In this season of giving, the Flyers are doing plenty of taking.

If you read your NHL standings in Thursday's Philadelphia Daily News, you would have noticed the Flyers in first place in the Atlantic Division, the Eastern Conference and in the whole darned National Hockey League.

This is no fluke.

The Flyers are rolling out their four lines, their five guys with double-digit goals, their six defensemen. While watching the last two victories over Pittsburgh and Montreal, it was hard to notice anyone playing poorly. Wave after wave of effective and skilled hockey players are hitting the ice, hitting everything in their path without chippiness and playing a brand of hockey that is built for long playoff runs.

It is an interesting stretch of games the Flyers are playing. Since they blew a three-goal, third-period lead at home to San Jose, the Flyers won at Toronto, won a great game at Boston, then knocked off the hotter-than-them Penguins and the Canadiens. Among the Flyers, Bruins, Penguins and Canadiens, that might be the Eastern Conference semifinals this year.

It's December, early in a hockey life. The playoffs are 4 long months away. A treacherous trip out west awaits with a stop on the way home in Detroit, the best team in the Western Conference.

Enjoy this regular-season run, but remember, as you await the news on Chris Pronger's foot injury, that hockey has a habit of taking, not giving.