The last time the Flyers played Colorado, a 5-2 loss in Denver, doors were slammed in the coach's office and 2 days of meetings followed.

Already winless in the prior three games, the Flyers were playing lifeless hockey and John Stevens had seen enough.

It was a turning point in their season, and now with everything going in the right direction, the Flyers entered the second meeting with Colorado this year reflecting on their improvement.

"We've come a long way since then," said Mike Richards. "We weren't playing poorly before, but now it just seems like the small things come naturally to us now. We're playing well. I don't think we need to get even with them. If anything they helped us see a lot of things about our game, so maybe we ought to thank them."

Last night, the Flyers avenged that loss with a 5-2 win of their own.

Stevens said that while the first Colorado game was part of a six-game winless streak to start the season, he did not believe the Flyers' start was as bad as it has been made out to be.

"I think we've come a long way since that game," he said. "But everyone refers to that start as horrible, awful. We didn't feel that way. We felt we were in every game. When you don't win games in this business it's horrible, awful, but we still felt offensively we were doing good things; it was just defensively we weren't doing the things we needed to.

"Now I think we're playing more to our strengths, which is playing aggressive defense first and capitalizing on the offense that comes from good defensive play. But obviously we've come a long way since that game."

No logjam yet

The Flyers have evaded their defensive pileup by sending Randy Jones to the Phantoms and placing Danny Briere on the long-term injury list, taking his salary out of the cap equation.

"Randy will play with the Phantoms [today]," general manager Paul Holmgren said yesterday. "How long he stays, how many games he plays, will depend on a few things, how guys play, injuries.

"This is just a conditioning assignment," he added.

Jones, returning from hip surgery, skated with the team during the morning skate yesterday but was not informed of the decision until later. Jones had said all along that if he has to play some games with the Phantoms it would not be a problem for him.

"If it works out and he is able to do that I think it would be great for him," John Stevens said. "It's a very good league. He hasn't played a game in 6 months and it's an option that we have."

Marty out

Marty Biron came down with the flu between practice Monday and last night's game and was out. Scott Munroe was called up from the Phantoms to back up Antero Niittymaki, who started in Biron's place. *