Ray Emery has been nothing short of a choirboy since he officially arrived in town 132 days ago.
By all accounts, Emery has been a good teammate. He is a perfect fit in the Flyers' tight-knit dressing room. Emery hasn't had any run-ins with the law, as he did in Ottawa. Most importantly, he has won hockey games.
Tomorrow - the day before he faces his old mates, the Senators - he will place a bet. It's for entertainment purposes only, a friendly wager among teammates.
During the season, players are challenged to kitty up before games against a former team or when family is in town. It's not a Pete Rose bet, but a wager that if the Flyers win, Emery must pay an agreed-upon amount that goes to things like lunch, dinner and team activities.
"Guys put money on the board," Emery explained. "It's just a little thing that you do. It's not really talked about too much.
"It's the first time I've ever had something like that; I've always played for the same team. Different guys have played for a few teams; it seems like once a week someone is coming in."
On Saturday, that wagering board was lit with action as Chris Pronger faced off against one of his former squads, the Blues. Dan Carcillo was baited to buck up, too, coming off a two-goal game in Buffalo the night before.
"It's the same thing for 'Prongs,' even though it's a couple teams ago," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "I think they got on him to put money on the board to try and beat his old team. It's not different with Ray - there's obviously some history there."
Even with the wager, Emery wouldn't say that Thursday's game means more than any other.
"You want to win maybe a bit more," Emery said of facing a former team. "But each game is equally important. Any time you have 3 or 4 days off in between a game, you're probably going to be thinking about the team you play next."
Coincidentally, it was the Flyers who took a gamble on Emery when they announced in June that they would sign him to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract to bring him back to North America after he spent a year playing in Russia.
At the time, the move seemed like any longshot bet: A nice payday if it works out.
For now, the gamble has paid off like a 10-team parlay at Delaware Park.
Emery is 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, a span in which he boasts a 1.86 GAA and a .938 save percentage. Those are a Vezina Trophy-type numbers. In truth, the only time Emery didn't look like he was worth the risk was a 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh, where he gave up five goals on 25 shots.
Even though his numbers have been solid, Emery - much like his coach - doesn't get too high or too low. He is even-keeled.
"We're in a half-decent spot," Emery said. "We definitely haven't put ourselves in a really bad spot. We've kind of had our ups and downs at the start of the year. The start of the year is just that - the start of a year. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."
Thursday's game brings the Flyers one step closer to that finish. Emery says he doesn't hold a grudge or anything like that. Hockey isn't even the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of Ottawa.
"I still have a house there," Emery said. "I have a lot of friends, even family - my brothers go to university there - so it's just a city. Hockey is one side."
Emery spent a bulk of the offseason in the Ottawa area. He has kept in touch with Jason Spezza, Anton Volchenkov and former housemate Chris Kelly.
The fact that only eight players remain from the team that Emery helped lead to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007 sucks a little bit of the blood out of a possible grudge match.
"I don't follow them that closely," Emery said. "Guys are gone. We probably had six or seven guys that were in the minors together. There's a few guys kicking around that I keep in touch with."
One of the people he doesn't talk to is Senators general manager Bryan Murray. Emery doesn't feel the need to clear the air about whatever ill will was left behind.
"I can call him if I want to," Emery said. "I've never had a problem saying things to anybody."
He does have a problem calling Thursday's meeting anything more than just a game. But that's fine; the amount written on the white board in the Flyers' locker room says all you need to know.
Danny Briere and Ryan Parent, out with different groin issues, both skated with the team for approximately 25 minutes yesterday. They also skated on their own before practice with Flyers assistant coach Joe Mullen. Both players are questionable for Thursday . . . James van Riemsdyk (broken and cut left pinkie) and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (concussion) did not skate yesterday. Van Riemsdyk could return to practice today. Tollefsen did not have a headache yesterday but would need to skate by tomorrow in order to be considered for Thursday . . . Chris Pronger was named the NHL's third star of the week after posting five points as a plus-5 in three Flyers victories.
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.