Flyers' trips to penalty box an advantage to Tampa Bay

ASSOCIATED PRESS Flyers' Wayne Simmonds is sent sprawling to the ice by Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Flyers' Wayne Simmonds is sent sprawling to the ice by Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman.
Posted: January 29, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. - A parade down Broad Street will be a pipe dream if the Flyers' parade to the penalty box perpetuates.

The Flyers, far and away the NHL's least disciplined team, found out the hard way with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of a potent Lightning attack on Sunday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Penalties were bound to catch up with them at some point.

Tampa Bay scored three times - twice on the power play - in a span of 4:21 in the first period to erase a 1-0 lead Sean Couturier built for the Flyers in the opening minute. Even when it didn't officially count on the scoresheet as a power-play goal, Steven Stamkos scored 12 seconds after Braydon Coburn exited the box.

"We need to be more disciplined," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Certainly, the ones we can control, we need to do a better job. You need to harp on it, look at it, and eventually react to it. We need to get guys playing the correct way."

Laviolette and many of his players spoke about the league's apparent crackdown on infractions including slashes and even verbal abuse of officials. The NHL's other 29 teams don't seem to have a problem adjusting.

The Flyers have been whistled for more minor penalties (39) than any other team. That's nearly as many as the Canucks, Islanders and Jets combined (40). Buffalo, which has played one less game, is the next closest with 30 minors.

Of the two other teams that have played six games, Chicago has 23 and St. Louis has 27. It's probably not a coincidence that the Blackhawks are off to their best start (6-0-0) in franchise history; they entered Sunday with the seventh fewest minor infractions.

"Rule changes are no excuse," Kimmo Timonen said. "Penalties are going to happen. There won't be a game you won't go without penalties. But all of the stupid penalties, you have to avoid against a good team. We have to be better in all areas of the game."

Wayne Simmonds was one of the Flyers' five offenders against Tampa Bay. He was clearly frustrated all night by B.J. Crombeen, who did an excellent job shadowing Claude Giroux and keeping that line off the scoresheet after a seven-point effort in Florida.

"They got us off our game a little bit, getting us to go to the box," Mike Knuble said. "We compounded things. They really took advantage of it."

The Flyers have been shorthanded 29 times overall, only dragging an opponent with them to the box a little over a quarter of the time.

Leading the league in penalties is nothing new for the Flyers. In the seven seasons since the 2004-05 lockout, the Flyers finished either 29th or 30th four times. Anyone who believes the Flyers are more penalized for their "Broad Street Bullies" reputation needs to have their head examined. That runs through three different coaching regimes, too.

"We have to be smarter," Danny Briere said. "We had to adjust. We know what's being called now. It seems like we keep putting ourselves in the same position over and over."

Riding high off a 7-1 offensive outburst across the Sunshine State the night before, the Flyers were stifled by Tampa Bay's defense. They had more shots blocked, 26, than shots that got through to the net. Giroux, Bruno Gervais and Briere each had four attempts blocked.

"They had a step on us," Laviolette said. "They were a more rested team with more jump than we were. We had moments and opportunities where we could have scored. Tampa checked hard tonight. They were opportunistic with the power plays. We knew they were a talented group."

"If you're in the penalty box, you're not going to be winning games," Matt Read said. "It's as simple as that."

Slap shots

The Flyers have scored two or fewer goals in five out of six games this season, the only exception being Saturday's rout in Florida . . . They won the faceoff battle (53-47) for just the second time this season on Sunday. Brayden Schenn was 8-for-11 (73 percent) and Claude Giroux was 14-for-25 (56 percent).


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: philly.com/FrequentFlyers

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