MONTREAL - Looking back at his first nine games of the season, Kimmo Timonen can't remember a stretch as offensively fruitless in his entire 12-year NHL career.
Through that stretch, Timonen did not collect a single point - a rarity for a defenseman who has twice broken 50 points in a season.
As a whole, the Flyers' defense had struggled to pick up points. No defenseman scored in the Flyers' first 10 games; the Flyers and Los Angeles were the last two NHL teams to not have a goal from a defenseman.
It's amazing what a difference 3 weeks can make.
Timonen has 11 points in the Flyers' 11 games since Oct. 26.
"It's a funny game that way sometimes," Timonen said.
A big reason for the change has been the Flyers' power play, which started the season 3-for-35 in the first eight games. Since then, the power play has cruised at 33 percent efficiency, converting on 14 of 42 opportunities, before last night's dismal 0-for-6 effort.
"If the power play is working, usually a defenseman will get his points," Timonen said. "It wasn't working at the start of the season and now it's working pretty well. To be honest, I don't think we were playing bad, we just weren't getting any breaks.
"And when you aren't getting any breaks, you aren't getting any points. As a team, we've been playing more solid. It's a combination of a lot of things."
Going into last night, the power play has climbed from 25th in the NHL all the way up to eighth, one-tenth of a percentage point from seventh place place and last year's top power play in Washington.
More importantly, Timonen's defensive partners have also chipped in with points. The Flyers' defense added 169 points last season, the sixth-most in the NHL.
Through eight games, the Flyers' defense combined for eight assists and no goals. In the last 11 games, the defense has added 26 points.
"The confidence has really started to grow in our game," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was a little bit slow, the offensive numbers and the points, but I said it back then: If you have the experience and the knowledge that it works, which we do from last year, then if you keep pushing through and working at it, it will eventually come."
It has come in a big way. Before the Flyers' matchup with Buffalo back on Oct. 26, Flyers assistant coach Kevin McCarthy said his defense was "just as guilty" for the lack of scoring "as anybody."
Since then, without changing their philosophy at either end, the Flyers had not gone a single game (11 contests) without getting at least one point from a defenseman, before last night's shutout loss to Montreal.
This is still a team defense second in the NHL in goals-against and ninth in shots-against.
"It helps," said Matt Carle, who has four assists this season. "It's been fun to put up the numbers we have. You make sure, first, that you're still responsible in your own end. We've done that."
"If we can help any way we can to create scoring chances," Timonen said, "it's always a positive. The power play has been a huge part of our game. Hopefully we can keep it up."
Laviolette said he never lost confidence in his defense. It was just a matter of time.
"If you were asking me if they were going to score," Laviolette said, "my answer would have been yes. They are going to score plenty of points for us this year."
Solemn day off
The Flyers will not practice today in Voorhees, despite returning from Montreal early this morning. A group from the organization, including Paul Holmgren, Brian Boucher, player development coach Derian Hatcher and team president Peter Luukko, will fly to Ottawa to pay their respects to former Flyer Luke Richardson, who lost his teenaged daughter, Daron, over the weekend.