That means just seven of the Flyers' 18 players from last season's first-round matchup will be on the ice this time around.
"It's our turn right now, I guess," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We're confident with the players we can put in the lineup. We think they'll do a good job for us."
To help replace Briere and Read, the Flyers recalled forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and Ben Holmstrom from Adirondack yesterday. Both players joined the team at practice before departing for Western New York.
Zolnierczyk said it was probably his "ridiculously high shooting percentage" that made him so attractive to the coaching staff. Two weeks ago, Zolnierczyk netted his first NHL goal on what remains his only shot in his only game.
Holmgren said it was a "tough conversation" with Zolnierczyk - one of eight players in team history to have a record 11 letters in his last name - when he told Zolnierczyk he was being sent back to the Phantoms the day after scoring a highlight-reel goal in his debut.
"He played well," Holmgren said. "You could even make the case that he deserved to be here [to begin the season]. He had a good camp. The coaches were always talking about him and the energy he brings. He's a tenacious player."
Holmstrom, a UMass-Lowell product, is expected to center Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo on the fourth line tonight. Andreas Nodl, who was a healthy scratch for the last three games, could play on the right side with Max Talbot and Zolnierczyk.
To make room for Holmstrom and Zolnierczyk under the salary cap, the Flyers relegated defenseman Matt Walker and his $1.7 million salary to Adirondack. To make room for those two players on the 23-man roster, Chris Pronger was formally placed on the injured reserve list.
But that doesn't mean he won't be back on the ice soon.
Pronger, who took a stick in the eye on Oct. 24 against Toronto, visited an eye specialist yesterday.
"I'm hoping that he can get on the ice by himself [today] to push it a little harder," Paul Holmgren said. "Hopefully by the end of the week, he'll be able to get on the ice with the team. But he's got to get back with the team before we can start worrying about [a return]."
According to Holmgren, the pupil in Pronger's right eye has been dilated almost continually since the accident to try to alleviate pressure behind the eye. Though he is slowly being weaned off the medication, it has caused blurriness in the eye, which has slowed down the process.
Representatives from the Flyers were spotted in Washington at last night's Capitals-Anaheim Ducks game.
The Flyers' top pro scout, Al Hill, and director of player personnel, Dave Brown, were in attendance.
Paul Holmgren has swung a deal with Ducks GM Bob Murray in each of the last 3 years, most notably when he nabbed Chris Pronger in '09. The Flyers could be in the market for a depth defenseman.
Danny Briere, who is nursing an upper-body ailment that is believed to be a rib injury, skated by himself yesterday. He flew with the team to Buffalo. Paul Holmgren said Briere is "possible" for tomorrow night's game against New Jersey . . . Matt Read, also dealing with an upper-body injury, is likely to miss both tonight and tomorrow night's games . . . The Flyers are 4-0-2 in their last six regular-season games at First Niagara Center.