Flyers call up two to replace Danny Briere and Matt Read

Danny Briere , who is sidelined by what is believed to be a rib problem, could play Thursday vs. the Devils.
Danny Briere , who is sidelined by what is believed to be a rib problem, could play Thursday vs. the Devils. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 02, 2011

The Flyers made a handful of roster moves and gave an encouraging update on defenseman Chris Pronger's status Tuesday.

The moves were made because of injuries to forwards Danny Briere and Matt Read, each of whom will miss Wednesday's game in Buffalo. It will be the teams' first meeting since the Flyers won a grueling, opening-round playoff series in seven games last season.

As replacements for Briere and Read, the Flyers recalled Harry Zolnierczyk, who scored a goal against Ottawa in his first and only NHL game on Oct. 18, and Ben Holmstrom from the AHL Phantoms.

At Tuesday's practice in Voorhees, Holmstrom centered wingers Zolniercyk and Zac Rinaldo on an Adirondack-like fourth line.

"Injuries are a part of the game. When someone goes down, someone has to assume those minutes and contribute," coach Peter Laviolette said after practice.

In addition, the Flyers sent defenseman Matt Walker ($1.7 million cap hit) to the Phantoms. The Flyers have about $392,000 in cap space.

Rookie Sean Couturier centered James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek on the second line Tuesday, and the third line had Max Talbot between Wayne Simmonds and Andreas Nodl.

Only the sizzling first unit - Claude Giroux centering Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr - remained intact.

Couturier, playing mostly on the third and fourth lines and being used as one of the team's top penalty killers, has two goals and two assists. He figures to get a lot more ice time Wednesday.

"He hasn't been utilized in that [offensive] role," general manager Paul Holmgren said, "so this will be a good opportunity to see what he can do at that end."

"I don't think we've tagged him as a defensive player, but we just said he's responsible defensively," Laviolette said. "His numbers in junior were very impressive, especially after . . . coming back from mono last year."

If moved to the No. 2 line, Couturier said he won't change the way he plays, that he would "just try to take care of details and do what I do best."

The new-look lineup will try to make up for a lack of firepower with youthful energy.

"It's a great opportunity for everyone," Talbot said. You've got young guys being called up. Everyone wants to prove themselves, and it gives the team a little boost at the same time."

Zolnierczyk, who had five goals in his 10 games with the Phantoms this season, said he tries to play "in people's faces" and that he attempted to impress the Flyers during camp because "you want to put yourself in that position to be the first guy back up."

As for Pronger, he continues to make progress from an injury to his right eye, and there is a chance he will skate on his own in Voorhees on Wednesday, Holmgren said. The earliest Pronger could skate with the team would be at Friday's practice, the GM added.

Pronger was injured on Oct. 24, and the Flyers said he would miss at least two weeks.

Holmgren said there is a chance Briere, believed to be sidelined by a rib problem, can play Thursday against New Jersey, but that Read will miss that game. Holmgren will only say that the players have upper-body injuries.

Breakaways. The Flyers and Penguins are upset with an NHL realignment proposal that would leave the rivals playing only a home-and-home series next season. Realignment could be announced at league meetings Dec. 2 and 3. . . . Wednesday's game will match struggling, marquee goalies: Ilya Bryzgalov (1-4, 4.22 GAA in last five games) and Buffalo's Ryan Miller (3.04 GAA in three straight losses). . ...In an attempt to get former Flyer Ville Leino (one goal) untracked, the Sabres have moved him to the top line with Thomas Vanek (eight goals, seven assists) and Jason Pominville (five goals, nine assists). . . . The Flyers are 3-1 on the road, while Buffalo is just 1-3 at home.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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