Struggling Flyers get back to basics
Matt Read leads the Flyers with 24 shots, but has no goals to show for it. (USA Today Images)
Eight games into the Flyers' young season, Matt Read leads the team with 24 shots. No one else has reached 20.
Unfortunately, Read is also among 14 players without a goal. Even worse: He doesn’t even have an assist.
This is not what the Flyers envisioned when they gave him a four-year, $14.5 million extension last month.
Like many others on this club, Read isn’t sure what’s wrong with his stick right now.
“Good question,” he said. “You know, I feel still confident in my game. Working hard. Just trying to do the best I can to help the team win. Maybe things aren’t going in for me. I’ve hit a couple posts, a couple crossbars. Everyone goes through these little streaks where nothing goes your way. I just have to keep working hard, keep going to the net and keep doing those little things that eventually turn it around and help this team out.”
Rick Tocchet used to say: If you’re in a scoring slump, change the spot on the ice where you like to shoot and find a different spot. Then start shooting there.
Maybe the 27-year-old winger should consider that. At this point, what’s to lose?
"You know, I went through something like this in my college days [at Bemidji State],” Read said. “My coach just said, go to the net, that’s where all the guys are scoring. Go to the net, find rebounds, screen the goalie. You have to find yourself going there more often. You don’t really change your game much, just working hard. If you keep working hard, things are going to go your way eventually.”
He’s had some quality chances, but like Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds ... easy shots to bury have been missed, blocked or flubbed.
Read partially fanned on two open shots in the past two games that were scoring chances. Indecision often accompanies a scoring slump because players wonder if there isn’t some better shot they should be taking.
“Yeah, when things don’t go well, you hesitate a little bit and try to make a perfect shot out of nothing,” Read said. “Try to pick a corner rather than just what quick goal scorers do. You get it and react as quickly as you can. I don’t know what to tell you.
“I try to be the hardest working guy every night and once things go my way, that’s fine. As a team, we gotta keep working hard, keep finding those soft areas and start scoring goals.”
Linemate Sean Couturier, who has been with Read quite a bit over the previous two seasons, says they’ve talked. Couturier is slumping, as well –- no goals, just two assists.
“He’s playing all right; he’s getting chances,” Couturier said. “He needs to be patient. It will come. We’re creating offensive chances. It will come.”
The Flyers will have had six days between losing to Pittsburgh and facing the Rangers on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Practices are centering around conditioning and skating, but players such as Read also have to do some shooting. Frankly, the entire club does.
“The best thing Reader can do is play his game, simplify and make sure he is simple with his game,” coach Craig Berube said. “Shoot pucks. Get to the net. You can’t start squeezing your stick too much.
“It’s easy for me to say that, but he needs to keep doing what he is doing and get to the net. If you want goals in this league, they usually come around the net. There are not too many pure goals any more or fancy goals.”
While the Flyers' one-on-one battles are better, they’re still not getting those rebound goals, or even dirty goals at the net during scrums.
Read figures that’s where he has to plant himself to snap this slump.
“You have to find yourself going there more often,” he said. “You don’t really change your game much, just working hard. If you keep working hard, things are going to go your way, eventually.”