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Injury woes continue for Flyers

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers, already missing All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger, lost two more players Sunday.
Before the game, GM Paul Holmgren announced Danny Briere would miss the game due to lower-body soreness. Then in the second period, fourth-line center Blair Betts left the game with a lower-body injury.
Holmgren said Briere most likely won't play Tuesday in Ottawa, but said Friday's game in Buffalo is a possibility.
"I don't think he is going to play the next game," said Holmgren. "We're going to hold him out another game just precautionary. I would expect him back on Friday."
Briere is second on the Flyers with 32 goals and tied for third with 63 points. The 32 goals are the most he's scored in four seasons with the Flyers, and the most he's had since he scored 32 with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07. It's the first game he's missed due to injury this season; the only three games he's missed were for a three-game suspension Nov. 1-6 for cross-checking Islanders forward Frans Nielsen.
Betts also likely won't play Tuesday, but wouldn't commit to any time frame for his return, saying, "It's probably going to keep him out for a few days."
Betts has just 12 points in 75 games, but he leads the team's forwards with 3:37 per game shorthanded, and has won a team-best 50.3-percent of his faceoffs.
Holmgren said neither player nor Pronger will be rushed back before they're ready. Pronger already has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season while he works his way back from a broken right hand, and with just three games now left in the regular season, Holmgren said the focus is on what lies beyond the regular-season finale April 9.
"Obviously we still want to finish as high as possible but I don't think you can be short-sighted and push when guys are banged up," said Holmgren. "That's like Danny, there's nothing really serious with Danny but we just want to keep him out now. With Blair, I think we'll have a better idea (Monday), but nothing is going to keep him out of the playoffs. When we get to Friday's game, is he an option? Well, we will probably err on the side of caution with him, too."
Betts played just 8:08 Sunday, which wasn't much more than teammate Ville Leino, who played just 10:08, including just two shifts in the third period. Leino has missed time with hip issues this season, but he was healthy Sunday.
Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't comment much on the situation, only saying, "We just shortened the bench in the third and tightened it up."
Leino said he was healthy and called the benching "the coach's decision."
"I'm OK," said Leino. "Obviously, I want to play and I want to be part of a tight battle like that but that's the coach’s decision."
Leino did admit to not battling as hard as maybe he could have, which could have led to Laviolette leaving him on the bench for the majority of the final period and all of overtime.
"I just felt like I wasn't inside the game the way I wanted, maybe won a battle out there," he said. "I just wasn't in the game the way I wanted."
Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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