Report: Flyers’ Danny Briere could return this weekend…maybe

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The Philadelphia Flyers are off to an 0-3 start to begin the lockout-shortened 48-game regular season and have scored just three goals in that span.

But there could be good news – or at least better news – on the horizon.

Right winger Danny Briere, 35, could return to the Flyers lineup this weekend, according to a report on CSNPhilly.com.

“I felt a little better again, today,” Briere told CSNPhilly.com.

“It seems every time I have been skating, I take the next step, but then there is something else that prevents me from going too hard or all out.

Briere, who scored eight times and contributed 13 points overall in 11 post-season games for Philadelphia last year, injured his wrist while playing in Germany during the NHL lockout.

The pending Briere return comes at a time when the Flyers are struggling to find any scoring at all.

The Flyers, after losses to Pittsburgh and Buffalo on the weekend, fell 3-0 to the New Jersey Devils, last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, on the road.

Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk – on a penalty shot – scored for the Devils.

And, of course, fans, media and former players are taking notice. Twitter, as it does most nights in the NHL, lit up with chatter of the Flyers’ current ineptitude.

The Devils, on the other hand, didn’t have Zach Parise in the lineup. He signed that 13-year, $98 million deal with the Minnesota Wild during the summer. Adam Henrique, one of three Calder Trophy finalists last season, is also seven-to-10 days away from returning from thumb surgery.

Video: Kovalchuk beats Bryzgalov on season’s first penalty shot

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Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal of the season in style.

The New Jersey Devils sniper made good on the NHL’s first penalty shot attempt of the year on Tuesday night, besting Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to give the Devils a 3-0 lead early in the second period:

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Kovalchuk was rewarded the penalty shot after Philly blueliner Kimmo Timonen hauled him down on a breakaway.

The goal was Kovalchuk’s fourth career attempt, and his third successful conversion.

Devils name Salvador captain

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The New Jersey Devils have announced that defenseman Bryce Salvador will become 10th captain in franchise history.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Salvador said. “I think it’s just a huge compliment for an organization like New Jersey — with the success and the history they have and all the previous captains — for them to select me as the next captain was just an honor.”

Salvador, 36, joined the Devils in 2008 via trade (for Cam Janssen, no less.) The steady rearguard has been a boon for New Jersey ever since, missing just nine games over the last three seasons while racking up 39 points.

In last year’s playoffs, Salvador rose to prominence by notching 4G-10A-14PTS in 24 games, finishing second to Drew Doughty in defensemen scoring.

The Devils rewarded Salvador’s postseason scoring binge with a three-year, $9.5 million extension in July.

Once the club puts needle to sweater, Salvador will join select company as players to wear the “C” for New Jersey, joining Mel Bridgman, Bruce Driver, Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Don Lever, Kirk Muller, Scott Niedermayer, Zach Parise and Scott Stevens.

Stevens is the longest-serving captain in franchise history, with 12 seasons.

It should be noted the club also announced that Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk would retain their alternate statuses for the 2013 season.

Kovalchuk insists he never planned on staying in KHL

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Ilya Kovalchuk participated in his first day of New Jersey Devils training camp on Wednesday, but perhaps most importantly, he made it clear he was happy to be there.

The high-end sniper took time to dismiss various KHL-related rumors with Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger.

“I have a contract here and in the KHL they have a rule that as soon as the lockout ends we have to go back,” Kovalchuk said. “Nobody has a choice. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind I was going to come back.”

Perhaps the “nobody has a choice” line indicates that part of him wishes he could finish 2012-13 overseas, but he stomped out what was left of the scuttlebutt – including laughing off some odd stuff about Russian president Vladimir Putin trying to convince him to stay.

“No, that’s not true. I’m sure he’s got some other stuff to take care of,” Kovalchuk said. “I had a great time there, we had a good team but I have a contract here. I’m happy I’m back. I’m happy we’re all back because I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”

More good news: head coach Peter DeBoer liked what he saw from the jet-lagged star today.

“For a guy who got off a plane after I don’t know how long a travel day it was for him, I thought he looked pretty good. It’s nice to have him back,” DeBoer said.

They certainly need him, especially with Adam Henrique on the mend.

Video: Dire dilemma for Devils?

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The New Jersey Devils surprised many by making it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2012, but the deck seems stacked against them this season. Zach Parise is gone, Adam Henrique is injured, Martin Brodeur isn’t getting any younger and Ilya Kovalchuk missed some training camp time.

Will those factors mean failure for one of the NHL’s most consistent contenders? Pierre McGuire shares his take on the Devils’ dilemma – and potential Eastern Conference opportunists – in the video below:

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