Craig Berube said penalties have "been an issue in this organization for too long" following the Flyers' 5-2 loss. (AP)
Updated: 11:15 p.m.
DETROIT -- If they ever stop taking penalties, the Flyers might actually win a few hockey games.
The Flyers added seven more at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night and the worst power play in the NHL -- the Red Wings -- torched them for three goals en route to a 5-2 win that was very close at even strength, but not on special teams.
That’s 45 penalties in six games -- most in the league and new head coach Craig Berube isn’t happy either.
“We've got to stop taking penalties, we really do,” Berube said. “It’s been an issue in this organization for too long.
“It’s got to get better and we will get better at it because the style we want to play and the skating, we won’t take that many penalties because we’ll be moving our feet.
“The dumb penalties have to be eliminated all together because they are unacceptable.”
Given the Flyers had been playing tight, defensive hockey and their penalty kill was ninth in the league, those two things should have leveled the ice.
“We’ve got to stay out of the box -- I don’t know how many penalties we took,” team captain Claude Giroux said.
“Six? Seven? That’s too many against Detroit. They got guys who move the puck very well and can make a lot of plays.”
Berube had to rework his lines with newcomers Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl, plus the addition of defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the bench. McGinn and Gustafsson played very well and each scored a goal.
Despite a competitive game at even strength, the offense remained anemic and blown scoring chances again proved critical.
For instance, remember how Wayne Simmonds missed an easy deposit Friday against Phoenix from the paint? Well he and Raffl each had golden chances in the slot in the third period and both missed.
Those were critical misses because a minute later, Pavel Datsyuk picked up Detroit’s final power-play goal to seemingly ice the game at 3-1 before call-up forward McGinn got it back at 5:46 to make it a one-goal nail-biter.
“We start going to the net, that’s where you get your goals,” Giroux, who picked up his first point this season with an assist, said. “Bad goals, greasy goals. How many chances we had in front of the net?
“Simmer had one and he didn’t know what was going on and it hit him in the back. It’s plays like that will start going in soon.”
Ray Emery, starting just his second game, had a lifetime 1.85 goals against average vs. Detroit, yet did not look very sharp, further distancing himself from Steve Mason, who is the No. 1 right now.
“I thought the guys played well and deserved a better fate,” Emery said. “I gotta make some saves. [Jimmy] Howard played a good one. It’s frustrating, but I think the team is moving in the right direction.”
The Flyers played solid on defense. Were it not for the penalty-kill breakdowns, things would have been different.
Detroit was 3 for 7 with the man advantage.
Oddly, the Flyers’ penalty-kill units had been pretty good so far while their power play has been hovering around eight percent. The Flyers were 0 for 4 against the Wings.
“It is frustrating and that is something we take pride in,” Emery said of the PK units. “It’s something you rely on throughout the year but personally, I have to make some saves there, as well.”
Much like Friday’s game against Phoenix, the Flyers did a lot of things well in the opening period. They generated shots and scoring chances, and moved their feet up and down the ice, yet still trailed 1-0 after the first period.
How ironic that the two Phantoms -- McGinn and Raffl -- called up to give the Flyers some offense both took penalties with one leading to Detroit’s first goal.
Raffl was caught hooking at 7:13 and just seconds into the Wings’ power play, 38-year-old Todd Bertuzzi caught Emery unaware at the right post with a wraparound goal.
“I was behind the net and it was a little bit of a scramble,” Bertuzzi said. “I ended up getting it behind the net, walking out and having a wraparound there.”
Emery said he never saw Bertuzzi because the puck was chipped back behind him.
“I heard guys yelling,” Emery said. “Like I said, there are some saves I gotta make.”
Detroit made it 2-0 at 11:08 in the second period on another crisp pass from Daniel Alfredsson, this time to Niklas Kronwall in the high slot. He roofed a shot just under the crossbar through a screen.
That was a particularly deflating goal given the Flyers had generated better chances that period, but it got turned around in 34 seconds.
After sitting as a healthy scratch the first five games of the season, Gustafsson entered the lineup Saturday for Andrej Meszaros and worked with Kimmo Timonen.
Gustafsson came up ice the shift after the Kronwall goal and shot one in on Howard from the blue line. The puck took a funny hop and then it was 2-1.
“I kind of threw it at the net and hoped someone was there,” Gustafsson said. “I got a lucky bounce and it went in.”
For the next several minutes, the Flyers seemed energized and carried play.
“I thought we played a pretty good game over the 60 minutes except for the penalties," Gustafsson said. “They got a lot of firepower over there on the power play and they killed us, unfortunately. But I still thought it was a step forward for us.”