Maybe this is a good time for the Flyers to visit the Sunshine State for back-to-back games. The Tampa Bay Lightning have lost eight of their last 10.

Then again, maybe it isn't.

The Florida Panthers had won four of their last five games and were 6-2-2 in their last 10 before playing Montreal last night.

Usually, the Flyers take a pounding from the Lightning and beat up on the Panthers.

"Sometimes, it's like going into a hornets' nest," coach John Stevens said about today's matinee at Tampa Bay. "Every team has issues, including us. I think it is important to worry about ourselves. I know they have struggled of late, but I'm sure they are anxious to get going at home. They are still a dangerous team."

Regardless of how the Lightning are playing, the Flyers have won just once - Dec. 28, 2006 - in six games in Tampa since the 2003-04 season. But the Bolts are in trouble.

"We have zip for confidence," Lightning coach John Tortorella told reporters after a 5-2 loss to Montreal on Thursday night. "We can't give our problems to someone else. We need to mentally, first of all, start thinking, 'I need to make a difference. I need to regain my confidence here.' Hopefully, a few guys start doing that, and maybe a good thing happens.

"It is one of the worst stretches that I can remember since I've been here, how we have played, it really is. . . . We have to stay within ourselves here, and we can't be begging for help. We need to take the onus of this mess ourselves and try to find a way to work out of it."

Stevens seemed relieved that his team snapped a six-game losing skid Thursday with a 4-1 win over Toronto. The key was 22 blocked shots.

"We talked a lot lately about our urgency," the coach said. "When we have more urgency, we block shots. When we're willing to pay a bigger price defensively, which we did, we seem to create a lot more offensively. It's just the makeup of our team. The harder we play without the puck, the better we are with the puck. It's our focus here coming out of the break."

The focus today might be shots on goal. Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist was pulled for the fourth time in five starts early in the second period Thursday after giving up three goals on 11 shots.

"I've seen them slip in the standings a little bit," Flyers center Danny Briere said yesterday. "I heard they recalled [Karri] Ramo and they were going to try to find a way to let go of [Marc] Denis. They're looking for a shake-up there. I have not seen them play. I'm hoping it's a good time to play them."

Later in the day, the Lightning placed Denis, their backup goalie, on waivers.

"Even if a team is struggling, you have to go all out and bury them - don't give them a chance to think they can win," Briere said. "Teams have taken it to us lately; they didn't take us lightly. We have to do the same to the Lightning."

The Flyers will leave tonight for tomorrow's 5 p.m. game against the Panthers.

Loose pucks.

Briere did not practice yesterday because he is nursing a mild ankle injury. "I'm playing," he said about today's game. . . . The first line in practice had R.J. Umberger centering Simon Gagne and Scottie Upshall. Gagne, recovering from a concussion, is still at least a week away from playing, so that line won't make an appearance on this trip. . . . Randy Jones' right knee sprain is bothering him again, and he did not make the trip. . . . The Flyers recalled right winger Stefan Ruzicka from the Phantoms

He will be available for today's game.