York believes Flyers’ penalty kill will get back on track

Cam York

      BOSTON – After playing in parts of three seasons, Cam York was not about to let anyone encroach on his spot on the Flyers defense.

      This season he had played in all 67 games heading into Saturday night’s encounter with the Bruins.

      The pairing of York and Travis Sanheim played a big role in advancing the Flyers’ penalty kill all the way up to No. 1 in the NHL just a couple weeks back.

      At Saturday morning’s skate at TD Garden, the Flyers seemed to be emphasizing penalty kill drills, with a lot of five-on-four, half-zone stuff during the 25-minute session.

      Afterward, York sounded confident the Flyers could get themselves back on track in this very crucial element of the game.

      “We’re a smart enough group, we’re not going to let a couple goals faze us or get us off our game,” the 23-year-old York said. “We know what we do. We’ve been the best PK in the league all year. We’re not going to let a few fluky goals throw us off.”

      What’s gone wrong this past week, starting with the three power-play goals they surrendered in the 7-0 loss at Tampa?

      “A few times I think we’ve been caught out of position,” York said. “But our structure is still there. We’re all on the same page. It’s a bounce here, a bounce there and it’s in the back of the net. Whatever the case may be, I don’t think we’ve lost anything. It’s that time of the year, a lot of teams know what we’re up to so sometimes you just have to tip your cap.”

      Scott Laughton also believes the Flyers can get things turned around in a hurry.

      “Our goalies (Samuel Ersson, Felix Sandstrom) have been great all year,” Laughton said. “I think that’s the biggest sign of a good penalty kill. We probably haven’t been as aggressive as we’ve been in the past and we probably need to be a little more aggressive.”

      That aggressive attitude has resulted in 15 shorthanded goals, most in the NHL by a margin of four. Those types of goals can be momentum-changers in games.

      “We haven’t changed anything,” Laughton said. “We do the same things. Usually the outcome is pretty good. We just need to be a little harder in those zones.

      “So we have confidence in our penalty kill and our goalies. We have some big D-men (Marc Staal, Erik Johnson) who can block shots. We miss guys like (Nick) Seeler (currently injured) that can kill like that. It (the penalty kill) has been a strong point of ours all year and we’re not going to stray away from it.”

      Coach John Tortorella, just back from a two-game suspension after an incident in Tampa, said the Flyers will continue to fine-tune the PK and keep it one of the team’s strong points.

      “It’s a whole different personnel killing penalties on the back end,” he said. “That’s a huge part of killing penalties. We’re all working at it. We’re trying to find a way. We need more saves, too. That’s a big part of it.”

      Laughton stated killing penalties at critical points in games can make a big difference from a momentum standpoint, just as allowing a power-play goal can the other way as well.

      “Your special teams need to be really good to get into the playoffs,” Laughton said. He’s quite aware the Flyers’ power play is reaching historic lows for the franchise. “We have a really good penalty kill that’s helped our special teams but our power play needs to get going and we will be all right.”

      With 154 games under his belt, York can almost serve as a role model to youngsters such as Ronnie Attard, Adam Ginning and Egor Zamula. York is aware he’s being watched.

      “I’ve played a lot and I’ve been on the ice a lot,” York said. “If the guys need me to play well – if I don’t play it’s usually a bad result for the team because I play so much.

      “I hold myself to a high standard; expect a lot of myself every night. I know my teammates do as well. I owe it to them to play well. That’s what I’ve been trying to do all year. Just be consistent with my game. I think it’s been going well, just have to keep it going for the last little stretch.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.