LUKE SCHENN laughed. Because, well, there was really nothing else he could do.

He was still in a state of disbelief after the Flyers' 6-4 loss to the Devils last night.

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The only New Jersey goal to which Schenn wasn't either victim or witness was the empty-netter that Mike Cammalleri scored to seal a disheartening home debut.

One deflected off his stick past goalie Steve Mason. On another, Mason's line of sight was cut off by Schenn in front.

"I'd say some were bad bounces," Schenn said. "I'd say some were things we've definitely got to clean up.

"I'd say the overall night: Just a bad day at the office."

Two games do not a season make for the Flyers. Hey, even Peter Laviolette still had a job at this point last year.

But the Flyers' most apparent fault through the first two sprints of this 82-game marathon is exactly what most feared it would be: a shoddy defense corps that is both too big and too slow to keep up in today's NHL.

With a career-worst minus-5 outing, Schenn was just the poster boy. His partner in crime, Michael Del Zotto, was right behind him as a minus-4. That was against a Devils team, albeit which is a bit stronger offensively, that finished 25th in the league in goals last year.

The kicker is that last night was just a preview of perhaps the next month to come, now that general manager Ron Hextall announced Braydon Coburn is expected to miss a substantial amount of time with an undisclosed injury.

"I've had games like this, where things just don't go your way, but to this extent . . . it's a tough one to swallow," Schenn said. "I don't even really know what to say. It's frustrating, but it comes to a certain point where there's not even really a point of getting mad. You just pick your head up and get back to the drawing board."

It is almost as if the bulk of last night's "expert" predictions on the Flyers' season played out on the ice over 60 seesawing minutes. The Flyers' offense, charged by Wayne Simmonds' three-point night and star Claude Giroux's kickstart, did its best to mask defensive deficiencies.

The Flyers trailed by three goals. Giroux struck on the power play, then Simmonds muscled his way to two goals in the final 57 seconds of the second period.

Even though the Flyers began the final frame seemingly with all of the momentum, New Jersey was able to gain the defensive zone with such ease that it didn't matter. The same had played out in Boston the night before, when the Bruins owned the final 10 minutes.

The Flyers are more loose at the blue line than Ed Snider's purse strings. They are seemingly so worried about being beaten in a footrace that they back up too much, allowing for such a big "gap" between themselves and the opposing attack, that it's easy to gain the zone.

"Zone entries are too easy," Schenn said. "That obviously starts with the defensemen. When you get that clean of zone entries, a lot of stuff can go bad. They get possession. They can look for [players trailing], like they did a couple times. It allows them to get some bodies to the net and make some plays, it's easy for us to lose guys in the defensive zone."

Mason certainly didn't help himself with a couple of the goals, which he admitted, but he's been given an awfully tall order.

Really, no player on the team is immune. Yes, the gaps by defensemen are too large, but the defensemen aren't receiving much help from the forwards in back-checking.

"[There's] more pressure for us to play defense," Giroux said. "I think the forwards, we have to play better defense. We have to protect our net better and play better in front of [Mason]. We have a lot of work to do, we know that."

For his part, coach Craig Berube seemed less concerned about his team's defensive play - saying, "two of their goals were flukes."

"In the third period, our 'D' got caught pinching a couple times," Berube said. "We actually had a forward back but we kept giving up odd-man rushes. Other than that, I thought the first two periods, I didn't see [gap breakdowns] at all."

Through two games, with the same record as last season, there is a different feel around the Flyers. It is not one of lifelessness, or going through the motions, which cost Laviolette his job. Rather, it is of one aware of the problem but seemingly without answer.

"Last year, we were getting completely outfoxed," Simmonds said. "This year, obviously we've had a couple slow starts. But throughout the game, we're working hard, we're battling back, we're doing some good things."

Just not enough to cover up the bad things.

Slap shots

Claude Giroux posted seven shots on goal after just one in Boston on Wednesday. He finished with a goal and an assist . . . New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr, 42, extended his NHL record to 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in his 21 career season-opening games, dating back to 1990 . . . The Flyers have lost three consecutive home openers at Wells Fargo Center for the first time in team history . . . Wednesday's Flyers loss was the most-watched season-opening game in the history of NBCSN, up 16 percent over last season's matchup between Chicago and Washington.

On Twitter: @frank_seravalli

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