"But obviously, you knew what he was doing. He was obviously trying to hurt me. We all know that."
Now, Briere said he "doesn't have the option" of playing another game before the playoffs start next week. He is officially sidelined "indefinitely" with an upper-back contusion.
Briere said he is not sure when he will return to the lineup. There is never a good time for an injury, but Briere's line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn was one of the team's most potent recently. The trio had netted a combined 19 points in the last five games heading into Tuesday night's loss to the Rangers.
One of the Flyers' top playoff performers, Briere certainly didn't seem confident about a quick comeback.
"I don't know much at this point," he said. "All I know is that my back is in spasms. They have some fancy words for it that I don't understand. There is no timetable.
"I'd like to be ready for the playoffs, I just don't know at this point."
Briere said he likely saved himself from a concussion because he was able to quickly brace himself before Vitale drove his shoulder into him.
"I tried to take the hit," Briere said. "It's just one of those things sometimes that turns out bad. It was weird. I was sore right after but it wasn't that bad, I thought I'd be fine. A couple hours later, that's when it started seizing up on me."
With a score to settle, Briere is hoping he will get another crack at the Penguins.
"There's not much else to say or do," Briere said. "I guess it just makes for a more entertaining series coming up if we face them in the first round."
It was 2 years ago that Jody Shelley made his biggest impact in the NHL. He collected two goals in the final weekend of the Rangers' season, in two games against the Flyers, as New York nearly prevented Philadelphia's Stanley Cup dream from taking shape.
Shelley had not scored in nearly 2 years. He had tallied just 14 goals in his previous 536 career games. And were it not for Brian Boucher's stop on Olli Jokinen in the shootout on that fateful afternoon in Game No. 82, Shelley would have been the culprit.
On Tuesday, Shelley was back in the lineup with Danny Briere out, ready to make his first impact in a similar playoff-style setting against his old team. It was Shelley's first game since March 18. He's played a career-low 28 games this season.
Shelley pounded Rangers forward Mike Rupp, a former teammate who famously called him "irrelevant" during HBO's 24/7 program, in a first-period fight.
"There's a guy who comes to the rink every day and gives 100 percent, off the ice and on the ice," Peter Laviolette said. "These guys want to play, they want to get back on the ice. To be able to continue to work at his level and keep himself in shape, and be a positive presence around us is a credit to him."
Contact Frank Seravalli at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DNFlyers. Read his blog, Frequent Flyers, at www.philly.com/frequentflyers.