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A TIME TO KILL

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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A TIME TO KILL
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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

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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