In shoot-outs, the Flyers have floundered.

They are 10-23 lifetime, 2-5 this season and 5-11 in the last two years.

That's not a good way to make up ground in the crowded Eastern Conference standings, and it's why the club spent nearly half yesterday's practice working on shoot-outs. Eight shooters took turns going in alone on goalies Marty Biron and Antero Niittymaki.

The work, they hope, will benefit all parties.

"Before games, our goalie coach [Reggie Lemelin] sets up some sheets with tendencies of the other goalies," winger Scottie Upshall said after yesterday's practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.

"For us, practice is a chance to take advantage - even if you're shooting on your own goalies - you work on things that you can control and moves that can make you a better player."

Added Upshall: "We've had nine overtime losses, and five of them have been shoot-outs. If we can get those five or six points coming down the stretch, they're going to be big for us."

The Flyers are 28th of 30 teams with an 18.2 scoring percentage in shoot-outs. Their goalies are tied for 15th with a .667 shoot-out save percentage.

"I think it's just about getting your confidence," said captain Mike Richards, who is 3 for 7 in shoot-outs this season. "We've had a little success. In Anaheim, we did well. We kind of deserved to win one" in Washington, where Jose Theodore made some good saves.

"It's really 50-50 in the shoot-out. We have good goaltenders, good shooters. It's just getting the confidence."

The home team decides the order of the shoot-out.

"If I have the option, I'll always shoot first just because the percentages tell you that you should," coach John Stevens said. "Play Jersey, they want you to shoot first, probably because of the history with [Martin] Brodeur.  If your goalie makes the first save, it's a good decision. I haven't seen the information lately, but the team that shoots first wins 70 percent-plus of the time. You have to hit me more over the head with a crowbar to [not] get me to listen to that stat."

The Flyers may soon get a shoot-out boost. Danny Briere, perhaps the club's best shoot-out performer, could return to the lineup Wednesday against Atlanta. Briere, who had been sidelined with a groin injury since Dec. 2, started a two-game rehabilitation stint last night with the AHL Phantoms.

Giroux ready. After missing five games because of a concussion, speedy winger Claude Giroux will return to the lineup tonight in Tampa Bay. Giroux, expected to blossom into one of the Flyers' best shoot-out scorers, was injured when he was elbowed in the face by Anaheim's Corey Perry on Jan. 2.

Perry was suspended for four games.

Giroux, the Flyers' No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, had been showing positive signs before the hit by Perry.

"You have to move on and put it behind you," he said of the dirty play.

Tonight, Giroux will be on the team's third line, with center Glen Metropolit and Upshall. "Hopefully, we can produce some offense and be responsible defensively," Giroux said.

Breakaways. The Flyers re-assigned forward Andreas Nodl, 21, to the Phantoms. The Vienna, Austria, native recorded a goal and three assists in 29 games with the Flyers. . . . Biron will start tonight, and Niittymaki will start tomorrow against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.