Read’s Versatility Helping Injured Flyers

23 Dec

NEW YORK — Danny Briere might not play Friday night in the Winter Classic preview. If he doesn’t, Matt Read will take over his line. Read has played virtually every position for the Flyers this season at forward. From left wing to center to right wing to the point on the power play, the 25-year-old rookie has been a blessing for an injured team in that wherever a guy goes down, he can fill in.

“Wherever coach wants to put me in the lineup, I feel comfortable in any position,” said Read. “If it’s wing, center, on the point on the power play, it’s something that in college I played all positions and I’m comfortable at it and I’m just trying to make the best of my opportunity when I’m put in those positions.”

Despite not having a clearly defined role, Read has flourished. He is fourth among rookies in points and second in goals, behind Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

“It’s like a utility player in baseball when guys are injured or guys need a day’s rest and a guy can play all sorts of positions — infield, outfield,” said Scott Hartnell. “He can play left right and center. He’s good on the power play and the penalty kill.

“You don’t know how a kid’s gonna pan out when you sign him like that out of college. All things are pointing to a good start for him and a good NHL career.”

Read may have only one point in the last five games, but the team has been marred with injury and he’s had to fill in wherever the Flyers have a hole. Lately that’s been at center when Claude Giroux was absent and now possibly Briere. Read has spent time on the second, third and fourth lines this season.

If Briere’s hand is too bruised to go on Friday night, Read’s wingers will be James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds.

“When it comes time to score a goal or something like that, you never know what position you’re gonna be, if you’re gonna be a winger, centerman or D man,” said Read. “It’s good to know every position. It helps you see the ice better, I guess and it gives me better opportunity to be on the ice.”

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