There was a time earlier this season when it seemed as if the Flyers and the rest of the Atlantic Division caught a break. Martin Brodeur went out with a biceps tear and was going to be sidelined for most of the season.

Few people believed the New Jersey Devils would be the team they are without their goalie. But they were, and when Brodeur came back, he came back rested and dangerous, lost twice in his first 11 games, broke Patrick Roy's record for the most career wins by a goalie, and now has his sights set on Terry Sawchuk's record of 103 shutouts. He has 553 victories overall, including 101 shutouts.

It's not a good thing for any team in the Eastern Conference with the hopes of getting to the Stanley Cup finals.

"I thought that the way the [Devils] were playing and having success without him, sometimes when you're coming from an injury, you think that the team is playing so well, the team doesn't really need you," said Flyers left winger Simon Gagne, who has played against Brodeur his entire NHL career, but also with him on the Canadian Olympic team.

Gagne scored a goal against Brodeur in the Flyers' 4-2 victory last night.

"But it's Marty Brodeur, and he's won Stanley Cups for them," Gagne continued. "He's the reason why they have won championships in the last 10 years. He came back so strong, and the way he's played lately and having the record for having the most wins for a goaltender is pretty impressive.

"From an injury standpoint, it's hard to come back and find your game and all that. But he's almost played better than he did before, so it's almost scary.

"I've had a chance to play against Marty for the last 10 years, and we all know the Flyers face Jersey almost eight times a year, and you see a lot of what he can do, and that's why I would put Marty as maybe the best goalie in the world right now, or ever."

Stevens likes adjustments

John Stevens likes the way his revamped lines have worked the past two games and he was sticking with the change, at least for last night's game.

But Stevens indicated that his lineup could change again.

"I still think we've got some work to do," the Flyers' coach said. "Initially, we've liked it, obviously, because we've won a couple of games, it's given us some scoring, some balance up and down the lineup. It may change from game to game, but we're going to stay with it for [last night]."

Stevens didn't specify what kind of changes he would make, but said he thought he had Claude Giroux in a high-pressure situation.

"We're asking a lot of Giroux right now. He's a young kid playing center ice in pretty key situations," Stevens said.

"All signs are positive there. We've been able to work our guys into power plays and get the combinations we want. We're still trying to get Danny [Briere] back to where we want him and I think we're getting there."

Briere missed 53 games with groin and abdominal problems.

"And we have [Darrell] Powe and [Arron] Asham that can move up and down the lineup," Stevens said. "The last couple of games, it's worked well, but we still need to give it some time." *