The Philadelphia Flyers special teams got off to a good start entering the stretch run of the season and they’ll need that to continue for the rest of the season.
The Flyers are only five points out of the second wild card spot for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The special teams will be a big part of whether or not the Flyers stay in the playoff race or fall out of it. The power play and penalty kill have been anything but special for the majority of the year. The power play was generating chances but not scoring until the last seven games where they have tallied nine power play goals in 30 opportunities (30%). The team had only 19 power play goals in 123 opportunities before the seven game stretch (15.4%).
The Flyers are creating chances on their power plays but need to keep finding the back of the net on a regular basis. They have good puck movement and always seem to have the opposing goaltender screened by either Wayne Simmonds or Brayden Schenn. The top unit of Schenn, Claude Giroux, Simmonds, Jake Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere is out on the ice a lot for the Flyers, There is a drastic dropoff in point production and talent from the top unit to the second one. The second power play unit of Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl, Mark Streit and Evgeny Medvedev has only contributed four power play goals to go along with 13 total points. Streit has four of those power play points and he was on the top unit until he was injured earlier in the season.
The penalty kill has been terrible and inconsistent all year long, only killing off 77.3% of the penalties taken. The Flyers have missed a couple of their regular penalty killers during the course of the season due to injury like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Couturier, but it still needs to be better. Philadelphia has taken 163 penalties (11th most) and have allowed 36 power play goals against, which is the fifth most in the league. The penalty kill can look good for a majority of a game and then five up a big goal in the crucial minutes of a close game. The Flyers have also gone stretches without allowing a power play goal against and then will go several games in a row allowing them.
The special teams need to more consistent especially the penalty kill. If the Flyers stopped taking so many penalties during the course of games then that would cut down on the amount of time that the penalty killers are needed. The turnovers and failed clears on the penalty kill need to stop because they give the opposition more offensive zone time and chances. The power play has been better over the last seven games, but could be even better if the Orange and Black could get the second unit contributing so they’d have two dangerous units heading down the stretch.
The Flyers special teams need to be better down the stretch especially if this team wants to keep pace in the wild card race.