After nearly 2 full weeks on the road, the Flyers were home resting yesterday and coach John Stevens was back in his office getting ready for the first home game since Dec. 23.

He was watching video of Minnesota and jotting down notes, but mostly he was checking in with his injured players to see who would be available tonight.

There were no new additions to the lineup. Danny Briere (groin) is getting closer, but he will not play tonight. Neither will Antero Niittymaki (groin), Joffrey Lupul (abdominal strain) or Jon Kalinski (severe thigh contusion).

That much is old news, but what has changed for the better is the timetable for the return of both Niittymaki and Lupul. While Stevens was not making promises on their return, he said both players felt better after skating yesterday.

"Lupul actually skated this morning and felt pretty good," Stevens said. "He's feeling a lot better. He's not going to play [tonight], but he's not going to be out as long as we thought."

Lupul originally was predicted to be out for as long as 14 days, but Stevens said, "based on [yesterday] he was feeling a lot better, which was really encouraging to me."

Also encouraging, said Stevens, was seeing Niittymaki, who suffered a groin strain Saturday in Los Angeles, back on the ice.

"He felt pretty good [yesterday]. He was actually on the ice for a little bit, too. He's going to come down and skate [the morning pregame practice] with us so we'll see where it goes.

"We'll see how he gets through practice. He just went out there and took some shots from the few guys that skated; sometimes you get sore, but he actually felt better. He's not out of the woods but he felt better quicker than I thought he would."

Kalinski, meanwhile, remained in West Jersey Hospital while doctors continue to drain blood buildup from his leg. He is expected to be released today, but likely will be placed on the long-term injury list.

Snap shots

The NHL will announce the rest of the Eastern Conference All-Star team today, and based on the way the league handled the Western Conference additions, there probably won't be more than two Flyers selected because of the effort of Montreal fans, who succeeded in voting four Canadiens into the starting lineup. Four of the six starters in the East are Canadiens and two are Penguins. In the West, of the six, three came from Anaheim and three from Chicago. Talent-laden San Jose had only two additions, as did the reigning Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. The All-Star Game will be played Jan. 25 in Montreal. *