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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 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
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10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 52 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 52 8 34 -3 42
W. Simmonds 52 19 16 -7 35
B. Schenn 50 14 15 -2 29
S. Gostisbehere 34 9 19 3 28
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 50 4 9 -10 13
M. Raffl 52 6 6 2 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 14 7 .915 2.70
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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