After the clock struck zero against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. The Flyers looked deflated, brief with their post game answers in the locker room, and feelings of, “I have to play better,” were echoed throughout the locker room. With a record of 4-5 on the young season, this just isn’t good enough. It’s not good enough in the top brass’ eyes, media, and fans alike.
How do the Flyers jump-start their season? Well, get back to the basics. Back to school it is for the Penalty Kill and Power Play. The orange and black have too much talent on their roster to have a dreadful special teams. Simply put, they MUST get this worked out fast, or the wheels on the bus will continue to fall off.
How many times have you the fans watched a Flyers game and have found yourselves yelling at your television screens… yelling attack. Probably more often than not. Moreover, attack as we watch our opponents enter our Defensive Zone with ease. Since Ron Hextall’s arrival as General Manager on May 7, 2014, he has made an emphasis on getting faster. Of course, it’s not an overnight process, and unfortunately rebuilds take time. However, speed is the name of the game in the new NHL, and the Flyers finally have the personnel with speed to pull off the attack system, while on the PK at the very least. Honestly, I just cannot comprehend why Head Coach Dave Hakstol or Ian Laperriere appear to be resistant with adopting the Attack Style Penalty Kill. I asked Hakstol this very question after Monday night’s loss to the Avalanche, with yet another goal scored against on the PK, “You’re not going to pressure the PK in the zone. We made a mistake on the broken play, it’s the third puck coming to the slot and instead of collapsing to the net, our top PK’er stayed out five to eight feet too high, and that’s the difference and that [the puck] goes in the back of the net.” Is this Hakstol saying this, or is he using the words of Lappy?
This attack style system would force their opponents to think on the fly, as opposed to be given space to create. Moreover, it would make their opponents become more predictable with a dump and chase system, and it would force their opponents into more mistakes as they would have to think on the fly. If teams within our division continue to improve their PK, shouldn’t the Flyers be trying to adopt a new style to their PK?
The Flyers finally have the speed throughout the lineup with youngsters like Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, and the injured Michael Raffl/Mikhail Vorobyev/ Corban Knight to pull of the attack style PK. When the Flyers go on the PK they become hard to watch. It makes it seem like they are sitting back eating bon-bons, while teams are creating opportunities in front of us. Simply put, this isn’t getting it done.
What gives? The Flyers entered Monday’s contest against the Avalanche with the 29th best PK, with a penalty killing rate of 70%. Following the game, and yet another tally while being a man down. They now sit 30th, with a penalty killing rate of 68.8%. Adopt the attack style Defense on the PK already gosh darn it.
The Flyers power play, or power outage continued against the Avalanche. They were 0-3 on the PP with just seven shots on net. Moreover, the orange and black came into the game with just a measly 6 PP goals for, and a Power Play Percentage rate of 19.4%, which was good enough for 18th best in the NHL. It appears the players clutch their sticks, or try to look for that great pass that isn’t there. One suggestion to reignite this power play is to just shoot the biscuit on net. Take the shot when it’s afforded, and keep it simple. You never know what could happen. “When we go out there and get a lot of good looks, it gives us momentum,” Nolan Patrick said following the game on Monday against the Avalanche, in reference to the struggling PP corps. “It’s not all about just getting a goal, obviously. You know it helps a lot when we do, I think there’s bigger things than just the numbers.”
Following Monday’s contest against the Avalanche. The Flyers now own the 20th best PP, with a percentage rate of 17.6%. It has become apparent the Top Unit may need a facelift. The second unit at least maintains some pressure, they are just lacking the finish (which will eventually come). If the Flyers Top PP unit cannot break through on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins, then the Top PP unit could use a shakeup. Here’s one solution to the struggling Top PP corps:
PP1- Giroux, Couturier, Patrick, Voracek, Ghost
PP2- Weal/Lindblom/Vorobyev, Konecny, Simmonds, Sanheim, Provorov
What better time is there to make some necessary changes, before this thing spirals out of control. Both Special Team units are struggling, and they need some help. The Flyers have become a predictable team over the course of the past few years. Changing and implementing a new Defensive Style on the PK/Switching the Top PP Unit are just some ways going forward, towards making this team a contender for years to come. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports