EVERYONE HAS their burden, and the Flyers' burden is October. The memory is fresh enough - of a fired coach and an epic drought - that it continues to cloud the perception of this team, here and everywhere. They are thought to be a team with middling talent, at best, and a team that will struggle to score goals.

The NHL Eastern Conference standings since Nov. 1 create a different perception, though.

Since Nov. 1:

TeamPts. GF

Penguins. . . 52 115

Flyers. . . 46 105

Bruins. . . 44 97

Lightning. . . 44 96

Capitals. . . 42 106

Rangers. . . 41 99

Canadiens. . . 41 81

Senators. . . 40 99

Devils. . . 40 86

The number of games played are within one or two of each other, but they are not all equal - but they also weren't equal when the Flyers started out at 3-8-0, were 15th out of 16 teams in the conference, and scored only 20 goals in their first 11 games. That is when the perception was built - and if it was accurate in that snapshot, the period since Nov. 1 is 2 1/2 times as long. It would seem to be time for a reassessment.

"When we're playing our game and we've got everybody rolling, we're a pretty good hockey team," coach Craig Berube said, after a couple of players skated and the team held a meeting on its off day after Tuesday's come-from-behind win at Buffalo . . .

"But go to the Buffalo game [Tuesday] night, in the first period, you wouldn't have said that," he said. "I mean, we weren't very good. You've got to have everybody going all the time and you've got to be mentally ready to go all the time. Every game is tough. I think when we're clicking and everybody's going, we're a pretty good hockey team."

The Flyers are doing this come-from-behind thing often enough that Brayden Schenn said yesterday that some Flyers have joked among themselves about being the "Comeback Kids." They have already come back from a third-period deficit eight times this season, one short of the club record. Teammate Matt Read said it is a learned skill, just like any other in the game.

"Once you do it once, you have that confidence," Read said. "I think that's something that we lacked a little bit last year and the beginning of this year, that when we were down a goal in the third period, we didn't know how to come back. Good teams know how to win games when they're down in the third period."

Confidence is one thing. Balanced scoring is another. The concept is simple enough: that when you are bailing, the more buckets, the better. The Flyers now have seven 10-goal scorers, tied for the most in the NHL. Against Buffalo, Schenn (12 goals this season), Scott Hartnell (11 goals) and Vinny Lecavalier (10 goals) all scored in the third period.

"It's very important to have balanced scoring, I think," Berube said. "When you start relying on one or two guys, it puts a lot of pressure on them and it puts a lot of pressure on a team. It's nice to have a bunch of guys who can contribute, and that's what we expect. I say it all the time: We expect two-way hockey players that play 200 feet."

When you develop the kind of balance the Flyers are developing, the inevitable injuries don't seem to slow down things unduly. Read was out with a concussion, and now he's back. Now Hartnell might or might not have an ankle thing.

"We'll see tomorrow - I think he's OK," Berube said. "We'll make a better decision after tomorrow's skate."

This season is a long way from over, obviously - and everybody knows that the real stories in this sport are written in the springtime. The Eastern Conference is a bunch behind Pittsburgh, and there are three other teams in the Western Conference (Chicago, Anaheim and St. Louis) that also have been hotter than the Flyers since Nov. 1.

Another thing: The Flyers need to be a better defensive team, with the emphasis on the team more than just the defense. There will be no getting around that in the later stages of the season, or in the playoffs - just as there will be many fewer third-period comebacks taking place, regardless of the Flyers' confidence or their balance.

Berube has it right: The Flyers are pretty good when they get it going. The next step will be finding a way to take more leads into the third period.

Blog: philly.com/DNL