Flyers

Flyers

BOX SCORE

The Flyers had played pretty darn well leading into Tuesday night, the middle point of their five-game homestand.

They were 5-0-1 over the past six games and made a dent in evening out their lopsided goal differential by outscoring the opposition 25-14 during that stretch.

If you recall, prior to then, the Flyers were surrendering the NHL's most goals at 46 through 11 games, a 4-7-0 start flooding with concerns.

Nothing was overly concerning about the Flyers' 2-1 loss Tuesday to the Panthers. They made a dominant charge in the third period to nearly erase a two-goal deficit and extend their point streak to seven games (see observations).

It didn't happen, but the Flyers will take that closing effort any night.

However, a worrisome area that has stuck out like a sore thumb didn't get better.

Special teams.

And that's concerning no matter how much the Flyers have swung things in the right direction.

The Flyers should have a few takeaways from Tuesday.

On one front, Scott Laughton has become a prime example of how the team's penalty kill can dig itself out from a ranking of 30th in the NHL. The quick and scrappy forward should lead a clinic at practice one day. 

The Flyers allowed a power-play goal Tuesday in three shorthanded opportunities, but Laughton was superb in the way he attacks puck carriers and forces the opposition into its decisions instead of sitting back and allowing it to freely roam.

 

If the Flyers collectively utilized Laughton's mindset and aggressiveness on the penalty kill, they'd be in much better shape than 19 power-play goals against, tied for worst in the NHL.

On another front, the Flyers left Tuesday knowing their power play is still in trouble. The team went on just one man-advantage opportunity and the first unit couldn't get the puck into the offensive zone, while the second group couldn't salvage it.

"We had one power play and we just couldn't get set up," Claude Giroux said. "I don't want to judge the power play off of only one power play, but we definitely need to be better, especially if we have only one power play."

The man advantage was not a perceived weakness entering 2018-19. Since Oct. 13, the Flyers' power play is 3 for 39, worst in the NHL. Overall, it ranks 28th on the season at 13.6 percent.

The Flyers have tried plenty to light a spark, even taking mainstays Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek off the top unit to bump up Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick. Still, nothing has budged and the Flyers look desperate for James van Riemsdyk's return (see story).

"It's going to turn around," Voracek said. "We have too many talented players not to have a good power play."

Voracek has a point. It should balance out, just like the Flyers' ugly start did. 

Right now, though, the special teams are not pretty and need to change.

Watching more of Laughton and getting back van Riemsdyk would be a start.

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