Ever since Alain Vigneault has taken control of the Philadelphia Flyers and Michel Therrien has joined the coaching staff, they have performed at a high level. Since that day Philadelphia finished in 2nd in the Metropolitan last season, won the 2020 round-robin to give the team the one seed in the playoffs, won their first playoff series since 2012, and they currently are top 10 in the league in points percentage. But there has been one struggle that has been blatantly obvious, the power play.
In the last season of the Hakstol/Gordon coaching staff in 2018-19, the Flyers power play went 17.1%, which was 22nd in the NHL. In the 2019-2020 season, the power play went 20.8%, good enough for 14th in the NHL. With a new coach in Michel Therrien and new power play system in 2019-2020, there should’ve obviously been some adjusting, especially with new additions to the unit like Kevin Hayes. A top half power-play unit sticking together and bringing in a power-play specialist in Erik Gustafsson should’ve made the Flyers power play better this season right?
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This season has been atrocious on the power play, taking a step backward in success. The Flyers currently hold an 18.6% power-play success rate, which is 19th in the league right now. The problem with the power play isn’t that they dominate and can’t find the back of the net, that wouldn’t warrant the outrage surrounding this unit. The problem is that the power play stays in the umbrella for way too long, passing back and forth from the wing to the point with minimal shots on goal.
On some of those passes too, the defense reads it and picks it off because it’s the same progression each time. Those interceptions either lead to clears which throws off momentum and wastes time, or what has happened a lot against the Flyers this year, short-handed breakaways.
Michel Therrien doesn’t seem to be doing anything to adjust the struggles besides switching the defensemen on the first and second units around, rotating Gostisbehere, Gustafsson, Provorov, Myers, and Sanheim in and out of the power play slots. However, the structure and style are the same, which is what seems to be the problem.
Since the Lake Tahoe game, the Flyers seemed to have been playing a lot better, outshooting opponents in every game and going 4-1-0. The one problem? The power play has struggled heavily. In these games, the Power Play has gone 3-20, with 2 of the goals coming in the first half of the Rangers game (the first game after Lake Tahoe) and the other one coming last night against the Penguins on Couturier’s goal.
Hopefully, the Flyers can turn around the special teams in the upcoming game against the Penguins to start a streak of games with a power-play goal, because if these struggles continue, and the Flyers lose close games because of their inability to score on the power play, Michel Therrien is most likely on his way out of Philadelphia.