Flyers looking to end their skid

Posted: February 13, 2012

February has not been a sweetheart of a month for the Flyers and their special teams.

In the last six games, they have five losses - marked by blown defensive coverage and substandard goaltending.

Oh, and not-so-special performances on their scrambling special teams.

The special-teams play has contributed mightily to the Flyers' worst skid of the season.

During their last six games, the power play - a strength for most of the season - has gone 2 for 26 (7.7 percent), while their opponents have converted 9 of 32 attempts (28.1 percent).

As a result, the Flyers have slipped into a tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference, and entered Monday as close to ninth place (eight points) as first place.

They have gone four consecutive games without a man-advantage goal, after scoring power-play goals in the previous seven.

"The penalty kill has given up too many goals, and our power play hasn't got one in a couple of games, either," winger Scott Hartnell said. "Specialty teams win and lose hockey games, and right now it's losing us games.

"It's not our personnel," Hartnell added. "I don't know if it's being undisciplined or what . . . but when you give great teams [such as Detroit] time and space to make plays, five on four, it's going to shoot you right in the foot."

The Flyers' suddenly cold power play is 0 for 13 in the last four games and is scoreless in its last 16 attempts.

In weekend losses to the New York Rangers and the Red Wings, the Flyers were 0 for 6 on the power play, while their opponents were a combined 5 for 13.

Three of the power-play goals allowed were scored while rookies Matt Read and Sean Couturier were on the ice on one penalty-killing unit, and two were scored against the Max Talbot-Claude Giroux tandem.

Flyers all-star defenseman Kimmo Timonen was on the ice for four of the five power-play goals.

"There are things we can do better in the neutral zone, as far as the PK goes, and end zone," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Like I've said, we have a lot of new faces and different pieces in place here that we will continue to look at. We have a good opportunity to do some teaching over the next couple of days and get ourselves back ready."

The Flyers are tied for 17th among the 30 teams with an 81.4 percent success rate on the penalty kill.

"I have a lot of confidence we'll get it back on track," Laviolette said. "I would say the same thing holds true for the power play. We got lots of looks and opportunities, but didn't get it to go."

The Flyers are 14-1-3 when they outscore opponents on special teams; they are 4-13 when their opponents have the special-teams edge.

Struggling snipers. While special teams have gotten most of the attention, several Flyers are fighting slumps, including Danny Briere (goal-less in last 11 games), Jaromir Jagr (one goal in last 16 games), Read (one goal in last 10 games), Couturier (goal-less in last 12 games), Hartnell (one goal in last nine games), and Jakub Voracek (one goal in last eight games).

Brayden Schenn (six goals in last nine games) and Wayne Simmonds (five goals in last seven games) have been the hottest players.

Rinaldo suspended. The NHL suspended Zac Rinaldo, the Flyers' feisty 21-year-old winger, Monday for two games for an incident in Sunday's game in Detroit.

Rinaldo, who will forfeit $5,885 in salary, was assessed a charging minor for hitting defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in the first period. The NHL said Rinaldo "launched himself."

In 43 games, Rinaldo has seven points and 156 penalty minutes.

Breakaways. Ilya Bryzgalov, sidelined the last three games as he battled the flu, is expected to return to the nets Thursday against visiting Buffalo. . . . The Red Wings tied an NHL record, co-owned by the 1975-76 Flyers and 1929-30 Boston Bruins, with 20 consecutive home wins, but it should be noted that three of the victories were shootouts - which would have been ties when the Flyers and Bruins accomplished the feat. . . . The Flyers did not practice Monday.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@philllynews.com, or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

 

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