Going back about a month ago, the Flyers had two major issues. They didn’t have a guy they could rely on between the pipes and the PK was nothing short of atrocious. Fast forwarding to today, the Flyers have 20 year old Carter Hart making big time saves and the PK has finally gotten back on track. It turns out being more aggressive on the PK and not sitting back in that triangular set up does some good.
Going back to the start of the month until now, the Flyers have killed off 34 of 42 penalties. They’ve killed off 19 of 26 on the road an 15 of 16 at home. Headed into last nights game against the Panthers, the Flyers were tied for 8th in the NHL since November 23rd with a success rate of 84.4%. Talk about a turnaround.
It’s crazy how just a little tweak can do so much for a team. In order to succeed in today’s NHL, your special teams have to be good. It turns out being more aggressive and have more of a presence at your own blue line really does make a difference. It doesn’t allow the opposing team to enter the zone as easily.
Claude Giroux has been a big surprise this year on the PK especially lately, diving to get pucks out of the zone and doing a tremendous job pressuring.
Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, and Sean Couturier have been the Flyers best penalty killers all season long. Laughton has especially excelled when killing penalties playing some of his best hockey.
“Yeah, we changed a little bit. I think we’ve been doing a little more of what Gordo does in the minors, but I mean we’ve kind of stuck with a little bit of both. I think it’s kind of engraved with what we’ve been doing, so we did a little bit of both, but I thought we were good like we’ve been, and the past couple of games where we’re putting pressure on when there entering the zone and things like that and making it hard for them to set up”, said Laughton when asked if the PK has changed structurally ahead of the game versus Columbus last week.
Blocking shots has been one of the Flyers strengths of late also. When you have a young goalie like Carter Hart in net, getting in the way of shots becomes that much more important. Robert Hagg has done a tremendous job of helping out the twenty year old goaltender of late.
“I mean I think it’s always been important, but the last couple of games we’ve been showing it more frequently. The PK has been successful the last 10 games so we have to keep doing it if we want to be sucessful”, said Robert Hagg on if blocking shots is more important now with a new coach and young goaltender in net.
That came in preparation for the game against Columbus also. A little over a week later, the Flyers are still in those shooting lanes helping out the anticipated franchise goaltender.
On another note, Flyers LW Oskar Lindblom has been making the most out of his ice time of late on the PK especially in the game versus Nashville. Lindblom hasn’t played over 11:30 in his past 8 games but is contributing with his limited minutes.
“We’ve been good. A couple of guys have played a lot in there especially last game (referring to the game against Nashville). It was a tough game. We faced a 5 on 3. Like I said, were getting better and better”, said Lindblom on how the PK has been performing of late.
Flyers Head Coach Scott Gordon has preached his trust in Lindblom to kill penalties of late.
“Even though Oskar hadn’t killed any penalties in the game, I knew that his ability to kill penalties from his time with me, the fact he killed penalties here and the fact he’s in every meeting, there’s a level of trust with him being able to jump in there and do that”, said Gordon.
Its obvious that a 15-17-5 record is not the start the Flyers had in mind to start the 2018-19 season, but improving on little things like the penalty kill is a step in the right direction.
As always, Lets Go Flyers.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports