NEW YORK – One of the changes the Flyers have made to get their stagnant power play going concerns both personnel and positioning on the second unit.
Nick Cousins was placed on the unit, working the half-wall, but the more significant change was re-positioning 6-foot-3 centerman Sean Couturier from the slot to the net, a la Wayne Simmonds' role.
Of course, Couturier doesn’t have the skinny, string bean legs of Simmonds …
“I need some smaller legs so pucks can get through them, that’s probably the secret,” Couturier kidded.
The new unit also includes holdovers Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Mark Streit.
“It’s only been two games and the few occasions we get, but I like this unit,” Couturier said after the morning skate at Madison Square Garden.
“I can use my big body at the net to screen the goalie and jump on some loose pucks and win some battles in front.
“Our second unit is a pretty simple power play. We go out when there’s 30-40 seconds left. There’s not much time to play make plays. We try to be more of a shooting power play and score off scrums.”
Power play coach Joey Mullen came up with the changes during the recent five-day break. Assistant coaches are not permitted to talk to the media, so Hakstol has to talk for Mullen.
“[Just] changing the look of it a little and working for the most part off the opposite side with Coots down low closer to the net,” Hakstol explained. “He does a good job down in that area. The initial look at that through the first couple of games has been good.
“They scored a goal right as a power play expired against New Jersey, so in essence that’s a power-play goal even though it doesn’t count that way.”
Incidentally, the NHL changed the goal on Tuesday from Konecny to Cousins with assists to Provorov and Streit.
Cousins said he played the half-wall in both junior and with the Phantoms and prefers to work that area on the power play.
“You’re on your forehand,” he said. “It’s easier to make cross-ice passes. You don’t have a one-timer at the top, but moving it around. T.K. is in the middle and Coots is in front.”
Because they get limited time as the second unit, their goal is to come out, get a puck off the wall, back to the point and a quick shot released.
There’s not as much setup time because time is running out. It’s puck retrieval and shoot.
“You got penalty killers who come up high and when Streiter moves it down to me, I try to zip it over to Provy,” Cousins said. “If we keep moving it around, shoot the puck, things open up.”
The Flyers go into tonight’s game against the Rangers 0 for 14 on the power play in the last three games.
Del Zotto injured
Michael Del Zotto will not play against the Rangers. He took a puck off the leg against the Devils on Saturday night.
He did not play in Sunday’s game against the Islanders in Brooklyn even though he took warmups that game. General manager Ron Hextall said Del Zotto remains day to day.
Today's skate was optional with a dozen skaters.
Here’s the Flyers line combinations and defensive pairs for tonight.