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Why the goals will come for the Philadelphia Flyers

We don't expect Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Matt Read and Scott Hartnell to stay completely off the scoreboard all season long, do we? Both common sense and the numbers tell us to expect goals sooner than later.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

At 1-7-0, Philadelphia Flyers are off to the ugliest start in their history, and the worst in the NHL this year. The biggest reason for that? The pucks just aren't going in the net.

Claude Giroux, Matt Read, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell in particular have struggled mightily, but based on the individual history of these guys and just about every single other player on the team, that's something we should expect to change very soon.

The shooting percentages paint a pretty ugly story so far, but also an optimistic one. Here's every player who's played at least three games for the Flyers this season, looking at their shooting numbers last year, this year and across their careers (excluding Michael Raffl because he never played in the NHL before this year).

These ugly starts are not in line with what we've come to expect from these guys based on hundreds of games of NHL experience.

Last season This season Career
Player Pos GP Shot % GP Shot % GP Shot %
Adam Hall C 37 0.0% 8 0.0% 610 7.0%
Andrej Meszaros D 11 0.0% 5 0.0% 538 5.1%
Brayden Schenn C 47 10.1% 8 11.1% 118 10.7%
Braydon Coburn D 33 2.6% 8 12.5% 501 4.6%
Claude Giroux R 48 9.5% 8 0.0% 341 11.7%
Erik Gustafsson D 27 8.3% 3 11.1% 63 7.7%
Jakub Voracek R 48 17.1% 8 0.0% 375 10.3%
Jay Rosehill L 11 14.3% 5 0.0% 88 7.5%
Kimmo Timonen D 45 6.4% 8 0.0% 1023 6.2%
Luke Schenn D 47 3.7% 8 20.0% 365 3.6%
Mark Streit D 48 7.2% 8 0.0% 499 7.2%
Matt Read R 42 15.3% 8 0.0% 129 13.9%
Maxime Talbot C 35 12.2% 8 10.0% 512 11.9%
Nicklas Grossmann D 30 4.8% 8 0.0% 393 1.4%
Scott Hartnell L 32 10.8% 5 0.0% 880 11.3%
Sean Couturier C 46 5.3% 8 0.0% 131 8.3%
Tye McGinn L 18 9.1% 3 42.9% 21 15.0%
Vincent Lecavalier C 39 11.6% 5 9.1% 1042 12.1%
Wayne Simmonds R 45 13.6% 8 6.3% 375 12.0%
Zac Rinaldo C 32 20.0% 8 0.0% 106 6.8%

As you can see, just about every Flyer is having an awful year so far when it comes to converting on their shots, whether it be on the power play or at even strength.

The exceptions:

  • Tye McGinn, who's scored on 42.9 percent of his shots in the three games this season. That uhhhh.... won't keep up all year.
  • Luke Schenn, who has one goal on five shots, 16.4 percent higher than his career average.
  • Max Talbot, who's shooting at a 10 percent conversion rate, roughly his career average.
  • Brayden Schenn, with two goals in eight games is shooting roughly at his career average.
  • Erik Gustafsson, shooting slightly above his career average.
  • Braydon Coburn, who has one goal in eight games and will certainly not score one goal every eight games this season. He has just 32 goals in on 696 shots in 501 career games.
  • Vincent Lecavalier has one goal on 11 shots in five games, which is just a touch under his career conversion rate of 12.1 percent.

Aside from Lecavalier, who has also been injured the last three games, not one big name is on this list. Giroux, Voracek, Hartnell, Read and Simmonds are all having trouble putting the puck in the net, and when that many big names are being held off the score sheet, the whole team is going to suffer.

The other side of this is shot production. The shots aren't going in when the Flyers get them, but are they still getting them?

On the power play, the answer is no. So far this season, the Flyers are generating 44.9 shots per 60 minutes on the power play, which is 26th in the league. Last year, that number was at 51.9 percent per 60, good for sixth in the league. Combine that with a 14.3 shooting percentage last year on the PP with this year's 6.5 percent shooting percentage on the PP and well ... you can see why the Flyers only have three PP goals so far this season. They're not converting on their shots, nor are they generating shots at the same rate as they have in the past.

The PP needs work, and hopefully once some bounces start going the Flyers way at even strength, it'll carry over to the man advantage. At evens, the Flyers are still getting the shots -- those shots just aren't going in.

Last season at 5v5, the Flyers generated 28.0 shots on goal per 60 minutes, and this season so far, they're generating 27.1 shots on goal per 60. Not much of a difference, and that's room for optimism. Last year was a weak year for the Flyers in terms of offensive production at even strength and they still converted on 8 percent of their shots at 5-on-5, while this year, they've only converted on 5.2 percent.

We can see that both at the team level and the individual level, the Flyers biggest problem is that their shots just aren't going in the net.

Shooting percentages can fluctuate for a lot of reasons, and it can be hard to figure out exactly why players aren't scoring at any given time -- or on the flip side, why they're shooting so hot at a given time. It can be anything from a lack of confidence to a breakdown in the system to running into a stretch of hot goaltenders and/or stingy defenses -- or, in my opinion with certain Flyers so far this season, it can be a simple case of trying too hard.

But the players themselves don't even know, and that's why they seemed so frustrated and baffled all the time. Here's Read talking about that with CSN Philly:

"You know, I feel still confident in my game. Working hard. Just trying to do the best I can to help the team win. Maybe things aren't going in for me. I've hit a couple posts, a couple crossbars. Everyone goes through these little streaks where nothing goes your way. I just have to keep working hard, keep going to the net and keep doing those little things that eventually turn it around and help this team out."

Good hockey players with well-established career numbers don't just forget how to score goals, but hot and cold stretches do happen to every player. Stretches where you're just not getting the bounces. For whatever reason, Read, Voracek, Hartnell, Simmonds and Giroux are all going through a cold stretch at the same time, and the result has been the ugliest start in team history.

If you're a pessimist, you watch this team and you see everything going wrong, and you think that these struggles are going to continue all year. Maybe it's true. Maybe something has gone fundamentally wrong somewhere, whether it's in the system they play or elsewhere in the organization, that's ruined the scoring ability of every player on the team. Maybe they'll never figure it out.

But if you're a realist, you can see that the goals are coming. It's only a matter of time. The Flyers aren't this bad.

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