The day after the Flyers clinched a playoff spot, it was quiet at the practice facility.

All but a handful of players took the day off and came in only to get ready to travel to New York and begin the last few days of the regular season - three games that will put them up against the Rangers tonight and Islanders Saturday in New York before closing at home on Sunday against the Rangers.

The Flyers' goal will be to hold onto home ice, but who they face in the opening round will be decided more by the teams under them. It's unlikely that the Flyers would lose their next three games while both Carolina and Pittsburgh win their final two.

Under that circumstance, the Flyers could fall to sixth and face New Jersey in the first round.

But it is looking more likely that they will finish either fourth or fifth and play Carolina, one of the hottest teams in the league through the stretch run.

Carolina has won its last nine games and lost only three times in March. As the Flyers were defeating Florida Tuesday night, 2-1, the Hurricanes were demolishing the Islanders, 9-0.

"I watched the highlights today," coach John Stevens said. "I had to get a coffee and get comfortable. There were a lot of goals going in there.

"That game [Tuesday] night, I don't think you can take a whole lot from that game. I saw the first three goals go in and they weren't very good goals. They were all weak. After that, they scored some nice goals. But when a team gets down on the road like that, I don't know."

Looking toward a possible first round against Carolina, Stevens said he would not take the last 10 games into account too much.

"We matched up pretty well with them most of the year," he said. "They're a bit of a different team now, but I don't think it matters who you play in the first round. It's going to be a tough opponent and will present different challenges.

"Last year we played Washington. They won seven in a row and were the hottest team in the league going into the playoffs. Then we played Montreal and we hadn't beaten them all year. It's important that we continue to get better and play better and then take the opponent that comes."

Parent better

Defenseman Ryan Parent said he felt better yesterday after suffering a slight groin pull Tuesday night, and will skate this morning in New York.

It is unlikely that he will be ready to play tonight at Madison Square Garden but he is a possibility for Saturday on Long Island. "I feel a lot better," Parent said. "I just did some rehab, a little work [yesterday] and we'll see how it feels [today]. It depends how I feel. If I feel good, I'm sure I'll play. That's what I'm hoping for. That's up to our training staff to see how I feel, but if I'm feeling good, I'm going to want to be playing."

Sbisa back soon?

Luca Sbisa's junior team, the Lethbridge (Alberta) Hurricanes, is on the brink of playoff elimination and the rookie defenseman could be back in Philadelphia before the weekend.

General manager Paul Holmgren said the plan is to bring Sbisa back when he is done and have him play with the Phantoms. He cannot play for the Flyers in the regular season because of salary-cap limitations, Holmgren said.

"Once the playoffs start there is no cap," Holmgren said.

"He would probably come back and play right away for the Phantoms if [his junior team] were to get eliminated, initially. There is a little bit of a difference in speed between juniors and the American League and the NHL, so it would take a little time, but a couple of practices and I think he would catch back up." *