It sucks. We know. The NHL finally comes back and the Flyers look like the Keystone Kops on the ice. 25th in goals per game, 19th in goals against per game, 23rd in power play percentage, 29th on the penalty kill, 29th in faceoff win percentage, 26th in shots on goal per game, but hey, only 10th in shots against per game!
We all know the special teams are bad. The power play can't score worth a damn and the penalty kill couldn't stop a Devin Setoguchi shootout attempt. They're not getting pucks to the net on the PP, they're passing the puck too often and not shooting enough. On the PK, the opposition is getting clear shooting lanes and the Flyers aren't pressuring enough.
The special teams are bad, but 5-on-5 play has been considerably better.
When the score is tied or close, the Flyers are among the top teams in the league at shot differential. They're ranked fifth in Fenwick Tied, a plus/minus-style measure of shot differential (goals, shots on goal and missed shots) while the score is tied. When the score is close, the Flyers rank 10th in the league in Fenwick.
(We have to eliminate scenarios where the score is lopsided -- one way or the other -- when looking at these numbers because teams always allow more shots when they're winning and they always take more shots when they're losing. If you've been reading BSH for a while, you know this as "score effects." Looking at numbers when the score is tied or close helps us eliminate score effects.)
That's good news. It means the Flyers are controlling the puck and directing pucks towards the net more than their opponents while at 5-on-5. They're in the top-third of the league so far this season in doing so. So why are they 27th in the league in scoring during 5-on-5 play? Their team shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is third-best in the NHL, so again, it's not as if they're hitting a hot goalie every night.
The problem, at least in part, appears to be those missed shots. The Flyers are missing the net a lot. They rank fourth in the league in total missed shots with 79. Only Vancouver, Dallas and Winnipeg have more.
The Flyers have two players -- Claude Giroux with 10 missed shots and Braydon Coburn with nine -- among the league leaders in the category. Giroux, for example, might be shooting at 16.7 percent (two goals on 12 SOG) but he's also missed the net 10 times. Nicklas Grossmann has missed the net eight times; Matt Read and Brayden Schenn seven. We've seen what happens when Matt Read hits the net. He should do that more.
A much simpler way of illustrating this, perhaps: The Flyers are 26th in shots on goal per game and fourth at missed shots per game. Hey, maybe if they hit the net some more, pucks will go in the net.
None of it necessarily matters if the Flyers are giving up power play goals over 30 percent of the time, but hitting the net with more frequency is definitely something the Flyers need to work on in addition to the specialty teams game.