Flyers need to take advantage on power play

Posted: April 25, 2014

THE FLYERS' power-play statistics in the regular season were a bit mystifying. Their 58 goals with a man advantage ranked third in the NHL, but their power-play percentage on the road was 10.1 percent higher than at the Wells Fargo Center.

Their performance in Tuesday night's Game 3 loss at home to the Rangers followed a similar blueprint, as they failed to capitalize on any of their five power plays. It will again be a key to watch tonight in Game 4, in which the Flyers will look to even the series at 2-2 and ensure this is not their last game in South Philly this season.

"It's frustrating that our power play hasn't been the difference in these first few games," Scott Hartnell said. "I think it's just a matter of time before we have a big game and the special teams wins us one of these games."

After the woes of 2 nights prior, the Flyers spent a considerable portion of yesterday morning's practice in the offensive zone, five orange jerseys working against four in black. No personnel changes or drastic system alterations appear imminent for Game 4. It's evident swifter puck movement will be an emphasis for the unit.

Ultimately, as coach Craig Berube noted yesterday after the Flyers' skate in Voorhees, it's simply a matter of execution. The Flyers scored during 19.7 of their regular-season power plays, a mark that ranked eighth in the NHL.

"We've just got to make sure that we find the lanes to shoot the puck," Jakub Voracek said. "I think the really important thing with the power play is we've got to move our feet a little bit more, get more open without the puck, move more with the puck."

There was a bit too much standing around during Tuesday's 4-1 loss, Voracek added.

"I think we were a little bit too static," he said. "We've just got to make sure that we move our feet and try to find the lanes because there's not too many."

Part of Tuesday night's offensive struggles also had to do with their opponent's stifling defense. The Rangers blocked a blistering 28 shots, nine on their penalty kill. It's an aspect of the game at which New York has excelled for several years, Berube said. Countering that, Vincent Lecavalier said, will involve a combination of studying the Game 3 tape and making better decisions with the puck in the offensive zone.

Regarding the power play specifically, Hartnell stressed the importance of getting more pucks toward the net so he and Wayne Simmonds can make things happen down low.

"The pucks aren't getting to the net so [Hartnell and Simmonds] can't get the rebounds or get tips on the puck," Berube said. "Until that happens, they'll be just standing there. All year long their goals are scored around the net. That's what they do. They're good at it. They're good at tipping pucks [and] finding rebounds. So it's the other three guys' responsibility to get them pucks."

For the series, the Flyers are 2-for-9 on the power play, both goals coming in Sunday's Game 2 victory, one by Simmonds against an empty net. The Rangers are 3-for-16 with a man advantage. They were 0-for-4 on Tuesday.

"We're always confident with our power play," Simmonds said. "We have a good power play, top 10 this year I'm pretty sure, so we know what we have to do. We've just got to get pucks to the net and simplify."


On Twitter: @jakemkaplan

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