Special teams can play a large role in a game depending on the circumstances. If a team is given numerous power plays or if a penalty kill kills off a fair amount, it can win a game for a team. Or in the Flyers case on Monday evening, it can lose you a game.
The Flyers had five power plays against the Carolina Hurricanes. They did not score on a single one of them while the Hurricanes game-tying goal ended up coming on their only power play of the game. In this case, the special teams advantage went to the visitors. Of the five that the Flyers had, they fired a total of seven shots. Carolina only needed two shots to find the back of the net courtesy of Michael Bunting.
Two of the Flyers’ power plays came during the second period in which they had a 2-1 lead at the time. If they had been able to score on either one of those, it would’ve gone a long way. They had a total of three chances in the second period, firing a measly two total shots on net. Instead, Bunting scored the only goal of the second period to tie the game. Even a power play in the third period gave the Flyers a chance to then regain the lead against a Carolina team that largely had the territorial edge. Score a goal and that can deflate a team that feels like they are outplaying you.
Instead Philadelphia let five opportunities go by and ended up losing after a late goal by Teuvo Teravainen in the game’s final minutes. This is not the first time this season that the Flyers power play has struggled mightily to find the back of the net. The team is ranked 20th in the league and has only scored on four of their 32 opportunities. Two of those goals came in one game against the Minnesota Wild and was their most successful day on the power play. They’ve had three games where they’ve gone scoreless on four or more chances. They failed to score in four straight games before the two against the Wild.
While they have a far way to go in being the worst in the NHL, they can’t continue to let opportunities like this pass them by. In this case, it was a large reason that this game fell by the wayside. One or even two goals on the man advantage could’ve won the game for the Flyers. That’s not to take away from the Hurricanes and how they dictated play at times, especially in the first period.
But sometimes it’s those small moments that end up being the biggest when the final buzzer goes off. Owen Tippett seeing another shot go in and Garnet Hathaway bringing the energy with his first goal of the season are good things to see and came at opportune moments for the Flyers. However, trying to play run and gun with a team that has far more offensive power than you isn’t the way to win a hockey game. Even though the Flyers showed they can compete with the best of them and did give the Hurricanes a run for their money at times, it’s about capitalizing on the chances in front of them
Whether it’s the personnel on the ice or the coaching not being able to unlock the talent, the Flyers need to figure out what the problems are. It’s early in the season so there is plenty of time to figure it out. But for this one, the lack of special team prowess doomed them big time.