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Meszaros returns to Flyers practice, targets Round 2 return

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 22: Andrej Meszaros #41 of the Philadelphia Flyers shoots during warmups before an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center on March 22, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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The was a sight for sore eyes in Voorhees today when Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros returned to practice for the first time since undergoing back surgery on Mar. 21.

According to, the 26-year-old rearguard wore a non-contact jersey during drills. The original estimate for his return post-surgery was 6-8 weeks -- based on that, the earliest Meszaros could return would be midway through Round 2 -- but his speedy return to practice has changed perceptions a tad.

“I’m really encouraged,” coach Peter Laviolette said.

Given the depleted state of their defense, the Flyers would love to get Meszaros back in the mix. Injuries to Chris Pronger, Nicklas Grossmann and Marc-Andre Bourdon forced Philly to ice a makeshift blueline in Game 6 against the Penguins -- rookie Erik Gustafsson played 22:09 while Pavel Kubina, who started the series as a healthy scratch, saw just 4:31 in the series-clincher.

So yeah, Philly essentially played with five defensemen against the Pens.