The Philadelphia Flyers
led the NHL in penalty minutes during the regular season. They apparently haven't changed their ways for the postseason.
Discipline is something preached daily by coach John Stevens
. But for whatever reason, his team fails to heed the warnings, and it caught up to them at the worst possible time -- a 4-1 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
The Flyers employ their top players in all situations, so key performers like Mike Richards
, Jeff Carter
and Simon Gagne
are going to play big minutes. Forcing them to expend their energy on the penalty kill will shorten this series in a bad way for the Flyers.
"When they got the lead right away, it looked like we were pressing the issue a little bit and were a step behind," Stevens said.
The Penguins scored just one power-play goal -- but they had nine advantages, meaning that the Flyers' big guns had to spend more time trying to prevent goals than scoring them.
Richards played 23:17 and had just two shots; Gagne had three shots (and Philadelphia's lone goal) in 18:27; Carter had eight shots, but only three in the first two periods, in 17:00; Knuble had one shot in 19:12.
"I love Scotty Hartnell's emotion, but he's got to find that line of discipline and I really didn't think he did tonight. He's a guy we count on to kill penalties, and he's a guy we count on a lot. He ends up in the penalty box way too much and that's something we're going to have to correct."
-- Flyers coach John Stevens
"I don't think they're worn down," Stevens said, "but you don't want to play a seven-game series (this way)."
That means he needs more discipline from players like Scott Hartnell
, who's also used in all situations but can't contribute much from penalty box -- where he spent a good portion of his night. He took two penalties in the first period, another early in the third and capped his night with a game misconduct with 14 seconds left.
"I love Scotty Hartnell's emotion, but he's got to find that line of discipline and I really didn't think he did tonight," Stevens said. "He's a guy we count on to kill penalties, and he's a guy we count on a lot. He ends up in the penalty box way too much and that's something we're going to have to correct."
How does he do it?
"I'll address it," Stevens said. "Scotty's a big part of our team. I'll talk to the group as a whole and I'll talk to Scotty as an individual."
If the message doesn't get through, this year's Flyers-Penguins series could end the same way the last one did -- quick and in a bad way for Philadelphia.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.