Better With Popcorn

Penalties Paralyzing Flyers

Despite the amount of talent on the Flyers roster, penalties have been problematic.
Through 15 games, the team currently leads the league in amount of minor penalties taken (82), total penalties (96) and total penalty minutes (255).
Wednesday night’s game had big storylines all around. The game itself, the return of Chris Pronger, and the brand new extension Braydon Coburn signed. The Flyers lack of discipline went largely unnoticed.

Philadelphia ultimately took three penalties in the third period, allowing the Lightning to tie the game on the first of three power plays.
In total, the Flyers allowed the Lightning to have a man-advantage seven different times. While it only resulted in one goal against, that one goal turned out to be the difference between one point and two.
But, the penalty troubles began earlier than that.
Through the team’s first six games, they had allowed their opponents to have five or more power plays in each game. On two separate occasions the Flyers had to kill off seven or more penalties.
While the infractions didn’t stop the team from going 4-1-1, it was apparent that the penalties were starting to catch up to them.
In their next four games, they went 1-3 with the fourth game of that tailspin being the wild 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
There was a silver lining to the disappointing loss, though.
The Jets had five power play opportunities during the game and capitalized on their first two.
With a little over two minutes remaining in the second period, Scott Hartnell was called for roughing.
It turned out to be the first of 20 consecutive penalties that the Flyers would successfully kill.
Over the team’s next four games, they amassed a record of 3-0-1, holding each of their opponents to under two goals in each game.
Most importantly, the team limited the amount of penalties that they took.
With the exception of their 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres (when they took five penalties), the Flyers stayed under three penalties in each of the other games.

The team even successfully killed off the first four penalties they took in Tampa Bay. The fifth penalty, a tripping penalty to Jakub Voracek, resulted in the end of the streak.
An interesting note to the Flyers streak is that over that span, the team only committed four stick infractions; one in each game.
Four of the seven penalties committed in the loss to Tampa Bay were stick-related.
In total, 48% of all Flyers penalties this season have been due to a stick penalty. In games in which the Flyers have committed one or less stick penalty, the team has a record of 4-1-1. In games in which they take three or more they are 3-3-2.
These kinds of penalties usually result from a player being out of position on a play or being careless.
If the Flyers can’t find a way to stop taking such useless penalties they will have a hard time fulfilling expectations. 


Follow me on Twitter (@mattbrigidi) and make sure to "like" The Checking Line-Flyers Edition on Facebook to stay up to the minute with all the latest team news and notes.


Matt Bernot's picture

Reducing penalties (stick or physical) come from implementing discipline and stability. Laviolette Line Lottery is partly to blame for this. As a player having the same linemates day in and day out builds a chemistry where you start knowing where someone is/what they're going to do next.

When you know that, you play more rationally and with more control.

When you don't have linemates you're used to/have chemistry with players start trying to do more by themselves and trusting their teammates less. This leads to the stick fouls.

I'm not saying Lavi is entirely to blame, but sticking with line combos for a few games in a row could probably help a bit.