Sunday felt like a day to make things right.
Sure, the Flyers’ first three games sucked and led to all sorts of panic, but legitimately kicking the Rangers’ asses before blowing out the Panthers almost made that start a distant memory.
The key word is almost.
With a chance to even their record, generate some momentum, and make the first three games basically irrelevant, the Flyers got hammered by the Lightning, giving new life to the uncertainty regarding this team and reintroducing questions that were almost, almost answered the previous night.
Following the Flyers loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, the go-to excuse became the team’s discipline. After all, the Lightning scored two of their goals with the man advantage and another shortly after a power play ended.
I don’t feel like wasting time dragging this out. Essentially, that’s garbage.
The Flyers have been shorthanded 29 times. Only the Avalanche has been on the penalty kill more frequently (31).
Unlike the Avs, who have only had 15 power plays this year, the Flyers have actually benefitted from the officiating. The Flyers have had 31 power plays this season.
This happened last year, too, when the Flyers led the league in power play opportunities with (335) and times shorthanded (319).
There are a lot of reasons this could be the case. Maybe the Flyers have a reputation. Maybe the Flyers play a fast, aggressive style that leads to a lot of calls both ways. But, in the end, it doesn’t matter.
The calls are going to come, and it’s not going to necessarily hurt the Flyers.
I use the term “necessarily” because we’re working under the assumption that the Flyers’ special teams won’t continue to be completely terrible.
The Flyers have allowed 18 goals this year, and nine have come on the power play. Opposing teams are converting on 31 percent of their opportunities, making the Flyers the fourth-worst unit in the NHL.
On the flip side, the Flyers have only scored on 12.9 percent of their power plays (and allowed a shorthanded goal), 24th in the NHL.
Despite having two extra power plays, the Flyers’ special teams are a minus-six. That’s not good enough.
The Flyers’ penalty kill was better last year than it has been so far (especially considering the strangely low save percentage) and the power play was much better than it’s been so far this year (eighth-best in 2012).
Most of the personnel is back with an array of young players who should only be improving. Now, the results need to follow.
There are plenty of questions surrounding this team. The amount of times it has been shorthanded is one of its issues. When this happened last year we didn’t complain. We didn’t complain because the Flyers were good on the power play.
The Flyers’ best answer to all of these questions lies with their special teams play, which have to make things right.