VOORHEES, N.J. – Kimmo Timonen is a very observant sort.
He sees things playing out and is able to quickly assess a situation and establish an educated opinion of what is taking place.
So, when the Flyers power play was being practiced in training camp and it never put together the unit of Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek and Timonen, the savvy defenseman took notice.
“The power play is all about chemistry, confidence, knowing exactly where everybody is,” he said. “We didn’t practice that in the preseason. At all. I knew it was going to be trouble early in the year and it has been. Now it’s just a matter of getting back to basics and practice, having meetings, talk, see what everybody’s doing wrong. It’s all about passing and shooting the puck. We’re not doing that right now. It’s all about confidence, and we don’t have the confidence right now. It will come.
“It’s the same guys from last year and we were the top in the league. It’s just a matter of talking and making sure we do the same things we’ve been doing for the last couple years.”
Maybe the thought process was that since the power play unit was so good last season, that it didn’t need much in the way of reconnecting while other players were being considered in it’s place.
But five months off can make things get out of sync, and a refresher in a few preseason games might have been nice.
Instead, the power play has floundered, scoring once in the opener and only once since.
At 2-for-27 (7.4 percent) the Flyers rank ahead of only New Jersey and Anaheim, who have scored just once each.
And it’s not just the top unit that felt ill-prepared coming into the season.
“We didn’t have that much time to work on it,” Streit said. “I think there were a few -- especially on the second unit with myself and Vinny [Lecavalier] -- new guys. You need to build chemistry in order to know what the other guy’s doing just to get a feel for each other.
“I don’t know. We could have probably worked a little bit more but it’s up to the players, too. You go out and you have to execute and that’s one thing we have to do better… execute.”
If they had been even marginally better – the league median is 21.4 percent, or five more goals for the Flyers, they could possibly be looking at a 3-3 or 4-2 record right now instead of 1-5.
Yes, it’s that fine a line.
Special teams is often a make-or-break segment of a game in the NHL, and probably even more so for the Flyers.
They may be the most penalized team in the NHL, but their 27 power play chances is also tied for second-most in the league.
Which is why coach Craig Berube is preaching better production out of the power play and fewer penalties to stay off the penalty kill.
“We talked about it and worked on it today,” he said. “The power play needs to score. I hate saying that, but they’ve got to create momentum for the team. By having some pressure, getting some shots through, getting some traffic and second and third opportunities around the net.”
And it’s those second and third chances that are missing right now for the Flyers. They don’t seem to have a problem getting the power play set up, but getting shots through to the net, or on net period, have been a challenge.
When they do get them through, the Flyers are a dangerous team with a man advantage because of how much skill is on the roster. But those shots have been too few and too far between for the team’s liking to this point.
“Last [season], we were winning games because the power play was working and we were scoring two, three goals a game [on it],” Voracek said. “I think right now, we’re just a little nervous sometimes during the game. If one [power play] goes wrong, we say, ‘Oh [bleep], here we go again,’ and it’s just not working right now. We’ve got the same group for the last three years, so we know what we have to do to get better, and I’m sure if we get a couple lucky bounces, we’re going to get better.”
Conversely, the number of penalties need to decrease. Berube made that perfectly evident with his comments following the loss to Detroit.
His sentiments were echoed by Timonen, who pointed out that each penalty has a degree of necessity.
“There’s some penalties you have to take,” Timonen said. “Some penalties are accidents and some are stupid. Seven, eight penalties [as there was in Detroit], I’m sure there were some stupid ones there that we can correct. If we can limit penalties to two or three, that’s good.
“That has to be our goal. I’m sure there’s a couple games you can go without penalties, but that’s not possible the full 82 games. If we can limit those penalties to two or three, that’s going to be good, instead of seven or eight.”
To contact Anthony J. SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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