GLENDALE, Ariz. - The demise of the Flyers' penalty-killing ability is, well, killing them.
The Flyers have made a handful of personnel changes from last year's unit, which finished seventh in the NHL, successfully killing 84.8 percent of the team's penalties.
Those changes - some caused by Kimmo Timonen's suffering blood clots and being unable to play - have not panned out. This year, the Flyers' penalty killers entered Sunday next to last in the NHL - 29th, with a 74.4 percent success rate. That is a major reason the team is scrambling to get back into the playoff picture.
"There's always things that pop up that have been a problem on the PK this year," coach Craig Berube said after the Flyers surrendered three power-play goals in five opportunities Saturday in a 4-1 loss in Nashville, which scored its last goal into an empty net.
Nashville had been just 2 for 48 (4.2 percent) in home power plays this season.
The Flyers have allowed opponents too much time and space on the power play, have failed to clear the front of the net - two of the Predators' goals were on shots that screened goalie Ray Emery never saw - and have done a poor job of clearing the puck.
Clearly, the penalty kill misses Timonen, the veteran defenseman who had a steadying effect on the team. Last season, Timonen averaged 3 minutes, 24 seconds of ice time on the PK, ranking third on the team and second among defensemen.
The Flyers (14-15-6) also miss veteran center Adam Hall, an excellent faceoff man who averaged 2:58 per game on the penalty kill last season, third among Flyers forwards. Hall is having a terrific season in Switzerland.
The penalty-killing unit, overseen by assistant Ian Laperriere, has several new additions this season, including forwards R.J. Umberger, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Scott Laughton, plus defenseman Nick Schultz.
Those additions have reduced the penalty-killing time given to Sean Couturier and Matt Read.
The Flyers, 3-1 on their eight-game road trip and eight points out of a playoff spot, will face Arizona (13-18-4) on Monday. The Coyotes have the league's 11th-best power play.
"We have to do a better job," Berube said. "It's little things - faceoffs, clears. Things like that catch up to you. When we do a good job on faceoffs and clearing pucks and blocking shots and being in lanes, we kill penalties. It's just a matter of commitment to doing it all the time. [Claude] Giroux was in the box a couple of times and the PK couldn't win a faceoff" against Nashville.
There's a "good chance" that goalie Steve Mason starts Monday, Berube said. Mason, who has missed the last four games with a back injury, says he is ready to return. . . . Bellemare, the Flyers' fourth-line center, left practice Sunday with an apparent injury to his left arm after crashing into the boards, but he should play Monday.