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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Flyers' Briere safe to start again

Philadelphia's coaching staff, fans and fantasy owners all can stop holding their collective breath -- Daniel Briere seems (knock on wood) just fine.

Better than fine, actually: Briere is contributing heftily to the Flyers' playoff surge. You can't fault the guy's timing, anyway.

Sometimes it really is wiser to err on the side of caution. After missing a big chunk of the season because of a nagging groin injury and taking most of March to get back into the swing of things, Briere appears to have picked up where he left off last year. Since joining a line with Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell on Friday, the 31-year-old has five points in three games. But the bulk of his worth lies on the power play. Skating on the team's first power-play unit with Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Mike Knuble and Kimmo Timonen, Briere has scored three of those five points on the man advantage. In fact, when Briere netted a power-play goal and an assist Monday against New Jersey, only Timonen logged more ice time with the man-advantage. And Briere's plus/minus won't hurt you like it has in the past; he's a respectable plus-2 since March 12.

When healthy, Briere is one of the wiliest playmakers in the league. If Briere is available for the grabbing, as he is in more than a third of ESPN leagues, snatch him up immediately. If you've been hesitant to activate him off your IR, again, there's no time like the present. But should you be looking to capitalize on the Flyers' power-play prowess of late (seven goals in their past three games), and activating or acquiring Briere is not an option, give the widely available Claude Giroux a thought. The youngster has appeared more and more comfortable as the season has worn on. Skating at even strength with Gagne and Knuble, he's getting some ice time with the man-advantage as well. Giroux could provide a nice little boost in production as the regular fantasy season draws to a close.

Ice chips

Chris Osgood
Chris Osgood: Ah, nothing to worry about.
After performing well in a string of games, Chris Osgood had a real off night in Calgary on Monday. The Flames scored three goals on 14 shots before Osgood was yanked in the second period. But neither Detroit coach Mike Babcock nor the goalie himself seemed to think the poor showing was anything more than an anomaly. … Anton Babchuk logged his fourth point in as many games in Carolina's 3-2 victory over the Panthers. The defenseman is skating on the Hurricanes' top power-play unit and is still free for the taking in a good number of fantasy leagues. … Nathan Horton logged an assist for Florida in the loss after missing six games because of a finger injury. … Patrik Elias missed the Devils' aforementioned loss to Philadelphia because of a minor lower-body injury. He's listed as day-to-day, and coach Brent Sutter said if it were a playoff game, he would have played, so it's clearly nothing serious. … Ryan Miller participated in a full practice for the first time since hurting his ankle about a month ago. Although they've stumbled in the standings over the past couple weeks, the Sabres still have an outside shot at making the playoffs and are desperate to get their star goaltender back as soon as possible. Backup Patrick Lalime simply hasn't done an adequate job filling in over the stretch. … Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival will miss seven to 10 days because of an undisclosed lower-body injury. It looks like his left leg was hurt when he took a hard hit from Shean Donovan during Sunday's game against Ottawa. … The Kings' Alexander Frolov is also expected to miss seven to 10 days after sustaining a lower-body injury over the weekend. … Don't count on seeing Mikko Koivu for the rest of the regular season because of a knee injury. There's a decent chance he could return at some point in April, though, if Minnesota makes the playoffs.