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Flyers coach Alain Vigneault mixes up power-play personnel in practice; Patrick Brown ‘week-to-week’ with thumb injury

The Flyers are just 3 for their last 36 chances (8.3%) on the power play.

The Flyers rank 25th in the NHL in power-play percentage (15.6%), and are only clicking at an 8.3 percent rate over the last 10 games.
The Flyers rank 25th in the NHL in power-play percentage (15.6%), and are only clicking at an 8.3 percent rate over the last 10 games.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

After the Flyers went 0-for-6 on the power play against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, dropping their success rate to just 8.3% over their last 10 games and 15.6% overall, it was time for coach Alain Vigneault to mix things up once again.

Vigneault tinkered with different combinations on each unit in practice on Wednesday, attempting to identify groupings that could help break the Flyers out of their scoring funk. While the power play is a collaboration among the coaches, including assistant Michel Therrien, Vigneault said he’ll be the first to take the blame when things aren’t going well.

» READ MORE: Working overtime: Cam Atkinson strikes in OT as Flyers beat Flames 2-1

“At the end of the day, it’s my call,” Vigneault said. “I’m the one that decides to put which personnel on the ice, whether it be on the power play or penalty killing. So when it’s not working, like right now, our power play’s struggling, it’s not French Mike’s [Therrien’s] fault, it’s the big guy. I’m the big guy. I’m the guy in charge of it, and I’ve got to find ways to make sure that that power play works.”

Over the last week, Vigneault has made at least four adjustments to power-play personnel, either in-game or during practice. Now, he is attempting to navigate the need to spark success while giving players time to develop chemistry as units.

At Wednesday’s practice, the top unit featured Claude Giroux on the left, Derick Brassard on the right, Ivan Provorov at the point, Joel Farabee in the slot, and Travis Konecny as the net-front presence. The second unit showcased Kevin Hayes on the left, Sean Couturier on the right, Keith Yandle at the point, James van Riemsdyk in front of the net, and Konecny in the slot.

Vigneault placed Konecny on both units as a likely placeholder for Cam Atkinson, who missed practice for a maintenance day. However, Vigneault hasn’t decided exactly where he’ll place Atkinson. Once he finishes reviewing Tuesday night’s game, he’ll make a call on Atkinson’s role on one of the two units.

The Flyers will look to rebound quickly on the power play with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, coming to town Thursday. The Lightning boast the league’s ninth-ranked penalty kill (85.1%) and have conceded only seven power-play goals this season.

“Everyone wants to do well and everyone’s working hard,” Yandle said. “It’s just kind of one of those things where it’s tough to buy one right now. But I think if you just stay with it, stay positive, it can go a long way.”

Injury updates

Fourth-line forward Patrick Brown jammed his thumb in the first period against the Flames and was not present at practice on Wednesday. Vigneault said the medical staff determined that Brown either “displaced” or “dislocated” his thumb. Brown went for an MRI exam Wednesday morning, and while Vigneault did not yet know the results, he called Brown’s status “week to week.”

As a result, winger Oskar Lindblom, who was a healthy scratch on Tuesday, is expected to be in the lineup on Thursday against the Lightning.

» READ MORE: Kevin Hayes' teammates helping him through the 'bad days'

Hayes, who had an injury scare after getting tangled up with the Flames’ Elias Lindholm during the second period before returning for the third, practiced in full on Wednesday. Hayes had just come off of injured reserve on Nov. 13 after recovering from abdominal surgery and played in his first home game of the season against the Flames. His teammates, including Yandle, were relieved to see him back on the bench to finish the game.

“I think everyone’s [heart stopped] on the bench,” Yandle said. “You heard some four-letter words from pretty much everyone when you see him go down. Luckily, he’s good.”


Carter Hart, who denied 33 of the Flames’ 34 shots on goal, will get the start in net against the Lightning. Through 10 starts this season, Hart has a .935 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against average.