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Islanders vs Flyers, 2/7/2012

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Briere's back tonight

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will have forward Danny Briere back in the lineup when they host the New York Islanders Tuesday.

Briere has missed the last six games with a concussion suffered in a Jan. 21 game against the New Jersey Devils.

"I'm back and I'm in," Briere said following the Flyers' morning practice here at Wells Fargo Center. "Things have been going well the last two-and-a-half, three days. I feel ready. I feel like it's time. No symptoms the last few days. We'll give it a go. I know I'm excited."

Teammates were also excited, especially coming off their lost weekend -- a 6-4 home loss to the Devils on Saturday followed by a 5-2 defeat at the Rangers on Sunday.

"It's going to be awesome," Scott Hartnell told NHL.com. "Anytime you come off an injury, especially a concussion, he might be a little bit nervous. But I know everyone on our dressing room … can't wait to see him back. He looks good in practice the last few days. I'm excited for him to get back in the lineup."

Briere has 17 goals and 13 assists in 43 games, and likely will center the second line. The hope is his presence can lighten the checking load on the team's top line of Claude Giroux, Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr.

"Anytime you get pieces back in the lineup it's good," said coach Peter Laviolette. "I think it'll add to the offensive punch. … When you take a guy like Danny and put him back in the lineup, it makes it harder to defend. You can't just focus on one line or one player."

Briere said he's been symptom-free for about three days, and after meeting with doctors Monday, Briere said it came down to his decision.

"We had some talks (Monday)," said Briere. "And just basically what they told me was it's all up to me, depending on how I felt this morning waking up. It was good even after the contact I had yesterday. That was part of the reason why."

Briere, who had been averaging 18:15 of ice time per game prior to his injury, said he feels capable of playing his usual ice time.

"I'm 100 percent," he said. "It's all about the symptoms. It's not like a knee or a shoulder where you're finding your way back. Basically when you don't have symptoms you're ready to go. It's not something that's lingering or preventing you from doing a few things. Whenever you're symptom-free, you're 100 percent.

"The conditioning is not going to be an issue. I was working with Blair Betts for a few days, and you know how hard he works. That wasn't relaxing. I think it's more the timing of the game -- making plays, read and react. That's something that we'll see. I don't know what to expect in that regard. Conditioning I should be OK."

Looking to get back on their feet after two ugly divisional losses, the Flyers (30-16-6) begin another challenging week of games with a meeting against the improved New York Islanders (21-22-8). Tonight's game at the Wells Fargo Center starts at 7 PM and will be broadcast on CSN Philly.

This is the fourth of six meetings between the teams this year, and the second of three in Philadelphia. The Islanders have outplayed the Flyers in all three games this season, but Philly managed to win the first two games on Long Island before it caught up with them in a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia.

The loss to the Islanders in the last game finally broke a string of Philadelphia dominance. That may be a good thing for Philly in terms of not taking this game too lightly. There are no easy games in the NHL anymore, and the Islanders just as easily could be 3-0 against the Flyers this year if they had gotten even marginally better goaltending in the first two meetings.

Peter Laviolette is faced with a tough decision for tonight's game. Does he go with Ilya Bryzgalov, who played very well in his post-All Star break outings right up until his implosion at the end of the second and early third periods of the Rangers game? Or does he go with Sergei Bobrovsky, who has performed brilliantly against the Islanders this season, but is coming off a game against the Devils in which he held the Flyers in the game for 19 minutes before being deluged by New Jersey goals?

The Flyers held an optional skate yesterday, in which roughly half of the team participated. Danny Briere (concussion) and James van Riemsdyk (concussion) both took part in the skate. JVR is still not ready to return to game action but Briere may be cleared to return tonight depending on how he feels this morning.

The Islanders have been a better team than the Flyers over the last 10 games. New York has gained points in 8 of those games (6-2-2) will the Flyers are 4-4-2 over that span. In the season series to date, Philly has had trouble stopping the quartet of Kyle Okposo (3 goals, 5 points), John Tavares (1 goal, 3 points), Matt Moulson (1 goal, 2 points) and Michael Grabner (2 goals, 4 points) from creating numerous scoring chances.

The Isles bring a banged-up defense corps into the game. Starters Travis Hamonic (facial lacerations) and Milan Jurcina (elbow injury) are out for tonight. The club has called up Aaron Ness to make his NHL debut. Veteran Steve Staios is also likely to be in the lineup. Staios was a healthy scratch last meeting. He drew the Flyers' ire for an elbow on Max Talbot in the third period of the Jan. 12 game at Nassau Coliseum.

PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)


Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr

Schenn - Briere - Simmonds

Read - Couturier - Voracek

Sestito - Talbot - Rinaldo

Timonen - Coburn

Carle - Bourdon

Gustafsson - Meszaros



Moulson - Taveres - Okposo

Grabner - Nielsen - Parenteau

Martin - Bailey - Rhakhshani

Wallace - Pandolfo - Niederreiter

Streit - Reese

MacDonald - Ness

Eaton - Staios




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