With last night's loss, many fans began feeling a little worried about the team's poor play of late. After all, they are 4-4-1 in their last nine games, dating back to a 2-1 win over Carolina on February 10th.
But excluding last night's game (data not available yet), we can look at how the Flyers have performed in their last eight games during the month of February, where they went 4-3-1. All data comes from Objective NHL, which is a fantastic site for anybody curious about advanced stats.
Here is all the data from purely even-strength play. Sure, the team is not even close to dominant. But they are still controlling the play. They are outscoring their opposition, out-shooting their opposition, and winning both the Fenwick and Corsi battles. They also have a good shooting percentage and a fantastic save percentage.
So why is there such outrage over the poor play of a team who lost two straight games for the first time in over two months? There has to be more, right? Well, there is. And it's not as rosy.
Now look at their play in all situations:
Can everybody see the trend? As the game situation gets tighter, the Flyers control the play even better. They outshoot their opposition by a huge margin in tied games, more so than in close games, and more so than in all even strength situations.
Oh, that's not the first thing you noticed? Yeah, the Flyers go from a plus goal-differential to a tied goal differential in close games, to a negative goal differential in tied games. Their goaltending reverts to league average and their shooting percentage plummets to a level below New Jersey's shooting percentage this season (6.8%).
What is this telling you? The Flyers play better in close games, and even better in tied games. Not what you expected, is it? Call it regression to the mean, call it poor luck, call it a slump, call it whatever you want.
But the bottom line is: The Flyers are smothering teams in the tightest of situations, but not getting anything to show for it. We could argue over whether the team is finally getting the league-average goaltending they have, but I think we can agree that this team will score on more than 6.1% of the shots they fire during tied games. Especially since they are still at 9.5% for the year.
Take a breath, look at the numbers, and see that things aren't nearly as bad as your eyes tell you.