A new season of Flyers hockey is just eight days away. While there is plenty to be optimistic about, there remains one concern, something that haunted the team all last season.

The need for a consistent work ethic.

Coach John Stevens was brutally honest Monday night when he said he did not like the unexplained lapses that have plagued the team during the preseason.

"We have to learn to play 60 minutes," Stevens said. "We still have those lapses in our mentality where we don't do that, and that is something we have to work through.

"Our whole motto coming into this year is we can't expect anything to be given to us. We have to welcome the work and be willing to earn it.

"That message is something we have to keep banging away and be demanding of. I honestly believe if we are going to have success, we have to be willing to work here."

Prospect Claude Giroux worked hard to earn a spot, but the 19-year-old winger was sent back to juniors yesterday.

"We were very pleased with Claude's training camp," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "He is an outstanding young player in our organization. . . . From a physical standpoint, we just didn't feel that he is quite ready yet. . . . The strides he has made in one year are tremendous. He was a good player for us in training camp, and he just needs a little more time to develop physically."

After a 4-2 loss in Ottawa last night, the Flyers are 2-3 in the preseason. Even in wins against the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, there were times when the team was not fully into the game, Stevens said.

The lack of a 60-minute effort was something that ruined the Flyers' season in 2006-07. Holmgren has said it is the biggest issue that must be resolved this year.

"A lot of nights - too many nights - we just didn't work hard, didn't compete hard enough to win the hockey game," Holmgren said. "I think we're a better team on paper, but that doesn't really mean a lot if you don't put the work in."

Three preseason games are left for the coaching staff to reinforce this message.

"I can't speak for the way it was last year," said Danny Briere, who signed as a free agent this summer. "But look at any team. . . . There will be times when the puck does not bounce your way. That is when you need to keep it simple. Instead of trying to deke a couple guys in the neutral zone, put it behind their defensemen and go to work. It's not an easy thing to do. But good teams realize that when things don't go their way that night, they keep it simple."

Senators 4, Flyers 2

Ottawa's Dean McAmmond suffered a concussion after he was leveled by a flying check from Steve Downie. Daniel Alfredsson, Joe Corvo, Jason Spezza and Shean Donovan scored for the Senators.