Better With Popcorn

Penalty Killing Themselves

Through four games the new look Flyers have performed well.
 
They've played an up-tempo brand of hockey that emphasizes their speed as well as their strength. By jumping out of the gate with a 3-0-1 record the team has proven their toughness.
 
But a far less glamorous number is proving that the team may be a bit too tough.
 
25.
 
That is the amount of times that the Flyers have been short-handed this season and following Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Kings, the number loomed large.
 
With the burden of facing power play units all night, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov realizes the importance of staying disciplined.

“We got lots of penalties,” he told reporters after Saturday's loss. “It’s got to stop because it is going to cost us a lot in the future.”
 
This was most certainly the case on Saturday as the Kings ended up winning the contest with a power play goal in overtime. The Flyers were short-handed on eight separate occasions including two of Los Angeles' goals.
 
Unfortunately, undisciplined play is a trend with the Flyers. Over their last two games, they have been short-handed a total of 15 times and have allowed four power play goals. That total is more than half of their total goals allowed in the last two games and composes exactly 50% of their goals against this season.
 
When comparing the Flyers to the rest of the league, their total of 25 times short-handed is tied with Ottawa for the fourth-most of any other team. Only Carolina, Tampa Bay and Dallas have been short-handed more times than the Flyers. It should also be noted that those four other teams have all played an extra game than the Flyers have, which makes it even more evident that this team takes too many penalties.

 

 

Games Played

Times Short-Handed

1.)

Dallas

5

28

2.)

Tampa Bay

5

27

3.)

Carolina

5

27

4.)

FLYERS

4

25

5.)

Ottawa

5

25

 

By taking such a large amount of penalties, the Flyers are putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage. Not only do they allow the other team to have an offensive advantage for at least two minutes, they also force special teams players to have to play a lot of minutes. In addition, they force their goaltender to face shot attempts from higher percentage areas of the ice.
 
Obviously, that can wear a team down.
 
“When that many penalties happen throughout the course of a game it really takes the flow out of your bench,” coach Peter Laviolette told reporters Saturday. “[It] seems like one group gets exhausted, and then the other group gets exhausted… it was just so hard to keep it up in-between those 5 on 5 sessions.”
 
The coach wasn’t the only one who felt the penalties hurt the flow of the game.
 
“You’re not really in any flow, it is just a lot of stop and start from the game standpoint,” captain Chris Pronger said. “No way to roll our lines… which makes it tough to get some consistency going.  It really limits the bench and you don’t get everybody involved.”
 
It was evident that this was the case on Saturday night.
 
“Unfortunately the penalties slowed us down,” Jaromir Jagr said to reporters. “The second and third period was up and down hockey.”
 
With the amount of young players coming into the equation it's safe to assume that they’re eager to get involved and make a difference. That can lead to overexcitement, which can cause a player to be a little too zealous in their play. Of the 25 times the Flyers have been short-handed this season, 44% of the time those penalties have been taken by a player 25 years of age or younger.
 
It would be easy (as well as accurate) to assume that Zac Rinaldo has made up a large portion of that number. Rinaldo has caused the Flyers to be short-handed four times this year, which is the most on the team. But interestingly enough, Rinaldo isn’t alone atop that list.
 
Daniel Briere has also caused the Flyers to be short-handed four times this season, including a four minute double minor for high sticking on Saturday night. All four of Briere’s penalties have been some kind of stick penalty.
 
“It’s not so much the penalties right in front of the net, or stopping a scoring chance or what have you,” Pronger said to reporters. “It is the little hooks, high sticks 200 feet from the net that really hurts you.  Those are usually the ones that come back to bite you and they did.”
 
For a player like Rinaldo whose job is to get a rise out of opposing players, it’s understandable that he’ll take penalties. For Briere, a player whose only job is to produce points, it’s important that he is available to play as many minutes as possible. If he’s sitting in the penalty box he won’t have many chances to score goals.
 
Every game this season, with the exception of one, has been decided by a single goal. For a team built to play defensive games, the Flyers need to do everything they can to give their defense every possible advantage. This means their goal scorers have to be on the ice and their energy guys have to play smart.
 
If the team can’t control themselves in the future, the amount of penalties they take could have a serious impact on their success this season.

 

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6 Comments

Kim Pollock's picture

The team has been a little frustrating to watch at times this season, and this is one of the biggest reasons. I love Briere, but he has GOT to stop taking those penalties. He's been in the league for a long time, and stick infractions have been a downfall. He needs to figure something out because it's hurting the team. Obviously, he's not the only one, but since he's atop the list with Rinaldo, something needs to change, and quickly.

Mark Trible's picture

I think if you ask the team, Rinaldo's penalties are expected, some may even argue that he can't do what he does effectively w/out taking penalties. But Hartnell and Briere have combined for some terrible ones this season. Too taxing for the PK and Bryz

John Russo's picture

Hartnell's bad penalties are the reason he's on the 4th line currently. The guy needs to wake up. He's always going to have a spot on this team but his ice time will keep going down if this crap continues.

Adam Pardes's picture

Just like the powerplay was their major downfall at the end of last year, their penalties will be their downfall if they don't tighten up soon. It's great that it's so early in the season so they have a lot of time to adjust, but then again, we say the same thing every year...

scowpert's picture

This is what you expect from a young team however when Briere and Coburn are at the top of the list you have to wonder. You have to wonder if Danny misses Ville that much. Smile

Matthew Brigidi's picture

The shame is that the penalty kill looks pretty good. We're just seeing far too much of it.