PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 03: Darryl Boyce #47 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates the winning goal with Dion Phaneuf #3 against the Philadelphia Flyers during their game on March 3, 2011 at The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Flyers have struggled a lot lately, and it should be no coincidence that their best players have performed rather terribly.
There have been - and will continue to be - a lot written about the Flyers poor play of late. They have lost their last four games, and six of their last eight. They have only collected 5 points out of a possible 16. So yes, things are bad. Even still, Broad Street Hockey has been over why the Flyers are still awesome and how the Flyers have actually been outplaying teams at even-strength.
So what's wrong? Simply put, a lot. Players are pressing, players are making mistakes, the power play is not working, the goalies aren't stopping enough pucks, and even the coaches are making poor decisions. But that will be covered by many, many other people. Here, we'll look at a few numbers - since that's my thing.
All these numbers are even-strength statistics from the past six games - where the Flyers have gone 1-4-1.
As you can see, in those six games, the Flyers have been severely outscored at 5-on-5. Even without today's 7-0 loss to New York, the Flyers were still outscored 13-9 in the previous 5 games.
And who are the players who are getting outscored the most? Arguably the team's best scoring forwards and best shutdown defensemen. Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, and Ville Leino make up the team's first line, while Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, and Chris Pronger are routinely asked to play tough minutes. Only Matt Carle has gotten offensive production, but it doesn't discount the goals scored against him. There isn't much to say here except that the problems stem largely from these seven skaters.
Now, how about percentages?
Here we see the on-ice shooting percentages and save percentages for the Flyers while these players are on the ice. In total, the Flyers have only scored on 5.7% of their shots, while their opponents are scoring on 11.6% of theirs. Both of those numbers are extremely bad, and the save percentages are what you would expect when the Flyers are a man down. Which is funny, because it certainly looks like that how's they're playing.
As with the previous table, these same seven players are doing remarkably bad in both categories. Only Matt Carle sees a good on-ice shooting percentage (Chris Pronger sees a decent, if only relatively so, percentage) while only Nikolay Zherdev has received good goaltending.
Really, these numbers are atrociously bad. There isn't much to say other than that in terms of describing what they mean. However, it is worth noting that these numbers are unsustainably low. The Flyers will not score on fewer than 3% of the shots taken with Briere on the ice. The Flyers goalies will also stop more than 88% of shots taken while Chris Pronger is on the ice. And on, and on, and on.
So there are two ways to look at this. One is that the Flyers are simply not playing with "heart" or "desire" and they need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Another is to see that the Flyers' best players are getting ridiculously bad goaltending while facing ridiculously good goaltending, neither of which are sustainable.
It will turn around. So while there is ample reason to be embarrassed, disappointed, disgusted, and many other adjectives, there is also ample reason to keep a level head, relax, and patiently wait for the Flyers best players to play like themselves.