VOORHEES, N.J. – When a team allows a power-play in nine straight games, something is probably broken.
The Flyers are aware that their penalty kill unit, now ranked 30th in the NHL at a dismal 68.4 percent, is decreasing their chances of winning games, even though they are 4-0-1 in their last five contests.
“It’s something that we have to take pride in,’’ goaltender Brian Elliott said after Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “It’s frustrating when you can do things right for a minute and 45 seconds and then something breaks down.
“We’ve seen a lot of that from other teams that have been killing our power plays. A lot of that kill just comes from winning a puck battle and clearing it 200 feet.
“That’s what penalty killing comes down to. It’s not really in-zone defense. It’s more just killing time. And when you have a chance to clear, get it out.’’
Elliott takes his share of the responsibility.
“We’ve been consistently getting better at that I think,’’ he said. “We’ve been making it a focus. It’s just on everybody, starting with the goalies out. Have that pride to go out there, that mentality.’’
Then Elliott made an interesting observation.
“It’s almost like the mentality when a good penalty is taken, rather than a bad one, where we’re going to kill it off no matter what for this guy because it was a good penalty,’’ Elliott said. “We have to do that for everyone. I think just changing that little mindframe, I think we’ll start to turn things around.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol acknowledged there’s some truth to those comments.
“Regardless of what the penalty is, we have to get the job done,’’ he said. “We continue to have too many ‘holds’ on too many plays that have cost us goals against.
“We have to close those holes up.’’
Aube-Kubel filling in nicely
When rookie Nicolas Aube-Kubel got the call to come up from the Phantoms to fill in for the injured Michael Raffl, some wondered how long it would take the rookie to adjust to the speed and intensity of the NHL.
So far, no problem.
“He’s been reliable,’’ Hakstol said. “But he showed his skating ability, his strength on pucks, his heaviness has made him pretty effective on the wall, effective on the forecheck.
“There’s no question he’s able to hold the pace of play of the game. At times, that’s a real strength of his because of how well he skates.’’
Aube-Kubel enjoyed a good training camp and left a positive impression with the Flyers’ coaching staff.
“I’m here for now but we’ll see if I stay, depending on the injuries,’’ he said. “I’m just concentrating on doing the job.’’
The 22-year-old native of Sorel, Quebec has been skating on a fourth line with Jori Lehtera and Scott Laughton. He was taken in the second round (48th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
This current assignment can help plant a seed for later in his career when he may get a chance to stick with the Flyers for good.
“It might be a bad way to say it, but I may have to take someone’s job,’’ he said. “That was my aim at training camp and I still have to do that.’’
Van Riemsdyk getting closer
James van Riemsdyk, out since Oct. 6 with a lower-body injury, skated a full session (without contact) on Friday and appears to be about a week or so away from a return to action.
It’s been a frustrating time but he wants to make sure he’s fully recovered before attempting a comeback.
“It’s just a matter of getting up to speed,’’ he said after the workout. “I’ve been working (off ice) to stay in the best shape I can.’’
Van Riemsdyk came into the season with a lot of energy and excitement. He had just signed a five-year, $35-million free agent contract and expectations were high. Then he suffered the injury in a Oct. 6 game at Colorado and everything came to a screeching halt.
How frustrating, then, has it been to just sit and watch?
“It seems like a longer summer, that’s for sure,’’ he said. “Stuff like this happens all the time, so there’s nothing they can do about it. You just have to have a good attitude. Work hard so that when you’re ready to go back in there, you’re at full speed.’’