The Philadelphia Flyers started out their season as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning five of their first seven games in a way that anyone could determine was unsustainable, if they just looked at a stat sheet for less than a minute.
In all five of those victories, the Flyers got heavily out-shot, out-chanced, out-played, and the only advantage they had was who was in between the pipes. Hell, Carter Hart might have played the game of his life in a win over the Florida Panthers all the way back on Oct. 27 when the visiting Floridians unleashed a total of 109 shot attempts in all situations and 51 of them forced a save out of him. Like, c’mon dude, the Flyers somehow won when the Panthers had owned every inch of the ice.
Directly in front of Hart? The visitors unleashed 22 high-danger shot attempts that game. In the Panthers’ zone? Well, it wasn’t even a high-tempo, back-and-forth game, as the Flyers 22 shots on goal and just 39 attempts. How does a team attempt 70 more shots than the other? It is insane. That game was insane.
Either way, that early-season game against Florida was just the extreme end of things when it came to why the Flyers were winning more games than they were losing. They were piling on Carter Hart’s back all the way to two points most nights and seeing some renaissance from the youngish crew containing Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes.
That is how the season started, riding a wave of overperformance. Now, it’s a different story, somehow.
After a brutal defeat to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, the Flyers have lost their last five consecutive games and appear to be shrugging and lost. We scoured all the post-game interviews from head coach John Tortorella and multiple players, and it was full of Well, uh, yeah, I guess we have to play better, and We just have to get more scoring chances. Sure, those abstract opinions and suggestions could work in the Flyers’ favor, but the only issue is that they have somehow flopped to the other side of the percentages compared to the start to the season and are losing games where they are the team getting the majority of chances.
Aside from the game in Boston (because they are the best team in the league, currently), during the current losing streak the Flyers are on, they have gotten more scoring chances, shot attempts, shots on goal, and all the other statistics that we want to use to determine who the better team was. In those four games before Boston — we will call this part of the losing streak 4 BB (Before Boston) — the Flyers at 5-on-5 have had 54.99 percent of the shot attempts, 56.66 percent of the shots on goal, 57.92 percent of the expected goals, and 55.29 percent of the registered scoring chances. That is Good Team Numbers. Like, very good team numbers and if a team finished all 82 games like that, they would probably win upwards of 45 or 50 games if they figured out the other stuff like “finishing.”
But instead of winning those games, the Flyers suffered demoralizing defeats and are now sitting with a 7-7-3 record and out of a current playoff spot. Maybe it is some weird karmatic force that has flipped the table on top of Philadelphia’s head and the team’s performances and results have been the complete opposite to how they started the season.
Does this even out to a team that is just average? Most likely. So, maybe we can’t say that they shouldn’t have lost those games as the tides of hockey go in and out and just sometimes they don’t go the way that leads to more success. But right now, the Flyers are playing well and losing games because it’s hard to score goals.
Under all of that scrap, they might be a basic hockey team that will have the waves come crashing in on their shore once more, but right now it is a barren desert and the future is cloudy.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick