"He hasn't played since last April, but at some point we wanted to get him in the lineup," general manager Paul Holmgren said before the game. "I know he's been feeling real good, probably the best he's felt in a long time. There are no issues with his hips or back."
Walker, 30, adds physicality to the lineup. He also has more experience than Bartulis.
"Two years ago, he played 17 playoff games for Chicago," Holmgren said. "I'm excited to see how he does. Boston is an aggressive team, and his presence in the lineup is not going to hurt us. In fact, it should help."
Holmgren said Walker is more agile than he was before the surgeries.
"There were some issues there after he had the fight in training camp," said Holmgren, referring to a bout with the Devils' Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. "He said to me he feels the best he's felt in years. The difference between training camp and now is night and day, how he's moving around. I think his physicality is going to help us right now."
How did Walker feel in his return?
"Not bad," he said during the first intermission. "It's mostly just getting the timing and the speed down again. It's hard to get that going in practice, but it felt all right."
While some Flyers can't understand why just one of their players (Claude Giroux) was named an all-star, Carle looked at it differently.
Carle acknowledged he was "a little bit" surprised by the Flyers' representation. "But everybody's been chipping in on any given night," he said. "There's not one guy who has kind of led the way and is at the top of the league, so it's been good in that sense. It shows it's been a team effort in the first half.
"It was more of an accomplishment that we got our coach there, rather than the players."
The Flyers are atop the Eastern Conference, a position that earned Peter Laviolette a spot as one of the all-star co-coaches.
Name that line
Philly.com readers, trying to come up with for a nickname for the sizzling unit of Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino, had numerous suggestions, including the 2½ Men Line (because of Briere's small stature), Danny's Boys, and the Snap (Briere), Crackle (Leino), and Pop (Hartnell) Line.
In the last seven games before Thursday, Briere's line had combined for 14 goals and 11 assists. The three linemates had points on Thursday's first goal.
Chris Pronger, hoping to return to the lineup soon, will practice with the team Friday in Atlanta. . . . Nik Zherdev returned to the lineup and Dan Carcillo was a healthy scratch.
- Sam Carchidi