Flyers try to stay positive during layoff
Mark Streit moves up to the Flyers' top power-play unit, a familiar role he had with the Islanders. (AP)
When your power play is ranked 28th in the league with only three goals in 33 chances (9.1 percent), you can’t be too surprised when changes are made.
If things stay as they have been in practice this week, the Flyers will go into the Rangers game on Thursday with Vinny Lecavalier on the first unit and Mark Streit as the lone defenseman at the point replacing Kimmo Timonen, who had been on the Flyers' top unit since the day he arrived on the team in 2007 (see story).
The other forwards with Lecavalier are Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. With Scott Hartnell still injured (suspected rib cage), Brayden Schenn had been his replacement. Now, it’s Lecavalier.
“I was just looking for a different setup,” coach Craig Berube said. “I wanted to get the ice times [down] with Kimmo. I want more 5-on-5 and penalty-kill minutes [for him] and [to] find more ice time for Streit on the power play. That is my thinking.”
Berube also admitted, however, that Timonen needed to play better -- and that appears to be the actual reason behind it.
For five years when Streit quarterbacked the Islanders' power play, he worked mostly as the lone defenseman with Frans Nielsen up top.
So the Flyers' setup isn’t a big deal. The second PP unit has two defensemen: Timonen and Erik Gustafsson.
Streit views this as a fairly easy adjustment despite the fact that the Flyers' power play has been so lame this season.
“Different personnel, but you work on the same things,” Streit said. “It’s a matter of moving the puck and working on the chemistry. Just working together with communication. At the end of the day, it’s hard work.
“On the breakout, once you get into the zone and retrieve pucks, you have guys like Simmer in front of the net, you have to make sure and shoot pucks. He is so good at screening goalies, creating confusion and tipping pucks. Going for rebounds.”
Passing, chemistry and confidence all factor into it.
“You work on the power play as much as you can in practice and hope it clicks in the game,” Berube said. “That’s the way it goes.”
What the Flyers have been doing this week is getting lots of point shots from Streit with Simmonds and others going for rebounds and tips at the net.
“Every power play, if things go well and you score, sometimes you don’t even know why, but for me in the past, when things don’t go well, it was about keeping it simple,” Streit said.
“Having a net presence and getting your shots through. Get pucks to the net. All the little plays -- the seam passes, the one-timers -- they come after that.
“If you start that way, you get in trouble. You get picked off. Point shots are really important. You have to get them through.”
It’s something the coaches have been stressing this extended week of practice.
“It’s about movement,” Streit said. “There’s so much skill [here]. It’s about taking advantage of the skill, the movement, the hard work.”
For the Flyers, they’ll find out soon enough Thursday against the Rangers whether it’s worked.