If you’re a nerd like me, it’s an incredibly fun hobby to poke around hockey websites for the most outrageous and nonsensical statistic generated by this perpetually disappointing hockey team.
Pop Quiz: there are only two Philadelphia Flyers who currently exceed a 50% corsi-for percentage. Any guesses? They are James van Riemsdyk (who is best known for standing in front of the net while his teammates do the real work) and Cam York (a defenseman who was damned to the AHL in the first half of the season for Reasons).
It’s also fun to study the development of betting odds as the season progresses. For example, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Flyers currently have +50000 odds to win the Stanley Cup, which, in layman’s terms, gives the team virtually no chance to raise the trophy. The Flyers also lost their visible wedge on MoneyPuck.com’s weekly playoff prediction pie chart, despite retaining their logo which is smushed between the Hurricanes and the Penguins (two teams with actual talent). The team’s failure is, of course, perfectly expected. They’re terrible.
But what about a less-lofty goal? What are the odds that the Flyers win the Metropolitan Division? This is where things get hilarious. According to DraftKings, the Flyers have +100000 odds to win their division. That is, the Flyers are more likely to win the Stanley Cup than they are to win the Metro—in fact, they are twice as likely to win the Cup versus the division. Of course, betting odds aren’t a perfect science, and neither of the Flyers’ aforementioned odds denotes a real chance of success. However, betting logic generally carries some degree of continuity, and it’s quite funny to imagine a scenario in which winning the division is preposterous but winning the Cup is possible. For comparison, the four teams with the best chance to win the Cup are Boston (+500), Colorado (+550), Vegas (+900), and Carolina (+1000), and rightly, all of these teams also have the highest odds to win their respective divisions, except for Colorado who narrowly trails the Dallas Stars.
To be clear, this isn’t to say that the Flyers have somehow broken sports-betting. I don’t think there’s any causal link between the Flyers’ gameplay and their seemingly irrational chances to win the Stanley Cup. Yet, the DraftKings odds are a microcosm of the Flyers’ season as a whole. The team is bad. Everyone knows the team is bad. We’ve formed a plethora of expectations, embracing pessimism to shield ourselves from the pain. And while those expectations often come to fruition, this team also has a real knack for bewilderment, illogic, and perplexity.
Take, for example, Thursday night when the Flyers travelled to San Jose for a 10:30pm ET puck drop. A late night game on the West Coast is not a recipe for success. Further, with Carter Hart on IR, Samuel Ersson got the start just one game after he gave up 5 goals to the Hurricanes and was pulled halfway through the second period. Not a recipe for success. The Flyers then struggled to generate offense, falling behind 3-1 in the third period. Such a deficit is typically tough to overcome at such a late stage in the game, but the team stormed back. A last minute lucky bounce netted a goal for Travis Konecny and sent the game to overtime. Still, overtime offered little consolation since the Flyers were previously 0-7 in overtime games this season. The few fans still watching feared an eighth dreaded loser point, and to make matters worse roughly a minute into the overtime period, the Flyers decided that a line of two defensemen plus Owen Tippett gave them the best chance to score a goal. Yet, somehow...despite all odds...the line indeed closed out the game and secured two points in the standings. A win. A truly unexpected win.
There’s simply no way to predict what this team will do on any given day. Just when you prepare yourself for one outcome, your expectations are shattered and the opposite occurs. Speaking of sports betting, how many of us confidently put money on the “under” after it hit in five of the Flyers’ six preseason games? Surprise: the under has only hit in 52% of games since. Speaking of pessimism, how many of us worried that Morgan Frost would flop this season (like every other season)? Surprise: he’s gained confidence and is genuinely fun to watch. Speaking of lineups, how many of us were excited about new faces such as Lukas Sedlak? Surprise: he literally quit and went home.
This team is many things—infuriating, devoid of talent, mismanaged, injured, lost, such a failure that one player quit the NHL—but above all, the team is surprising. They keep us guessing, for better or for worse. The Flyers’ unpredictability makes for a truly compelling season. It’s like watching The Bachelorette. I absolutely hate it, but I can’t get enough.