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Quarter-way review: Flyers’ Over-Unders

Let’s see just how wrong I was!

Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

As we approach the quarter mark of the NHL season, we’ve had many surprises in the parody filled National Hockey League. The New Jersey Devils have been red-hot, there’s a tire fire in Vancouver, and the Buffalo Sabres’ Tage Thompson looks like the second coming of Mario Lemieux (in all seriousness, for avid NHL watchers and especially Sabres fans, this one we could see coming!).

As for the fate of yours, mine and our Philadelphia Flyers, they find themselves sitting just two points away from a wild card spot after starting the season in fine form. Though they have cooled down, and their flaws are beginning to surface (as well as missing a handful of key players due to injury) the impact that John Tortorella has made on the Flyers’ so far is more than evident. The Flyers will win games, and they will lose games (thanks Captain Obvious!) but they are going down fighting. They’ve certainly proven to be an entertaining team that isn’t derived of heart.

With this in mind, I wanted to see if these new-look Flyers have proven my pre-season predictions to be right or wrong. Back in September, we polled you, the BSH readers, on a few Over/Under predictions, alongside predictions made by myself. And, with 1/4th of the season nearly in the books, let’s see how these predictions hold up...

1. Cam Atkinson - Over/Under 30 Goals

My prediction: Under

Reader prediction: Under

Other than Joel Farabee, and arguably James van Riemsdyk, Cam Atkinson is one of the only dynamic scoring threats on this roster. The ever popular winger can beat defenders with his speed and is able to utilize his skills in varied and unpredictable ways to always pose a thread to opposing teams.

If the Flyers are going to make any noise this year, they’ll need their top players such as Atkinson to be factors night in and night out. Atkinson has had seasons of 41 and 35 goals in his NHL career, but its been since 2018-19 when he last broke the 30 goal barrier. A big scoring season from Atkinson would certainly help a team who finished 31st of 32 NHL teams in goals-for last season, but is it in the cards?

I’m taking the under on this bet, but still, it is likely Atkinson scores close to that number. If he scored 23 goals on a bad Flyers team, he can definitely replicate that if the Flyers are indeed as bad as some think they will be.

Unfortunately, Cam Atkinson has yet to appear in a game this season due to an ongoing upper body injury. It’s a shame for the veteran forward, as the Flyers could certainly use a skill boost to their top six, especially from a guy who knows how John Tortorella operates.

However, it is looking as if this will be a definite “under”.

2. Rasmus Ristolainen - Over/Under 25% Entry Chance Prevention (Corey Sznadjer’s Metric)

My prediction: Over

Reader prediction: Under

To provide some context, as we all know, Rasmus Ristolainen isn’t actually the worst defender in the NHL but his micro-stats are bad and general play is not befitting of how most teams (including the Flyers) see him.

As is explored above, Ristolainen faired poorly when looking at most defensive metrics (I choose not to judge him on offensive output as that isn’t really his role). He fared particularly poorly related to denying opposing forwards entry into the zone and chances therein, as well as exiting the defensive zone, and passing out of his own zone, which are crucial skills for a defenseman

I’ll have to check in on this stat, though considering the Flyers get outshot massively while Ristolainen is taking shifts (give up 58 more shots with Ristolainen on the ice versus take shots), I would assume the “under” would be correct here. I had too much faith. John Tortorella can see what we all see, so we finally have a coach’s validation here as well.

3. Ryan Ellis - Over/Under 20 Games Played

My prediction: Over

Reader prediction: Under

The Flyers are seemingly conflicted when it comes to their outlook on Ryan Ellis. Chuck Fletcher himself has admitted that his injury could be career ending.

However, when speaking to the media, John Tortorella has implied that Ellis could be ready during some point of the regular season. Ellis has had injury issues in the past (and present), and he only appeared in 4 games last season for the Orange and Black?

We’ve seen more and more players, sadly, having their careers cut short due to injury, or just choosing to retire after listening to their bodies, especially after the NHL Bubble and shortened 2021-2022 season due to COVID-19 (perhaps due to schedules being thrown off and a lack of organized activity for large stretches over this time). Regardless, the news isn’t positive for Ellis.

The BSH readers voted 97% to 3% for the under, and it is safe to say they will be right and that I was dead wrong here. I really, really want to have faith that we will see Ryan Ellis again in a Flyers uniform, but at this point it is extremely unlikely as we’ve had no real updates on his condition.

Considering the deluge of injury news we’ve had in the NHL so far this season, especially with longer term injuries, it could be likely that we see Ryan Ellis choose to retire, and if so, we wish him good health and the best of luck on his post-hockey journey.

4. Chuck Fletcher - Over/Under 3 Trades Made Before/During Deadline

My prediction: Over

Reader prediction: Over

This over/under could either be the result of the Flyers being aggressive due to being good, or out of selling assets because they are bad (or just because Fletcher woke up one morning and decided to trade a 6th round pick for a 6th round pick for the laughs). The only stipulation here is that Fletcher makes more than 3 trades up to and including the trade deadline.

Chuck Fletcher, so far, has warped into Chucky Two-Claims rather than Two-Trades. The Flyers have claimed both Lukas Sedlak from Colorado and Kieffer Bellows from the Islanders to bolster their forward corps, and though they also made a minor league trade, this one won’t count.

Fletcher, as evidenced by the waiver claims, isn’t willing to make changes to the roster by addition or subtraction, and as such, I still think we will see the over on this prediction.

5. Power Play 1 - Over/Under 18% Effectiveness

My prediction: Under

Reader prediction: Under

The NHL average Power Play Percentage was 20.6% last season. The Flyers finished at 12.6%, a whole percentage point behind the Montreal Canadiens to secure dead last in the NHL in this category,

For a team that used to be known for their Power Play effectiveness, the Flyers in recent seasons have had little success stories on the man advantage. It looks doubtful that the Flyers will suddenly have a top 10 unit in the league, but if they could even be around average, that would be a massive boost. We’ll see if Tortorella and his coaching staff can fix this aspect of the Flyers’ game.

Will they hit 18% though? The Washington Capitals, even with the best Power Play shooter in the league in Alex Ovechkin, were still only ranked 23rd at 18.8%.

The Flyers currently sit at a Power Play effectiveness rating of 17.31%, which is very close to the statistic they’ll need to hit in order to satisfy the “over”. To their credit, the new Flyer Power Play has been fairly effective over the first quarter of the season, and they scored a goal on the man advantage in their first four games.

However, going 1/12 over their last 5 games on the Power Play has tanked their rankings.

This could go either way, but in the end, I’ll still take the under.