If only the playoffs started tomorrow . . .
The Flyers are clicking on all cylinders, and all Philadelphia wishes the playoffs started tomorrow. The top six forwards are scoring like crazy, the bottom six provide a combination of energy and stunning offensive pressure, and the defense has got its groove back.
The special teams are the most stunning aspect of this Flyers squad. The Flyers play a very Old Time hockey strategy when they have the extra man: move the puck to the point and shoot for a deflection. Their umbrella setup isn’t fancy, but it’s effective 27% of the time because they move the puck crisply and quickly.
As for that penalty kill, the fans at the Wachovia Center have come to expect to see at least one shorthanded scoring opportunity per kill for their Flyers, and you might notice a few boos from the home crowd when a player dumps the puck to the corner and heads to the bench for a change. That’s one indicator of how aggressively the Flyers play on the penalty kill.
Another: Gagne and Richards have 4 shorthanded goals apiece. Only 9 teams in the NHL (including the Flyers) have scored 4 or more shorties this season. Even more stunningly, the Flyers have scored all those goals and still successfully kill penalties 84.3% of the time.
This hot streak won’t last forever, and eventually the Flyers will cool down. The key to the game at this point for the Flyers is taking everything they’ve learned from this streak, applying it through the difficult stretch that comes, and regaining this form come March. Take a hint from last year’s Ottawa Senators – winning early is good, but winning later is better.