The Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Flyers have been racking up points left and right. However, with all their success, one statistic in particular sticks out like a sore thumb.
In 39 wins, zero shutouts.
Third in the league in goals for (198), the Flyers have been an offensive juggernaut this season. With 10 double digit goal scorers, three of which over 20, if one line can’t score another is there to pick up the slack. Even the Flyers’ fourth line has been helping out in that department.
The defense is one of the deepest in the NHL. Four of the Flyers top six defensemen are among the top 30 league leaders in the plus/minus category. Matt Carle leads the way with plus-23.
While the Flyers goaltending has suffered a few blips, the two netminders, Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher have had stellar seasons so far. The Russian rookie netminder has a goals against average of 2.45 and a save percentage of .918, while the veteran journeyman has a goals against average of 2.26 and a save percentage of .922.
Tuesday night, the Flyers had a 1-0 lead heading into the third, but were unable to secure the victory, falling 3-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes. Just 2:44 into the stanza, the visiting Coyotes tied things up, and at 10:30 they took the lead on a bad angle shot that fluttered over Bobrovsky’s pads.
“[Bobrovsky] had huge saves for us and kept us in the game, and it’s going to happen,” said Claude Giroux, concerning Bobrovsky’s play on the second Coyote goal. “Goals like that, I think it was his first this season, so I guess it happens sometimes. He is one of the reasons we got into overtime first of all, so it was good.”
Kimmo Timonen, the Flyers veteran defenseman, was also asked about the let up.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty tight defense the last few games, and that’s that’s the way you’re going to win games down the road,” the veteran blue-liner said. “So, hopefully we can keep it up. And as long as we can skate the full 60 minutes we’re going to win a lot of games, and I felt like today we skated maybe 40 minutes, and weren’t really there. But we got another point and we move on.”
The Flyers have been dominating games, only to allow opponents to get some momentum more times than can be counted.
In Sunday’s 4-2 win against the struggling Rangers, the Flyers held a 3-1 lead going into the third, and looked poised to easily walk away with a two-goal victory. But after potting a goal to get within one, the Rangers dominated the period, outshooting the Flyers, 15-3. The Flyers barely held on to the win and scored an empty net goal in the final minute.
This has become a reoccurring trend for the orange and black. It’s about focus and execution. They have a strong roster, and game after game they dominate for much of the game before allowing a quick goal or two to turnovers, bad passing, and momentum shifts.
They’ve gotten away with it so far, because they’ve beaten the teams they need to beat. But against some of the stronger teams in the league they hold losing records—Phoenix (0-0-1), Tampa Bay (1-3), Boston (1-2), Vancouver (0-1), and San Jose (0-0-1).
With 22 games remaining and 84 points, they hold a seven-point advantage over their arch rival Penguins, who are behind them with 77 points. Unless something drastic happens, the Flyers will likely finish the season at the top of the Eastern Conference. Their trend of giving up soft goals may not hurt them in the early rounds of the playoffs, but this season it’s Stanley Cup or Bust for the Flyers.
Case in point, the Flyers will need to put in 60 minute efforts to win hockey’s biggest prize.