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4 stats to feel better about the Flyers

We all need some optimism right now.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Being optimistic is extremely hard, especially if you are a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers. While the whole team is going through a miserable 2022-23 season, we can still try to find some sparks of joy and reasons to watch some games.

Some players have become their old selves, and are among the best in the league in some categories, and others just make the entertainment value shoot up. Overall, following and watching this team is not a pleasant experience, but we can at least gather and harvest some joy from what has happened so far.

Kevin Hayes getting it done at 5-on-5

If the Flyers’ power play is not the worst in the league, it sure isn’t that far off. Their 4.72 goals per hour on the man advantage is at the bottom of the NHL, and along with it they also get the lowest number of shots on goal per hour (40.09), and the third-lowest shot attempts per hour (83.49). So, with the context of that misery, it is astounding how many points Kevin Hayes has so far this season.

In his 24 games, Hayes has scored eight goals and 24 points, and just seven of those points were earned on the power play. That means that a fairly sizeable chunk was scored during 5-on-5, and he ranks among the best forwards in the league at getting that production done when the teams have the same number of players on the ice.

Hayes’s 15 even-strength points is tied for 16th among all forwards in the league. He has had the same amount of production at 5-on-5 as some other, more high-profile players, like: Cole Caufield, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak, Mark Stone, Mark Scheifele, and our familiar summer friend Johnny Gaudreau. And an even more impressive feat, is that as of Friday morning, Hayes has scored more at 5-on-5 than stars Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.

And to add just more gas to the fire that is the even-strength production of the Flyers’ top forwards. Joel Farabee has earned all 14 of his points this season at 5-on-5 — which places him tied for 24th among all forwards and still above some dude named Matthews and tied with McDavid.

This is some outrageous production to be had from a team that has been notably terrible.

Carter Hart is bonkers

Speaking of some members of the Flyers team that is among the best players in their position so far this season, Carter Hart.

Unlike the Hayes and Farabee excellence, Hart’s resurgence has been much more visible and talked about. The 24-year-old netminder has an adequate save percentage of .914, but digging deeper into the minute of the underlying stats and taking the context of the Flyers being so damn bad in front of him, he turns out to be one of the best right now.

Hart has earned 14.76 goals saved above expected — taking into consideration the expected goals of each save he makes — and right now that is the third-best in the league with only Ilya Sorokin and Connor Hellebuyck being more valuable to their respective teams.

And there is a massive reason why Hart has earned that number. Only John Gibson — of the last place Anaheim Ducks — has faced more expected goals against than Hart. It is them two on an island of misery, but the only difference is one is staying afloat and the other is already on the ocean’s floor. They are the two netminders for not-so-great teams that still hold enough staying power to have a definitive No. 1 starter role. Other bad teams just cycle through random goaltenders, but Gibson and Hart are mainstays. At least Hart is doing his job extremely well.

After a couple rough years, it is incredibly nice to see Hart get back to being what he was promised to be, and he is still so damn young.

Takeaways, compared to the giveaways

They aren’t the most reliable stats — because it depends on NHL employees watching the games and registering them — but giveaways and takeaways are cited enough by coaches and other people enough, to make us look at them.

Well, the Flyers have some players that are terrible at holding on to possession, but two youngsters that have been so good at taking the puck away from opponents while also not giving it up easily.

As of Friday, Noah Cates has 17 takeaways in all situations. That leads the entire Flyers team in that metric, and just to make it even better, the young center has registered just seven giveaways. The ratio of 2.42 takeaways per giveaway is the best on the team, and that is just incredibly impressive for someone that has barely scratched the surface of his professional career.

And it isn’t just Cates doing a solid job. Someone that gets hounded on for not fulfilling his potential in Morgan Frost is doing some excellent work when it comes to individual possession. Frost has registered 13 takeaways (second on the team to Cates), and six giveaways. Not the same incredible ratio, but still so much better than what you would expect from the way that some people talk about Frost.

Right now, Cates, Frost, and Scott Laughton, are the only Flyers players that have more takeaways than giveaways registered. Not the best, but still what you want to see from some players that are still learning their way around the NHL.

Nic Deslauriers leads the league in fights

And to wrap this little delightful package of optimism, we’re focusing on some violence. At the beginning of the season, after acquiring Nic Deslauriers and still having guys like Zack MacEwen on the roster; most people came to terms that if the Flyers aren’t going to be good, they should at least be entertaining. Well, Deslauriers is certainly doing that.

With seven fighting majors in his 24 games this season, Deslauriers leads the entire NHL in fights. I mean, yeah, that’s expected and that’s really all you have to say. He’s doing his job at making at least some moments during Flyers game worth tuning in for. Forget about all those “goals” or “winning games.”

All stats via Evolving-Hockey.

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