What’s wrong with the Flyers?
The Philadelphia Flyers caught fire from the 27th of November to the 14th of December, as they wowed the hockey world by winning 10 straight games. But just how good are they really? Since the 10 game winning streak they have put together a lousy record of 3–6–3. Those 3 wins have come spread out, and they haven’t even won 2 games in a row since the 10 game winning streak, nearly a month ago.
My main theory on why the Flyers have been struggling so mightily since their run is that they were never any good to begin with. Simply put, they are an average team that got lucky. The Flyers were out shot during 6 of the 10 wins, including a game where they were badly outshot 47–21 by the Boston Bruins. They blew a 2–0 lead in that game, but somehow managed to win it 3–2 in a shootout that lasted 9 rounds. They were even out shot by the NHL’s worst team, the Colorado Avalanche, 29–25. Yet they squeaked by 4–3 in that game. Also, it’s not like the Flyers dominated during the streak at all. They did not win a single game by more than 2 goals, as every game was either a 1 or 2 goal victory. The Flyers needed overtime to win in 4 of the 10 games. The streak could have easily ended before it even began.
Part of the reason the Flyers haven’t been winning recently, is goaltender Steve Mason is struggling. Mason was great during the streak, but he’s having a mediocre year overall, with a 14–14–6 record. In a 5–2 loss to the Rangers, he allowed 5 goals on only 28 shots. In a 5–4 overtime win against Vancouver, Mason was even worse, allowing 4 goals on 24 shots. He was pulled for backup goalie Michal Neuvirth who performed brilliantly and got the win, in what really was a must win game for the Flyers. The team relied mostly on strong goaltending from Steve Mason to get them through the streak. The defense has struggled all season, and Mason kept them in many of the 10 games they won. Michael Raffl is the only player on the Flyers that has a positive rating, at 1. He’s not even a defenseman, he is a winger. Radko Gudas is at 0, and everyone else is in minus figures. This is because the Flyers have allowed the most goals in the entire league, with 137. However, they are still in a playoff position because they have scored the 6th most goals in the league, at 129. The lone bright spot in the defense is 20 year old rookie Ivan Provorov, who has been the teams best all-around defenseman. Shayne Gostisbehere, a rookie of the year finalist last year, only has 4 goals in 42 games this year, with a -15 rating, worst among Flyer defenseman. Ghost has even been a healthy scratch in several games.
Another theory I have on why the Flyers have fallen off the face of the earth recently is the injury to defenseman Mark Streit. Streit has been out since he suffered a shoulder injury in the 3rd period of an overtime win at Detroit on December 11th. Originally, the injury was only supposed to sideline him for two weeks, but he has missed 13 games over the past month. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that right around the time he went down is when the Flyers started losing. The Flyers will gladly welcome him back for the game in Boston on January 14th. Streit, one of the Flyers assistant captains, provides a veteran presence in a locker room full of young players. He also provides consistency to a defensive group that has been constantly shuffled around over the season. We’ll see if the Flyers can win 2 consecutive games for the first time in over a month, as they head to Boston to take on the Bruins. Neuvirth starting in net for Mason and Streit back on the first defensive line should help.