Three weeks ago, I delved into the topic of special teams and how they looked this year compared to last.
Is the Flyers special teams unit better or worse than it was in 2017?
After the last eight games, it only seems right to take a look at how the Flyers have fared over the past three weeks.
After leaving off from the game against Tampa Bay, the Flyers have since took on the Buffalo Sabres twice, the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Winnipeg Jets all once.
The special teams against Buffalo went 3 for 4 on the penalty kill and 0 for 4 on the power play over both games. The Flyers had no power plays against Toronto and Ottawa. The Flyers then went 0 for 1 against New York, 0 for 3 against Pittsburgh and Columbus, separately, and 0 for 2 against Winnipeg. I’m not the greatest at math, but 0 for 13 over the past 8 games isn’t very good. The combined 11 for 68 effort during the first 20 games and 0 for 13 effort in the past 8 have put the Flyers at 11 for 81 on the season. That’s 13.6% effectiveness, and good for 30th in the league, besting only a putrid Chicago team’s 11.6%
That’s right, the Flyers have failed to score a power play goal in their last 8 contests. Sure, they have played some great penalty killing teams. Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Winnipeg all sit in the top 10 in the NHL when it comes to killing penalties, while Buffalo and Toronto sit at 13 and 14 respectively. Columbus is currently sitting at 21, and the Senators are sitting at 30 with only one team behind them. Take a guess as to who that is…
The penalty killing for the Flyers has been a completely different story. After posting a penalty killing percentage of 68.6% during the first 20 games, the Flyers have killed 18 of 22 penalties in the past 8 games for a PK percentage of 81.8%. That brings their season average up to 71.7%, which is still good for dead last in the NHL as of now.
The only way to go was up when it comes to the penalty kill after the first 20 games, and the Flyers have headed in that direction. They went from 68.6% effectiveness to 71.7%. Obviously there’s room for improvement considering they are still dead last in the NHL, but they’re trending upwards and that’s a good sign. The power play, however, is a mess that needs solved, and fast.
After starting the season at 16.2% on the PP, the Flyers have gone without a goal on the power play in 8 games, dropping their season percentage to 13.6%, the second worst currently in the league. It’s safe to say that when it comes to special team play, Philadelphia ranks at the bottom of the NHL.
With Chuck Fletcher taking over and bringing in Rick Wilson to manage the defense, the special teams may see a bit of a boost. Where Gord Murphy seemed a bit overbearing, Wilson is a coach that let’s the players play and figure things out on their own, which may benefit some of the younger players. It remains to be seen, but the Flyers special teams need a facelift.
On the positive side, the only way to go is up, right? I mean, things can’t get much worse, can they?
Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports