Let the (second-half) games begin

Six Flyers have scored 15 or more goals this season, but the first line of Simon Gagne (left), Mike Knuble (right) and Mike Richards has struggled lately. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

   SUNRISE, Fla. _ As the Flyers begin the unofficial second-half of the season tonight against Florida, here are a few observations, free of charge::

   1. The power play needs to start being productive on the road.

    The Flyers are having spectacular power-play success at home (35.1 percent, best in the NHL), but are a dreadful 15.6 percent on the road.

   2. If the Flyers aren't going to play him, it's time to send defenseman Luca Sbisa to juniors

   Personally, I think Sbisa is one of the Flyers' top-six defensemen and should be playing. But he has been a healthy scratch in the last four games (and in eight of the last 14 games) and that's not good for the development of a soon-to-be-19-year-old player. The all-star break seemed like a perfect time to send him back to Lethbridge _ in fact, a Quebec newspaper reported, incorrectly, that he WAS sent back. (Did I score a goal?" Sbissa quipped.) It'll be interesting to see if Sbisa dresses tonight.

  3. Don't sign Peter Forsberg. Too much baggage. Too much of a distraction. Too many injuries. 

    If Danny Briere is back in four weeks (I know. I know. Considering Briere's injury problems this year, that's a very big "if.") the Flyers will have enough firepower for the playoffs.

   4. The Flyers need to shoot for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed, which might be accomplished by winning the Atlantic Division, and a favorable first-round playoff matchup. (But if Pittsburgh finished seventh, it wouldn't be a picnic.) Last year, the Flyers lost 10 straight shortly after the all-star break and had to huff and puff just to make the playoffs. They need to use this year's second half to improve their seeding position so they don't have such a difficult first-round matchup _ theoretically, at least.

_ Sam Carchidi