Craig Berube says the Flyers' power play has become all too predictable.
And that one of the most skilled players on the ice, Jakub Voracek, isn’t getting the puck in his hands enough to make a difference.
Berube hopes that will change Friday night when the Flyers host the Rangers in Game 4 of this Metro Division semifinal which New York leads, 2-1.
There was a noticeable difference in the power play setup at Thursday’s practice. Instead of funneling the puck through Claude Giroux on the left side, the Flyers used Voracek, off to the right.
The objective is simple: Take the overload off Giroux to help him get some shots. He has just two shots through three games, one on the power play.
“We have to do a better job of moving the puck around more,” Voracek said. “Obviously, we have a couple set plays from G’s side. Rangers have a very good penalty kill.
“They get a lot of shots. We have to come up with something different, something new. Be sure to move the puck around and do it quicker.”
In theory, this should create a little more space and perhaps add some time for Giroux to take a quick, lateral pass and shoot on goalie Henrik Lundqvist. In that sense, Voracek, who has a goal in the series, may draw some attention to himself.
“We’re a team and everybody’s responsible for doing their job on the ice, not just Claude and Jake,” Berube said. “We’ve got balanced scoring and they’re tight checking out there. You gotta battle through it. Everybody does. It’s not one or two guys. It’s everybody.”
Thus far, both Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds have been mostly ineffective against the Rangers' penalty kill units.
New York blocked 10 Flyers power play shots in Game 3.
“We’re just trying to give them some different looks, whether it be in [Voracek’s] hands or shoot from the top,” Hartnell said. “We have a lot of different avenues. The most important thing is get the puck to the net and have Simmer create some screens, get some tips. Me coming in late as well. Frustrating that our power play has not been the difference these first few games. It’s just a matter of time before we have a big game. Special teams can win us one of these games.”
Simmonds is clearly frustrated at not getting goals in front -- he had an empty-netter in Game 2 -- and says the front of the net is jammed.
“It’s like they have three goalies in there,” Simmonds said. “I stand in front of the net and there’s a guy in front of me, there’s a guy behind me, a guy to the left of me, a guy to right of me and they are all trying to make kick saves.
“They play three goalies, pretty much. We gotta find a way to get pucks through. Make sure we’re making it difficult to block shots.”
Because the Flyers' puck movement hasn’t been very quick and because they are not rotating enough, they have become a little too stationary while the Rangers box sets up. New York seems to have sticks in every lane, everywhere from the half-wall down.
“If we keep attacking from one angle and they keep taking that away, we have to find a different point of attack,” Simmonds said.
“It’s always good to switch things up and we have guys who can run the power play from both sides, so why not do it?”
The Flyers have nine power plays in the series and have scored two goals.
“When our power play is successful, it’s because we move the puck around,” Voracek said. “It’s not like I am going to get them more pucks and they’re surprised by it. Sometimes, it all depends on the penalty kill.
“We have to move all around and make them move more. They fill out lanes pretty well and block a lot of shots. ... Their box right now is a little more passive, but they blocks the lanes. ...
“A very important thing is move our feet more, get open without the puck, move with the puck. We got a little too much standing around the last game and that’s why we didn’t score.”
Berube said the Flyers need to get shots through from up top because right now, both Hartnell and Simmonds are more or less obsolete down low.
“The pucks aren’t getting to the net, so they’re not getting rebounds or getting tips on the puck,” Berube said. “Until that happens, they’ll be just standing there.
“All year long, their goals were scored around the net. That’s what they do. They’re good at it. They’re good at finding pucks, tipping rebounds. It’s the other three guys' responsibility to get the pucks there.”
The Flyers added center Scott Laughton to their Black Aces -- minor-league players selected to practice with the Flyers during the playoffs. He will practice in Voorhees on Friday while the starters and selected reserves take the morning skate at Wells Fargo Center for Game 4 against the Rangers.