Why is the Flyers' power play better on the road than at home?

Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

The Flyers' power play has been more efficient on the road than at home this season. Is it just a statistical anomaly, or is there a reason?

Ranked 10th the NHL entering Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Philadelphia Flyers' power play has been a strength of the team throughout most of the season.

However, after every failed power play opportunity at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers' relative struggles at home on the power play versus the road are brought up by television commentators, print media, and fans alike.

The raw statistics are difficult to argue. According to Rob Parent of the Delaware County Daily Times, the Flyers have the second-best road power play in the league at a 25.8 percent success rate. Their home power play is measurably worse from an efficiency standpoint, checking in at 14.0 percent and ranking 26th overall.

So is Philadelphia generating more power play chances on the road than at home? Are they just shooting at a higher percentage when away from the Wells Fargo Center? Or is there something else going on?

The Flyers shoot better on the road than at home ... but they put more shots on net, too

So far this season, Philadelphia has scored 17 power play goals at home, and 32 power play goals on the road. A sizable difference, especially when taking into account the fact that the Flyers have almost twenty more minutes of raw power play time at home this season.

Unsurprisingly, the Flyers' shooting percentage is substantially higher on the road than at home, accounting for some of the discrepancy.

But Philadelphia has also simply gotten more pucks on net on the road than they have at the Wells Fargo Center this season.

Home Road
PP TOI 212.7 193.3
Total Shots on Goal 184 193
Total Goals 17 32
Shooting Percentage 9.24% 16.58%
Shots on Goal per 60 51.90 59.91

The Flyers' power play shooting percentage is over seven points higher on the road than at home. But they also average over eight more shots on goal per sixty minutes of power play ice time when on the road as well.

Philadelphia may be getting a bit lucky away from the Wells Fargo in terms of shooting percentage. But they're also making opposing goalies face more shots.

The real problem: blocked and missed shots

So the Flyers take more shots on goal when on the power play on the road. That means that they're taking more overall shot attempts as well, correct?

Not so fast.

Interestingly enough, the Flyers actually generate more power play shot attempts at home than on the road, even after controlling for time on ice. The main problem at home, it appears, is that less shots are making it through to the opposing goaltender.

Home Road
Total PP Shot Attempts 369 327
Missed Shots per 60 24.26 21.42
Blocked Shots per 60 27.93 20.18
Total Shot Attempts per 60 104.09 101.50

In other words, the Flyers are generating offense at a decent rate when on the power play at home. The biggest problem, actually, has been an inability to fire the puck on target and more importantly, avoid opposing shot blockers.

There are a few possible explanations. The most obvious is simple variance -- 200 minutes is not a terribly large sample size either way, and as the pool of data gets larger, more of the Flyers shot attempts at home may find their target (or less of their shot attempts on the road will find theirs). The four posts that the Flyers hit on the power play on Tuesday night (at home) against the Blackhawks speak to the effect that luck can have in small samples.

There is also the possibility that Philadelphia has been kept to the outside more often at home, resulting in lower quality chances and in turn, more blocks and misses.

Finally, the Flyers' shooters may be a bit more impatient at home, and are letting shots go without a clear, open lane. Maybe the constant pleas of the faithful to "shoot!" are actually having a negative effect this year.

It's definitely worth paying attention to as the season comes to a close.

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