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Flyers penalty kill quickly becoming best in the NHL

Thursday, 01.9.2014 / 12:04 AM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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PHILADELPHIA – There were a lot of streaks that continued Wednesday as the Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in their first game at the Wells Fargo Center in 2014.

(Read the Game Recap here)

There was the winning streak on home ice, which is now two months old and counting, having reached 10 consecutive games for just the sixth time in franchise history, and first since early in the 2003-04 season.

It was also the first time they won 10 straight on home ice in regulation time since a 14-game stretch at the end of the 1984-85 season.

And Steve Mason, who was the winning goalie with 19 saves, won his ninth consecutive game on home ice, becoming the first goalie to do that since Bob Froese in 1985-86.

But perhaps the most impressive streak is that of the Flyers penalty kill, which after turning away Montreal four times has now killed 19 straight penalties. They haven’t allowed a power play goal against in six straight games.

And when you win the battle of special teams, more often than not, you win the game outright.

“It’s just guys willing to block shots and sacrifice their bodies and getting sticks into passing and shooting lanes,” said Sean Couturier, who is considered by many to be the Flyers best penalty killer. “It’s doing the little things that sometimes you don’t realize that makes us effective and it’s a total team effort.

The one streak that didn't continue Wednesday was Scott Hartnell's career-best eight game point streak which ended - although he came centimeters away from scoring a goal late in the third period.

“Mentally it’s huge that we’re confident that we can kill a penalty and create momentum for the team after killing a penalty.”

The Flyers penalty kill has climbed into a tie for seventh in the NHL at a rate of 84.6 percent – and it seems to be getting better with each game.

And the Flyers are doing it by denying shots on goal. In these past 19 kills, they’ve only allowed 25 shots, or an average of 1.32 shots per power play.

“[Assistant coach Ian] Laperriere handles the PK,” coach Craig Berube said. “He does a real good job of scouting the other team and taking away their options, taking away their strengths. I think that’s the biggest thing. The players are doing a great job. Penalty killing is about everybody on the ice being more committed than the power play, blocking shots, clearing pucks, goalies making big saves, so they’re all on the same page. They do a real good job.”

So much so that the Flyers have six of the top 30 players in the NHL in fewest shots allowed per 60 minutes of ice time at 4-on-5 play.

Couturier ranks highest on that list, but so does the unheralded Adam Hall, the injured Matt Read as well as defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Nick Grossmann and Luke Schenn.

With Michael Raffl proving he can kill penalties, Zac Rinaldo slowly developing into a reliable killer and even call-up Chris Vandevelde getting some spot time, the Flyers appear to have a unit that is as lock down as they come in the NHL.

“We’re just sticking to the system and working hard,” Raffl said. “That’s the key on the PK I think. We know what they were trying to do and we tried to have good sticks, be in position all the time, and I think we did a good job.”

And they’ve been doing a good job in so many areas. They’re scoring more goals. They’re getting contributions from all four lines. Their defensemen continue to put up points. They’re getting continued solid goaltending.

It’s all coming together at once for the Flyers – and the penalty kill is a big piece of that puzzle.

“You can’t give enough credit to it,” Mason said. “We take a lot of penalties so it’s obviously a huge part of our game. The guys that we have on the kill are extremely competitive and sacrifice themselves blocking shots, especially our defensemen. They’re a huge reason why we’re having success right now.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideThe Flyers




1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47


C. Giroux 53 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 53 8 35 -3 43
W. Simmonds 53 20 16 -7 36
B. Schenn 51 15 15 1 30
S. Gostisbehere 35 9 20 4 29
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
M. Raffl 53 7 7 5 14
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 51 4 9 -8 13
S. Mason 13 14 7 .917 2.65
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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