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Flyers' power play off to slow start in second round

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Flyers' power play off to slow start in second round
In Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers went 1-for-6 on the power play, and managed just eight shots.

VOORHEES, N.J. -- In the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers were led by their special teams play, especially a power play that set a franchise record with 12 goals in a series.

Making it even more impressive was the Flyers accomplished that against a team ranked third in the League on the penalty kill in the regular season.

In Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the New Jersey Devils, though, they went 1-for-6 on the power play, and managed just eight shots.

While the Devils set a single-season League record by killing off 89.6 percent of opposing power plays in the regular season, the Florida Panthers picked them apart in their first-round series, scoring 11 times on 27 chances (40.7 percent).

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Combine the Flyers' success with the Devils' troubles, and the easy prediction would be for Philadelphia to dominate any time they got the man-advantage.

But as we know in the playoffs, nothing comes easy, and momentum lasts as long as the next shift.

"You play six games against Pittsburgh, you are used to something, what they were doing," forward Jakub Voracek, who plays the point on the first power-play unit, said following Monday's optional practice here at Virtua Skate Zone. "Now we started playing New Jersey, they did totally different things on breakouts, totally different movements in their zone."

Struggling to reset the strategy from Pittsburgh to New Jersey was one culprit for the extra-man struggles. Another was the seven-day layoff that disrupted the timing in a number of areas, especially in the first period.

"They didn't have to do much because we didn't do very well," said forward Jaromir Jagr, who sees time on the second unit. "We didn't have the legs. That's where it starts. When you don't have the jump, you don't have the legs, you're delayed for the rebounds, everything is kind of slower and you don't have very good scoring chances."

"The first two power plays were early in the game and we weren't good at all," said Danny Briere, who centers the second unit. "We weren't winning battles, we weren't in the right positions. We were kind of lost early in the game."

The first two power plays came during the first period, when the Flyers struggled to put anything positive together -- they were held without a shot for the first 10:01 of the game, by which time New Jersey had 11 shots and a 1-0 lead.

Their first chance came in that window of ineffectiveness, and saw them attempt three shots, all of which New Jersey blocked. Their second advantage, later in the period, saw them attempt just one shot, which also was blocked.

"I think there's a feeling-out process that goes on with a new penalty-kill system," coach Peter Laviolette said. "And certainly anything that happened in the first period wasn't anything to write home about."

However, many of the players felt the power play -- like the rest of the team's game -- got better over the final two periods and overtime. They got their first shot on goal on their third chance, midway through the second period, and then scored their only extra-man goal on their fourth chance, when Claude Giroux's rocket went under the crossbar 4:19 into the third period and gave them a 3-2 lead. It was their fifth shot of that power play. On their sixth chance, 30 seconds into overtime, they had two shots and a goal by Briere that was waved off.

"As the game went on, Claude scored a huge power-play goal, and then after that we created some chances," Briere said. "The goal that was disallowed was on the power play. We started creating more traffic and more chances."

The next step is continuing to do all the things they felt worked over the final two periods and overtime.

"Obviously they're a good penalty-kill unit," Briere said. "They were the best in the regular season, and it's not going to be easy. But we have to find ways to get pucks … there's no secret, we have to put pucks at the net and traffic in front of Marty [Brodeur, Devils goalie]."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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