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Forsberg Cautious as Playoffs Near

Wednesday, 04.12.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Philadelphia Flyers
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Forsberg Cautious as Playoffs Near
Voorhees, NJ – While the Flyers continue to battle for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, center Peter Forsberg is still recovering from a groin injury which has forced him out of the last three games, including Tuesday night's 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Head Coach Ken Hitchcock gave the team the day off Wednesday from any on-ice activity, but the players who did not play against Pittsburgh skated for about 40 minutes. Included in that group was Forsberg, whose status is still unclear for Thursday night's crucial game in New Jersey against the Devils (7:30 p.m., CSN).

"We're not going to put him in unless he's 100 percent. If he's 100 [percent] after today, we'll let him go at it tomorrow, but if he's not we'll wait until Saturday [against New York]," said Hitchcock after practice.

It is evident that Forsberg himself is going to make sure that he is at maximum health for the playoffs, which begin on April 21, and will not risk any further aggravation of his groin which has bothered him on and off for much of the season.

"We're in the mix here with what position we're going to get, but I think right now it doesn't really matter who we're going to play," said Forsberg. "It's going to be a tough first round anyway. We want to win the games that are left, but for me, personally, it's more important to be healthy when I go into the playoffs than coming back and playing too early."

Mike Knuble, who has been a beneficiary of playing with Forsberg for most of the season, knows that Forsberg is key to the offense, but that the team can still win without him in the lineup.

"We probably all have a little bit more swagger when he's in the lineup, but I think we're all used to playing without him, too," said Knuble. "He's missed a bunch of games this year and so we're sort of used to it. But, there's no doubt we're a much better Flyers team with him in the lineup. There's no question about that."

Of course, if it were the playoffs, Forsberg would be playing according to Hitchcock.

"He'll be playing at 40 percent if it's a playoff game, like everybody will," said Hitchcock. "Right now, we'll see. He practiced well [Tuesday] and skated hard today again, so we'll see."

Flyers Control Their Destiny

With four games left in the regular season, the Flyers will finish first in the Atlantic Division if they win all of them. They trail the Rangers by three points; have one game in hand, as well as a head-to-head game on Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center.

Sandwiched around the Rangers game are two tilts with the Devils in East Rutherford, while the last game of the regular season is April 18 on Long Island.

"I think as a player, that's what you want and all you can ask for, is to not have your season dictated by somebody else winning or losing a game," said Knuble. "If you get it done then you pat yourself on the back, and if you don't, you look in the mirror and figure out what went wrong and get yourself together and get back at it."

Hitchcock cautioned that the team should take the proverbial one-game-at-a-time approach and not necessarily think that it has to win all four to gain the third seed in the conference.

"I don't think we want to get too far ahead of ourselves here. We want to play well," he said. "We'd like to play a little bit better at home, but we'd like to also continue to play well against good teams."

The Devils are just two points behind the Flyers, having played one more game than Philadelphia.

"We've played really well against them for two years now, but we also know they are one-goal hockey games and they are going to be close. We know if they get the lead that it's uphill for us, and we really have to claw a lot because they're prepared to play 1-0 right to the end," said Hitchcock.

"Getting the lead and making them come out of their game a little bit and have to open it up is an advantage for us. If you look at the games we've won, we've gotten leads early in the first 10 minutes of the first period, and it's kind of changed the style of game a little bit."




1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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