With their array of talent up front, you would think the Philadelphia Flyers
' power play would run with precision and efficiency.
That didn't happen, however, as Philadelphia was just 19th with man-advantage during the regular season, with a 16.6-percent efficiency.
"It's been an issue all year," defenseman Matt Carle
told NHL.com. "That's just one of those things. It seems like we've been answering those questions all season."
The struggles were no more obvious than down the stretch, as the team as a whole struggled. In their last 23 games, they were just 10-for-72 (13.9 percent) on the power play, while team went just 8-8-7.
"I think a lot of that (power-play struggles) the last couple weeks goes hand in hand with where we were (as a team) the last couple of weeks," said coach Peter Laviolette
. "Just inconsistent."
It's a fine line between a successful power play and a wasted opportunity, but no one's been able to spot the one or two things that might need to be fixed.
"It's always different," said Danny Briere
. "There's days where the breakout might not work or we don't retrieve pucks or we're forcing plays. Usually it's one little thing that you need to fix. On the power play you need everything to go right for you to score a goal. You need a good breakout, you need to retrieve the puck, need to set it up, have people in position and find a way to get the puck to the net, have guys in front. There's all kinds of little things. If one thing is off, the puck goes down the ice and you have to start over again."
Part of the problem could be the fact that the Flyers have so many talented offensive players to use and not enough power-play time to use them. Who does Laviolette pick to center the two units -- Mike Richards
and Jeff Carter
? Or Claude Giroux
and Briere? If you shift one to the wing, where does that leave Scott Hartnell
, Ville Leino
, James van Riemsdyk
, Nikolay Zherdev
and Kris Versteeg
In the absence of injured defenseman Chris Pronger
, Laviolette has tried using a fourth forward to play the point, at times going with Richards, van Riemsdyk and Versteeg.
Nothing, however has seemed to work, no matter how much Laviolette has juggled.
"I think he's going to try different groups and try to get some chemistry going with whatever is going to work," said Carle. "We haven't really had a consistent group all year that's been working. It's just one of those things that I think he's trying to see how it goes."
The Flyers have spent their off-time since the regular season ended attempting to solve their power-play problems, and the players feel they'll see the benefit of that work starting Thursday.
"Everything the last couple days has been positive," said Carle. "That's the way we're feeling after this week. We kept everything positive and we're looking forward to the start tomorrow."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK