UNDER THE television and near where the Flyers' resident DJ selects tunes to be blared in the dressing room, there is a conspicuous sign posted to the right of the smart board where Craig Berube draws up plays.
It reads: "No one is bigger than the team. If you can't do things our way, you won't get time here. AND WE DON'T CARE WHO YOU ARE."
In a seemingly lost season, even after the Flyers won their third game in a row last night, few players have embodied that "team" mentality more than Brayden Schenn. His talent was on display again against Winnipeg, collecting the insurance goal in a 5-2 triumph over the visiting Jets.
Schenn's snipe from the slot over Michael Hutchinson's right shoulder was just his second goal in 23 games - since Dec. 11. That maddening stat is exactly why Schenn remains one of the biggest whipping boys in town.
"You look at one thing: goals. I don't," coach Craig Berube said. "I don't just look at stats, you guys [the media] do. So, you can write what you want. I talked to Brayden about his game and he knows where he's at. I think he's played well. He does a lot of good things out of there."
Yet again, the Flyers (21-22-7) are flirting with playoff talk, no matter how unrealistic the mountain might seem to climb. They've now cut the deficit to nine points. Untold is the fact that two teams they're chasing - the Panthers (five) and Rangers (four) - have a significant number of games in-hand.
Whether the Flyers are playing out the string next month or playing for more, Schenn remains a most curious case of keep or dump. Should Ron Hextall build around him or build because of him? Packaging Brayden with older brother, Luke, would probably net a significant enough return to jump-start the Flyers' necessary rebuild.
When you take a deeper look at the stats Berube so loathes - and consider Schenn's season and his career - the answer seems somewhat clear.
Schenn, 23, is now tied with Wayne Simmons in points this season with 31. He is on pace for a career-high 51 points.
Last season, there were 79 players in the NHL to net more than 51 points. Only 17 of them were 23 or younger. As sore a subject as he may be, supposed superstar-in-waiting James van Riemsdyk has only once ever broken 51 points (last year). He wasn't one of those players in that 23-and-under category; he was already 24.
"You can see his development, you can just tell he's getting better and better as every game goes along," Simmonds said last night. "He's working hard on different things. He's one of the first guys on the ice and one of the last guys off the ice. You can see it really happening for him."
Few players have been jerked around the lineup more than Schenn, something Berube readily acknowledges.
On Opening Night, Schenn lined up to the left of Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, where he now finds himself. He lasted five (!) periods there. He's played center, he's played left wing. It's almost as if that sign in the locker room was posted for him. Rather than putting Schenn at his natural second line center position and not moving him for any reason, it's almost if the Flyers are saying: "We don't care that you were a highly touted first-round pick. Deal with it." He has.
Even Schenn himself feels better about where he's been, despite the slumps and sprees and his use as an elevator in Berube's master plan.
"I've had stretches in my career where when the goals aren't going in, the confidence just dips," Schenn said, his finger zooming downward. "But I don't feel that at all right now. I feel like I'm making plays with Claude and Jake right now. They're so good with the puck that you've got to create your own room and work with them. In 82 games, you're going to have some ups and downs. You've just got to keep pushing through it."
Schenn is magically approaching the 300-game mark where NHL teams begin to pass judgment. He will have played 274 at the end of this season. It's sometimes hard to remember that this is only his second full season, with one nuked because of a concussion and broken foot and another tanked by Gary Bettman and a lockout.
Then, there are nights like last night when you start to wonder whether patience is in order. The shift after scoring a big goal, he went after behemoth Dustin Byfuglien.
"I hit my nose straight on the ice," Schenn said, still a little bloodied. "I always feel like when I'm physical, I tend to be at my best. He hit me hard in Winnipeg. I took a run at him tonight and I ended up 0-2. So, I think maybe I should learn my lesson."
Nick Schultz's second-period goal was his first as a Flyer and his first in 125 games and 661 days (April 8, 2013) . . . Strangely, Petr Straka (first NHL point) and Ryan White picked up the assists on Schultz's goal, their first points as Flyers . . . In case you were hopeful the Flyers' 28th-ranked penalty kill was turning the corner, they allowed a power-play goal in the first period after killing off seven straight. They did hold strong in the third period . . . Chris VandeVelde now has four goals in his last five games.