I posted a video of a unicorn. No wait, it's something more rare, a Flyers power play goal.
In light of the recent controversy over captain Mike Richards' comments, I figured it was time to take a look at the Flyers' power play.
Last season, with essentially the same core pieces, the Flyers power play ended the season ranked third in the NHL (21.4%). Through mid November they sat at 21.8%. This was good enough for 8th in the league. Since then the Flyers have hit a "slump". Slump implies that you pull out of it at some point, heres hoping!
Since mid November the Flyers have free fallen in the rankings. They now sit in 22nd postion (16.7%). The Fly guys are 0 for 10 over their last 3 contests, and 2 for 27 over the last eight. Yikes.
So this begs the question, What is wrong with the Flyers power play? Well our Mike Richards thinks he may know.
"We’re not being patient with it, we’re switching a lot of the units up".
Well Mike, I guess 62 games isn't being patient enough? (thanks Ty) Ville Leino echoed the same sentiment to the media.
“When you play with the same players, you know the plays, know their tendencies, and you get a feel for what plays are open”
So this makes me wonder, is this the solution? Well guys let's look at it.
I refer you back to the video (from last year). What looks different this year from last? Getting pucks to the net. Slow passing and the quest for the "highlight reel goal" has plagued the power play of late. Taking a pass on the half wall, circling out, and then firing a wrist shot into shin pads isn't exactly the recipe for success. And Mike, those cross ice passes? Yeah, they haven't worked for quite awhile.
So, you ask, what could be the solution. I say less is more. Ever heard of the K.I.S.S method. Yes it applies in hockey too. Chris Pronger is roaming the point back there. I heard he has a pretty good shot. Bombs away Chris. Then the net front forward needs to dig deep for rebounds. Sounds easy, right?
Well now they just need to realize you have to play in the opponents end on power plays to be effective.
The setup isn't the only problem. They are struggling just to get in. I'm sure I am not the only one who notices they can't enter the zone onthe power play. Then as soon as the man advantage ends they set up in the offensive zone.
There is 5 guys out there not 1. The passing needs to get better between the blue lines. One guy can't skate through an entire penalty kill unit. Not even Claude Giroux (yes I know).
If the penalty kill won't give up the blue line, what do you do? Dump and chase. I know dump and chase is becoming something of the past with all the speed and skill in the game, but on the power play it still has an effective use. Once you dump it, you have outwork the opponent for the puck.
Yes, Jeff Carter, that means getting your hands dirty. Get in there and bang some bodies.
Now before you crucify me for "knowing more than the players". Let me just say I know it's difficult to score in the NHL.
No one thing is going to fix this nose dive we are currently in. It's going to take hardwork, effort, determination, and yes even patience.
The practice power play lines have been Richards, Giroux, Carter and the LSD line. I like this. I think Richie and Giroux work well together. They can create space for Carter to fire a high percentage shot, well assuming he hits the net. We all know how effective the Leino, Briere, Hartnell line can be.
Let's see what happens tomorrow night against Toronto, a team that is 27th in the NHL on the peanlty kill.
Just remember boys, work hard, dig deep, and don't forget to K.I.S.S your opponent!