2.9 percent — the Flyers’ shooting percentage on shots on goal taken by the Flyers with their current fourth line of Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton, and Taylor Leier on the ice.
(All data in this post, unless otherwise noted, via corsica.hockey and its excellent Line Combos tool.)
Put another way: with each of those three players on the ice, the Flyers have put 69 shots on opposing goalies. That’s some pretty nice shot production, particularly for a fourth line. But how many of those shots have gone into the other team’s net?
Two. 2. Dos. Deux. Zwei.
That’s good for a shooting percentage of 2.9 percent. Just how low of a conversion rate is that, comparatively?
Through Tuesday night’s games, 33 forward lines had logged at least 100 minutes together at 5-on-5 in this young NHL season. Of those 33 lines, only one — a trio of forwards on the Rangers — has cashed in on a lower percentage of its shot attempts than the Flyers’ fourth line (a line which some of you may know as “The Honey Bees”, a nickname I refuse to call it in practice because of a natural and completely reasonable hatred of bees). Every other one of those lines has scored on at least five percent of its shots.
In some ways, the fact that Dave Hakstol has kept this line together more or less unflinchingly through the first six weeks of the season speaks to how good it’s been on the whole, even despite its snakebitten offensive results. As we’ve seen, the Flyers’ coach is more than willing to tinker with his second and third lines when they go cold (which, y’know, they have been for most of this season). And the fourth line has, indeed, been a strong all-around unit — none of the other 32 lines in the sample here has done a better job of suppressing shots on goal or attempts, and despite its comically low shooting percentage it’s only a minus-1 in goal differential on the season since it’s only been on the ice for three goals against.
And it’s not like they’ve just been bombing away from the points with these shots here, either. Look at Craig’s line-by-line breakdown from last night, for example — the group had four shots in the scoring-chance/”home plate” area, a pretty good amount for a fourth line being given fourth-line ice time.
The line has tallied 5.06 Expected Goals across all of its ice time, compared to the two that it’s actually scored. And the team’s Expected Fenwick Shooting Percentage with those three all on the ice (in other words, the percent of unblocked shot attempts you’d expect to go in the net based on the locations and types of shots that are being taken) is 5.95 percent, compared to its actual Fenwick Shooting Percentage of 2.35 percent.
Even if you grant that Raffl, Laughton, and Leier aren’t exactly bona-fide NHL snipers and shouldn’t be expected to completely live up to their shooting “expectations”, it’s nearly unfathomable that they’ve been this cold so far this season.
Things are probably going to get better here, and this line is probably going to start scoring. But we don’t really get nice things when it comes to this hockey team, so maybe they just won’t score again all season.