Usually the morning after a game, I take the time to break down an aspect of the contest from the night before in this space.
But today, will be a little different.
Today we have a guest voice on FlyersInsideOut.com.
I am fortunate this season to have a college intern working with me sometimes, and last night I gave here the task of focusing on a key factor of the game not named Steve Mason (after all, I was writing about the goalie!)
She took on the project head on and sent me her copy three times in the middle of the night…. Just to make sure I got it. That’s dedication!
So, without further ado, I offer you the breakdown of the penalty kill last night by Grace Balassone.
Her contact info is available at the end of the blog.
PENALTY KILL AIDS MASON IN BRINGING HOME FIRST WIN.
By Grace Balassone
PHILADELPHIA -- There is no denying that goaltender Steve Mason was on fire Tuesday night.
By blocking 33 shots, he kept the Flyers in the game to get the team their first season win, a 2-1 victory over Florida.
But this win was made possible, not just by stellar goaltending, but also by continuous efforts to keep the puck away from Mason during all five of the Panthers’ power plays - one of which was four minutes of 5-on-4 in the third period.
“It was huge,” Mason said on the importance of the final penalty kill, “you can kill off four minutes like that and really I don’t think they had a quality shot on net during that whole entire time so penalty killers did a great job.”
The four-minute power play for the Panthers was a result of Jay Rosehill being assessed a double-minor for roughing combined with Zac Rinaldo and Tomas Kopecky being assessed coincidental minors for roughing. At barely three minutes into the final period, new Head Coach Berube was given the choice to ‘play one player short-handed for four minutes or two players short-handed for two minutes’.
Berube said the decision to play 5-on-4 was an “obvious one,” and it turned out in this instance he was correct, as the Flyers were stifling on the PK short just one man, something they cold never have done if they were down two men.
This proved to be a success when the Flyers not only fought off Florida with strong defense from Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn but - even better - managed to outshoot the Panthers 3-1 during that four minute span.
“I was really impressed with [Sean] Couturier’s line tonight,” Berube commented, referring to Couturier, Matt Read and Max Talbot, all of whom were also integral to the penalty kill.
Coburn also felt good about the penalty kill saying, “The guys are getting on the same page and Mason was making some big saves when we need it. That’s been our strong point for us right now.”
In a four-game season so far that has featured so much upheaval and uncertainty, it’s nice to know that there are certain aspects of a team’s game that can be viewed positively. Considering the Flyers have been shorthanded more than any other team (20 times in four games, the next closest is 15) it’s safe to say killing penalties needs to be a staple of this Flyers team. The penalty kill has thwarted 17 of 20 opposition man advantages, a success rate of 85 percent.
Everyone is sure to be talking about Mason, and deservedly so, but the penalty kill deserves a good bit of love too.
Grace Balassone is a public relations and advertising major who is minoring in journalism at Rowan University. She can be reached at GBalassone@comcast-spectacor.com