It’s time to make a change

The Philadelphia Flyers have struggled hard on the power play since moving to Western Canada. Are they about to get back on track?

Two declaration losses served as an advisory to the extinguished power play. First, the Calgary Flames dominated the Flyers on the road. Then, Philadelphia couldn’t get back on track against an injured Pittsburgh Penguins lineup.

Including the loss to the Flames, the Flyers are 2/29 on the power play.

In the last eight games, Philadelphia has failed to keep its units stable on the power play. Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien have changed the roster five times in the hope of a breakthrough. In the same streak, Travis Konecny ​​and Ivan Provorov were the only Flyers to contribute to the scoreboard with an added advantage. Last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, failure to convert helped dig Philadelphia.

The inability to convert to a power play puts the blame on the penalty kill and the overall ability to play a well-disciplined brand of hockey. Following last night, the Flyers have the third best defense in the NHL. Add to that an elite goaltending tandem and it’s a little easier to see how Philadelphia rivals its playoff contenders. It’s a crash course to accentuate the positives, but there’s no sustainability over an entire season. Therrien walks a tightrope when his adjustments hurt a playoff-caliber franchise.

If it is not broke, do not fix it

After the loss to the Calgary Flames, the Philadelphia Flyers began to shuffle their units on the power play. Against the Arizona Coyotes, AV and Therrien debuted a new look at the human advantage. The Coyotes and Flyers have not scored a goal after two periods. They were 0/3 on the power play against a shot on goal for 30th on the league’s worst team.

From a puck movement perspective, Vigneault liked what he saw. Did he hit the panic button a little earlier? Were these changes better than the original plan?

In the first six games of the season, Philadelphia scored five power play goals. They haven’t played back-to-back games in that span without converting a power-play chance.

James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier and Keith Yandle are among those not currently in the top powerhouse unit. Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard and Ivan Provorov have all been promoted from second to first team. Frustration mounts, but Vigneault and Konecny ​​got their message across at a press conference. They have to keep pushing, and the goals will come. Alignment nirvana can be obtained, especially when the Flyers are capable of such firepower.

The next step forward unlocks once Vigneault and Therrien get back to square one.

A powerful suggestion

As a warning, I will be removing the accent from Ryan Ellis due to his status as a long-term injured reservist.

Something that I believe bothers the Philadelphia Flyers is Ivan Provorov to overdo. He is in the first pair, the first power play and penalty kill. Underused is Travis Sanheim. He doesn’t get as many offensive chances but should step in to relieve Provorov, especially when he’s overdrive with Ellis missing. Whether or not that means Sanheim pulls out from the penalty spot is up for debate, but I wouldn’t be quick to change that dynamic either.

Claude Giroux is dynamic with Atkinson and Brassard. Include JVR, a power-advantage scoring specialist, along with Keith Yandle, and it’s a wrap on the top unit. Joel Farabee, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny ​​remain familiar with the second team with Rasmus Ristolainen and Sanheim to the blue line. Both have similar rates for shots on goal, but Sanheim could help contain the puck better in the offensive zone due to his grip on limiting gifts.

Across the blue line, I’m looking for Ristolainen and Yandle for quarterbacks for both units. As soon as Ristolainen takes on this role, his value with the Flyers will skyrocket.

These units are struggling to grow, but it’s incredibly difficult to work on consistency when the power play teams are constantly changing. Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien must extract such a performance from their forwards to match the defense and goalkeepers. When this happens, Philadelphia becomes a constant threat.

Photo credit: Alex McIntyre

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