Forsberg expects to play for Flyers vs. Rangers

Updated: April 14, 2006, 3:39 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers should have their best player back for their most important game.

Peter Forsberg, who has missed the last four games with a groin injury, expects to play Saturday when the Flyers host the New York Rangers in a matchup that could determine first place in the jumbled Atlantic Division.

Philadelphia Flyers

58 19.0 55.0 74.0 21 44

The Rangers have a three-point lead over Philadelphia and New Jersey, but the Flyers have one extra game remaining so they would clinch the division and secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference if they win out.

"I feel good. I feel better. I should be fine," Forsberg said Friday. "I'm not worried about it. It's a big game and I'm glad to be back."

With Forsberg in the lineup, the Flyers are 33-16-9. Without the former NHL MVP, they're 10-9-2. Forsberg has 19 goals and 55 assists for 74 points in 58 games. He's gone out four separate times with groin injuries in his first season with Philadelphia.

Earlier in the week, it appeared Forsberg might stay out until the playoffs. He said he wanted to be completely healthy and wouldn't risk the possibility of getting re-injured to play one or two games, especially when the difference in the standings isn't great. The Flyers can finish anywhere from third to sixth.

"It would be nice to get Peter back, but we can't have doubt in our game," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.

The Flyers have struggled lately, losing five of their last eight games, including a 4-1 loss at New Jersey on Thursday night. The Rangers failed to take advantage, losing three straight. Meanwhile, the Devils have won nine in a row.

Philadelphia returns to New Jersey on Sunday and finishes the regular season at the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. The Rangers' last game is at home against Ottawa on Tuesday, while the Devils play at Montreal that night.

The Rangers have won the first three games in Philly this season, including an overtime victory. But the Flyers were 3-1 in Madison Square Garden, including two overtime wins and a shootout loss.

"This game is a crucial one if we want to try to finish first," forward Simon Gagne said. "We have it in our hands. We have a chance to start at home. We have to show them we're ready. We're having a lot of success on the road against them. We're relaxed there. Maybe we need to bring some of that here."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press