In the first two months of the season, the Flyers' special teams have been, well, very special.

But. . ..

"There's always a but, huh?" said smiling Flyers coach John Stevens when the club's early-season weakness - their play in even-strength situations - was mentioned.

Entering last night, the Flyers ranked fourth in the power-play (23.6 percent success rate) and fifth in the penalty kill (85.8 percent). Add the two success rates and you get 109.4 - above the 105 that Stevens calls "elite class."

To top it off, the Flyers have a league-best 11 shorthanded goals.

But. . .

In all even-strength situations this season, the Flyers have been outscored, 55-44.

When the playoffs roll around, defenseman Kimmo Timonen said after yesterday's practice in Voorhees, "the way you play on five-on-five is the most important factor."

So far, the Flyers - whose special teams have enabled them to go 9-1-3 in their last 13 games - have been one of the NHL's worst five-on-five teams.

They entered last night 28th out of 30 teams in five-on-five situations. The Flyers had a 0.83 ratio in five-on-fives, meaning they had scored 0.83 goals for every goal against in five-on-fives.

Boston is first in the league with a 1.82 five-on-five ratio (They had scored nearly two goals for every one allowed in five-on-fives.), followed by New Jersey (1.59) and San Jose (1.34).

"Our five-on-five has to get better," Timonen said.

Perhaps the line change the Flyers made in yesterday's practice - and one they will use tonight against the visiting New York Islanders - will boost their five-on-five play.

Winger Joffrey Lupul was moved to the second line, where he will join winger Scott Hartnell and high-scoring center Jeff Carter.

"I think Lupul adds a nice complement because he's got size and speed and can shoot to score," Stevens said.

"It's a good opportunity for me the way [Carter] has been playing," said Lupul, who has eight goals in 26 games.

Scottie Upshall had been on Carter's line, but he has been moved to the line with Glen Metropolit and Andreas Nodl.

Hartnell and Stevens aren't overly concerned about the Flyers' five-on-five play.

"The good thing is that we're getting chances," Hartnell said. "We're getting our opportunities, cycling fairly well, but just haven't been able to get a plus."

Tonight, against the last-place Islanders, they will get that opportunity.

"The message today was, 'Let's tighten up the details. Don't just shoot on the net. Shoot to score.' " Stevens said. "We're getting our D up on the attack, and they're doing a great job being part of the rush. We're getting plays to the net. . . . There was a big focus on being a little hungrier around the net and shoring up some of the details so we can produce five-on-five."