FanPost

A Visit from Il Signore Regresso, Peter Laviolette's Personal Demon

Bumped to the front page from the FanPosts. - Travis

After the first half of the season, the Flyers were 25-12-4 with 54 points; this put them on pace for a record of 50-24-8 for 108 points. Puck Prospectus predicted that the Flyers would have a second-half slump of 6 points; this would mean they'd finish with 102 points instead of 108. No big deal, right? That's still more than enough for a playoff spot, and possibly even a division title. But given the Flyers' losses of late to certain teams they should beat (the Islanders); given their being outclassed by the Rangers time and again; and given their sloppy defensive zone coverage in general lately, we all began to wonder if home ice was attainable. When we combined this issue with the Flyers' March struggles under Laviolette, things began to look even more grim.

So I decided to revisit this article which details how Peter Laviolette's teams fare in the final 35 games of a given season. I wrote it this past April because the Flyers had a very poor showing in March, and everyone was concerned that the dominant team of October - February was going up in flames. Everyone turned out to be correct of course, but not before we learned a valuable lesson: Peter Laviolette's teams stumble down the stretch more often than not, and their records over the final 35 games often have little bearing on how they perform in the playoffs.

Before the jump, let me just say this: As someone who has seen the team endure some spectacular collapses over the years (thanks, 1990-91 team!), I understand the fear that the Flyers could miss the playoffs. But I have some good news: Even given the regression tendency of Laviolette's teams, this Flyers group should have more than enough points for a playoff spot.

I'VE GOT SOME 'SPLAININ' TO DO...

Before you go racing over to hockey-reference.com and tell me that my numbers are wrong, let me explain how this standings system works. Given the fact that Laviolette began coaching in the days before shootouts, I need to have some analog with ye olde tie games. Because of the NHL's former way of doing things, I treat shootout appearances (wins and losses alike) as tie games. PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT TRYING TO DISMISS THE LEGITIMACY OF THE SHOOTOUT OR WHATEVER, SO DON'T START. Here's what the numbers mean:

  • First Column: Wins in Regulation and 5:00 OT Period.
  • Second Column: Losses in Regulation and 5:00 OT Period.
  • Third Column: Ties (2001-2004) / Shootout Appearances (2005-Present).

FWIW, Geoff used to use this system to determine NHL Power Rankings, so if you see references to "power rankings" in here you know why.

Here's how everyone has done under Laviolette from Justin to Kelly from the Islanders to the present. Yes, I'm duplicating some of the data from the previous article. Deal:

FIRST 47 GAMES OF THE REGULAR SEASON:

  • 2001-02 NYI: 24-16-5
  • 2002-03 NYI: 21-19-5
  • 2003-04 CAR: 7-9-1 *
  • 2005-06 CAR: 29-14-4
  • 2006-07 CAR: 24-20-3
  • 2007-08 CAR: 21-24-2
  • 2008-09 CAR: 11-12-2 #
  • 2009-10 PHI: 9-11-2 $
  • 2010-11 PHI: 30-13-4
  • 2011-12 PHI: 28-16-3

FINAL 35 GAMES OF THE REGULAR SEASON:

  • 2001-02 NYI: 18-14-3
  • 2002-03 NYI: 13-15-7
  • 2003-04 CAR: 13-17-5 *
  • 2005-06 CAR: 15-14-6
  • 2006-07 CAR: 16-17-2
  • 2007-08 CAR: 18-12-5
  • 2009-10 PHI: 17-16-2 $
  • 2010-11 PHI: 14-15-6
  • 2011-12 PHI: 2-4-3 (as of 2/14/12)

Laviolette's Win Percentage, Final 35 Games (ALL YEARS): .443

Laviolette's Win Percentage, Final 35 Games (PLAYOFF YEARS): .440

Laviolette's Win Percentage, Final 35 Games (NON-PLAYOFF YEARS): .448

PLAYOFFS?!?!? PLEASE, DO TALK ABOUT... PLAYOFFS:

  • 2001-02 NYI: Lost 3-4 to Toronto in Conference Quarterfinals (Record: 3-4)
  • 2002-03 NYI: Lost 1-4 to Ottawa in Conference Quarterfinals (Record: 1-4)
  • 2003-04 CAR: Did Not Qualify
  • 2005-06 CAR: WON STANLEY CUP (Record: 16-9)
  • 2006-07 CAR: Did Not Qualify
  • 2007-08 CAR: Did Not Qualify
  • 2009-10 PHI: Lost 2-4 to Chicago in Stanley Cup Finals (Record: 14-9)
  • 2010-11 PHI: Lost 0-4 to Boston in Conference Semifinals (Record: 4-7)
  • 2011-12 PHI: ???

Laviolette's Playoff Win Percentage: .535

KEY:

* : Mid-Season Replacement for Paul Maurice; first-half record is from Games 31-47.

# : Fired 25 games into Regular Season.

$ : Mid-Season Replacement for John Stevens; first-half record is from Games 26-47.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE LOOKING AT HERE?

I include the first 47 games just to show how much Laviolette's teams regress in the second half. By my measurements in the other article, five of the eight teams that Laviolette has coached have regressed in the final 35 games; one remained consistent, and two improved slightly. So yes, what we're experiencing now is a visit from Laviolette's personal demon, whom I have named Il Signore Regresso. In other words, it's what we were afraid of.

With that in mind, let's try to predict how the Flyers will finish. I figure on something like this:

Possible "Power Rankings" Record over Final 35: 15-15-5

Total "Power Rankings" Record for the Season: 43-31-8

Possible Record: 45-29-8, 98 POINTS

I'MA AXE YOU SOME QUESTIONS TO SEE IF YOU'RE 100 PROOF

Q: Okay, where did you get those numbers?

A: Scroll up and look at Laviolette's win percentages during the final 35 games. Yes, it's slightly higher in years where he does not make the playoffs than when he does (eight tenths of a percent). But that's not much at all. So I used his average winning percentage / final 35 games (.443) to figure out that the Flyers would win 15 of those games in regulation or overtime.

Q: Fine, but what about the 15 regulation or overtime losses? And how did you come up with 5 shootout appearances?

A: I'm glad you asked:

Laviolettes' Regulation / OT Loss Percentage, Final 35 Games: .428

Laviolette's Percentage of Final 35 Games That Go to Shootout: .129

Multiply those numbers by 35 and you get 15 and 5, respectively.

Q: Okay, how was 43-31-8 magically transformed into 45-29-8?

A: Shootouts, y'all. The record of 45-29-8 is based on the Flyers' .339 win percentage in shootouts. (They're 20-39 all time.) So yes, I'm saying that the Flyers will go to two more shootouts this year and win them. They'll also lose a game in overtime somewhere along the way. I forget how I reached that last conclusion, but I did.

Q: So, given Laviolette's frequent visitations from Il Signore Regresso, it looks like the Flyers may regress as much as TEN points and not six?

A: Yup. Still, 98 points should secure a playoff spot. You can forget about home ice, but quite frankly the Flyers have been much better on the road this season anyway. We can only hope that they don't open against Boston or New York.

Q: And once they make the playoffs...?

A: Laviolette's playoff winning percentage is .535, which equates to a 15-9 record over 28 games played. That's not too shabby, but you need 16 wins for the Stanley Cup. Fire him now!!!! But seriously, Laviolette's teams do better in the playoffs the further they go. As we learned the last two seasons, it's the second round which proves to be the toughest.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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