There has been some buzz around the Philadelphia Flyers this season. Are they really better than last year? Is this team really improved? Since we are at the quarter mark in the season, let’s take a look at last year vs this year. For that, we are going to look at the stats.
Despite Homer’s quip, the statistics don’t lie. The Flyers are playing at a much better level. Let’s take a look at it. We will look at a few quick statistics to make our comparisons.
2023 – 24:
- 11-9-1 in 21 games played for a total of 23 points
- Second place in the Metropolitan Division
- 64 goals scored, 58 goals against. 678 shots on net, 567 shots against
- Faceocf percentage of 46.2% won
- The Flyers also have produced two shutouts while being shutout just once.
- 7-9-5 in 21 games played for a total of19 points
- Seventh place in the Metropolitan
- 51 goals scored, 69 goals against, 603 shots on net, 704 shots against
- Faceoff percentage of 44.5 %
- The Flyers were in the midst of a nine, soon to be 10, game losing streak.
- They were shutout twice in that span as well
Those numbers are quite compelling. There are a number of things here we can look at. When we examine these, we can better see why the Flyers are a better team than at this point last season.
The Flyers are second to Pittsburgh in shots taken. At some point, that will translate to goals. The more shots you put on net, the more pressure it puts on the other team. They have to respond to you, not the other way around (more on that in a second).
Overall shot percentage is 9.3%. That’s not very good, placing them amongst the bottom eight teams in the league. However, some of their Metro Division rivals (Caps, Pens, and Islanders), are also there too. That means the Flyers are keeping pace with the competition. To be fair, the top team is the Vancouver Canucks and they are scoring at a 13.5% shot rate (a whole one percentage point above the next team).
All this means is that the Flyers are shooting the puck a lot more than they were a season before. Shots become goals. In four games this season, the Flyers have topped 40 shots. The Flyers lost one, lost another in overtime, won one, and came out on top in a shootout against the Islanders. In fact, in eleven games, the Flyers have recorded 35+ shots. Their record in those games are 6-4-1. Philly is putting pressure on the goalies they are facing. Now they just have to find the back of the net on a more consistent basis.
Goals Means Wins
It shouldn’t surprise you much, but if you score goals, you have a better opportunity to win games. The Flyers have scored 13 more goals at this point this year than they did the season before. This is translating into victories. Last season, especially during the multi-game loss stretches, they couldn’t buy a goal. For the most part, that isn’t a problem this year.
Even more importantly, look at the dropoff in goals against. There have been 11 fewer goals scored against Philly than last year. Is it because of the losses of Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo? Is it because Sean Couturier is back? Who’s to say.
What we can see is that, defensively, the Flyers are better as an overall unit. Sure, they have their nights. Every team not named the Boston Bruins does. However, if the defense is keeping them in games, their offense can give them wins.
Overall, the Flyers are still struggling with faceoffs. However, they are doing remarkably better than they were a season before. I can’t tell you how many goals have come off of those faceoff victories compared to last season.
Winning the draws can allow you to set up your play. While they still are not where they need to be, they are improving as this season is going along. Having a healthy Couturier is a big part of that.
Holes Not Dug
In 11 of those 21 games last year, the Flyers spotted the other team a two goal lead before they finally got themselves moving. Only one of those games they came back to win. Letting the other team get ahead like that will kill your chances of coming back.
In comparison, the Flyers have done that to themselves just seven times this season. They’ve lost all of them, including the truly embarrassing losses to the Kings and the Sharks. By not putting themselves down into a two, or more, goal hole, they don’t have to play catch up.
While the other team can kind of sit back, especially in the third period, and focus on good defensive hockey, the Flyers are forced to rush plays and not take good quality shots. That’s not good. It’s why they were near the bottom of the division at this point last year.
True, there have been some games they started off ahead and then lost later on, but that’s not the point. The point is that, unlike last season, they aren’t playing from behind in roughly half of the games that they are in.