VANCOUVER - Remember the movie
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
and how everything went wrong for the Griswold family?
Well, the Flyers can relate.
So far, their longest Tour Across North America of the season has had a similar feel to it.
In two games, they have been outscored by a combined 8-1 and outshot by 71-38. They have committed 19 penalties to their opponents' 10, and suffered injuries to defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle.
Oh, and weather-related travel problems - they were low on fuel as they circled a Chicago airport - have also been part of the misadventure.
Still, they are just two points behind the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers and have two games in hand.
But they better regroup quickly or this six-city, 12-day trip can snowball quickly.
"You're on the road, and teams are going to be ready for you," said Flyers coach John Stevens, whose club plays at dangerous Vancouver tomorrow night. "They're not going to take you lightly because of where we are in the standings. We're getting their best game."
Stevens said the Flyers need to tighten things up in their own end, stop taking early penalties that are giving opponents momentum, and get more pucks to the net.
Because of the travel problems, the Flyers missed morning skates the day of both of their trip-starting losses - a 5-1 defeat to shot-happy Chicago Friday and a 3-0 setback to lowly Columbus on Saturday. In both games, the Flyers fell into early 2-0 holes.
"When you're faced with a little different routine, it's more mental than it is physical," defenseman Braydon Coburn said.
Besides Timonen and Carle, Scott Hartnell, Luca Sbisa, Darroll Powe and Arron Asham have missed time during the trip because of injuries. Winger Mike Knuble downplayed the injury factor when discussing the club's less-than-inspiring last two efforts.
"We have had some extenuating circumstances, but no one's coming into a game with that as an excuse," he said. "I don't think that'll fly amongst anyone in the room."
"There is a lot of time to straighten it out," Knuble said, adding that the team has been "chasing the puck" and not in sync in the last two games.
"We weren't going to run the table from here on out," captain Mike Richards said.
Tomorrow, the Flyers will face a Vancouver team that leads the league in penalty minutes and had allowed six goals in their opponents' last 16 power-play chances heading into last night.
"We have two days off to regroup and work on a couple of things," Richards said after Saturday's listless loss in Columbus.
"Tired or not, you always have to find a way to win, and we just didn't play very well [Saturday]. It's time to get some rest and get some different people to step up. You have to use this as an opportunity, not a crutch."
Timonen (ankle) will not play tomorrow, while Carle (ankle) is listed as day to day.
"We've prided ourselves on having depth all year," Richards said.
Defenseman Ryan Parent is part of that depth, but he is still making a comeback from shoulder surgery. Parent, who has a two-way contract with the Flyers and their AHL affiliate, was activated from the injured-reserve list yesterday and loaned to the Phantoms.