New coach Peter Laviolette thinks the fading Flyers, whom captain Mike Richards said were "not playing with enough heart," should not shake up their roster with a trade.

But the real question is, Does general manager Paul Holmgren, the architect of this 15-16-1 team, agree?

"I'd like to evaluate things under the new coach for a while and see how things go with the guys coming back," Holmgren said, referring to the injured Blair Betts, Simon Gagne, and Darroll Powe.

Betts, who dislocated a shoulder, is scheduled to return tonight against visiting Pittsburgh. Gagne, who has had hernia and abdominal surgery, may return tonight or Saturday, and Powe, who had a shoulder strain, is close to coming back.

The NHL has a holiday roster freeze that starts at midnight Saturday and ends at midnight Dec. 27. After that, teams can trade until the March 3 deadline.

Holmgren said last night that he didn't think anything would happen before Saturday, "but you never know."

Laviolette said yesterday that he didn't think a trade was necessary, gave a long list of areas that needed improving, and acknowledged that the players could be more unified.

"I think we need to play with some consistency," he said. "We played a gutsy game in Boston, and then we came back and didn't play to the level" of the host Pittsburgh Penguins in a 6-1 defeat on Tuesday.

The loss came the night after a 3-1 win in Boston.

"We were reacting to their game, and it's difficult to win when that happens - whether it was physical play, whether it was offense or defense or loose pucks," Laviolette said of the defeat.

"We get them again," he said. "That's a good thing - back in our building, and we'll see how we respond."

Tonight's rematch comes two nights after Richards questioned his team's desire.

Laviolette said Richards' comments were "disturbing because of the game we played," but were "refreshing because there was some honesty."

"I would say Richie is on with what he said," Laviolette said. "We didn't wear it on our sleeve. Their top players played a great game. We let them play a great game.

"There's got to be more attitude in what we do. It's in here. We showed some of the attitude, some of that character, in Boston."

"We got on a plane, traveled to Pittsburgh, caught the Penguins fresh and ready to play," Laviolette said. "I want to see how we do" tonight.

The Flyers, losers of 11 of their last 14 games, are 2-5 under Laviolette, who was hired on Dec. 4 and is still evaluating the players he inherited. He was asked if he thought the Flyers were close-knit.

"I think there can be a tighter group," he said. "There's room for improvement in everything - that being one of them."

Being disciplined off the ice, Laviolette said, is important to the team's makeup.

"You can't burn it at both ends and win a Stanley Cup," he said.

Laviolette, who said he might rearrange the players' locker locations "in time," said that he was learning more about his team each day, but that "I think everything can be better. All aspects of the game can be better.

"I think we can be quicker on the ice. I think we can be in better condition."

Whether that translates into a deal or two will be Holmgren's decision.

"I still think we're a good team," Holmgren said, "but we're not playing like one."

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.