Defensively, Flyers not quite in zone

Posted: October 31, 2013

RYAN GETZLAF zigzagged in the Flyers' zone and hesitated.

The Anaheim playmaker and sixth-highest-paid player in the NHL was waiting for help, but he could not evade Braydon Coburn, who promptly shut him down and any scoring opportunity.

Minutes earlier, Nick Grossmann flattened former Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry with a thundering body check in the corner.

That sequence last night was just one shift apart in the first period. Juxtapose that with the second half of last night's 3-2 loss to the Ducks - where the Flyers were outshot 27-13 and committed an egregious 16 turnovers - and what you have is what Craig Berube calls "a work in progress."

The Flyers have shown marked improvement in defensive-zone play in the last 2 weeks under Berube, but there is still a massive amount of work to be done.

They entered last night having allowed the fewest goals (27) in the Metropolitan Division. They ranked seventh defensively league-wide, having allowed 2.7 goals per game. Yes, the cornerstone is goalie Steve Mason, but the players around him have been better positionally and have gotten help from active forwards.

"I think it's a mindset, more than anything," Berube said. "That's your first priority out there, you've got to limit their chances. It's a day-in, day-out thing. If you want to be a good team without the puck, it takes a lot of work every day. You've got to keep working at it every game."

The Flyers stopped working at it in the second and third period last night. They are hot and cold within the same game - at both ends of the ice.

"We just stopped playing," Wayne Simmonds said. "We stood around and we were watching. We started watching them play. When we are skating, we are a better team. We just stopped skating."

Berube said he's noticed quite a few changes that have added up over the last few games.

"Positional-wise, we're keeping the odd-man rushes down quite a bit," Berube said. "Our defensemen are doing a good job with the gaps and closing them quickly. Besides the Vancouver game, we've done a good job around our net with coverage down there and collapsing [to cover a man]. I think we're doing a pretty good job."

Berube has harped on discipline, which has also cut down on chances against Mason. Through the first six games of the season, the Flyers averaged 5.5 minor penalties per-game. They cut that down to just 2.5 minor penalties per game over the last four, prior to last night's game.

As a whole, through the first month of the season the Flyers have performed nearly opposite what most prognosticated: an offensively superior team with question marks in goal and on defense. With increased offensive output, especially after Saturday's five-goal, high-water mark on Long Island, the Flyers possess the ability to surprise when they put it all together.

According to Berube, that all begins and ends with one mindset. That mindset needs to stop wavering.

"Every game that you lose, especially when you have a lead going into the third period and you have a chance to win, you kick yourself in the butt every time," Matt Read said. "We've got to look at our positives, look at our negatives, see what we can do to move on to the next game."

If you've been watching ABC's new comedy "The Goldbergs," you know the Flyers logo has been featured in all five of this season's episodes.

The show is produced by Adam Goldberg, a Philadelphia native and Flyers fan. It is set in the 1980s and is based on Goldberg's real-life family.

The Flyers' logo has appeared for 68 total seconds. According to Front Row Marketing, those appearances are worth approximately $475,320 in advertising exposure, based on what it would cost to sponsor that amount of time on the program. It's gravy for the Flyers, who could at least give Golberg a few tickets to an upcoming game.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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