Walker activated, makes debut

BOSTON -- The move was a subtle one.

Skating on the ice at TD Garden for warmups was Matt Walker, who had yet to play a game for the Flyers this season after back-to-back hip surgeries in October and December.

Missing, though, was defenseman Oskars Bartulis.

The Flyers quietly activated Walker - and his $1.7 million salary - from the long-term injured reserve to play against the Bruins on Thursday night in Boston.

“He hasn’t played since last April,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “But at some point, we wanted to get him back in the lineup. I know he’s feeling real good, probably the best he’s felt in a long time. There’s no issues with his hips or his back.

"I talked to [Peter Laviolette] about it and he slept on it. I don’t think he likes changing the lineup when we’re winning, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do."

Holmgren said the difference between Walker now and in training camp - with the way he moves on the ice - is like "night and day."

Bartulis has played the last 9 games since Chris Pronger went down with a foot injury on Dec. 15 in Montreal. He has not picked up any points and is a minus-4 this season.

Walker was acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason, along with a 5th round pick, for forward Simon Gagne. The truth is that Walker, 30, would be a Top 4 defenseman on most NHL teams but has not only been hindered in Philly by his injuries but the Flyers' depth at defense.

“His physicality and presence are going to help us,” Holmgren said. “Two years ago, he played 17 games in the playoffs with Chicago. I’m excited to see how he does in our lineup.”

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