If you haven’t heard by now, the Flyers have lost to the 0-10-1 San Jose Sharks. It wasn’t for lack of trying. The orange and black fired off 39 shots at Mackenzie Blackwood who was looking like the second coming of Dominik Hasek. Unfortunately, only one of those shots found its way into the back of the net. He’s been getting shelled just about every net, but on this night, he stood his ground. While the Flyers threw everything they had at Blackwood, there are other reasons that they couldn’t score.
Too Much Time in the Sin Bin
During the game, Philly had racked up 37 penalty minutes, including game misconducts by Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny. The latter also had a double penalty in the first period being called for roughing and for goaltending interference. Later on in the game, the Flyers were tagged with too many men on the ice.
To be fair, San Jose also had 37 penalty minutes, and they won the game. However, the Flyers currently rank as the fifth worst team in total penalty minutes with 164. Only Carolina, Anaheim, Montreal, and Arizona are worse. Overall, the Flyers have two players, Konency and Nick Seeler, who are in the top ten in penalty minutes in the NHL.
The Flyers may be a respectable 14th on the penalty kill, but that’s not the point. If the team is constantly on the defensive, they will not be able to make an effective offensive attack. The good news is that Philly is tied with the Canes and the Avalanche for most shorthanded goals. So, while they are successful on the penalty kill, they probably shouldn’t keep putting themselves in that situation.
The other thing that is killing this team is their lack of faceoff wins. In their loss to San Jose, the Flyers were a measly 30.2% from the circle. As far as this season goes, the Flyers have won 45.6%. Only Minnesota, Anaheim, Buffalo, and Chicago have won fewer faceoffs.
Sean Couturier has been Philly’s best faceoff man. He has won 49.3% of his faceoffs having won 113 of them. Ryan Poehling is at 50%, though his sample size is much smaller with 42 wins.
Faceoffs are one of those things that people take for granted. However, it is a fundamental thing that every good hockey team masters. A victory in the faceoff circle gives you the puck and the opportunity to fire off a shot on net, move the puck forward, or begin to set up a play. It gives an ever so slight advantage to your team, be it on offense or defense.
The Flyers are doing better than they were last year. They are scoring at a higher rate, although the power play unit is still atrocious. If they can clean up the penalties and their problems in the faceoff circle, that will go a long way into moving this team forward.