Goalie Ray Emery is imploding, the offense has virtually vanished, and the team is playing with alarming indifference.

Welcome to the crossroads of the Flyers' 2009-10 season.

"There's a long way to go in all three zones . . . and a lot of work" that's needed, said new coach Peter Laviolette after the Flyers, looking as if they were still in shock because of the John Stevens firing, were embarrassed by powerful Washington, 8-2, on Saturday.

It was Laviolette's Flyers debut.

The Flyers (13-12-1) have lost seven of their last eight and tumbled into last place in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers visit Montreal tonight.

Yesterday, winger Dan Carcillo was suspended by the NHL for four games for penalties and punches he received and delivered in the Capitals loss. They amounted to 29 minutes in penalties and a nine-minute power play that helped the Capitals score three goals. The suspension will cost Carcillo $44,000 in lost salary.

But perhaps the most worrisome development for the Flyers is the collapse of Emery, who appears to be battling an undisclosed injury.

After an outstanding first six weeks, Emery has crashed. He has a 5.36 goals-against average and .814 save percentage in his last five starts. Brian Boucher replaced Emery in two games.

Emery was in the trainer's room receiving treatment after getting shelled for five goals in a little over 31 minutes against Washington. When he came out and faced reporters, Emery was surly and barely responsive.

He used 34 words to answer five questions.

None of them explained his recent problems.

Asked if he was healthy, Emery said, "Good enough to play the game."

Asked if he had some sort of nagging injury, Emery glared at a reporter and did not respond.

After yesterday's practice in Voorhees, where the Flyers are being indoctrinated into their new coach's fast-paced system, Laviolette said he was undecided on which goalie he will use tonight in Montreal.

One of the best things that came out of Saturday's loss was that it might be remembered as the night Mike Richards embraced his captaincy.

Usually quiet and reserved, Richards took control in the locker room after the game. He had a sit-down with Carcillo and told him he had to play with more discipline.

"All I can do is hold people accountable here, and I don't think it's going to be a problem anymore," Richards said of the foolish Carcillo penalties.

The Flyers have lost four straight, during which they have scored a total of four goals and gone 0 for 15 on the power play.

"I think it's going to get better," Richards said. "I think we're at a dead end right now, and I'm ready to lead the team forward."

Carcillo suspended. Carcillo's suspension was not shocking.

"Decisions come down from the league. Do I agree with them all? No. I certainly do not agree with this one," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We do not have a lot of recourse in this situation. Dan will serve his suspension and we will move on."

In the first period, Carcillo appeared to get hit by Matt Bradley's high stick near the sideboards. Carcillo retaliated with a cross-check and dropped his gloves. Just as Bradley threw off his right glove as if he wanted to fight, Carcillo decked the Caps' right winger with a right to his face.

Carcillo was penalized two minutes for cross-checking, two minutes for instigation, five minutes for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

Bradley got zero minutes.

When he coached in Carolina, Laviolette had a strict no-fighting policy.

"Well, one, it was the playoffs, and two, we didn't have a fighter," Laviolette said. "The makeup of Carolina is completely different from the makeup of Philadelphia. I'm OK with Danny's fight."

But he wasn't OK with the other stuff that went with it.