The Philadelphia Flyers’ power play has been clicking all season, now if only they could get their penalty kill on a roll. The Orange and Black are currently ranked 22nd in the National Hockey League, killing off only 80.6 percent of their penalties taken.
It doesn’t help the cause when the Flyers are the most penalized team in the NHL. They have 253 penalties through 61 games, while the San Jose Sharks only have 177 penalties making them the least penalized team in the league. The penalty kill is slightly better on the road (82.1 percent) than at home (79 percent).
It seems that their penalty killers aren’t aggressive enough in stopping the pick carrier at the blue line. The puck carrier easily gains access into the Flyers zone and the opposing power play gets set up right away. The penalty killers either stand at the blue line or just back pedal into their zone instead of putting pressure on the puck carrier. The Orange and Black aren’t even winning some of the battles along the wall, even when they out-number the opposition.
One the opposing power play gets set up, the Flyers’ penalty killers just collapse into the box, waving their sticks back and forth trying to block the passing and shooting lanes. It also seems when they have the opportunity to clear the puck out of their zone, the guys on the ice either turn the puck over or just can’t clear the puck out of the zone.
The failure to get pucks out of the zone usually leads to another opportunity for the opposing power play unit, which seems to result in goals this season.
There seems to be someone life wide open at the front of the net which usually results in a failed penalty kill. The penalty killers need to be more aggressive, but not overaggressive because being overaggressive can lead to someone being left wide open to put the puck in the net. They can go after the opposing player by putting pressure on the points and by blocking passing and shooting lanes better. The additions of defensemen Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina should help fight the battles along the wall and clear the front of the net.
Some goals have come off of deflections or weird bounces. It is said that the goaltender needs to be the best penalty killer and that hasn’t happened this season, no matter which goalie is in net for the Flyers. There have been some soft goals on the penalty kill that should have been stopped by the goalies.
If the Flyers want to remain in the playoff hunt, they need to figure out a way to kill penalties better, and stop giving up free goals to the opposing teams.