WHEN THE Wild come to town later this week, the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center staff will be taking extra precautions against the spread of germs after multiple Minnesota players were diagnosed with the mumps.

Although it's an illness most often associated with children, it's vicious for adults.

The illness recently has ravaged players from Minnesota, Anaheim and St. Louis. Wild defensemen Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin were the latest to fall ill last week, following Keith Ballard, who was the first player diagnosed.

Players from both Minnesota and St. Louis say they began to get sick when they visited Southern California for games against the Ducks and Kings in mid-October. That's shortly after the Ducks returned home from Philadelphia on Oct. 14.

Ducks winger Corey Perry spent 3 days in the hospital last week, his fever reportedly reaching 102 degrees, and was quarantined from the team for 8 days. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin is still suffering.

"You don't ever think that it can happen," Perry told the Orange County (Calif.) Register. "It was a tough couple of nights. The first night especially. The sweats. I was cold and then sweating like I played a hockey game again. At first, you think it's the flu. Once your jaw starts swelling up, you kind of figure out what's going on."

The Blues originally thought it was a bacterial issue. Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said NHL linesman Steve Miller missed a game last week with similar symptoms.

Anaheim finally started administering Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccines to players last Thursday. The Flyers disinfect their locker rooms daily. Coupling close contact with the sharing of water bottles and towels and the fact that players spit all over the ice, the mumps outbreak may be tough to halt.

"The mumps is in the saliva," Ducks team physician Craig Millhouse told the Register. "It's not going to be in the locker room or on a table or anything like that. It transfers from people to people."

Dump 'n' chase

* New Montreal power-play specialist Sergei Gonchar is good, but he's not that good. The Canadiens were 3-for-3 on Saturday on the power play, meaning the Flyers have allowed a goal on six of their last seven penalty-kill attempts.

It's tough to pinpoint exactly what's ailing coach Ian Laperriere's penalty kill, which dropped to 29th in the league. Steve Mason, who allowed three against Columbus on Friday, said the Blue Jackets "out-waited" the Flyers. Some goals were untimely rebounds, others were clear breakdowns.

What is clear: The Flyers have been less disciplined of late. They were shorthanded 24 times through their first nine games (2.67 per game) and have been short 28 occasions in their last seven.

* Classic case of chicken-or-the-egg: Is Claude Giroux the reason for Jake Voracek's torrid start, or is he simply a benefactor? Quietly, Giroux has 21 points in 16 games. Unlike Voracek, no one out there is saying Giroux can't finish the year at his current 107-point pace.

Peter Forsberg was the last Flyer to collect more points (31) than Voracek (26) through the first 16 games of the season, as he did in 2005-06.

Forsberg, now 41, will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight with Mike Modano, Rob Blake, Dominik Hasek, referee Bill McCreary and late coach Pat Burns.

Riddled with chronic foot pain, Forsberg finished 2005-06 - his only full season in town - with 75 points in 60 games. He totaled 115 points in 100 career games - one of only six players (Bobby Clarke, Eric Lindros, Brian Propp, Tim Kerr, Mark Recchi) in franchise history better than a point-per-gameperformance.

* The Flyers are 1-3-0 with Braydon Coburn in the lineup this season and 6-4-2 without him. He can't possibly be the problem, but there is something to be said for a more defense-conscientious team trying to pull the weight for a blue line decimated by injury.

* Expansion in the NHL is happening, it's just a matter of where and when.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune chatted with deputy commissioner Bill Daly on the topic last week, just hours after Daly returned from a tour of the new MGM arena in Las Vegas. The league recently has warmed up to discussing expansion more openly, probably in an attempt to create buzz, which could in turn drive up expansion fees.

Daly dined at the Wynn with a potential ownership group in Vegas. He gave two potentially interesting thoughts on a hockey team in Sin City:

"You can't depend on tourists to fill your building every night - even rich ones," Daly told the Star-Tribune. "It's a nighttime city, so [games] would have to be uniquely scheduled in terms of focusing maybe on industry nights as opposed to your typical Thursday-Saturday nights where everybody would be working."

Also: "As there tends to be in some warmer weather markets, I think there would be a significant home-ice advantage," Daily said, laughing. "The home players will know how to kind of deal with the distractions of Vegas and the visiting players, maybe not so much."

* Coincidentally, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke out against the legalization of sports gambling just days after NBA commish Adam Silver wrote an op-ed in the New York Times advocating for it.

"I think there needs some attention paid to what sport is going to represent to young people," Bettman told CNN. "Should it be viewed in the competitive, team-oriented sense that it is now, or does it become a vehicle for betting, which may in effect change the atmosphere in the stadiums and the arenas? Do you want people at football and basketball games rooting for the spread or rooting for their favorite team?"

Isn't that what football fans in Jacksonville, Oakland and Miami already do? The NFL's Red Zone channel wasn't just created for fantasy football.

Bettman's comments came days after the NHL partnered with fantasy sports site DraftKings, which is more or less a way of wagering on sports and outcomes daily for cash. If I ran the NHL, the clear fourth-place runner among the four major sports, I'd partner up with Silver and push. Nothing generates interest in a sport like gambling - just ask the NFL's accountants.