LUKE SCHENN was curious.
During the first intermission on Tuesday night, he asked his brother Brayden whether he managed to get a stick on Luke's point shot from the first minute of the game that found its way through Kari Lehtonen.
Brayden was given credit for the goal. Coach Craig Berube even praised him postgame for tipping the puck.
Luke wasn't sure. Brayden barely celebrated, later confirming to his brother that he never touched it. Rather than petition the official scorers to change the goal back to him, as some hungry goal scorers are wont to do, Luke didn't say a word.
"I figured Brayden needed it more than I did," Luke explained. "It would have been cooler to be a Schenn-to-Schenn goal, anyway."
If not for a keen eye in the video replay booth during the first intermission, which changed the goal to Luke, younger brother Brayden would've been one step closer to the 20-goal plateau.
Especially with a scoring sequence that began thanks to a picturesque shot-fake, knowingly allowing your goal to be given to a teammate isn't exactly something you'd expect from a player who you might think would do anything to get back into the coaching staff's good graces. Luke Schenn was a healthy scratch for four straight games in the last week of February.
That anecdote might also perfectly encapsulate his personality: exuding a confidence in himself and his game that has allowed him to withstand 14 nights in a press box this season and still keep pushing.
With eight healthy defensemen on the roster, nights in the lineup for some players were more of a mental minefield than watching from the perch. Andrew MacDonald was baffled. Michael Del Zotto was flummoxed. Vinny Lecavalier, who will earn more than any other player in NHL history, is still struggling.
Head games are the reason Braydon Coburn is in Tampa Bay. Barry Ashbee Trophy winner Andrej Meszaros never got over the mental hurdle of his injury-prone body.
Few players have handled these tough times better than Luke Schenn.
"My confidence hasn't been an issue all year," Schenn said. "I've felt pretty good. The odd game, you're going to get scored on, you're not going to get bounces, you're not going to be as good as you need to. But sometimes, when you're dealing with numbers, a lot of good players are going to be sitting out."
Few players, particularly high No. 1 picks who soured in town, leave the fishbowl that is Toronto without scars. Schenn's experience there is what he believes has made the difference now.
"My confidence wavered a lot more being a young guy in the Toronto market," Schenn said. "It makes you a little stronger playing in that market. When you make a bad play, it's going to be scrutinized in the paper for a few days leading into the next game. There was a time there, too, where I was out of the lineup a couple times for play reasons, but it was actually my confidence more than my play.
"This just comes with years in the league and growing up, not letting anything rattle you too much."
Other than maybe Del Zotto, who has been heaped with praise of late, Schenn might be the Flyers' most unheralded defender this season. Besides Del Zotto, Schenn is the only Flyers defenseman for whom the generates with him on the ice than off it.
The Flyers have 789 shot attempts for with him on the ice; 783 shot attempts against with him on the ice. Not even Del Zotto (881-885) has that number in the black, aided by his offensive prowess.
Schenn is also on a nice little run offensively, with two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 22 games.
The most apparent difference - at least since Coburn's trade - is Berube's willingness to play Schenn against top lines. Last week vs. St. Louis, Schenn spent 45.5 percent of his ice time against the Blues' top line of Alex Steen, T.J. Oshie and David Backes.
"It's nice to play against other team's top lines a little more, getting more confidence from the coaches," Schenn said. "They let you go out and play, rather than seeing who [the opponent] throws out there and rushing you off the ice. I feel like I'm getting more opportunity that way."
Particularly around the trade deadline, there were a few trying days. More than a handful of teams were interested in him, possibly separating him from his brother. It's a business, but he'd already been traded once - getting swapped for James van Riemsdyk in a deal that unfairly sealed his fate for a lot of fans in town.
"You figured a move would come, but you didn't know who it would be," Schenn said. "I'm just kind of at that point and approach that everything eventually works itself out. At the end of the day, you just want to play and be in a good situation, getting opportunity."
He has that now. He is still young. At 25, he is 7 months older than current call-up Brandon Manning, who is consistently referred to as "young" and a "prospect." Yet, he is scrutinized more than most, likely because of whom the Flyers traded to get him. That's fine with him.
"You definitely learn as you go," Schenn said. "When you start at 18, it goes by really fast. I feel very fortunate to have 7 years [in] already. I think young guys get the benefit of the doubt when they make a mistake. But I know I'm expected to do a job out there and be a veteran presence."
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto ("upper-body" injury) skated for about 15 minutes in yesterday's optional practice, but is not expected to be ready for today's game against Detroit. His status for tomorrow night in Ottawa is unknown . . . Steve Mason has more shutouts on the road this season (two) than he does road wins (1-10-6). That win was from neither of those shutouts (both shootout losses) but rather Dec. 6 in Los Angeles, where the defending champion Kings have lost only seven times in 35 dates . . . Including this season's 4-2 win on Oct. 25, the Flyers have not lost to Detroit at home (9-0-0) since the 1997 Stanley Cup final.