The Flyers today, had a long rough practice in front of at least 200 fans. Most of which were parents bringing their kids on their day off from school, saw Coach John Stevens run his team up and down the ice working out new line combinations and stamina building with "hard skate" exercises.
After practice, all microphones, eyes, recorders were all on Danny Briere. The center/winger has been out the last two months with groin iissues stood by his locker today and stated he was ready for Wed. when the Flyers faceoff with the Atlanta Thrashers.
"So far, it's looking really good," said Briere. "I'm confident for Wednesday, I had three good games down with the Phantoms and I feel very strong and confident that I can come back in and contribute."
Now the issue still remains of how the Flyers plan to free up the money to get Briere back in the lineup. Most likely it will involve Lasse Kukkonen being placed on waivers, Luca Sbisa being sent to juniors, and Claude Giroux put back down to the Phantoms.
They are the main ones that are probables, but there will be others made but nothing more major than that.
Coach John Stevens talked about what it means to have Briere back in the lineup and what he brings.
"He's not going to go from where he is now to where he was last year playing his best hockey," said Coach Stevens. "It's going to take time to get him acclimated to the minutes and situations he was in before.
"At the same time, Danny is a guy that makes our power play better and makes our team better, both with his play and his leadership," added Stevens. "He helps out the rest of the guys like Richie and Carter, its going to be good to have him back."
Briere said it didn't matter where Coach Stevens would put him in the line combinations, he is just happy to be back playing with the guys.
"You know me, it doesn't matter to me where I get put. I'm just here to help the team in any way possible," added Briere. "I can play either wing or center, i'm just happy to be back and hopefully I can contribute to help this team move forward."
"Right now, I see him in the middle," said Stevens. "I think he has the versatility to move around a little bit, but I see him more than likely playing in the middle."
Antero Niittymaki missed practice today with the flu bug. Not sure whether or not he will be ready for Wed. against his favorite team, the Thrashers. Niitty is career 11-0 against Atlanta and will try anything to make sure he is ready for that matchup.
But, if Niitty misses practice again tomorrow he wil most likely not be in net against the Thrashers.