On Saturday night at KeyBank Center against the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers put the home team on the power play four times. The Sabres capitalized on the man advantage twice.
Putting their opponent on the power play that many times isn’t a winning formula for the Flyers and their 23rd-ranked penalty kill. However, the Sabres handed the same number of opportunities to their visitors.
The Flyers, on the other hand, went 0-for-4.
“We played eight and a half minutes of the third period with an extra attacker between the power plays and the pulled goalies,” interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “So we had some looks. I’d say some of the same looks that they got, but we didn’t capitalize on those situations.”
The Flyers have several new faces on the power play, including recently signed college prospect Bobby Brink, trade-deadline acquisition Owen Tippett, and defenseman Travis Sanheim, who, despite his veteran presence on the team, hasn’t been a man-advantage mainstay.
Sanheim said he’s feeling more comfortable on the power play, and while chemistry development will “continue to take time,” the Flyers need to fully commit to a “shot-first mentality” if they want to turn their fortunes around.
“We’ve just got to be more aggressive,” Sanheim said. “Try to find a way to get one and hopefully it opens things up a little bit for us and play a little bit more freely and the plays will start to happen.”
More specifically, Yeo wants to see the team adopt a more “workman-like mentality,” generating opportunities in and around the blue paint. From screening the goalie to deflecting shots, the Flyers need to do a better job of creating chaos instead of looking for the perfect shot.
“That creates opportunities as well,” Yeo said. “That’s where the skill actually really gets a chance to really come through, and that’s when the breakouts happen. So whether it’s quick puck movement, whether it’s quick shot, quick strikeout, attack mentality, you have to be hard to defend against.”
Since April 1, the Flyers possess the 30th-ranked power play, capitalizing on 4.4% of their opportunities.
Going into their second night of a back-to-back against the Sabres on Sunday, Yeo was “50-50″ on winger Cam Atkinson returning to the lineup after dealing with a lower-body injury sustained against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
Neither Atkinson nor any of the players that missed Saturday’s game with injury — defenseman Cam York (lower body), defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body), forward Patrick Brown (upper body), and goalie Carter Hart (lower body) — will play on Sunday. Yeo was unsure if any of his injured players will accompany the team on their road trip to Toronto and Montreal starting Monday.
Additionally, the Flyers’ medical staff is getting closer to making a decision on defenseman Ryan Ellis, who has been out of the lineup since Nov. 13 with a lower body injury. Ellis has already been ruled out for the season, but a path toward his recovery has been unclear.
“There’s been talk lately as far as sort of, I don’t want to say conclusion, but a decision as far as how things are gonna progress,” Yeo said. “But I’d like to talk to our trainer to make sure that we’re 100% on that before I announce.”
Goalie Felix Sandström (two games, 2.91 goals against average, .924 save percentage) will start in net against the Sabres on Sunday. Sandström has been called up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on an emergency basis with Hart out of the lineup indefinitely. ... After experimenting with some changes to their defensive pairings, placing Ivan Provorov and Egor Zamula on the top unit, Yeo is returning to Provorov-Sanheim as his first duo. Zamula and Kevin Connauton will comprise the second pairing, and Keith Yandle and Ronnie Attard will make up the third.