CHICAGO _ This is NOT how the Flyers' envisioned starting their 12-day, six-city road trip last night.
They dropped a 5-1 decision to the streaking Chicago Blackhawks and, in the process, suffered injuries to two key players _ defenseman Kimmo Timonen and winger Scoitt Hartnell.
Timonen, the Flyers' top defeneman and a strong candidate for an all-star spot on the Eastern Conference team, suffered a chipped fracture of his right ankle and will miss at least a week, accordng to general manager Paul Holmgren.
Hartnell, argaubly the Flyers' best player in the last month, broke a big toe and is doubtful for tonight's game in Columbus against Ken Hitchcock's Blue Jackets.
Both were injured blocking shots.
It looked like a shooting gallery in the Flyers' end; the Flyers were outshot, 38-18, and they managed just one shot in the second period.
Still, the Flyers faced just a 2-1 deficit before allowing two 5-on-3 goals early in the final period.
The Flyers will try to regroup tonight. Andrew Alberts, a healthy scratch last night, is expected to replace Timonen in the lineup.
The Flyers had problems getting in and out of Chicago. Upon their arrival, their flight was diverted from one airport to another and they nearly ran out of fuel as their plane hovered for aboyt 1 1/2 hours. As a result, they missed yesterday's morning skate.
And they were fogged in last night and forced to stay in Chicago, which may cause them to miss today's morning skate in Columbus.
As I said, not a good way to start the trip. Bad omens were everywhere.
_ Sam Carchidi