The worst start of Simon Gagne's 10-year career may be injury-related.

The Flyers' veteran left winger played just one shift in the third period of Sunday's 4-1 loss to San Jose and could miss tonight's game in Washington because of lower-body soreness.

Gagne had an ultrasound yesterday to try to find out whether his problem is related to the surgery to his right hip in the off-season, or connected to the groin injury he suffered in the summer and re-aggravated during Team Canada workouts.

The results of the test will not be made available until today, the Flyers said.

Gagne didn't score in his first seven games and has only one goal for the 5-3-1 Flyers.

Coach John Stevens used Gagne sparingly Sunday.

"He was having an issue and didn't feel he had the power to skate there; we didn't think he could play up to the level we need him to play, so we just held him back," Stevens said after yesterday's practice in Voorhees.

Gagne, who scored 34 goals last season, was held out of the practice and visited a doctor.

"I don't think he's 100 percent in terms of the way he's moving; he's a guy who relies on his quickness and his explosiveness, much like Danny Briere does," Stevens said. "They both dart the holes and move around. For Gags to be effective, he needs to be in there and using his quickness and winning puck races."

Added Stevens: "If he needs to get stronger, we'll make sure that happens" before he returns.

"We've hit a stumbling block and need to find out where we're at," general manager Paul Holmgren said.

Gagne has been playing recently on a line with Mike Richards and Arron Asham. At yesterday's practice, Richards centered Scott Hartnell and Mika Pyorala, and Asham was on a line with Claude Giroux and Dan Carcillo.

Struggling duo. Stevens downplayed the struggles of defensemen Braydon Coburn (minus-8) and Kimmo Timonen (minus-7), each of whom was minus-3 against San Jose.

"You don't go by the numbers," Stevens said. "I'm not sure you can fault either one of them. I think that was one of the better games for that pair."

"It hasn't been good," Timonen said of the duo's start. "I really think it's a combination of bad breaks and poor play."

Stevens said Sunday's minus-3 ratings were misleading. "Sometimes pucks find their way into the net when the coverage is in place," he said. "I would like to stay with that pair and see if they can get it going."

That said, Stevens hinted that Ryan Parent could play some with either Timonen or Coburn. Parent (groin), who spent a lot of time paired with Timonen last season, and center Blair Betts (dislocated right shoulder) are recovering from injuries and are hoping to play Saturday against Carolina.

Bonding with dads. The Flyers' dads spent yesterday with their sons at practice, ate lunch together, and then took a train with them to Washington for tonight's game. The fathers will visit the White House today and have dinner with their sons.

"It's a real good opportunity to share time with their dads, who have given up so much time over the years," Stevens said. "If you're going to play hockey, you need a huge commitment from your family to drive you around and travel to away games."

Matt Carle's father, Bob, came in from Anchorage, Alaska.

"They made sacrifices," said the younger Carle, who leads the Flyers with a plus-7 rating, "and it's nice for them to come down and see where it went to."