Flyers goalie Ray Emery will play his former team, the Ottawa Senators, on Thursday for the first time.

The Senators released Emery in 2008 because of issues on and off the ice. He spent last season in Russia.

"Having played there, you want to win maybe a bit more," Emery said of Ottawa after yesterday's practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. "But each game is equally important."

The Senators are vastly different from what they were when Emery played for them, from 2002-03 to 2007-08.

"I don't follow them that closely," he said. "I talk to a few guys there. I don't keep in touch with management or anything like that. It's just a team I used to play for."

Thursday's game will be played at the Wachovia Center. The Flyers visit Ottawa on Jan. 3.

Flyers coach John Stevens said Emery had "moved on" after spending parts of five enigmatic seasons with Ottawa.

"Being at home, I think it's just another game," Stevens said. "Being in Ottawa would probably be a little different because the fans are involved, and it's a city where he played a long time - and I think it will be a totally different animal."

Emery, 27, who still lives in Ottawa in the off-season, has a 9-3-1 record, a 2.27 goals-against average, and a .922 save percentage. He has been extremely consistent in his 13 starts.

"The start of the year is just that, a start of the year," Emery said. "We're in a half-decent spot - kind of had ups and downs at the start of the year. It doesn't matter how you start, it's how you finish. We definitely haven't put ourselves in a really bad spot to start off. It's part of the process to keep getting better."

The Flyers will take a four-game winning streak into Thursday, a stretch in which they have outscored their opponents by 18-6, excluding shoot-outs.

Bartulis recalled. The Flyers recalled Oskars Bartulis from the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms, and the 6-foot-2, 195-pound defenseman is expected to be in the lineup Thursday.

The Flyers are short on defensemen because of injuries to Ryan Parent (groin) and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (concussion).

Bartulis, 22, had two goals, two assists, and 14 penalty minutes in 12 games with the Phantoms this season.

He is a native of Latvia who is being considered for that nation's Olympic team, and was selected by the Flyers in the third round, and 91st overall, in the 2005 draft.

Pronger honored. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger was named the NHL's third star for the week that ended Sunday. Calgary right winger Jarome Iginla was selected as the No. 1 star, while San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov was No. 2.

During the week, Pronger led NHL defensemen with five points (one goal, four assists) and was plus-5 as the Flyers won all three of their games. For the season, he was tied for third among defensemen in scoring with 14 points and fifth among all players with a plus-11 entering last night's action.

Breakaways. Left winger James van Riemsdyk (broken pinkie) could resume practice today, and the Flyers hope he can play Thursday. Van Riemsdyk was injured when he was hit by Jeff Carter's shot Saturday. "If I had shot the puck, he'd be OK," Stevens cracked. . . . Forward Danny Briere, sidelined with a strain below his right quadriceps, skated yesterday but probably won't be ready to play until Saturday at the earliest. . . . The Flyers have scored first in 12 of their 14 games. . . . As of yesterday afternoon, the Flyers were tied with Toronto for the league's best power-play success at 26.6 percent. Scott Hartnell leads the Flyers with five power-play goals.