Flyers Notes: Flyers talking a look at defenseman Matt Walker

Posted: January 17, 2011

Flyers Notes

NEW YORK - For Matt Walker, so far, so good.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman made his Flyers regular-season debut Thursday in Boston and was back at it Friday in Atlanta. He wore a satisfied look as he pedaled on an exercise bike before Sunday night's game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Walker was pleased because he feels like a new man after missing the first half of the season while recovering from surgery on both hips.

"The first game was all right and the second game I was much more comfortable," said Walker, who was acquired July 19 from Tampa Bay in the Simon Gagne deal. "It's nice to know they figured out what the problem was and to have it fixed. I feel it's all behind me now. I'm excited about that."

The Flyers have an opportunity to take a look at Walker while Chris Pronger recovers from a broken foot. Of course, they have a pretty good idea what they have when the 30-year-old Walker is at full strength. Walker had 90 penalty minutes last season, third most for the Lightning. He also led Tampa Bay with 116 blocked shots.

"He's getting his feet wet," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I'm sure every game and every minute he plays, he'll become more comfortable with what he's doing out there. He's a big defenseman. He can bring a physical element to the game. I think over time he'll get more and more comfortable. He can give us some meaningful minutes."

The problem for Walker may be getting ice time when Pronger returns, which may be by the end of the week. Laviolette made room for Walker by scratching Oskars Bartulis.

The Flyers are Walker's fourth team after playing for St. Louis, Chicago and Tampa Bay.

Skating in the park

Laviolette said Saturday's practice in Central Park was enjoyable for him and the players.

"It was a cool thing," he said. "The weather was beautiful. The guys were able to drop their guard a little bit and have some fun."

The Flyers practiced in Central Park because Madison Square Garden was not available on Saturday or Sunday. The Garden was set up for the Big East Conference basketball game between St. John's and Notre Dame.

"We needed to get a workout in, so we took the opportunity," Laviolette said.

Loose pucks

The Flyers have played one home game in the last 28 days, but they have three games this week at the Wells Fargo Center, starting Tuesday against Washington. Eight of their next 10 games are at home. . . . Danny Briere took a five-game goal-scoring streak into Sunday's game, the longest by a Flyer since Geoff Sanderson in November 2006. Nineteen of Briere's 24 goals have come at even strength. . . . The Flyers are the only team in the NHL with a winning record (10-8-1) when allowing the first goal.

- Ray Parrillo


 

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