Skate Update: Finding chemistry on power play

Skate Update: Finding chemistry on power play
December 30, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Jakub Voracek and the Flyers take on the Canucks' top-ranked penalty kill tonight in Vancouver. (USA Today Images)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- They’re not playing a perfect game right now, but there is a lot to like about the Flyers when they’re on the power play.

“Definitely,” coach Craig Berube said. “I think the power play’s been good for a while. You don’t always score on it, but as long as it’s getting shots and creating momentum, that’s what you’re looking for. It’ll eventually go in.”

The Flyers were particularly strong on the man advantage Saturday night in Edmonton, scoring all three of their regulation goals on the power play. Their 25.4 percent power-play efficiency when away from the Wells Fargo Center is fifth-best in the NHL.

“It’s huge for us,” Jakub Voracek said. “There’s so many games on the line where the power play’s going to make a difference. I think we played an overall game in Edmonton -- I think we played well 5-on-5 as well. The power play made a difference for us, and it was a huge two points for us.”

Chemistry on the power play has been especially beneficial for Wayne Simmonds, who finds himself in the midst of a five-game point streak and has three power play goals in his last two games (see story).

“It’s nice,” Simmonds said. “Especially for me -- you’ve got G (Claude Giroux) and Jake [Voracek] threading passes through the seams. We’ve got a double presence in front of the net with me and Hartsy (Scott Hartnell), and Kimmo [Timonen] seems to get all the shots through. We’re starting to go right now.”

They’ll face a tough task tonight in Vancouver, however. The Canucks’ penalty kill is tops in the league at 90.7 percent.

“They play a hard game,” Berube said. “[Coach] John Tortorella teams play hard. Just like when he coached the Rangers, they’re going to play hard and compete for 60 minutes, and we’ve got to match that compete level.”

It’s us, not them
As Berube points out, the Canucks are a tough team. They might in fourth place in the Pacific Division, but they have five more wins than the Flyers. They’re on a three-game winning streak and are an impressive 8-1-1 in their last 10.

For the Flyers, though, it’s not about that.

“They’re a great team,” Simmonds said. “They have been for a long time. They’ve got the Sedins and Kessler, they’ve got a good defense and obviously they’ve got good goaltending. We can’t really worry about them right away, we’ve got to worry about ourselves. That’s where it starts.”

‘Bonehead’ plays
After Saturday’s win in Edmonton, an otherwise pleased Berube mentioned some “bonehead plays” his team was guilty of despite their victory. But just what did he mean by it?

“I don’t want to get into specifics,” Berube said. “The guys know, you can’t make risky plays and stuff, turn the puck over -- you’re not going to win hockey games if you do that. Can’t give freebies to teams, especially with skills like [tonight] playing Vancouver, the skills they have.

“You’ve got to be good with the puck. The puck has to go in deep, or it has to go on net. You turn pucks over or take bad penalties, it’ll cost you hockey games.”

Mason starts
Once again, Steve Mason will get the start in net tonight -- which clears the way for Ray Emery to start tomorrow night in Calgary. The Flyers play back-to-back games in Western Canada before heading to Colorado in the new year.

Mason is 15-9-4 this season with a .921 save percentage and 2.37 goals-against average. He is expected to face Canucks rookie Eddie Lack, who has been particularly impressive in each of his 12 starts. He has a .933 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average, third-best in the NHL.

Another tired team?
When the Flyers faced the Oilers in Edmonton, they were facing a team that had played the night before in Calgary.

History repeats itself tonight: The Canucks faced off against the Flames last night in Calgary, beating them 2-0. Lack started that game, too.