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Inflated Numbers From a Hot Streak Over a Small Sample

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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.

Player SvPct 5-on-5 +/- +/-
van Riemsdyk 0.975 4 2
Nodl 0.966 5 5
Zherdev 0.966 3 3
Briere 0.954 9 8
Leino 0.949 9 9
Shelley 0.946 -1 -1
Betts 0.944 2 4
Wellwood 0.944 1 1
Hartnell 0.941 9 8
Carter 0.938 5 4
Powe 0.928 3 4
Giroux 0.925 4 7
Carcillo 0.914 -2 -2
Richards 0.907 0 3

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:

Player SvPct 5-on-5 +/- +/-
Bartulis 1.000 1 1
O`Donnell 0.986 11 12
Meszaros 0.973 10 12
Pronger 0.938 4 4
Timonen 0.915 2 4
Carle 0.915 5 5
Coburn 0.911 1 2

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.