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Flyers' O'Donnell returning early, will play tonight

by Adam Kimelman /
PHILADELPHIA -- When Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell went down with a left knee injury in the first period of Sunday's game against the New York Rangers, the official diagnosis was the veteran would be out for 10-14 days.

That healing time has been cut in half, as O'Donnell will be back in the lineup Thursday when the Flyers host the New York Islanders.

O'Donnell said there's no magic elixir that helped him heal, just a positive MRI result.

"We thought it was a certain thing after the game and then Monday we got an MRI and it wasn't as bad as we thought," O'Donnell said following Thursday morning's practice. "It's no miracle. Once we got the MRI and saw what it was, it was good news."

O'Donnell wouldn't get into specifics on the type of injury, only that playing on it won't make it any worse.

"The main thing is when you think it's a certain thing and it's something where if you play on it, it could get worse and you'll be out longer, you tend to be guarded and watch it," he said. "Then you get the MRI back and it's not that, and they say you can push it and you're not going to make it worse, it's going to be a little bit painful but you're not going to make it worse, you start to get comfortable with it and you realize you can push it a little more and you feel confident and you feel better."

O'Donnell's quick healing comes at a fortuitous time for the Flyers. Oskars Bartulis, who played Tuesday against Phoenix in O'Donnell's absence, suffered a serious shoulder injury on a late hit by the Coyotes' Scottie Upshall and could miss the rest of the season. Upshall was suspended two games for the hit.

However, O'Donnell was quick to point out that even if Bartulis hadn't gotten hurt, he was eyeing Thursday's game for a return to the lineup.

"We were looking at Thursday as being an option," O'Donnell said. "If Oskars had gone out and played a great game and gotten first star, maybe we would have given it another game and he would have gone again. I don't know. All I know is in no way are we rushing this. Nothing changed after Oskars got hurt. It was, Thursday we should be ready, let's take Tuesday night off, get a couple good skates in, do some rehab, strengthen it up, but Thursday you should be ready, and that was before the game Tuesday. Nothing about the injury to Oskars has changed how we're approaching this at all."

O'Donnell has 1 goal and 11 assists in 59 games this season, and is averaging 16 minutes per game on one of the deepest defense corps in the League.

Contact Adam Kimelman at and follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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