Power Play Coming Around, But Big Reason for Flyers Season Struggles
The Flyers bye week is underway as they wait for the end of the All-Star break before returning to action next Monday. With over a week off from games, it’s a good time to see where the team is now.
Obviously, it doesn’t take an advanced analytic mind to see where the Flyers are in the standings.
For all of the reasons that the Flyers have struggled this season, one area that has really been a primary reason for their lack of success has been an ongoing slump for the power play.
Last season, it took every game, but the Flyers made the playoffs. They also had the league’s 15th-ranked power play, not the lights out performance you would expect with the personnel, but a respectable 20.7 percent success rate. In years past, the Flyers have ranked 14th, 11th and third in the league.
This season, the Flyers power play has converted just 19 times, a 13.3 percent success rate, which ranks them 30th of 31 teams in the league. The issue isn’t just in the success rate. Last season, the 20.7 percent success rate helped inflate point totals for a lot of players on the roster.
Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier are exceptions here. Giroux is sitting at 52 points on the season in 48 games and has just 12 on the power play. Posting 40 even-strength or shorthanded points is respectable and helps a player maintain elite status. Last season, 36 of Giroux’s 102 points came on the power play, so even in a career year, he didn’t rely on the power play to put up points.
Couturier has fared similarly. He has 40 points in 46 games, and just seven have come on the power play. Last season, Couturier had a career-high 76 points, and just 14 came on the power play.
But for others, the numbers were inflated with a high power-play percentage.
Jake Voracek had a career-high 84 points last season with 35 of them came on the power play. Shayne Gostisbehere had a career-high 65 points last season with 33 coming on the power play. Wayne Simmonds had 17 of his 46 points come via the power play.
Even Nolan Patrick started to fall into this. Eight of his 30 points came on the power play.
Of course, there was also the addition of James van Riemsdyk, a player who over the years has thrived on the power play. Last season, 20 of his 54 points came on the power play.
This season has been very different on the power play for all of those players. Voracek has just eight power-play points. Gostisbehere also has just eight points on the man advantage. Simmonds has just six points. JVR is sitting at five points.
And those numbers don’t look as bad now that the Flyers have scored seven power-play goals in the last 15 games after scoring seven in the previous 29 games dating from Oct. 13 to Dec. 20.
With as much focus as there has been on goaltending and the penalty kill, certainly both issues this season, it is the power play that wasn’t perceived to be an issue that has become one this season and it has caused a lot of changes to be made.
The Flyers started to employ a five-forward power-play unit of late. They have swapped out players left and right to find the combination that may produce some results. In fairness, they have scored more on the man-advantage lately than they had all season, but it’s still not an area that anyone expected to become a problem.
If the Flyers want to look back at an area of their game that really let them down this season, it has been the power play. The Flyers had games last season where goaltending was suspect and the penalty kill and defensive play wasn’t there, but seemed to get a power-play opportunity and find a way to cash in to keep themselves in a game.
This season, they have squandered far too many of those chances. And it’s just one of the many glaring reasons that this has been a season to forget.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.