got the worst.

Just when it seemed the team was getting healthy and close to being at full force, Matt Read took a crunching hit from Penguins forward Chris Kunitz in the first period of yesterday’s game.

The result of that injury? Read has torn rib cage muscles.

He will be out of the lineup for six weeks.

It’s a significant blow for the Flyers as Read, 26, was the team’s top goal-scorer so far this season, leading the way with seven tallies.

He had 13 points and was playing well on the Flyers top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.

But now, he won’t be back until April and the Flyers will have to find ways to make up for his lost production.

It’s not just on that top line either as Read was a key component to the Flyers special teams, playing frequent roles on both the power play and the penalty kill.

For tonight’s game, Tye McGinn returns to the lineup and takes Read’s spot, but the loss of Read – the third Flyer who played on that top line this season to be beset with an injury – will leave coach Peter Laviolette to once again search for chemistry on his forward lines.

In other news – which is positive news for the Flyers - it looks like Scott Hartnell’s return may have been bumped up a few days.

According to General Manager Paul Holmgren Hartnell’s fractured left foot is improving even faster and had his timetable for a return trimmed from 7-to-10 days down to 5-7.

That means he could be back in the lineup as soon as Monday against Toronto.

As for Andrej Meszaros, he saw the doctor this afternoon and was cleared to take part in limited practice with the team but he is still a week-to-10 days away from returning to the lineup from his sprained left shoulder.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo email or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

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