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Briere closer to returning

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. — Forward Danny Briere is inching closer to making his season debut for the Philadelphia Flyers, but he didn’t sound optimistic following the morning skate that it would happen Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

Briere, who sustained a wrist injury during the lockout while playing for the Berlin Polar Bears of the Deutsche Eishockey League in Germany, took part in the morning skate after being cleared for contact Thursday.

“I’m going to come back, try to warm up, it didn’t feel great this morning,” Briere said. "There’s ups and downs. Maybe [it will be] a little better tonight, we’ll see what happens. But probably more no than yes at this point."

Briere wasn’t sure whether he would even take part in pregame warmups.

"It’s where it’s at, how much strength, how much pain, at this point," he said. "Sometimes during the day it loosens up and it might be a little better."

Briere said he feels comfortable absorbing contact and doesn’t feel pain shooting the puck. The biggest problem, he said, is faceoffs. That's a problem for the Flyers, whose 46.7 faceoff winning percentage currently ranks 24th in the League.

"I can tell you, I’m not going to be able to be much help there," Briere said. "That’s the big issue."

The Flyers, who are off to a 1-3-0 start, no doubt could use Briere’s offensive skills, especially after losing Scott Hartnell to a foot injury for 4-8 weeks.

But Briere said he doesn’t want to rush back and would prefer to play when he is ready, adding that he hasn’t felt any pressure from the Flyers to get back in the lineup.

"They’ve been really good with that," Briere said. "I hear it from the coaches. I heard from Homer [general manager Paul Holmgren], I’ve heard from the trainers, even the guys in the room. They’re all telling me to play it on the safe side, make sure you’re fine. I’m not feeling pressure from anyone here to get back quicker than we’re trying to do."

That said, Briere admitted it’s been tough having to watch the Flyers struggle at the start of the 2012-13 season, although he was excited to see the team earn its first win Thursday night against the Rangers.

"You feel a little responsible when the team is not getting the wins. You feel responsible for not being out there," he said. "It was good to finally get on the board last game, gave us a little breathing room for everyone around here."

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