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Carter could return for Flyers tonight

by Dave Lozo /
NEW YORK -- Jeff Carter wasn't on the ice long, and didn't talk when he got off, but it looks like the Philadelphia center is ready to play.

The Flyers' leading scorer with 33 goals and 60 points practiced for the second day in a row and looks like a good bet to return to the lineup Friday after missing eight games with a broken bone in his left foot. Doctors inserted a screw into the foot, making it unlikely he can do further damage when the Flyers take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS) in the first half of a season-ending home-and-home series that likely will decide the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Carter's time on the ice during the optional skate was brief and he walked without any noticeable limp afterward. Coach Peter Laviolette was still calling his gifted offensive threat a game-time decision, but all signs point to the 25-year-old center returning to a lineup that has scored just 2.4 goals per game and gone 3-4-1 without him.

"He looks great. Looked great (Thursday) in practice, looked great today in the morning skate," teammate Ian Laperriere said. "It's always a boost. I always say Jeff Carter at 80 percent is better than three-quarters of this locker room. That's why he's one of those elite players, with just a gift. We will welcome him back for sure."

"If he feels he's ready to go, we'd love to have him in the lineup," said Blair Betts, an ex-Ranger who admitted there's a little extra emotion going into Friday's game against his former team. "He's a great player. He's going to add some offensive punch, improve our power play a little bit. He looks like he hasn't missed a beat. Game situations are always a little different than practicing and pregame skates, but if he feels comfortable and he's ready to go, we'll welcome him."

Laviolette was a little less forthcoming about Carter's status, perhaps not looking to give away too much information just hours before the biggest game of the season for the Flyers. He said Carter was, "same as yesterday, we're not sure at this point." And he looked good, "for the short time he was out there."
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