Ongoing power-play slump costly in Flyers’ 3-0 loss

Carter Hart

PHILADELPHIA – While their record might be 4-2-1 in their last seven games, the Flyers know not everything is going as well as they would like.

There are aspects of their game, such as the power play, which still leave a lot to be desired.

The lack of production with the man advantage over those last seven tilts has been noteworthy, particularly in Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia went 0-for-4 on the power play and now is just two for its last 21. When a power play fails, it not only means a missed scoring opportunity but it takes away some of a team’s momentum.

By the way, the Flyers have scored just 14 goals during that seven-game run, which averages out to precisely two per game.

“Our power play drained us a little bit of momentum and energy,’’ coach Alain Vigneault asknowledged after the game. “We weren’t very efficient. They (the Leafs) were playing a real solid game overall, so it was tough to get grade-A chances.’’

Are there any changes on the power play coming?

“There were some adjustments we tried to make in-game on our power play,’’ Vigneault said. “Obviously they didn’t work out. We’ll take the time to analyze a few things. Tonight our power play was definitely off. We won’t be perfect all the time and we weren’t perfect tonight.’’

Toronto’s William Nylander’s questionable “deflection’’ goal at the 11:11 mark of the second period to break a scoreless tie started the Flyers on their way to this defeat. Defenseman Jake Muzzin flipped a harmless-looking entry toward the net and the puck caromed off Nylander’s right leg, then past goaltender Carter Hart.

At first officials disallowed the goal, apparently believing the puck had been advanced with a kicking motion, which is illegal. But upon video review, refs Dan O’Rourke and Trevor Hanson ruled the puck had caromed off Nylander’s leg and reversed the initial call.

Ultimately, that goal proved a backbreaker.

“In the second period they get that bounce,’’ Vigneault said. “We were playing it perfectly. Both our defensemen are taking their guys and it goes off their skate and in the net. We’re trailing by one, we felt good where we are. In the third, their power play found a way to score one and ours didn’t tonight.’’

Added Hart: “I’m not sure what the rule is there. I saw him with the skate up there a little bit. Just an unlucky bounce.’’

Sean Couturier knows power plays can change the course of a game.

“The first couple we couldn’t get anything going,’’ he said.

Keith Yandle said the Flyers have to stick with it.

“It’s frustrating,’’ he said. “You’re not going to score everytime but you have to go out and get momentum from it. We didn’t tonight but it’s one of those things that happens throughout a season where you have to go out, look back on it and get better.

As for only two goals per game in recent games, Couturier wasn’t sure what the problem seems to be. “We’re getting shots but I’m not sure we’re getting enough quality chances. We’ll watch some video, do some work and we’ll be better.’’

Nylander scored again at 5:09 of the third period on a power play.

Meanwhile, the Flyers were stymied on offense throughout the evening, forced into shooting from outside or at wide angles. Goaltender Jack Campbell wasn’t exactly overworked in recording the shutout.

Although the first period included some pretty wide open skating, the teams left the ice scoreless after 20 minutes.

The Flyers wasted a pair of power plays in the second half of the session and really didn’t mount much of an attack against  Campbell.

Philadelphia’s record fell to 6-3-2.

 

>Improved defense

 

In a far cry from last season, the Flyers reached the 10-game mark ranked fourth in NHL goals-against average at 2.37. Only Carolina, Calgary and St. Louis sported better numbers. Although he’s played only three games, goaltender Martin Jones leads the NHL with a .950 save percentage. He’s also second in goals-against average at 1.67.

 

>Military appreciated

 

With Veterans Day coming up on Thursday, it was Military Appreciation Night at the Wells Fargo Center and there were several ceremonies to honor our servicemen. In a true show of appreciation, there were numerous loud ovations. The Flyers wore military-gray jerseys during warmups before the game.

 

>Mixed emotions

 

James van Riemsdyk has split his career between Philadelphia and Toronto, playing 413 games with the Leafs and 397 with the Flyers. Are there mixed emotions when the two teams play each other?

“Yes, for sure,’’ JVR said. “I had a special time playing there and a lot of great memories.  Any time you play a former team, especially when you have memories like that it’s always a big thing.’’

 

>Short shots

 

Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a scratch as coach Alain Vigneault went with a fourth line of Patrick Brown-Nate Thompson-Zack MacEwen. . .Flyers take to the road Friday and Saturday for games at Carolina and Dallas.

About Wayne Fish 1501 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.