After a dreadful start to the season, the Flyers have more or less stabilized, riding hot goaltending to an 11-8-2 record since the start of November. But more important than their record in their last month is the improvement the Flyers have seen in their possession metrics.
Now for those of you who have not yet been indoctrinated into the Church of Corsi, I present the below table from Jlikens of objectivenhl.blogspot.com. This simple yet powerful table shows the power of Corsi tied (the percentage of shot attempts your team gets in tied situations) in predicting future winning percentage vs the predictive power of winning percentage and goal ratio.
So looking at the first three columns (under 20 games --> 60 games), you see how winning percentage, goal ratio, and finally Corsi Tied were able to predict a team's winning percentage in the next 60 games.
As you can see throughout the table, Corsi Tied is much better at predicting future winning percentage than looking at goal ratio or even a team's record (win percentage). This is why we use Corsi and Fenwick in team-level analysis.
Anyways, so clearly we can see the advantages of looking at Corsi (and Fenwick) over other metrics when analyzing team performance. So how have the flyers really been playing?
Much better actually. Looking at the Cumulative Fenwick graph on Extraskater.com, we can see steady improvement by the Flyers in their Fenwick close % (Fenwick measures all shots and missed shots, but excludes blocked shots. For a more in-depth comparison of Corsi and Fenwick, see this link, also by Jlikens).
At the end of October, the Flyers Fenwick close percentage was 46.4%. After the Flyers last game vs the Canadiens, the Flyers cumulative Fenwick close percentage is at 48.2%, an improvement of 1.8 percentage points.
At this point in the season, Corsi close is a better statistic to use since the inclusion of blocked shots increases the sample size. If we look at Corsi close, the Flyers look even better.
In close situations (within one goal in the first two periods and tied during the third period), the Flyers Corsi % is 49.6%. In other words, at even strength in close situations, the Flyers are getting almost 50% of the shot attempts.
This sudden improvement has been fueled in my opinion by the top line. Both Hartnell and Voracek have Corsi close % of over 54%, while Giroux has a Corsi Close % of 51.3 percent. Other top performers in 5v5 Close situations so far include Timmonen (54.3%), Coburn (51.6%), and Couturier (51.9%).
So while there has been much despair in Flyers land, that despair might not be so warranted anymore.
However, feel free to despair over the sad fact that Paul Holmgren may soon give Steve Mason a huge and completely undeserved contract extension (remember, remember, the regression of goaltenders!!!) at some point this year.