In today's Fly By, it was brought up that Danny Briere is currently the proud owner of a plus-8 rating, which must mean we are currently living in a bizarro world. Well, that's one explanation. Another is what I said in the third period thread, which is that the Flyers have only beaten four teams this year who have a positive record through regulation.
The Flyers are playing really well through the first 18 games, and in particular, in their last 10. There's no denying that. It's definitely a positive that they are rolling over weaker competition, which is exactly what's going on. But what does it really mean?
Well, I'm not really sure. But there's something I want you all to take a look at, specifically in regards to individual players' plus/minus numbers. That is the Flyers' save percentage while each player is on the ice. Now, for some context: last year, the Flyers as a team had a 0.917% save percentage at 5-on-5, good for 17th in the NHL. The first place team - San Jose - had a 0.928%. Needless to say, the Flyers received fairly average goaltending at 5-on-5 last year.
Move forward to this year. The Flyers - largely due to Sergei Bobrovsky and his 0.946 even-strength save percentage - are getting fantastic goaltending at 5-on-5 this year. In fact, including Brian Boucher, the Flyers goaltenders have a 0.941% save percentage at 5-on-5 so far. This is good for 2nd best in the NHL - that Tim Thomas is having a pretty good year - and the Flyers are one of nine teams who are currently at or above the Sharks' league leading pace from last year.
Jump to see the Flyers numbers.
If you recall, the Flyers as a team are holding their opponents to a 5.9% shooting percentage at 5-on-5. But nine of fourteen forwards are getting even better goaltending than that. In addition:
Here we see much more modest numbers - only three of seven defensemen are receiving goaltending better than the team - but the difference is much more stark. The two regulars getting better goaltending than the team (Meszaros and O`Donnell) are leading the team in plus/minus by far.
So to answer whether or not we are living in a bizarro world, well, I think we're all just living in Bob's world. Because these numbers are severely inflated due to a small sample size which includes a (very) hot streak. Now, inflated plus/minus doesn't have to collapse (look at Matt Carle last year), but the individual save percentages surely will.