The Flyers currently sit in a playoff spot, in my opinion, because of one major asset: their penalty kill. Over the last two months, as the Flyers have dramatically turned their season around, they have allowed just 17 power play goals against in 118 times shorthanded.
Today against the Islanders, they didn't get a win. They got a point in this, a 4-3 shootout loss, but they didn't get the win. New York scored two of their three regulation goals on the power play, amidst six chances with an extra man. Put any team on the power play six times in a game and it's probably going to bite you in the ass, and that's exactly what happened to the Flyers this MLK Day afternoon.
Some more notes on the loss:
- Jakub Voracek left the game with what the team is calling an upper-body injury. Other reports indicate it is a hand injury. The Flyers cannot lose Jake Voracek for a long time.
- It wasn't all bad: Matt Read was fantastic, scoring two goals in regulation and one in the shootout. We're at the point now where his career numbers against the Isles are borderline pornographic -- 14 games, 10 goals, five assists.
- The Isles really came on strong in the latter half of the game, especially in the third period. I don't think it was the Flyers sitting back with the lead as much as it was New York just waking up and stepping on the gas pedal. Aside from taking so many penalties, the Flyers pushed back rather well defensively. It clearly wasn't good enough, but given some of the really ugly defensive performances of late, I'll take what felt like a better one today.
- The Flyers really need to stop taking so many penalties. Craig Berube has reiterated several times that it's a point of emphasis, including when he first got the job. It's not happening. They take more penalties than any team in the league. On the flip side, it's pretty tough not to be called for obstruction-type calls when you have such a slow defense. Certainly plays a part.
- The shootout was really ugly. The Flyers scored on two of their four attempts, but Ray Emery was just brutal. He barely even moved on some of the Islanders attempts. He was stretching out his leg earlier in the game. I wonder if his hip was getting at him today. If that's the case, perhaps Steve Mason should have come in for the shootout. If you're having trouble with mobility and you're a goalie, a shootout is pretty much the worst place to be.
- That said, Emery was very solid in regulation and was a big part of the reason the Flyers even survived the third-period Isles onslaught and got a point out of this game.
- There were a lot of fights, just like the other night in Philly. These teams don't like each other AND they both employ a lot of face punchers.
The shootout point bumps the Flyers to within a point of the second place Rangers in the Metropolitan Division with one game in hand, and it puts them four points ahead of fourth place Washington, who holds a game in hand over Philadelphia. Back at home tomorrow night against the seventh place Hurricanes.