Daniel Briere has a long way to go to prove he is worthy of the contract he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. If his first game is any indication, he could turn out to be a very wise investment.
Briere tries to help the Flyers to their first 2-0 start in nine years Saturday night when they continue a season-opening three-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers.
Eager to erase the memory of the worst season in franchise history, the Flyers began to overhaul their team toward the end of 2006-07, making several trades at the deadline. More moves followed in the summer, most notably signing Briere to a five-year, $52 million contract on July 1.
Briere, coming off a career-high 95 points last season with Buffalo, wasted little time getting comfortable with his new team, scoring twice in Philadelphia's season-opening 3-2 win Thursday over Calgary.
"It was pretty cool, but it's not just about me," Briere said. "It's about the team, but there's no doubt that personally it feels great to help your team and doing your part for a big win like tonight.
"We're trying to create a new identity for ourselves and we don't want to talk about what happened last year."
Mike Knuble also scored and Simon Gagne had two assists for the Flyers, who have only nine players remaining from last year's season opener.
Martin Biron, acquired from Buffalo on Feb. 27, stopped 24 of 26 shots. He will be given every opportunity to be the No. 1 goaltender for a franchise that has struggled at that position for years.
Forwards Scott Hartnell, Jim Dowd, Joffrey Lupul and Denis Tolpeko and new captain Jason Smith all made their Flyers debuts Thursday.
This will be Smith's first game against Edmonton, where he spent the previous seven seasons, the last five as captain. The Flyers acquired Smith and Lupul from the Oilers on July 1 in exchange for defenseman Joni Pitkanen, forward Geoff Sanderson and a third-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Philadelphia, which started 1-6-1 last season, hasn't opened with back-to-back wins since 1998-99.
The Oilers also kicked off their season with a victory on Thursday as Jarrett Stoll's shootout goal lifted them to a 3-2 victory over San Jose.
Edmonton rebounded after allowing Joe Thornton's tying power-play goal with 11 seconds left in regulation.
"It's good to battle and get the two points and to find a way to win the game," Stoll said. "We had the game there and with 11 seconds we lose it. But that's what good teams do, they find a way to win even when you have some adversity."
Edmonton finished with 71 points last season - its lowest total since 1995-96 - and won only two of its final 20 games.
Center Andrew Cogliano and defenseman Tom Gilbert made their NHL debuts Thursday and rookie forwards Kyle Brodziak and Sam Gagner also dressed. Gilbert and Brodziak scored in regulation while Cogliano and Gagner each had an assist for their first NHL points.
"It's a great story when you have a lot of young guys here and helping," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Now we just have to see how substantive it is. Those guys made plays and it was good to see that they didn't get caught defensively."
This will be the Flyers' first game at Edmonton since a 2-2 tie on Oct. 10, 2002. The Oilers have three wins and a tie in the past four meetings.