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Briere hopes to be back for playoffs after Vitale hit

by Adam Kimelman /
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Danny Briere said the upper-back contusion he suffered on a hit from Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale late in Sunday's game in Pittsburgh was causing back spasms, and said he's hoping to be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I don't know much at this point," Briere told reporters. "All I know is that my back is in spasm. … There's no timetable [for a return], but obviously I'd like to be ready for the playoffs. I just don't know at this point."

Briere said he saw Vitale coming at the last second and was able to brace himself for the hit, which he said allowed him to avoid worse injury.

"I saw him at the last second and braced myself," he said. "Try to take the hit. Just one of those things, sometimes it turns out bad, that's kind of what happened on the play."

It's the play itself, however, that Briere wasn't particularly happy about.

"Everybody knows that you put the line that they put on the ice at the end of the game with a minute left when the game is out of hand, everyone knows the intent," Briere said. "Was it a bad hit? No, it was a clean hit. But obviously whatever he was doing, he was obviously trying to hurt me. We all know that. It was a clean hit, I'm the first one to admit to that. I saw him coming at the last second. I braced myself to take the hit like I do when I've taken hits like that. Just turned out bad this time. Not much else to say or do about it. It is what it is. It just makes for a more entertaining series coming up if we face them in the first round."

Briere said the worst part of getting hurt now is he's playing his best hockey of the season. He has just 16 goals, and earlier this season he went through a 23-game goal drought. But in six games since being put on a line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, he has two goals and seven assists.

"I guess that's the positive side," he said. "I was very excited about our line the past couple weeks, it was starting to click, it was starting to really mesh well together. It's been a big issue all year, trying to find the right combination. It's disappointing in a sense, but I'm hoping we'll be able to pick up where he we left off whenever I have the chance to get back."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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