By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Flyers return to the ice tonight as they visit the New Jersey Devils. This is the third game of a six-game road trip, and thus far the Flyers have split the first two games.
Flyers have had their share of injuries this season, and when forward Scott Hartnell went down, the Flyers brought back one of the more popular players in recent memory, Mike Knuble, to help fill the void.
Knuble spent four seasons with the Flyers from 2005-2009, scoring 114 goals during his stay. He signed with Washington as a free agent prior to the 2009-10 season. But he says it is nice to be back.
“To be back in town, it’s a pretty easy transition,” Knuble tells KYW Newsradio. “It’s like you never left sometimes. There’s still some familiar faces, guys I’m playing with here, there’s five or six guys left over from when I was here. And then all our staff is the same, so you walk in and it’s like there’s basically maybe some new paint on the walls and that’s about it. Couple of pictures have moved around, but other than that it’s pretty much the same as when you left it.”
Knuble has played in 1,050 games during a 15-year career that now has carried him into his 40’s.
“It’s been really crazy,” Knuble says. “I think my career has been one way from about age 23 to 30, I was a certain type of player. Then I got real lucky in Boston one year, scored a bunch of goals (30 in 2002-03) and then my career from 31 to 40 has been a whole other direction. It’s been a great ride, it’s fun, it’s the best job in the world. I wish a lot of people could experience the stuff we get to experience every day. Like I said, it’s the best job in the world, you don’t want to give it up. Ultimately we’ll be ex-players a lot longer than we are current players, so you want to play as long as you can.”
In ten games since rejoining the Flyers, Knuble has tallied a goal and three assists.
Tonight, the Flyers will skate with a New Jersey team that leads the Atlantic Division with an 8-2-3 record.
“They lose their best player in free agency last year, and they’re still coming along great,” Knuble says. “They lose Zach Parise to Minnesota in free agency and I think it would’ve been very easy for their players to kind of feel sorry for themselves and use that as a big excuse and have a mediocre start and all that. But they’ve been awesome right out of the gate, they’ve been a very good team. We’re a team that’s trying to climb up the ladder here, trying to claw back into the playoffs, I think we can do it, but ultimately you’ve got to learn to beat the teams like New Jersey, develop that confidence that you can try and beat them and so that’s going to be a great test for us.”
The Flyers lost their first meeting with the Devils, getting shut out in New Jersey, 3-0, back on January 22nd.
The Flyers and Devils will face-off at 7:00pm tonight.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw