Daniel Briere has been better than expected in his first three games for the Philadelphia Flyers. His teammates haven't been too bad, either.
Briere and the Flyers figure to get a very warm welcome Saturday night when they face the Atlantic Division rival New York Islanders in their home opener.
After finishing with a franchise-worst 22 wins and 56 points last season, the Flyers underwent major changes over the summer. Their biggest move was signing Briere to an eight-year, $52 million deal.
The speedy center hasn't taken long to adjust to his new surroundings, leading the team with four goals and seven points in three games. Briere only had a goal and two assists in his first three contests last season for Buffalo on his way to a career-high 95 points.
Briere had a goal and two assists, and Mike Richards added a career-high four points Wednesday in Philadelphia's 8-2 victory over Vancouver.
"It's going to be good for the confidence of a lot of guys," Briere said. "You start the season and you want to chip in offensively, you want to help out. Some guys aren't going to squeeze the stick as much now. It's really good for everybody to get on board like that."
Starting the season with two road wins in three games bodes well for the Flyers (2-1-0), who only won 12 contests away from home all last season.
"I'm happy starting on the road like we did, building some chemistry," Briere said. "We have a lot of new faces and it's a big plus."
Playing better at home is a must if the Flyers are to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. They were a dismal 10-24-7 last season at the Wachovia Center, going winless in a franchise-record 13 straight (0-9-4) from Nov. 29-Feb. 8.
Philadelphia's top line of Briere centering Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble has combined for eight goals and nine assists already.
Martin Biron has played all three games in net, posting a 2.68 goals-against average. He is 8-4-0 with one tie and a 2.12 GAA in 13 career starts against the Islanders with all but one of those appearances coming with Buffalo.
Philadelphia will be without forward Jesse Boulerice, who was suspended 25 games by the NHL on Friday for cross-checking Vancouver's Ryan Kesler across the face Wednesday.
"We're by no means condoning what happened," Flyers coach John Stevens said after Friday's practice. "He's going to have to stand up and pay the price."
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Islanders (3-2-0) were embarrassed Thursday in an 8-1 loss at Toronto.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored the only goal for New York, which was coming off a 2-1 victory over the rival New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Backup Wade Dubielewicz made his season debut, allowing a career-high eight goals on 42 shots.
"It was embarrassing," Dubielewicz said. "The effort just wasn't there - from me on out."
Rick DiPietro, off to a strong start this season, is expected to be back in net Saturday.
He will try to help the Islanders to their sixth straight win over the Flyers. DiPietro has been in goal for each of the previous five victories, recording one shutout and a 2.17 GAA.
New York won six of eight meetings last season overall, and has won four in a row at Philadelphia.