SUNRISE, Fla. -- Steve Downie said a week ago he felt ready to play. His coach, Craig Berube, said that wasn't quite the case.
They’re now both on the same page, however, as Downie will re-enter the Flyers' lineup tonight against the Florida Panthers after an eight-game absence with whiplash and a concussion.
The Flyers can clinch a playoff berth with a victory.
“He got more skating in and I would have liked to get him even more skating in, but with the loss of Zac [Rinaldo], we need him,” Berube said. “A lot of players just want to come back and play. For me, is it going to be beneficial to the team or himself? At that time, I didn’t think so. I made a decision I wanted to keep giving him some extra work and extra time.”
Downie will go back on Sean Couturier’s line with Matt Read.
“They’ve played together a lot,” Berube said, adding he wants to see competitiveness and intensity on the ice from Downie, moreso than worrying about his ice time.”
Downie said it might take him a few shifts to get his legs going.
“I feel good now and I’m ready to go,” Downie said. “I’m looking forward and not backwards here.”
He will skate with the team during his four-game suspension that concludes after the regular season ends.
“He brings skating and the hard forecheck; he’s a loss and we’re definitely going to miss him,” Berube said.
Rinaldo said he was playing some of his “best hockey” when he launched a hit on Buffalo’s Chad Ruhwedel in last Sunday’s game. Ruhwedel was concussed.
“It sucks that I can’t be part of this last push here, but I’ll learn from it and stay positive,” Rinaldo said.
Asked about the length of the suspension, Rinaldo said, “I’m a repeat offender and it looked bad. The league knows my intent to injure wasn’t there. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”