Nine games into his Flyers coaching tenure, Peter Laviolette sharply criticized his team's inability to play 60 hard minutes in their 2-1 loss to the visiting New York Rangers Saturday.

He called their performance "unacceptable."

Defenseman Chris Pronger called the developments _ 13 losses in their last 16 games _ "mystifying."

The Flyers are back to being the Legion of Gloom.

After just 5:16, Laviolette called a timeout following a Claude Giroux turnover that led to a Rangers goal. During the timeout, Laviolette chastised his players and it seemed to wake them up.

For a while, anyway.

They dominated the rest of the first period and held a 16-5 shots advantage in the final period. But they were listless in the middle period.

"It was a poor start. There's no excuse for it. I can't think of one reason why we would come out flat, and we did," said Laviolette in a measured, angry tone. "And we needed a timeout to try to refocus. I would have thought we would have ripped the hinges off the gate tonight to get out on the ice. We were so far from that, in my opinion, to start the game, and we got what we deserved. We're outshot, 6-1, we turn the puck over and it's in the back of the net."
     Henrik Lundqvist was the difference in the game. The Rangers goalie made 36 saves, includng a pair of eye-openers in the final period on James van Riemsdyk.

The Flyers are 2-6-1 since Laviolette replaced John Stevens.
     "This is about the Philadelphia Flyers playing a brand of hockey that you can be proud of, and I don't know how anyone can possibly be proud after the first two periods," Laviolette said. "It's completely unacceptable."
     Simon Gagne returned to the lineup after missing nearly two months because of hernia and abdominal surgery. The left winger had an assist as Pronger scored a power-play goal with 11:47 left in the first period.

For the rest of the game, the Flyers couldn't solve Lundqvist. They have scored more than three goals just twice in their last 18 games, and they have eight goals in their last nine losses.

There is a holiday trading freeze in effect until after Dec. 27. One wonders if GM Paul Holmgren will exhibit patience or make a major shakeup _ Jeff Carter, who had eight shots Saturday but continued to be snakebitten, is his most coveted player _ before the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.