Flyers need a spark for slumping power play

James van Riemsdyk

If numbers are your thing, some dreadful power play analytics might explain why the Flyers continue to endure this dreadful season.

Wednesday night’s 0 for 5 with the man advantage in a 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings dropped Philadelphia to 2 for its last 29 attempts over the last 10 games.

The Flyers have scored only 19 power-play goals in 132 attempts this season (14.39 percent), which ranks 30th out of 32 NHL teams. Only Arizona and Montreal are worse.

It’s a perplexing situation, made even more discouraging without the services of stars such as Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis and Joel Farabee.

The Flyers can still put out an alignment which includes Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, Cam Atkinson and James van Riemsdyk, who led the Flyers in power-play goals last season and is doing so again this season.

It should be noted Farabee has been in the lineup most of the season, as has Travis Konecny.

So what seems to be the problem?

“When things are going good on the power play, when the timing is right, all the reads are sharp and guys are kind of predictable in the sense you know exactly what the other guy is going to do,’’ van Riemsdyk said after Thursday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center.

The Flyers moved some things around for the Detroit game, putting new assistant coach John Torchetti in charge of the power play. It might take awhile to adapt to a new system.

“It (the power play) was just a little bit out of sorts kind of from the get-go,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “Certainly that’s a part of the game that’s huge. Who knows, maybe you get a couple power-play goals and it’s a totally different game. We recognize that and that’s an area we have to be much better.’’

JVR said one of Torchetti’s first principles is to play with confidence.

“Play loose, see the play here, see the play there,’’ he said. “It’s such a fine line on the power play. If you try to make a different play than the one you score goals on and keeping it too cautious versus making the right play everytime. . .since we have the extra player, there’s always the more obvious play than not. Ultimately, do the read and the progressions from that. Make things happen around the net.’’

Interim head coach Mike Yeo likes what Torchetti brings to the table.

“Having a guy with his experience, he’s been there, he’s seen all situations,’’ Yeo said. “Unfortunately he’s seen these games (like Detroit) a few times. To have the experience of how to deal with it, you teach, you learn, you move on. You already see it with some of the players gravitating toward him, doing the one-on-one video stuff.’’

The Flyers held an upbeat practice, featuring some spirited battle drills. This came in the wake of Wednesday’s disappointing performance off the NHL All-Star break.

“I think that was kind of expected after the showing yesterday,” van Riemsdyk said. “That was a good, solid, fast practice. Those drills were kind of game-situation – two-on-twos, one-on-ones, stuff like that.’’

Yeo said the Thursday practice was not a “wake-up call.’’ That came in the Wednesday night game, a match which pretty much erased any momentum the Flyers had built with two wins going into the break.

“One of the things we’re trying to build here is a consistent game,’’ Yeo said. “Those things were non-existent (in the Detroit game). The attention to detail, the desire to want the puck, to support the puck, to win the puck battles. Let’s show that the last game isn’t who we are.’’

Detroit won a regular-season game in Philadelphia for the first time since 1997, a pretty significant outcome.

“Don’t want to sit here and talk about it for three days in a row,’’ Yeo said. “That’s not who we are. Our competitive level was not strong enough. We had a long break and maybe one of the things you forgot is how hard you have to work, to compete. We wanted to make sure they faced some of that in practice today.’’


>Atkinson ill, misses practice


Cam Atkinson took ill on Wednesday night and did not practice. Yeo said he hopes to have the right wing back for either practice on Friday or the Saturday afternoon rematch at Detroit.

Also, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen did not practice and is listed as day to day with an undisclosed injury. Yeo said he might be questionable for the game against the Red Wings.

Giroux, MVP of the All-Star Game last Saturday, was given a day off due to his recent hectic schedule including the trip to Las Vegas.


>Flyers add personnel


The Flyers announced on Thursday they have added two people to their Hockey Analytics Department. They are Kathryn Yates as hockey analyst and Cole Anderson as lead data analyst.

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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.