Flyers’ penalty kill still a work in progress

Noah Cates

PHILADELPHIA –With only a few weeks left in the season it’s safe to say the Flyers’ special teams still have questions to be answered.

The penalty kill continues to be an issue. In the Buffalo game, won by the Flyers, 5-2, Philadelphia managed to give up a pair of power-play goals.

Heading into Saturday’s game against Carolina, the Flyers’ PK had fallen to 28th in the NHL at 74 percent.

When there’s a chance an opponent is scoring at better than one-quarter of its opportunities with the man-advantage, that’s trouble.

In fact, if you flip it over, only one NHL team – Edmonton – is connecting at better than a 26 percent clip.

Flyers coach John Tortorella hinted that in addition to attempting to develop new penalty killers in the absence of Travis Konecny (injury) and Patrick Brown (trade), some additional help might be needed.

“There were a lot of different people (in the Buffalo game) that haven’t done it before,” Tortorella said before the game against Carolina. “Again, I think it’s part of the growth of our team. I do think in changing personnel for our penalty kill to be better, I think some different personnel has to be involved. Whether it’s us developing them or us looking for those types.

“There are players we need to look at as far as bringing them in here. Not the (Johnny) Gaudreaus but get back to players who know how to kill penalties, win faceoffs, maybe kick in 10-12 goals. That’s the key for us moving forward; subtracting some guys out of here and then adding some people like that to the foundation of our team.”

The coach said he’s been trying Scott Laughton and Owen Tippett on one forward pairing on the penalty kill. He’s also been putting Noah Cates on the PK as well as Nicolas Deslauriers.

“That’s something that needs to be broached in the offseason, personnel-wise.”


>Challenge of back-to-backs


The Flyers’ record in the second half of back-to-backs this season leaves a lot to be desired. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Flyers were just 2-10-0 in the tail end of bookend games.

“The second half of games, we need to work at it,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think with back-to-backs it’s always about being tired. Sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with that. It has to do with managing your periods, managing your shifts, your shift lengths.

“There are a lot of things that come into play in back-to-backs. Quite honestly, being tired is probably lowest on the list for me and what we have to learn as a team.”


>Lemieux playing well


In new Flyer forward Brendan Lemieux’s brief time with the team, he’s done enough to keep himself in the lineup. He hits, he hustles and he’s even scored a goal.

“Can skate, he’s aggressive, he’s forechecking,” Tortorella said. “He’s getting some minutes, he’s played pretty well.”


>Farabee looks relieved


Maybe now that his 26-game scoring slump is over, Joel Farabee can get back to the business of being Joel Farabee.

His goal in the game against the Sabres was his first since Jan. 9, but who’s counting?

Of more significance, it was Farabee’s 10th goal of the season and, considering he underwent a fairly serious neck surgery last summer, that should be an acceptable total.

Put it this way: If someone had penciled in Farabee for a dozen goals this season, no one would have blinked an eye.

Tortorella said he’s noticed Farabee more involved on the scoring side of the game.

“He’s been more involved in the offense for quite a while,” Tortorella said. “He’s had chances for a number of games. Hopefully he feels good and something happens for him.”

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About Wayne Fish 2472 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.