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Flyers' Daniel Briere expects to play in Game 1 against Caps @NHLdotcom

VOORHEES, N.J. - Flyers forward Daniel Briere practised on Tuesday for the first time since he injured his knee in a collision last week at Pittsburgh, and the star centre said he's confident he'll be ready to play against Washington.

"Right now, I believe I'll be in right from the get go," Briere said. "That's what I believe, but we'll see how it improves. But I think I'll be ready to go."

Briere missed the final two games of the regular season, watching in street clothes while Philadelphia clinched a playoff berth and missing a win against Pittsburgh that gave Philadelphia the sixth seed.

Briere has 13 goals in 40 career playoff games and is doing all he can to get ready for Game 1 of the first-round series on Friday night. He only participated in half of Tuesday's practice and then skated a bit by himself. Briere will wear a knee brace, all because of a nasty knee-to-knee hit with Pittsburgh's Jarrko Ruttu.

"Any time he's back on the ice, it's a good sign," coach John Stevens said. "He's a key guy for us."

The New Jersey and Pittsburgh games were the only ones missed by Briere in the first year of a US$52-million, eight-year contract. He shook off a mid-season slump - that briefly earned him some boos from the Philly fans - to finish with 31 goals and 72 points. Both numbers were second best on the Flyers.

"I want to be able to play my game," Briere said. "I don't want to put the team in jeopardy where I'm too weak to be out there. It's not just about me playing. I want to make sure I don't hurt the team."

Briere had some company on the sideline. Derian Hatcher (leg), Jason Smith (shoulder) and Sami Kapanen (neck) are listed as day to day.

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