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First Impressions

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers


(Voorhees, NJ, March 7) – With the trade deadline on the first day of a brief three-game road trip for the Flyers on February 27, the newest members of the team finally got to experience what it was like to play on the Wachovia Center ice.

Fortunately for them, as well as everyone in attendance, it turned out to be arguably the most exciting game of the season for the Flyers as they defeated the New Jersey Devils in overtime, 5-4.

Martin Biron started his third straight game and picked up his second win as a Flyer with 37 saves, in what was also his first home game.

He has been continually impressed with the organization since his arrival.

"I feel like I'm learning every day something different about this organization and about this city, the area, the fans and the team. I think that's a good thing. I think it's good that I came in at the trade deadline for that reason, because I can see if this is a situation and a team that I want to be a part of for a long time."

Biron is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

"Right now, I'm really excited about what I've been witnessing with this team and everything around here. With that said, everything has to come together and have the right [contract] talks, but right now everything I've seen is going the right direction."

The game also marked the home debut for the two newest members of the blue line – Braydon Coburn and Lasse Kukkonen. Coburn was acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers on February 24, while Kukkonen was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to Philadelphia two days later.

"Last night was a good game for our team with a big win and playing in front of the Flyers fans was exciting and better to be playing for them than against them," said Coburn. "I had a little bit of butterflies, but once I got the first couple of shifts under I knew I would be fine after that.

"I was very excited to be [going to] a hockey city. Atlanta maybe is not a hockey hot spot, but it's great being here with the attention that these guys get and the support that the fans give these guys."

Kukkonen got a chance to talk to his Finnish countryman, Joni Pitkanen, before playing in front of the Philadelphia fans and had a good idea of what to expect.

"There was a lot of excitement before the game and I was a little bit nervous, but I'm happy we got the win and we're playing well right now. Hockey is a big thing here and the people like to follow their team. They expect a lot, and that's the way it should be."

Collectively, the new members of the team are all content with the direction the team seems to be headed.

"I'm looking at it as there is a chance to finish the season on the right note. It's not just me, I think it's everybody else," said Biron. "You've seen the desperation and the way guys have skated the last few games. I think that's something that is a very big boost for this team. We can learn and gain some experience."

"I think that there's a lot of excitement in the locker room," added Kukkonen. "There are a lot of guys that want to prove that they can play a big role in this league. That's the way we'll get better as a team. It's been exciting and I like it a lot here so far."

Knuble and Eager Skating

Mike Knuble and Ben Eager both skated with the Flyers during practice on Wednesday afternoon at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone. Eager has skated with the team for a couple days now, while Knuble practiced for the first time since being cleared on Tuesday.

Knuble is recovering from two broken bones in his face suffered on February 17, while Eager has been out since February 19 with a high ankle sprain. Both could be back by next Thursday's game against Atlanta.

"I can tell I haven't done anything in a couple weeks, but it's great to be back out there with the guys and think about playing again," said Knuble, who is wearing a full shield to protect his face. "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel here and hopefully I'll be ready to go in a week."
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