Sanheim could add shot of energy to Flyers’ faltering power play

Travis Sanheim
      If the Flyers’ stumbling power play really is so “broke,’’ why not fix it?
      The cold, bold numbers are all you need to see to realize something has to change.
      Over the past three months, Philadelphia is just nine for its last 81 manpower advantage opportunities, barely over 10 percent.
      More recent statistics show the Flyers have scored just two goals in 24 of those chances.
      The Flyers have been talking about using some different personnel and one option might be placing defenseman Travis Sanheim back on the point.
      Sanheim does have some offensive elements in his game and that’s something the Flyers could use right now.
      After Monday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey, interim head coach Mike Yeo said there’s a good chance Sanheim could be in that role when the Flyers play host to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
      Later, Sanheim said he would welcome the challenge.
      “Obviously I’m a pretty offensive guy,’’ Sanheim said. “I like to play at that end of the ice so if I get that opportunity, I would be more than happy to do that.’’
      The Flyers’ power play has dropped to 30th and below because of several factors, not the least of which is trouble getting point shots to the net. Sanheim can crank it with the best of them, which is a big reason why the change might be contemplated.
      “Quite a few coaches have run the power play throughout the year,’’ said Sanheim, mindful of the changes on the staff since the dismissal of former head coach Alain Vigneault in December. “It (the power play) is a key part in a team’s success. I know the guys have worked on it. Hopefully it’s something we can get straightened out.’’
      Sanheim pointed out he hasn’t had too many extended looks on the power play. So maybe this trial will lead to a change in that team strategy.
      Yeo said Sanheim can add something to the mix.
      “I can tell you it’s in the discussion right now,’’ Yeo said. “There’s no excuse, he should be ready to grow into this. I know in the past we’ve put him in there and the rest of his game has dropped a little bit. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. He’s playing at a real high level and that competition should be there.’’
      Yeo said the Flyers’ biggest problem on the power play has been entries.
      “If you’re not getting set up, you’re not going to score very many goals,’’ he said. “I think that’s where the loss of momentum comes into play.’’
      >Coach’s speech paid off
      By now, pretty much everyone who follows hockey around here knows Yeo let his players have it after their subpar effort against Minnesota last Thursday. The team responded with a rousing 4-3 win over Chicago on Saturday.
      “I thought we played a much harder game,’’ Sanheim said. “We were more engaged. You could see that physically throughout the game. I thought we were into it a lot more. We need to be more engaged physically, whether it’s finishing your guy, mixing it up a bit, that seems to get guys more involved.’’
      >Patrick injured again
      Nolan Patrick, the Flyers’ first-round draft pick (second overall) in 2017, was traded last summer and wound up with the Knights. The oft-injured center is hurt again and will not play against the Flyers. He’s only played in 18 games this season. At times, it just seems like he’s unlucky.
      “He was not healthy for the majority of the time I’ve been here,’’ said Yeo, who formerly served as an assistant coach during Patrick’s tenure in Philadelphia. “But you can see his skill set, you can see his ability. It’s real tough for a player, especially a young player, to find your rhythm – this is a really hard league. For a young player to build confidence, it’s a real challenging thing, especially if you’re dealing with injuries. He’s a good kid and I hope nothing but the best for him.’’
      >Feeling good for Simmonds
      Former Flyer forward Wayne Simmonds played in his 1,000th NHL game the other night and his ex-teammates in Philadelphia saluted that accomplishment.
      “I learned a lot from him when he was here,’’ Sanheim said. “The guy he was on and off the ice and the way he went about his business. It was great to see that (1,000th game). It’s a huge accomplishment. He was a hard guy to play against. . .kind of played that Flyers style. He demanded that of everyone no matter who you were.’’
      >Brown faces former mates
      Patrick Brown was claimed off waivers from Vegas back at the start of the season. He agreed he should be a little extra “up’’ for this game.
      “It will be fun,’’ Brown predicted. “I battled with all those guys and I’ll be excited to get out there. My linemates have been playing awesome.’’
      >Short shots

Yeo said forward Gerry Mayhew will return to action Tuesday night after sitting out Saturday’s game as a healthy scratch. . .Defenseman Kevin Connauton, who was injured in a collision against the boards on Saturday, reportedly is feeling better although he’s been ruled out for the Vegas game. “I saw him yesterday and he felt good,’’ Yeo said. “That was a pretty scary moment but I’m glad he’s doing well.’’. . .Carter Hart will start in goal against the Knights.

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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.