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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
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.\r\nBut 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\u2019t allowed a power play goal against in six straight games.

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

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 76 21 55 7 76
C. Giroux 75 23 46 2 69
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 76 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 76 13 17 1 30
M. Del Zotto 58 9 20 -5 29
M. Read 74 7 22 -7 29
M. Raffl 61 20 6 7 26
V. Lecavalier 52 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 11 .927 2.24
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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