There’s only so much you can take away from a small sample size, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun looking at the comparison from last year’s Flyers team to this year’s squad through the first 10 games.
It’s early, but there’s certainly some impressions to be made as we approach the one-eighth mark of the season (is that even a thing?).
So what can we infer from those numbers? Maybe that these games are essentially playing out as they did last season except for inflated numbers for both teams. The Flyers are scoring one more goal per game but equally allowing one goal against, thus the scoring difference being near identical.
What’s more likely to sustain? I’d guess the offense, which looks improved from last season, while the goaltending and more so, the defense, sures up over time. Once Michael Del Zotto returns to the mix, the Flyers blue line should gain some much-needed stability.
Head coach Dave Hakstol agreed with that notion.
“You can’t give up the number that we are giving up and win on a regular basis,” Hakstol said after the loss to Pittsburgh. “But I believe we can clean that up sooner than later.”
Here’s the most telling difference: the power play.
The Flyers appear to be returning to their usual man-advantage dominance, something that alluded them a year ago. The start they had last season was dreadful, as evidenced by their first 10 games, so it’s quite refreshing to see them respond with a much better start. They enter Tuesday with the most power play goals scored (they have two games on Nashville, who has 10 power play goals) and the third-highest conversion percentage.
On the flip side, there’s still some room for improvement when playing a man down. The actual scheme, though, looks much better and provides optimism that they’ll grow throughout the season as they continue picking up the nuances of their new-look PK (see Charlie’s breakdown of this approach). Adding to that support, the Flyers have killed off six of their last seven efforts over the last three games.
Notice something different from last year’s leading scorers through 10 games compared to this?
The big guns have shown up.
Even better, the top six scorers from this year’s lineup have greater or equal points than last year’s most productive player. Up and down the lineup, the scoring has been much more balanced. The Flyers had 17 skaters register a point in the first 10 games.
This year’s team has seen 20 players pick up a point.
Here’s some other notes:
- The Flyers have been penalized 25 fewer minutes than they were last year. They’ve also allowed nine fewer power plays to the opposition.
- Standings don’t mean much at this point in time, but the Flyers were second to last this time last season while sitting two points back from third-place Washington. Mentally, it’s a lot easier to see yourself with two fewer teams ahead of you.
- They played just two sets of back-to-backs in the first 10 games. The Flyers have already played three sets, with games 11 & 12 (today and tomorrow) marking the fourth such instance. This team has had little time for rest and adjustments, so it’s not so surprising they’re playing “mediocre” as general manager Ron Hextall described it yesterday.