EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - The Flyers start a four-game Western swing in Los Angeles tonight and continue the most grueling part of their odd early-season schedule.

How odd?

Well, they played one game in an 11-day stretch, and they have had at least three or four days between games in five straight weeks.

It all changes this week.

Tonight, the Flyers (11-5-1) face Terry Murray's improved Los Angeles Kings (13-7-2), the first of four games in six nights. They are in the middle of a stretch in which they play 10 games over a 17-night span.

The Flyers, who have won six of their last seven, aren't complaining. Indeed, they prefer playing games in bunches and feel their depth - they are getting production from all four lines - will get them through the difficult period.

"When you're playing well and winning games, you want to continue to keep things rolling and keep the games coming," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "It allows you to get into a rhythm.

"We won't have those stretches off now, other than the Olympic break [in February], so we'll play a normal schedule now, whether it's three days a week or four games a week."

After playing the Kings tonight, the Flyers will face Western Conference opponents San Jose, Phoenix and Colorado before meeting the host New York Islanders as they conclude their trip next Wednesday. They will play five games in an eight-day span.

"I think it's a good thing," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "Everyone would rather play games than practice. It's kind of a tough stretch, but I think we are ready for it. There have been a lot of breaks in the schedule, and they're actually tough."

"When you play a lot of games, you get more comfortable out there," center Claude Giroux said.

Ian Laperriere, who blocked six shots in Monday's 3-2 win over New Jersey and has combined with Blair Betts to form an outstanding penalty-killing duo, simplified things.

"We love to play; we don't love to practice," he said.

Added Laperriere: "Practice is important, but at one point it felt like training camp again for a couple of weeks. You play a couple of games and then have four or five days off. Now we're getting into the thick of things and that's a good thing. You look at the standings and there are teams that have played a lot more games than us."

The Flyers have played two fewer games than the Devils and four fewer than the Penguins. Those two teams share the Atlantic Division lead with 28 points - five ahead of the Flyers

Darroll Powe said the long road trip "doesn't really matter to me. I prepare the same way. We have four lines this year, and it's easier when you have four lines going to get through these tough stretches."

The early-season days off helped the team get in better shape for the difficult times ahead, coach John Stevens said.

"You have to take what the schedule gives you," he said. "We've tried to use the stretched-out schedule in the beginning to work on our team game and get our conditioning up, and, hopefully, now you have to manage your rest when you have this many games. You have to make sure the guys aren't getting rundown and fatigued, and at the same time, give them enough time to get practice in and stay sharp."

Breakaways. Right winger David Laliberte took a 3:45 a.m. flight from Albany, N.Y., yesterday and rejoined the Flyers. Laliberte, promoted from the Phantoms to replace the injured Arron Asham, said he didn't get much sleep on the long flight because he sat between two chatty elderly ladies. "I'm going to sleep good tonight," he said. Laliberte will be on a line with Giroux and Powe. . . . The Kings have been led by center Anze Kopitar, who went into last night as the league's top scorer (32 points) and the coleader in goals (14). . . . Former Flyer Randy Jones has two goals and two assists in four games with the Kings. . . . Mike Richards was given a break and didn't skate at yesterday's practice here. . . . Stevens said Brian Boucher will start at least one game on the trip. Best guess: Saturday's game in Phoenix, which will be played the night after the Flyers face San Jose.