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ISN'T THAT SPECIAL

The Penguins might be the best special teams squad in the NHL, but on Saturday, the Flyers stole their crown for the day.

Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 5:10 PM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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ISN\'T THAT SPECIAL

PHILADELPHIA – When you play the Pittsburgh Penguins, you don’t want to get into a special teams battle with them.

With the top-ranked power play and the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL, the Penguins are trying to become just the third team in NHL history to finish the season as the best in both categories.

But, there’s something about the Flyers when they play the Penguins. Something that makes them excel in specialty teams against their bitter rival.

In the Flyers 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh Saturday, some would suggest that the bevy of injuries the Penguins are enduring - no James Neal, no Chris Kunitz, no Kris Letang, no Paul Martin – might be the reason the Penguins found themselves suddenly not looking like the best in either category against the Flyers. However, despite missing more man games due to injury this season than any other team, the Penguins have still ascended to the top of both of those rankings, so they’ve been doing it without players in their lineup all season.

Which circles back to the Flyers.

Against the Penguins top penalty kill, the Flyers had great puck possession, generated several chances and tallied

Noted for his stifling defense, Sean Couturier did it all for the FLyers Saturday, picking up two assists, including one on a shorthanded goal by Matt Read, and helping to thwart all five Penguins power plays.

the first goal of the game on a quick, one-time snapshot by Scott Hartnell.

The Penguins seemed to like to sit back in a tight box against the Flyers, and the Flyers were able to use that to their advantage. With time to move the puck along the half walls and back to the point, the Flyers give themselves several options for quality shots.

A little touch pass from Giroux to Hartnell at the top of the left circle is just one of them, and it was successful.

On the other end of the ice, the Flyers killed off all five Penguins power play chances. Granted, this is where missing the Neals and the Kunitzs and the Letangs hurt Pittsburgh, but the Flyers were very aggressive against Pittsburgh, especially with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice together.

The Flyers forced turnovers and rushes the other way and even potted a shorthanded goal when Sean Couturier and Matt Read worked their usual magic, frustrating teams with defense and pouncing on opportunistic chances offensively, this time, a wicked snipe by Read.

But it was an adjustment made by assistant coach Ian Laperriere that had the Flyers sniffing out the Penguins best laid power play plans.

“Lappy did some scouting video and we did the right little things,” said Couturier, who set up both of Read’s goals. “[We were] putting our sticks in the passing lanes and blocking shots. Special teams were huge; even the power play did a good job.”

The Penguins like to pass the puck on the power play – a lot. They like to create mismatches and odd-man situations in small portions of ice by moving the puck quickly.

The Flyers though, didn’t allow them to do that by challenging the puck carriers early and often.

“It’s only one game, but I think we did what we wanted to do to stop their power play,” said Giroux. “They have a lot of key players; they were missing a couple too. We were pretty happy with our penalty killing and our power play.”

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

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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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