Most of the Flyers took a day off from the ice yesterday trying to recover from what has been an agonizing stretch.

A 2-0 loss to Ottawa on Thursday night marked just the second time since 1968 that the Flyers have been shut out in three out of six games. Worse yet for them, they've lost nine of their last 11 games.

After a fast start, the 14-14-1 Flyers now sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and face the division-leading New Jersey Devils (21-8-1) on the road tonight.

The Flyers could be facing Martin Brodeur as he goes for the NHL record of 104 career shutouts.

He is tied with Hall of Fame goaltender Terry Sawchuk with 103 shutouts.

Instead of ice time, head coach Peter Laviolette's first team participated in a light workout off the ice yesterday.

"I think it helps their body as well as their mind," Laviolette said. "We had a couple of practices mixed in along with four games, so that's six hard days in a row and we have a schedule coming up that doesn't let up for anyone."

After playing in New Jersey tonight, the Flyers travel to Boston and Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday next week. Then it's back home on Thursday (Penguins) and Saturday (Rangers).

The Flyers have been playing without goaltender Ray Emery and forward Simon Gagne, who both underwent abdominal surgery. Emery had his procedure Wednesday and is expected to miss six weeks.

Gagne, who had his surgery on Nov. 2 and participated in drills yesterday, said he will meet with doctors Wednesday to see when he can return to help the struggling Flyers offense.

"When the doctor is telling you six to eight weeks, there's a reason why you can't play before that," he said. "From surgery, there's scar tissue that needs to get nice and loose again and I'm going through that right now and, hopefully, by next week it's going to be ready to go."

The forward said he has been testing his injured groin during practice in order to be game-ready.

Prior to surgery, Gagne recorded one goal and four assists and his return may help a team suffering one of its worst offensive slumps in franchise history.

"We've generated zone time and we've done some things in the offensive zone but the biggest emphasis, I guess, is that there's got to be an attack at the net," Laviolette said. "There's got to be that point where you're a little bit selfish and you want to shoot the puck and you want to score a goal when you have that lane and you have that opportunity."

While Laviolette said the defense has been playing solidly lately, the Flyers are playing with backup goalie Brian Boucher because of Emery's surgery. Boucher allowed just one goal in Thursday's game against Ottawa (the other was scored on an empty net).

The absence of Emery has created trade rumors and 16 scouts were at Thursday's game. Gagne, who had a similar surgery, said the goalie may recover more quickly than expected, however.

"Those guys are already flexible, so it might be an advantage for them," Gagne said of the veteran goalie. "It's all about what you're doing for rehab."

Laviolette inherited an injury-plagued team and the Flyers have continued to struggle, going 1-3 since Laviolette succeeded John Stevens on Dec. 4.

"Teams fumble around a little in the beginning and then they kind of launch off," Laviolette said. "That's the way it's been in the past, anyway. The tricky part is we don't have the luxury of time on our side and the position in the standings where we can afford to say 'You did some good things out there. It will come.' We need to win hockey games and we completely failed at the mission."