Flyers analysis

Flyers search for power play cure: ‘We're all in this together, we're all frustrated'

The team's man advantage is 7 for 71 on the season

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VOORHEES, N.J. — Sean Couturier has seen his share of successful power play units in Philadelphia.

What makes a good power play work?

"Definitely when you have a Claude Giroux running it, that definitely helps," he said Wednesday with a laugh.

Couturier and the Flyers know Giroux isn't walking through the door to save the power play in 2023-24. Giroux is the most prolific power play producer in franchise history. Couturier, since 2011-12, watched the former captain and Jakub Voracek orchestrate the Flyers' power play for 10 years. He joined them as power play fixtures.

Now, at 30 years old, Couturier is the longest-tenured leader of the rebuilding Flyers, trying to help the team finally find some answers again for its problematic power play.

"Those guys were doing it for so long, they had that chemistry — him, Jake, whoever was on the point," Couturier said. "They could create seams through the box and knew where they were. I think we’re still trying to figure out who’s best in certain positions and how to get more chemistry, that it comes more natural."

Entering Thursday, the Flyers' power play is 7 for 71 on the season. The 9.9 percent success rate ranks 29th in the NHL out of 32 teams. Assistant coach Rocky Thompson is in Year 2 of running the team's man advantage. The season prior to his arrival, the Flyers had an NHL-worst 12.6 power play percentage. They finished worst in the league last season, as well, at 15.6 percent.

"I would say just trying to create more lanes, more shooting, more opportunities," Couturier said of what can improve. "We’re moving the puck around, but we’re not really creating many opportunities."

Prior to practice Wednesday, Thompson had the Flyers work on power play tactics for about 20 minutes. It had the look of 5-on-3 work, but Couturier noted that "it was more 5-on-4, it was just some simulated pressure."

"It’s an aspect of our game that we need to be better, we haven’t been good at all," Couturier said. "We’ve just got to keep putting the work in.

"We’re all in this together, we’re all frustrated and not happy with how things have gone on the power play. We’re all trying to find solutions, simplify things and just try to get it going."

The Flyers have a lot of pieces working together for the first time on the man advantage. Couturier and Cam Atkinson did not play last season. Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink are rookies. Travis Sanheim had not run a unit full-time until this season. Sean Walker is in his first season with the Flyers.

In December 2021, Chuck Fletcher pointed out that the Flyers' power play struggles stemmed back to 2015-16.

"It's been seven years, so it's something that probably goes above and beyond the coaching," the former general manager said then.

John Tortorella has stressed patience over the past couple of days.

"Rocky’s trying to figure it out with them," the head coach said Wednesday. "They have not stopped working at trying to figure it out, they’ll continue. That’s all you can do. We can complain about it and talk about the numbers; each and every day they’re trying to get better and see what happens.

"That’s one thing about our athletes, they want to get better, they want to practice and get better. Our power play guys know it has been a letdown. They don’t like that feeling, so they want to work at it, they’re very receptive."

Starting Thursday when they host the Devils (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), the Flyers will make a personnel change by putting Cam York back on one of the units. The 22-year-old defenseman had not been featured on the man advantage in the last 10 games.

“It’s not working," Tortorella said, "we’re going to give him another chance there.”

Joel Farabee is also expected to see power play time. He was among the group that Thompson worked with before practice Wednesday. York felt the extra work with Thompson was productive for the Flyers' power play because "it’s about repetition."

“He’s always giving us video, we’re trying to study teams before the game and figure out how we can try to capitalize on our chances against them," York said. "Obviously it hasn’t worked, but it’s one of those things you’ve just got to keep at it. Eventually we’re going to start to get a few and I think the dam is going to break for us. And hopefully we can get a bunch.”

More: Hathaway tossed, Farabee benched and Flyers lose in OT to Devils

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