When it comes to the Philadelphia Flyers, the power play is always a concern. It seems like once the playoffs roll around, the Flyers can't capitalize on special teams. But in the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, that trend is anything but true. The Flyers have been unbelievable on special teams. In 10 power play opportunities, the Flyers have converted six times. That is by far the best percentage of any team in the playoffs. When you factor in their own penalty kill, the special teams have been a huge bright spot for the team.
In addition to converting on 60 percent of their own power plays, the Flyers have netted three shorthanded goals in the series. That is equal to the amount of goals that the Penguins have scored in their 12 power play chances. While the 75 percent success rate against the Pittsburgh power play isn't amazing, Philadelphia is making up for it with shorthanded chances. It seems like the Flyers can do no wrong no matter how many men they have on the ice. It is pretty remarkable to think about how this all happened.
During the regular season, the Penguins were among the best penalty killing teams in the league. However, they have looked awful when shorthanded in this series. A lot of that falls on Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. No player has been more disappointing than he has. Some of the goals that the Flyers have scored on the power play have come with very little attack. Meanwhile, he has looked lax when his own team has the man advantage. The Flyers deserve a ton of credit for taking advantage of his flaws. Right now they have driven Fleury's confidence into the ground.
In a series that has been full of penalties, you have to like a team that converts on the power play. A 60 percent success rate is pretty amazing no matter how you slice it. Old Flyers teams looked lost in the past but new players like Max Talbot have clearly made a difference in special teams. Even without Chris Pronger, the Philadelphia special teams have never looked better. Assuming the Flyers complete this series win, fans can thank the special teams for getting the job done.
* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Flyers fan.
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