The Sanheim-Myers pair is shutting it down

After a rough stretch a few weeks ago, the tandem hasn’t allowed a goal against in the last five games.

The Philadelphia Flyers are currently on a five-game point streak with four wins in that time. A big reason for Philly being able to grab nine out of a possible ten points in the standings has been their ability to keep the puck out of their own net, as they’ve only allowed eight goals against in that span. Of course a huge part of that is the play of the Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen pair and Brian Elliott’s ability to step up with Carter Hart out, but the tandem of Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers may be the biggest reason for the turnaround.

The Sanheim-Myers pair was used a bit earlier in the season, but weren’t put back together until late in that horrendous road trip a few weeks back. Since the 5-4 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on January 7th, the first game Justin Braun missed with his groin injury, the pair has been used as the Flyers’ second pair.

Their first six games after being reunited were...bad. They allowed nine goals against with at least one goal against in five of the six games, posted a 39.1 Expected goals-for percentage (a stat used to measure the quality of shot attempts rather than quantity) or lower in four of those games, and failed to break a 50 Corsi-For percentage (shots on goal, missed shots, and shots that were blocked) in four of the six games. In total they posted a 52.44 Corsi-For percentage, which is pretty good, but they also posted a 43.41 Expected goals-for percentage and were only on the ice for four Flyers’ goals.

Sanheim-Myers’ first six games as second pair

Game5-on-5 ice timeCorsi for %Expected goals-for %On-ice goals forOn-ice goals against
1/7 vs. CAR16:285051.713
1/8 vs. WSH15:545036.6302
1/11 vs. TB13:2546.1534.9700
1/13 vs. BOS14:5563.3339.111
1/15 vs. STL15:1942.8629.1912
1/16 vs. MTL12:4562.570.2911

It wasn’t just the numbers that weren’t great. Both Sanheim and Myers had their fair share of terrible plays to let the puck end up in the back of the Flyers’ net. Against Carolina Myers was caught puck watching in front while Lucas Wallmark grabbed a rebound to score and lost Warren Foegele on a cross-ice feed (credit where credit’s due, that pass was ridiculous too). The following night against the Capitals Sanheim got worked by Alex Ovechkin in the corner and turned the puck over to Tom Wilson to set up a Nicklas Backstrom goal, and the two were caught in a long cycle against — with a potential rebound any Flyer could have cleaned up to help Carter Hart! — on a regrettable play before Jakub Vrana potted one. Against the Boston Bruins Myers had a questionable cross-ice pass in the defensive zone picked off by Anders Bjork before the 2014 draft pick walked Philly’s blue liner to the net for a tally. In the overtime win against the St. Louis Blues Sanheim lost coverage of Ryan O’Reilly down low to allow a goal against and Myers left the front of the net wide open to challenge a pass wrapping around the boards to allow Alex Steen to tie it with 6:21 left in regulation (Myers also left the front of the net open on Justin Faulk’s opening power-play goal against). In total, Sanheim-Myers were out on the ice for nine of the 16 goals the Flyers allowed at 5-on-5 in this six-game span.

It wasn’t all bad for the pair during this stretch, as Sanheim scored a game-tying goal late in the win against Boston on a wonderful individual effort for a two-goal game, but in the defensive zone it was nothing but painful until the end of the Flyers’ 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on January 16th. Since that loss, the pair has been dominant at 5-on-5. They’ve only been on the ice for three Flyers’ goals at 5-on-5 compared to the four during the previous six games, but they also haven’t allowed a single 5-on-5 goal against in that span.

Sanheim-Myers in last five games

Game5-on-5 ice timeCorsi for %Expected goals-for %On-ice goals forOn-ice goals against
1/18 vs. LAK15:4655.5665.610
1/21 vs. PIT14:1666.6761.9610
1/31 vs. PIT13:0066.6762.8300
2/1 vs. COL11:3451.7258.9410
2/3 vs. DET15:2566.6775.7500

The Sanheim-Myers pair has played 70:03 in the last five games totaling a 61.07 Corsi for percentage, 64.92 Expected goals-for percentage, and have limited the opposition to just 1.71 Expected goals against.

With uncertainty on the third pair and the team in the midst of a tense battle for one of the final playoff spots, Sanheim and Myers will need to keep the defensive shutdown going to give the Orange and Black a formidable top four down the stretch.