Flyers’ Special Teams Struggles Key in 10-Game Losing Streak

What seemed like a season of resilience isn’t weighing out the way we all hoped so far. The Philadelphia Flyers drop to seventh in the Metropolitan Division, with a 7-10-5 record. They are on a 10-game losing streak, which is close to matching the longest losing streak in franchise history set in 2021-2022 of 13 games (from Dec 30, 2021, to Jan 29, 2022).

The cracks have shown in the past nine games, and one of the problems is coming from the special units such as power play and penalty kill.

Flyers’ Power-Play Units

The power play was seemingly off to a good start with the helpful addition of Tony DeAngelo and productivity from Travis Konecny, which made it much more efficient than the 12.6% success rate in 2021-2022, placing them last in the NHL. The power-play units even received praise from head coach John Tortorella: “Our power play has been — knock on wood — very important, just to keep us in the game, to get a goal to allow us to stay in it” (from ‘The Philadelphia Flyers are becoming John Tortorella’s team in more ways than one,’ The Athletic, 11/2/22).

Unfortunately, a lengthy list of injuries holding top players out of the lineup started to increase, which may be a benefactor in the fall of the team’s success. Promising point producer and power-play leader, Konecny landed himself on the injured reserve list after suffering an upper-body injury against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 17, leaving room for others to step up.

Since the beginning of their losing streak, the Flyers have only produced two power-play goals, for a 14.2% success rate, ranked at the bottom of the NHL.

Tony DeAngelo Philadelphia Flyers
Tony DeAngelo, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Due to the injuries, we’ve seen a series of different line combinations on the power play. Morgan Frost has begun to move up with Kieffer Bellows and Zack MacEwan, but there’s been plenty of opportunity for Owen Tippett and Lukas Sedlak, with Kevin Hayes moving down from the top power-play units.

Flyers’ Penalty Kill

The power play isn’t the only flay in Philadelphia’s systems; their penalty killing is also a problem. Of course, penalties result from one thing and one thing only, penalties. As defined by Tortorella in a recent post-game press conference, the team hasn’t been the smartest when it comes to digging their way out of a losing streak.

“We did so many good things, but then we self-implode with the penalties. Just unnecessary penalties. You can’t do it.”

The team is now ranked 25th with a 73.5% success rate on the penalty kill. Last season, they finished 26th with a 75.7% success rate definitely not a good spot to be in after 22 games.

Related: 5 Takeaways From 7-Game Losing Streak

Against the New York Islanders on Nov 26, the Islanders took advantage of their opportunities, going two for three on the power play resulting in a 5-2 win over the Flyers.

Trying to Stay Positive

The Flyers are producing; they just aren’t seeing the results.

John Tortorella Philadelphia Flyers
John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tortorella still tried to shed a more positive light, a more light side to the disappointing results the Flyers have shown: “If this is adversity, and we can’t get through something like this … there’s going to be many different situations that are going to be harder to come through than this. This is a matter of a team just trying to fix things within ourselves.” Tortorella told the media after their 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Nov 17.

The struggles within both the penalty-killing and power-play units could be one of those things that could be potentially holding them back from seeing games end in their favour, and if they improve their game in those areas, it could help them break the now double-digit losing streak.

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