-- Now that the Philadelphia Flyers
have lost yet another key member of their penalty-killing unit, what's Plan B?
While coach Peter Laviolette
never divulges his game plan, there's reason to believe Darroll Powe
, Claude Giroux
and Andreas Nodl
will be seeing a lot more ice time while shorthanded when the Eastern Conference Semifinals begin Saturday in Washington or Boston.
Philadelphia's opponent will be made official following Wednesday's Game 7 between the Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens
. If the Capitals win, the Flyers travel to Washington. If the Canadiens prevail, it's Beantown.
The Flyers will roll into the second round of the playoffs without two premier penalty-killers in Simon Gagne
(out at least three weeks) and, just recently, Ian Laperriere
(indefinitely). Gagne had two screws surgically implanted in his right big toe, which was broken blocking a shot in Game 4 of the opening round against the New Jersey Devils
, and Laperriere was told Tuesday he had suffered a brain contusion after taking a slap shot to the face last Thursday in Game 5 against the Devils.
Laperriere and Gagne averaged 4:27 and 2:51 of shorthanded ice time per game, respectively, during Philadelphia's five-game victory against New Jersey.
"I think Nodl gives us the best option if we need penalty-killers off the bench because he's killed penalties in the past and has done a good job at it," Laviolette said. "It could still change from game to game."
Powe and Giroux, who average 1:41 and 1:51, respectively, while shorthanded, likely will see extended minutes alongside the team's top penalty-killing forward, Blair Betts
(5:14 while shorthanded).
"Just playing with (Laperriere) the last couple of months on his line taught me a lot," Powe said. "He's always telling you little tips. He's telling you how to position yourself in shot lanes and basically how to compete every night because he does it and has been doing it for over a decade now. He'll be missed, but he's still going to be around and we're still going to be learning from him. We just have to step it up."
The Flyers are among the top five in power-play and penalty-killing efficiency this postseason -- hitting at a 27.6-percent rate (8-for-29) with the man advantage while working at 87.5 percent (28-of-32) while shorthanded. The fact Powe played on a line with Betts and Laperriere during the season could work to his advantage.
"We've played a little bit together on PK, but once you get out there, you just have to talk, sort things out and figure it out as you go," Powe said. "I think we all need to step it up now. Lappy gets in the way of everything and that's what you need to do on the PK. So for us to be as successful, as we have been, we're going to need to get in the way of shots."
Defenseman Braydon Coburn
is confident the team will persevere on specialty teams despite the absence of their inspirational leader.
"Lappy is a good player and one of the best at what he does in that role," Coburn told NHL.com. "But we have guys who obviously have stepped up and played when he wasn't out there. I think Bettsy's going to step up big for us. He's been playing a big part of our PK, as has Darroll and whoever else they try in there, so we have a good base to work from. Obviously, Lappy's a big part of it, but part of playoff hockey is knowing that when one part of the motor breaks down there's another part that gets fired up to keep it moving."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com