West Coast Swing Revives Power Play

4 Dec

What a difference a weekend can make. The Flyers have always struggled with consistency on the power play, but last season it was consistently bad. This season, it started out hot and then was mediocre. That is, until the Flyers headed out west where the temperature is hot and now so is their power play.

Entering the weekend, the power play was running at 17.6 percent on the season. That was the middle of the pack. But in November, the Flyers struggled on the power play. They were 7-for-54 on the month’s 12 games. That’s only 12.9 percent. That percentage is what Columbus runs at for the season and it ranks 24th in the league.

But this weekend was different. The Flyers are scorching hot in December. Going 5-for-12 on the weekend skyrocketed their power play to 20 percent for the season. They are now in the top five.

Adding to the surprise is that Chris Pronger, the key cog to the Flyers’ man advantage, is out of the lineup and will be for most, if not all, of December. The Flyers have rotated the puck, done some dirty work in front of the opponent’s crease and delivered.

The recent success hasn’t come against slouch teams, either. Both Anaheim and Phoenix are in the top 10 in penalty killing. The Flyers were 3-for-9 against Anaheim, which is ranked sixth in home penalty killing. Then, not 24 hours later, went 2-for-3 against Phoenix, which hadn’t allowed a power play goal at home in seven games.

Peter Laviolette has always said the Flyers would rather have their injured players in the lineup, especially on the man advantage. The power play was one area where the Flyers had especially struggled in Pronger’s absence. But this weekend has softened that blow to the blue line. Whether it’s the new power play combos with Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn running the point on one unit while Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek run the other, or just a cycle of luck, the Flyers don’t have to worry about their power play these days.

They’ll still focus on it for a good portion of their practice, as they have all season long, but right now the Flyers want to continue to ride the hot power play into cold Buffalo on Wednesday.

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