Positioning: The thin line between being lucky and good
There’s a thin line between being lucky and being good.
Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been much of either lately.
After winning only two games in their last eight and registering only six points out of a possible 16, it’s easy to see the team is frustrated with their performance.
It’s also easy to hear their frustration as well.
“We just can’t have one or two lines going and four D or whatever,” Kimmo Timonen said after Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers. “This is the time of year where you need everybody going and if you don’t, [then losing] happens.”
And, Sunday night it happened again.
Despite gaining two separate leads, it was the team’s disorganized play in the final minutes of the second as well as in the opening minute of the third that cost them another two points.
However, it wasn’t the only time this weekend the team looked out of sorts.
In Saturday’s gut-wrenching 5-2 loss to the Rangers, the team’s effort in the third period lacked little if any structure.
Not to mention how terrible the penalty kill looked all weekend.
Much of the focus will undoubtedly fall upon the lost opportunities and lack of defensive support, but there is one glaring issue that has consistently been popping up over this current down turn.
Such a simple concept that it often goes over looked, positioning is just as important as any other element of the game.
Against Detroit, the team displayed what happens when you execute strong positional play.
On the first goal in the Red Wings game, goaltender Joey MacDonald mishandled the puck behind the net. Daniel Briere collected it and sent a pass to Brayden Schenn who merely had to tap it into an empty-net.
The team’s second goal came off an offensive zone faceoff draw, where MacDonald once again attempted to play the puck only to tap it to a crashing Schenn who buried the miscue.
The final goal came off a broken rush when Scott Hartnell directed the puck towards the net and Max Talbot tapped it over MacDonald.
Those plays could easily be seen as a case of dumb luck. The goaltender messed up on the first two goals and the third was a lucky bounce.
However, there is a fine line between lucky and good and in this case the team got lucky because of good positioning.
Ultimately, you’re not going to be able to take advantage of fortuitous bounces if you’re not standing in the right place. In addition, you’re going to allow those same kinds of bounces if you’re not in the right place defensively.
This was also the case on Sunday as all four Red Wings goals came with any number of Philadelphia players seemingly out of place.
Unfortunately, this is the reality of the team's play. More often than not, the team hasn’t been in the right place and it has paid a heavy price at times.
Why it’s starting to happen is any one’s guess.
Are the players starting to hit a midseason wall? Maybe.
Could it be the result of playing eight games in 13 days? Probably.
Has it cost the team points in the standings? Absolutely.
The Eastern Conference is shaping up to be competitive to the final day of the season. With the Rangers running away with the Atlantic Division, the Flyers will be battling for one of the other five remaining playoff spots.
The Flyers can’t continue to walk away from games without points.
While it’s highly unlikely they’ll miss the playoffs, they don’t want to begin a tailspin similar to the one they experienced last year.
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