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The Flyers' power play is running on empty

While penalties have contributed to the Flyers' 7-7-2 slide in the last five weeks, there has been another more recent problem.

While penalties have contributed to the Flyers' 7-7-2 slide in the last five weeks, there has been another more recent problem.

The team's power play, among the NHL's best all season, has become power-less.

In their last five games, the Flyers are 1 for 25 (4 percent) on the power play; they are 1 for 21 since the all-star break, contributing to their 1-3 record in that span.

"We've got to move the puck a little better and get a little more hungry on rebounds," winger Joffrey Lupul said after yesterday's practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. "Sometimes, you go on those streaks where you're 10 for 25 and maybe you didn't really deserve that, either. We're kind of in between right now. I mean, [Jeff Carter] had a wide-open net on the power play and the goalie came across and made a great save, so just that easily, we could have had one goal."

He was referring to Tim Thomas, who stopped Carter and helped Boston defeat the Flyers, 3-1, on Wednesday.

"We can do a better job of getting shots through, and we have to simplify things," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "When we had a good power play, it's pretty simple - get the puck high and shoot the puck and get rebounds. We have to go back to that."

"Five have to outwork four," coach John Stevens simplified.

The Flyers' success has been directly related to their power play. They are 18-7-4 in games in which they have scored at least one power-play goal, and 8-8-5 when they haven't scored with an extra skater or skaters.

Despite their slump, the Flyers are still No. 2 in the league with a 24 percent power-play success rate. But they have had more power-play chances than their opponents in just one of their last 12 games.

"It's killing us right now. We're not getting the opportunities on the power play that we had earlier in the year, and our power play is not as successful," Lupul said, "At the start of the year, we were really dominating the special-teams battle, and right now we're trailing in it. It's making a big difference."

The Flyers lead the league in a dubious category: most penalty minutes per game (19).

At practice yesterday, they spent extensive time on defensive-zone coverage, with the coaches blowing a whistle if a penalty was committed.

"I think that's a start," Lupul said. "Hopefully, the message starts to get through here."

"There's a focus to get that [penalty] number down," Stevens said. "You're not going to snap your fingers and the problem goes away. It's a process."

Breakaways. Mike Richards, Braydon Coburn and Scottie Upshall, each of whom missed Wednesday's game because of the flu, sat out yesterday's practice. Stevens hopes all are able to return for tomorrow afternoon's game in Boston. . . . Danny Briere (groin) has started to skate on his own. . . . Stevens hasn't named tomorrow's goalie, though Marty Biron is expected to get the call. . . . Ryan Parent had an assist and played 19:08 in an impressive debut Wednesday. . . . Center Jared Ross, an emergency call-up on Wednesday, was sent back to the AHL Phantoms. . . . The Flyers' Feb. 15 game against the host New York Rangers has been moved to 12:30 p.m. because it will be telecast on NBC.