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Injury-plagued Flyers head to Florida

by Adam Kimelman
FLYERS (28-14-5) at PANTHERS (22-15-10)


Last 10: Flyers 6-3-1; Panthers 3-4-3.

Season series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. On Nov. 13, Braydon Coburn, Matt Read and Danny Briere each had goals in 3-2 Flyers win in Florida.

Big Story: Two beat-up teams can't wait to get to the All-Star break. The Flyers are missing three top-nine forwards, while the Panthers are down two of their top defensemen.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Danny Briere became the sixth Flyer to miss time this season with a concussion when he sat out Sunday's game against the Bruins. He's also the third current member of the team to be sidelined by a head injury, joining forward James van Riemsdyk and defenseman Chris Pronger.

Also out of action are forwards Jaromir Jagr due to a strained groin and Zac Rinaldo, who has a sore neck.

Of that group only Briere made the trip to Florida, but that doesn't mean he's going to play. Briere's father is on the team's annual Father and Son trip, so Briere will spend time in Florida with his dad.

"Zac and Jaromir will both benefit from this break," Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren told "But the guys with concussion issues, who knows?"

Panthers: Already missing Ed Jovanovski with a broken hand, Florida also now will be without blueliner Dmitry Kulikov, who suffered an undisclosed injury Saturday, and will not play Tuesday against the Flyers.

"He had a confrontation in Winnipeg but continued to play through the game,'' Dineen told the Miami Herald. "We felt the right steps were to keep him off the ice. We'll know more (Tuesday).''

Tyson Strachan was called up from AHL San Antonio to play in his place, but Dineen is hopeful the eight-day break -- the Panthers don't play again until Feb. 1 -- is enough time for Kulikov to heal up.

"It's just the nature of the game," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen told the Miami Herald. "Things seem to come in bunches and we'll put a quality group on the ice for Philadelphia and then we'll have some good rest time.'"

Who's Hot: Flyers forward Scott Hartnell had five goals in two games this past weekend, including a natural hat trick in the second period of Sunday's 6-5 shootout loss to the Bruins. … Panthers forward Kris Versteeg snapped a four-game point drought with two goals and an assist in Saturday's 4-3 win in Winnipeg.

Injury Report: Rinaldo and Jagr are considered day-to-day with their injuries, while Briere and van Riemsdyk are out indefinitely with theirs. … Besides Kulikov and Jovanovski, the Panthers also will be without forward Marco Sturm, who was hit in the head with a puck while sitting on the bench during a game Dec. 20. Forward Jack Skille, who played the last two games after missing 13 with a shoulder injury, is questionable for Tuesday's game.

Stat Pack: Maxime Talbot scored two goals for the Flyers on Sunday against the Bruins. It was his first two-goal game since Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when he scored both of the Penguins' goals in their 2-1 win against the Red Wings. His last two-goal regular-season game was Oct. 13, 2007 at Toronto.

Puck Drop: Bill Hartnell came into Philadelphia a day early to watch his son, Scott, play Saturday in New Jersey and Sunday against Boston, and what a weekend he got to see.

"Five goals in two games, it's a good weekend for anybody, so I'll take it," Hartnell said following Sunday's game. "Confidence is a weird thing. I have a lot of confidence and I feel strong on the puck, strong on the ice, my skating is good and when (Claude) Giroux makes those nice little passes to me, it's nice to get a good shot off."

He now has 25 goals in 47 games, leaving him just five goals off his career high of 30 set in the 2008-09 season.

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