VOORHEES, N.J. – If you’re bad at something, the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice.
And when it comes to the Philadelphia Flyers and the shootout (to decide tie games), the word practice can’t be repeated enough.
In fact, the Flyers are devoting a good 15 minutes per day working on this crucial element.
As many fans know, the Flyers haven’t been just inept at the shootout over the years, they’ve been downright embarrassing.
Since the shootout’s inception at the start of the 2005-06 season, the Flyers have been dead last in both win percentage and shooting/goaltending percentage.
They have just 50 wins against 88 losses, a horrible .362 winning percentage.
The next-worse team is the Ottawa Senators (56-78, .418).
As for scoring in shootouts, it gets even worse: The Flyers have scored only 130 goals and given up 182.
Coach Alain Vigneault mercifully has been spared the majority of that bloodshed but he saw enough in his first season last year to realize something had to be done.
Especially in the pandemic-shortened 56-game schedule, where every point is virtually platinum.
“Points are so hard to come by,’’ Vigneault said during a media Zoom call. “All points, whether you get them in a shootout or overtime, are huge to getting in (to the playoffs).
“That is one area that I wanted to jump on right at the beginning. That’s why we started yesterday and we’re going to continue every day at the end of practices.’’
Practicing the shootout not only helps the shooters but the goaltenders as well.
The Eastern Division figures to be tight and the games close. All the more reason to practice this crucial aspect of the game.
“We’re going to work on shootouts,’’ Vigneault reiterated. “Our division being so tight and so competitive, there might be that opportunity to get more shootouts. We want our guys to be on top. I want our guys to be confident. At the same time, our goaltenders like to have that type of work.
“I think we’re doing everything we can to be prepared for the start of the season. That’s a facet that’s become very important and hopefully we’ll be ready.’’
>Scary moment for Patrick
Everything has been going well for Nolan Patrick as he attempts to come back from a year away from the game to recover from a chronic migraine headache condition.
Until Wednesday, that is.
During the second half of a scrimmage at the Skate Zone, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Sam Morin went to check somebody, missed and hit Patrick, sending the young centerman crashing into the boards.
He laid on the ice for several seconds as everyone held their breath, then finally got up and slowly skated to the bench, pulling off his helmet as he sat down.
Thankfully, Patrick was able to shake it off and get back on the ice for his next shift.
In a way, this dark incident might have had a silver lining. Patrick is taking some big hits in training camp and at least that should prepare him for the real thing next Wednesday.
“He looked fine,’’ Jake Voracek said. “He’s ready. You can tell he’s ready. It was a good sign to see him (back) out there. He’s been practicing for two days so the concern wasn’t too big.’’
>Some line possibilities
The season opener is still a week away but the Flyers are trying to figure out their lines and defense pairings as quickly as possible.
In Wednesday’s scrimmage, Sean Couturier centered a first line with Oskar Lindblom on the left and Travis Konecny on the right. Second line: Kevin Hayes centering Claude Giroux and Joel Farabee; Third line: Patrick between James van Riemsdyk and Voracek; Fourth line: Scott Laughton centering Michael Raffl and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
On defense, Ivan Provorov was reunited with Shayne Gostisbehere. The second pairing of Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers stayed the same. After that, Robert Hagg, Justin Braun and Erik Gustafsson are in the mix.
In Wednesday’s scrimmage, the Orange team defeated the Black, 4-2. Rookie Linus Sandin, Provorov, Farabee and Andy Andreoff scored for the winners. Rookie Tyson Foerster and Lindblom connected for the losers.