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Flyers hoping to patch void left by Briere suspension

by Mike G. Morreale
PHILADELPHIA - The timing certainly isn't ideal for Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere to receive a three-game suspension.

But that's what happened Monday morning when Briere was banished by the League for three games for his stick-swinging incident with New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen in the late stages of Saturday's 6-1 victory at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (6-4-1), who play host to the Carolina Hurricanes (5-5-0) on Monday at Wells Fargo Center, are in the midst of a season-high three-game winning streak and sit third in the Eastern Conference with 13 points.

"We were hoping for just one or two games, but Danny's gone for three games and we'll certainly miss him," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He was playing very well for us. Danny's a big part of that line (with Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell). He plays all situations offensively for us and was really clicking. It took a bit for that line to get going, so him coming our for three games … things will be different."

Briere is currently tied for the team-lead with 6  goals and is fifth with 8 points in 11 games for the Flyers -- his best start to a season with regard to goal production since 2005-06.

Briere will miss Monday's game, as well as Thursday's contest against the Rangers and Saturday's Islanders rematch on Long Island.
"He's been one of our most consistent guys over the first 11 games.  He makes things happen out there and has put the puck in the net. To lose him for three games is going to be really tough. I'm sure he's disappointed to." -- Scott Hartnell
The infraction occurred off an offensive-zone draw against Nielsen in the final minute against the Islanders. Briere  was assessed a five-minute cross-checking major and a game misconduct on the play while Nielsen was given a 10-minute misconduct.

Briere was also fined $237,804.8 under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"It's never a good time for a suspension," Briere said. "When you're losing, you want to help the team get back on track. When the team's winning, you want to help keep it on a roll. It's never a good time for a suspension. Either way, I would have been disappointed."

Briere, who was suspended for two games Nov. 23, 2009, is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the CBA. As such, he forfeits his salary based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (186). The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

"I'm not happy to lose a player like Danny for three games," Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. "But it's part of the process and there's nothing we can do about it right now. I'm not really surprised with the length of the suspension."

In all likelihood, Jeff Carter will step in for Briere at center between  Leino (9 points) and Hartnell (6 points).

"He's been one of our most consistent guys over the first 11 games," Hartnell said of Briere. "He makes things happen out there and has put the puck in the net. To lose him for three games is going to be really tough. I'm sure he's disappointed to."

Laviolette also confirmed Monday that offseason acquisition Nikolay Zherdev will return to the lineup after sitting out as a healthy scratch Saturday.

Zherdev has boycotted the media the last few weeks as he struggles to find a niche within the lineup -- he's produced 2 goals and a minus-1 rating in 9 games.

"This is a good opportunity for 'Z'," Laviolette said. "He gets back in there. Nobody likes sitting out and I'm sure he doesn't. We have tough decisions to make and when you have extra players, it's tough when your team is playing well. You want to get in there and prove that you belonged in the game. I'm sure that's how 'Z' feels."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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