The Flyers have already learned, painfully, that the biggest factor in the NHL's shortened season is a team's depth.

Make that quality depth.

You don't have to be Scotty Bowman to realize that injuries will play a much larger role when teams play only 48 games.

Already, this sprint of a season has turned into a crawl for the Flyers.

They went into the weekend with four key players injured: Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Andrej Meszaros, and Zac Rinaldo. (Briere returned Saturday night against Florida.) In addition, promising defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon - players who might have roster spots if healthy - have been battling injuries suffered while playing for the AHL Phantoms during the lockout. Gustafsson returned to Adirondack's lineup Friday.