In the NHL, scoring four times almost certainly means you’re winning. Let’s look at a few of the top-scoring teams in the league and how they fare when scoring four or more goals.
· New York Rangers: 9-0
· Tampa Bay Lightning: 6-0
· Chicago Blackhawks: 5-0
· Montreal Canadiens: 5-0
Those are four of the five top-scoring teams (per game) in the NHL. As the numbers suggest, reaching the four-goal mark means one thing: a victory. Those teams have an overall record of 36-11-3.
That is, of course, unless you’re the Philadelphia Flyers, where that rule seemingly doesn’t apply.
The Flyers — the other team in the top five of goals per game — have scored four goals in nine games. Their record in those five games is 5-4. That means four of their six regulation losses have come while scoring four or more goals. For comparison’s sake, the Flyers were 23-1 when scoring four or more goals last season.
Overall, they’re 6-6-1. The aforementioned four other teams have an average of 8.5 wins to their name. The Flyers could and should be 8-4-1, which would place them right behind the Rangers for the top spot in the Metropolitan.
So what’s going on?
The glaring problem is in net, where the team ranks 29th in the NHL with 48 goals allowed. Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason look nowhere near as reliable as they did a year ago. Some of the goals they’re allowing are simply a result of defensive breakdowns, but a handful fall solely on their shoulders for failing to make a big save when it matters (see below).
Canadians goal scored by #30 Michael Neuvirth pic.twitter.com/2ClsTyXDs8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2016
This team’s roster makeup is very similar to what it was last season, with both goalies back, nearly all of the same faces on the blue line besides the addition of Ivan Provorov, and a forward group whose only new pieces are Travis Konecny, Dale Weise and Roman Lyubimov.
Perhaps this is a matter of both goalies being in a slump at the same time, an issue that never transpired to this extent last season. When Mason was off, Neuvirth was on, and vice versa.
Both netminders couldn’t have lost all that talent over a summer, right?
Additionally, this is a contract year for each of them, a season typically regarded as one that sees the player perform above his level to get that next big payday. Right now, neither of the two goalies are improving their future financial situation.
As Dave Hakstol discussed earlier in the week, it’s a lot to easier to fix an issue pertaining to allowing goals than scoring them. The latter proved to be an issue for this team for much of last season. When a team can’t score, it’s hard to magically find that touch if the talent just isn’t there, whereas new schemes and techniques can certainly benefit a defensive gameplan in its in-season improvement.
Will the goaltenders play this poorly all season? It’s hard to envision that with the generally above-average-to-good track record for each.
One thing is for certain, though: if the Flyers continue to score at this rate, they have to start winning more than they are. Just look at the odds.