VOORHEES, N.J. Kris Letang probably said it best.
In dissecting Pittsburghs opening-round playoff series loss, the Penguins defenseman pointed to the Flyers power play.
We couldnt stop them. Every shot, every chance they had, they scored, said Letang in amazement.
Four games into that series, the Flyers power play efficiency was at 60 percent. It finished at 52.2 percent. The 12 power play goals in the series were a franchise record.
If ever one aspect of special teams was a deciding factor in a Flyers playoff round, it was what we just witnessed against the Penguins.
But can the Flyers power play continue to make that kind of impact as they move on?
We were spot on, said Danny Briere, who had one power play goal in the series and four at even strength.
Things went well for us obviously. Marc-Andre Fleury had a few breakdowns here and there and we took advantage of it. You cant expect to keep going at that same clip. You get up to 25 percent success and thats an amazing clip.
We were over 50 percent and youre not going to see that very often. We just got hot. In the season we got hot like that and then we had stretches where it wasnt.
During the regular season, the Flyers power play tied the Penguins for fifth-best in the league at just under 20 percent efficiency, which is great improvement over last years 19th overall showing at 16.6 percent.
Letang, Brooks Orpik and Pens coach Dan Bylsma all commented that the Flyers power play passing was marvelous. It was consistently a split-second ahead of the Penguin penalty killers and had their box confused and frustrated.
It helps us a lot that all five of us on that first unit were together for the last 40-50 games, so all know where to go and where the other player is going to be for breakouts in the zone, Jakub Voracek said.
It's huge for us and it's working well. We just move the puck very well. Our legs were moving all the time. We never stop. We're always cycling and moving the puck around. Anybody can score and anybody can make something happen. We put a lot of pucks in the net ... but we gotta keep things going.
It's great, Voracek said. I'm working with Kimmo on my side and then you got Claude Giroux running the show on the other side. G can score and he can pass to the net, so it's very dangerous. I'm just trying to get open and be an option for those guys.
Danny Brieres second unit features Jaromir Jagr, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Matt Carle. Briere said both units passing was flawless through much of the Penguins series from the breakout to zone setup.
Brieres unit, which sometimes includes Max Talbot, had five power play goals in the series.
We certainly did a very good job, Briere said. Our entry passes were good, our passing inside the zone was good. We almost had chances to score every, single power play we got. Confidence grew as the series went on.
We had another unit coming down the stretch, our second unit, figured it out and became dangerous. When you have two units that can score it makes it tough on the PK. You cant put your best penalty killer against one unit. You have to scramble and split it up and change things around.
There have been some lean times in recent years with assistant coach Joey Mullens power play. It struggled all through the 2010-11season. It had an 0-for-13 skid this season.
Whats interesting is that Jagrs groin injury forced Mullen to move him to the second unit upon return and it stayed that way with the aggressive Simmonds working the crease area looking for those famed Mike Knuble garbage goals.
They got red hot, Mullen told reporters this week. The pretty much stayed that way until the end of the season. Any time you can bigger and talented guys in front of the net, it's going to help you.
They're harder to move. We got Simmonds there. He stands right in front of the goalie and he's hard to move. Then Hartnell gets to move around, and when we do get the puck around the net, he's tough to move out too.
All of that factored in against the Penguins, a team against which Mullen won two Stanley Cups on his way to becoming one of the greatest American players ever. Mullen finished his NHL career with 150 power play goals and 502 overall.
Hes a tremendous asset, head coach Peter Laviolette said of Mullen. We utilize him for different things, but that really is his specialty. The power play got a lot of work this year. It wasnt once a month or twice a month.
Whenever we saw an opportunity in the schedule, even if it had to be a pregame skate somewhere, we felt like we had to move it around on the PP. He does a good job of passing along his knowledge, and running meetings and giving guys instruction and detail as to what may be available.
Mullens conscientious on the power play doesnt go unnoticed by the players, either.
Joe Mullen does a great job making sure everybody knows what they have to do
out there, said Giroux, who had two power play goals against Pittsburgh.
The power play is going to win, lose you games. I think it was a good job by both units. I think thats one of the aspects were happy about.
Its impossible not to be elated with power play success over 50 percent. One key is, Mullen kept his units pretty much intact all season except when injury dictated change.
We really didn't switch too many pieces on the power play, Simmonds said. When you're playing with the same five guys, you know each other's tendencies. You don't even have to look and you can put a puck into an area and you know someone is going to be there.
The 50 percent success, thats kind of unheard of, but I think it's just consistency. Especially with our unit. They try to take away G, so now we try to work the other side and Jake does a good job moving the puck around, and me and Hartzie are in the middle as the support valves. It's easy to work with those guys.
On Danny Bs unit, our goal has been to shoot pucks when we had the chance, Read said. That was our main focus and that is what we did.
When you have good players and give them time and space. Girouxs unit, they make one or two quick passes They move the puck. Bam! Bam! Bam! They did the power play to a tee just what you have to do.