Flyers' effort unacceptable

   TORONTO _ The Flyers' season is at a crossroad.

   Either they regroup, take some momentum into the playoffs and make a strong Stanley Cup challenge.

    Or they continue their lackluster play, finish with a poor seeding and bow out in the first round of the playoffs.

    This is a team that has been very good for most of the season. Not great, but very good. After starting the season with six straight losses (0-3-3), the Flyers became one of the NHL's better teams.

    Until recently.

    On Wednesday night, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs and missed a chance to move closer to the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils, who dropped their sixth straight.

    It was the Flyers' third loss in their last four games, and it left them tied for the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed with Pittsburgh. The Flyers have six games left _ one more than the Penguins.

     Don't look now, but the Flyers (92 points) are closer to ninth-seeded Florida (87) than to third-seeded New Jersey (98 ) in the East.

     Inexplicably, the Flyers looked listless for 2 1/2 periods Wednesday. Against a Toronto team that has already been knocked out of the playoff picture and was forced to use a way-past-his-prime goalie (Curtis Joseph).

    Defenseman Kimmo Timonen called the effort unacceptable. He won't get an argument from here.

    It wasn't until the final 10 minutes of the game that the Flyers showed any urgency. And this from a team that all week was saying it wanted to finish strongly, like last year, and carry the momentum into the playoffs. 

    The Flyers plan to have a team meeting Thursday, but talk is cheap. The proof is on the ice. We'll see how they respond when they host Toronto on Friday.

   Notes. Marty Biron, who allowed three goals on 28 shots, was not happy to get pulled late in the second period with the Flyers trailing, 3-1.....The Flyers had 24 hits _ 15 more than the Leafs. Braydon Coburn had a game-high four hits......The Leafs blocked 19 shots _ 10 more than the Flyers.....Ryan Parent, Danny Briere and Timonen were each a minus-2.....Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist.....Jeff Carter had a game-high seven shots on goal but did not score.