Flyers beset by penalties, inconsistent play

Wayne Simmonds says the refs are calling things tighter and the Flyers haven't adjusted yet.
Wayne Simmonds says the refs are calling things tighter and the Flyers haven't adjusted yet. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 29, 2013

Injuries, undisciplined play, and a lack of offensive firepower have contributed to the Flyers' scuffling start.

They are 2-4, and only five times have they collected fewer points in their first six games since the franchise began in 1967-68.

Injuries have been a major factor. Danny Briere, one of the Flyers' most creative offensive players, missed four games with a hairline fracture of his left wrist and is still rounding into form, and the team is now without two of its top players - left winger Scott Hartnell (broken foot) and defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder). Both could be sidelined for at least another month.

Penalties and a punchless attack have also been the Flyers' undoing.

The Flyers lead the league in minor penalties (39), and that stat snaps to attention when you consider they entered Monday ranked 26th in the 30-team league by successfully killing just 69 percent of their infractions.

"They're calling more stuff in the hands this year," said winger Wayne Simmonds, who has six minor penalties - one fewer than teammate Braydon Coburn. "I think obviously we haven't adjusted to it yet, and we've got to get that done pretty quickly here."

The Flyers will be in New York on Tuesday night, facing a 2-3 Rangers team that will be trying to make amends for Thursday's 2-1 loss at the Wells Fargo Center.

"We have to be smarter. We have to adjust," Briere said. "We know what's being called now. It's seems like we keep putting ourselves in the same situation over and over. It looks like every game we have to kill a five on three."

On offense, the team has yet to find any cohesion. Coach Peter Laviolette has had to juggle the lines because of injuries, and the Flyers are 25th with an average of just 2.17 goals per game.

If you take away their seven-goal outburst against Florida on Saturday, the Flyers have managed a total of just six goals in their other five games. Their power play has been mostly futile (25th in the NHL at 12.9 percent), and it was 0 for 6 in Sunday's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay.

The Flyers had a strange weekend in Florida. They went from their best game of the season to their worst - in fewer than 24 hours. They dominated the Panthers on Saturday, 7-1, before being embarrassed by the Lightning. Their power play was 2 for 7 in the win, 0 for 6 in the loss.

The Flyers didn't use playing on consecutive days as an excuse against the rested Lightning (4-1).

"When you're playing back-to-back, you've got to keep it simple and play smart hockey," winger Matt Read said. "You know, we just got a little ahead of ourselves from our win [Saturday] night, which is no excuse. It's not acceptable by us. We've got to learn how to play both nights, come to play for 60 minutes every game."

The Flyers are 1-3 when playing games on consecutive nights. They will be in trouble if that trend continues because they play 10 sets of back-to-back games in the 48-game season.

Breakaways. After getting Sunday off, Ilya Bryzgalov (2.21 GAA, .923 save percentage) will return to the nets Tuesday against the Rangers, who were playing their second game in as many nights when they lost to the Flyers on Thursday. . . . Winger Zac Rinaldo, who has missed the last four games with a leg laceration, could return to the lineup Tuesday. . . . The Flyers did not practice Monday. Because of the condensed schedule, Laviolette is giving the players more days off and canceling some of their pregame morning skates.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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