Burke may play for dizzy Esche

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:15 PM ET


 If Robert Esche is not able to tend goal for the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night, Sean Burke will be more than happy to step in and relieve his younger colleague.

 Esche left the game after the first period yesterday and he may have a concussion, which would put him in the doubtful category for Game 6 tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre.

 "I will prepare like I am playing until I hear otherwise," said Burke, who had not played since April 1 before taking over for Esche to begin the second period.

 "For not playing that long, I have been ready to go. It's something you learn early in your career."

 MEDICAL HELP

 Esche allowed a goal to the Maple Leafs' Joe Nieuwendyk in the final minute of the first period and then disappeared into the Flyers medical room as his teammates rested in the dressing room.

 There was speculation Esche had dizzy spells, but coach Ken Hitchcock refused to confirm the actual injury.

 In Game 4 on Friday, Esche was hit on the mask by a Bryan McCabe shot but remained in the lineup.

 The injury confirmation will come today, Hitchcock said.

 As well, the severity of an injury to defenceman Vladimir Malakhov, who may have a concussion or a shoulder injury, should be known. Malakhov, who missed six games late in the season with a fractured jaw, was slammed into the end boards by Darcy Tucker last night and also missed the final two periods.

 "We really don't know on either of them right now," Hitchcock said. "One we don't have a clue on and the other one we are not even sure how to describe it. Right now, it's upper body for both, same as Toronto's injuries."

 The Flyers have full confidence in Burke, who was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 9. Burke, who grew up in Toronto and spent two seasons with the defunct junior A Marlies, allowed one goal on nine shots last night.

 "I have no doubt that Sean would love to be able to do this, but let's not get ahead of ourselves," Hitchcock said.

 "Let's just wait and see how (Esche's injury) turns out."


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