Flyers Backcheck: Undressed in Montreal

It may only be two straight losses, but it certainly looks and feels as if the Flyers are in the midst of an early-season tailspin. Coming off of an ugly loss against Columbus on Friday, the Flyers picked right up where they left off on Saturday night with a 6-3 loss in Montreal. With plenty of breakdowns to breakdown, let’s get to it.

Penalty Kill Status: MIA

After giving up three power play goals to the Blue Jackets on Friday night, the Montreal Canadiens continued the exploitation of Philadelphia’s penalty killing unit. Never mind the fact that the Habs entered Saturday’s game with just four power play goals in their previous 17 games. And disregard Montreal’s league-worst four goals for in the first period. Their remedy had already entered the building.

First period power play goals from P.A. Parenteau and David Desharnais bucked the already mentioned trends. When P.K. Subban added another power play tally in the second period, the Flyers found themselves in a three-goal deficit courtesy of a PK unit that has now surrendered six power play goals in seven chances dating back to Friday.

Even with the new addition of veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who touts 403 career power play points, the Flyers were victimized on all three Montreal power play opportunities. Considering how this was Gonchar’s second game with the Habs, as well as the fact that he was held scoreless, the Flyers really have no bullets left in the chamber when it comes to offering up explanations.

Montreal is absolutely laughable on the power play. They haven’t scored a power play goal on the road ALL SEASON LONG. Before tonight, they had only scored 4 power play goals at home. Not to worry, they were lucky enough to find something very early on that fixed their troubles with the man advantage: play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have now allowed 6 goals on their last 7 “kills” dating back to last Saturday, during which period the penalty kill has looked upsetting at best and cringing at worst. They’re really missing Adam Hall and Kimmo Timonen. — Collin Mehalick, Broad Street Hockey

While the Flyers didn’t seem to be missing Adam Hall or Kimmo Timonen before seeing Columbus, giving up just one home power play goal in 25 chances, they seem to be missing something since. After all, giving up six goals in seven shorthanded situations is difficult to accomplish in a video game – with a player of any skill level.

“We’re not blocking shots, and we’re not moving the puck well,” said forward Matt Read. “We’re not reading the game well enough right now.”

When a team bats 1.000 on the power play against you, you aren’t doing anything right. Clearing the puck, for instance, has turned into an elusive objective. This, of course, leads to extended zone time for the opposition, which results in either an abundance of blocked shots, or pucks in the net. Given the horrific penalty killing numbers over the last two, it’s not hard to guess which of the two is occurring more often.

Emery Not so Sharp

In his first start since Oct. 30th’s 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ray Emery continued the average to shaky goaltending pattern that Steve Mason established the night before. After rattling off four straight wins in the month of October, Emery has now lost his last two starts.

Just to illustrate Emery’s turn in production, the 32-year-old backup has now yielded 10 goals on 60 shots in his last two losses. In his four-game win streak before that, though, Emery allowed only eight goals on 107 shots.

Flyers goalies Steve Mason and Ray Emery played their best hockey of the season when getting a heavy workload. Over the weekend, they struggled returning from lengthy layoffs. Mason, after allowing five goals in winning three in a row, gave up four goals in the loss to Columbus and was saved by posts twice. Emery, who was 3-0 in a span of seven days during Mason’s winless October, played for the first time in 16 days on Saturday and looked very rusty allowing six goals on 28 shots. — Randy Miller,

The 6-3 loss to Montreal dropped Emery’s career record against the Habs to 9-8-1 with a save percentage clinging to stay over .900 (.901). The loss was Emery’s fourth straight loss against the Canadiens dating back to 2008. In fact, Emery’s last win against Montreal was earned on Feb. 9th, 2008, when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators.

Through the early going of the current season, Emery has been terrific. But after his second loss of the campaign to the Habs, it’s safe to say, or at least suggest, that the Canadiens are a bad matchup for Emery. And while some will argue that the goals he has allowed were not his fault, there is absolutely no excuse for giving up Montreal’s fifth goal of the evening.

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With a 4-3 lead, Dale Weise found out how good things happen when you throw pucks at the net. After a Flyers turnover, Weise’s not so powerful wrister slipped passed Emery’s wickets, making Patrick Kane’s overtime goal in Game Six of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final look legit.

Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but not an overly one. Dale Weise did score twice on Saturday on both of his shot attempts. Lucky? Maybe. But after a Gordy Howe hat trick performance against Boston on Thursday, everything Weise touches is turning to gold. Emery knows what that’s like from his previous win streak this season alone. Stating he and Steve Mason would like to recapture that feeling is stating the absolute obvious.

Meet the NHL’s New Point Leader

After engaging Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in a game of one-upmanship from affar, Jakub Voracek enters Nov. 16th as the NHL’s lone leader in points with 26. Voracek’s pair of helpers not only thrusted the Czech forward ahead of his Canadian rival in Pittsburgh, it also extended his current point streak to 10 games.

Voracek’s 26 points through 16 games not only leads the NHL, it has the 25-year-old winger threatening Mark Recchi’s 21-year-old franchise single-season points record of 123.

“Quickness and competitiveness stand out to me, and playmaking with the pucks,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube last week.

“Mark Recchi was a real good passer and playmaker who could finish. Jake is getting to that level where he can finish which is dangerous.”

While Voracek’s 10-game point streak is worthy of admiration, his pair of assists against the Canadiens on Saturday gives #93 his ninth multi-point game of the season. And with a three-game multi-point game streak in effect, Voracek needs a pair of points in Wednesday’s matchup against the Rangers to match his previous four-game multi-point streak from October.

Flyers forward Jakub Voracek had two assists to stretch his point streak to a career-high 10 games. He has five goals and 14 assists during his streak and he took sole possession of the League lead in assists (19) and points (26). Voracek has eight multi-point games during his current point streak and has three goals and 13 assists in 15 career games against the Canadiens.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Voracek is the first player in Flyers history to have at least eight multipoint games in a 10-game span. He also is the first Flyers player with a 10-game point streak since Mark Recchi from Feb. 25 to Mar. 19, 2001 (11 games).

The last Flyers players with at least 26 points through Philadelphia’s first 16 games were Peter Forsberg (31 points) and Simon Gagne (26) in 2005-06. —

Perhaps the Chicago Blackhawks should be awarded with a championship belt of some kind. Through Philadelphia’s first 16 games, Joel Quenneville’s squad stands as the only team to hold the Flyers’ scoring freak without a point. The Flyers are now 6-3-0 when Voracek scores two or more points.

Tidbits in Montreal

In just his fifth full season in the NHL, P.K. Subban has solidified himself as a lethal scoring threat on the power play. His 27 power play goals in 302 regular season games suggest just that. Remember, the 25-year-old is a defenseman – a position not traditionally known for scoring.

Before Saturday’s 6-3 win, though, Subban’s last goal scored against the Flyers was on Dec. 15th, 2010. On Saturday, however, the animated alternate captain broke a 12-game goalless streak against Philadelphia. And despite touting 12 points in 18 career games against the orange and black, Subban’s pair of goals have come by means of the power play.

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Brayden Schenn’s pair of goals against the Habs extended the 23-year-old’s current point streak to five games. Throughout Schenn’s streak, the 6-1, 190-pound forward has found the back of the net three times, while dishing out four assists.

Schenn’s overall play of late has blossomed. The five-year veteran was promoted to the top line on Saturday, and appears to finally be a fit. Schenn added his 100th career NHL point, which was an added bonus to finding his way back to the top unit. Schenn was replaced by Michael Raffl, who is out due to injury, on the top line in the second game of the season.

The Flyers didn’t get much help in the standings from their Metropolitan Division cohabitants. Aside from the Islanders and Capitals dropping games, every other team in action on Saturday earned at least one point.

After losing nine straight games, the Blue Jackets built off of their 4-3 victory over the Flyers by downing San Jose at home. And despite skating to a whacky shootout finish, the Pittsburgh Penguins padded their division lead with a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.

New York’s point pushes them to two ahead of the Flyers in the standings, while the Jackets creeped closer by earning their 13th point. With Philadelphia and Washington losers on Saturday, the Flyers are sixth in the Metropolitan Division with 16 points. They remain one point behind the Capitals with one game in hand on them.

The Flyers next travel to MSG, where history hasn’t been kind to them. At least they snapped their nine-game losing streak in that building last April. And at this point, it’s at least something to build off of.