(Voorhees, NJ, March 16) – Playing against a team that was desperate for points in the Atlanta Thrashers, the Philadelphia Flyers played one of their most complete games of the season on Thursday to take their fourth win in four tries against the Southwest Division leaders.
Head Coach John Stevens called the achievement a bright spot in a season where those have been few and far between, and several players agreed on Friday morning after practice.
"That's certainly a positive in a season that's been really tough for us," said Denis Gauthier. "Except for a few bumps in the road, we've been pretty good since the All-Star Break. We haven't won a ton of games, but we're .500 and we're very competitive.
"That's part of the process and part of the baby steps we keep talking about, is just getting better every day. There's a whole different atmosphere now than there was before Christmas."
Mike Knuble, who returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with broken bones in his face, agreed with his teammate.
"I think we can feel good about what we accomplished against that team all year. They are in first place in the Southeast and I don't think they got a point off of us. We just played a smart game, got solid goaltending, a couple timely goals, and that's the difference between winning and losing."
Not all of the news coming out of Thursday's game was positive, however, as the Flyers' Scottie Upshall will be out of action for approximately the next 10 days. The newly acquired right wing, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite, took a hit along the boards from Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk in the second period and did not return.
Simon Gagne also remains out of the lineup with a groin injury.
"It would have been nice to get [Gagne] back in and with Mike coming back and Upshall playing well," said Stevens.
Still, Stevens was impressed with Knuble's game after having missed significant time with a severe injury.
"It's a good thing we got Knuble back. I was amazed at how well he was able to play coming off such a severe injury and being out so long. But, he came back and was a really good player right away. It was kind of remarkable to me that he was able to come back and play so well."
"It just makes you realize how much you appreciate playing the game," said Knuble. "When you can't play, you miss it."
With Upshall hurt, Stevens moved R.J. Umberger to left wing to play with Knuble and Jeff Carter in practice on Friday.Biron's Family in Town
Martin Biron's wife and two kids arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and they will begin seeing the area very soon. Biron has stated that he wanted his family to get comfortable before he considers a contract extension with the team.
"We'll get the next two weeks to get around. I don't know too much about the area myself, so we'll just have to discover it together," said Biron. "I'm pretty excited about it. Everyone has been telling us where to go, what to see, what to do. But, it's just everyday things like knowing where the gas stations and grocery stores are, too."
Biron, who would become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is 4-2-1 in seven games as a Flyer with a 2.65 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.