Lack of communication a major reason Flyers struggling defensively

Lack of communication a major reason Flyers struggling defensively

VOORHEES, N.J. — Down-low coverage between the Flyers' defense and forwards has been a huge issue.
It’s partly why the Flyers' goaltenders were lit like pumpkins in October and why their goals against is 29th in the NHL.
Coach Dave Hakstol says it’s the most “prevalent” problem on the club right now. So what has to change as November begins?
For starters, the two defensemen and forward down low have to talk to each other and the goaltenders.
“We have to communicate more,” defenseman Radko Gudas said. “Lot of teams play the puck down low and go side to side. We have to communicate with the low forward and make sure we know who we have.”
It sounds fairly simple, but in real time under today’s NHL, which moves at lightning quick speed, things happen in a millisecond. That’s when the puck is already in the net.
“We have to pick up a guy and stay with him,” said Sean Couturier, the most defensive-conscious forward on the club. “What’s going on around us?
“Maybe a little too much puck-watching right now. We’re letting guys get open too easily. Obviously, it’s a problem.”
He also feels players need to focus more on their own situation.
“It’s communication, but it’s also being self-aware and knowing what is going on around you,” Couturier said. “You can’t just look at the puck. Even if it’s a 2-on-2 battle, you've got to find that other guy open in the slot somewhere.”
It’s one reason why Steve Mason faced eight open shots without coverage over four games in the past week. Things have to button down and as Hakstol said on Tuesday, “We have to do it quickly.”

Defenseman Brandon Manning, who has been the best two-way blueliner this season, said there has to be quicker decision-making.
“Between the defenseman and either the centerman or low forward, we need to sort it out quicker when two D end up in the corner or one guy,” Manning said. “A little more communication and it should become easier on everyone.”
The Flyers just came off three sets of back-to-backs in October and begin November’s schedule on Wednesday against Detroit in the front end of their fourth back-to-back.
They’ll face the Islanders on Thursday in Brooklyn. Michal Neuvirth will start against the Red Wings.
“We've definitely got to be tougher in front of our net,” Neuvirth said. “We’re getting scored on a lot with second opportunities and stuff around the net. We have to make it tougher on the other team.”
Mason, who had a very extended practice session on Tuesday, added, “We’ve created our own problems ... and it’s bit us in the butt and caused a goal to happen.”
Part of the issue here, in terms of corrections, has been the lack of practice time to work on making adjustments on the ice. There’s only so much video a team can watch. On-ice practice is a must when things aren’t going right.
Because the Flyers played 10 games over 16 days in October, adding in the back-to-backs and mandatory rest, they’ve had little or no real practice days.
On Tuesday, they got in a longer practice session which allowed Hakstol’s staff to work on some details of their game from the standpoint of execution.
“It’s been a very busy month with games and travel,” Hakstol said. “We’ve got an opportunity here over the next 10 days to have at least two or three quality practices, just like the one we had today.”
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, yet in the Flyers’ case, it might make a difference in goals against.

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Petr Mrazek was the first Flyer on the ice for Wednesday's practice, spending considerable time with goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh.

"We talked about strategy a little bit, how to square up to the puck, how to help the D and the PK and how to manage things," Mrazek said. "I think we had a good conversation and I'm looking forward to working with him and try and help the team."

Mrazek was also the first guy off the ice, an early indication that he'll make his Flyers debut Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. Mrazek spent his first day in Philadelphia serving as Alex Lyon's backup and watched his new team from the bench, quickly noticing how the Flyers moved the puck from zone to zone.  

"Everyone was really fast in transition yesterday," Mrazek said. "We were trying to get the puck out of the zone as quick as we can."

Mrazek believes he can help facilitate quick breakouts with the way he plays the puck and working the puck to his defensemen.

"I'm really confident in playing the puck and helping the defense," Mrazek said. "I like to be involved behind the net and put the puck on their sticks and get the puck out of the zone. Especially on the road, it's very important when teams chip the puck behind the net and try to make a play out there."

Playing the puck efficiently will certainly help Mrazek rest easier, as was his first night in Philadelphia. Staying at a nearby hotel, Mrazek was able to get a good night's rest after barely getting any sleep the night he was traded to Philadelphia. 

"I was fine today," he said, "but yesterday when I woke up at four in the morning, I asked myself, 'Is this really happening?'"

Flyers survive a scare with Travis Konecny

Flyers survive a scare with Travis Konecny

VOORHEES, N.J. — T.K. appears to be OK.

The Flyers have apparently survived a scare, even though Travis Konecny sat out Wednesday's workout. The Flyers' winger was given a maintenance day to recover from soreness from Tuesday's win over the Canadiens.

General manager Ron Hextall listed Konecny as probable after he took a slap shot off his left skate in the first period that severely hampered his mobility.

Konecny labored throughout the majority of the game, unable to sustain for prolonged periods with nine shifts under 30 seconds. The 20-year-old winger has been a primary contributor during the Flyers' second-half surge with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in his last 24 games since being moved up to the Flyers' top line.

Tuesday night was just the seventh time during that 24-game span Konecny failed to register a point. The Flyers will make a determination following Thursday's morning skate regarding his availability against the Blue Jackets.

"Either you can play or you can't this time of year," Dave Hakstol said. "Nobody would be surprised to know that around the league there's a lot of guys that play at a little bit less than 100 percent. This time of year, that's how it is. You have to be able to do your job at a high level. That's the line — you're on one side of it or the other, and we'll make that decision."

Taylor Leier, a healthy scratch the past seven games, skated in Konecny's spot on the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.