To Tank or Not to Tank, That is the Question

Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography

Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography

Currently, the Flyers sit second to last in the eastern conference, six points out of the last Wild Card slot, with the second worst goal differential of any team this season. It’s also the quarter mark of the season and the Flyers have 62 games, as of this writing, to right the ship.

First, the goaltending is not the problem.

Via HockeyDB THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM

Via HockeyDB
THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM

Michal Neuvirth has been amazing and his .939 SV% is quite elite. Steve Mason has been nearly average, if you subtract the Florida debacle in game 2. In all, you can assume both goalies will likely perform at a league average clip from here on out, and that’s fine.

The problem comes from horrific shooting luck.

Via Behind the Net

Via Behind the Net

The Red Line indicates league average on-ice shooting, the orange boxes are where the Flyers top scoring threats are. Notice a trend, the top forwards all fall below leauge average shooting percentage.

Luckily, this is the type of thing that regresses over the course of a season. In fact, we should expect that eventually the puck will start finding the back of the net.

Right now, the Flyers have 17 standings points in 20 games, meaning to get to a safe 97 points, they need 80 standings points in 62 games, or a 105.8 standings point pace over a full season.

Per the official NHL stats as of 11/22/15 the Flyers take 30.4 shots per game and allow 33 shots per game. Assuming this stays the same over the course of the season and the Flyers goalies as a unit perform at league average, this means the Flyers will likely allow another 174 goals this season for a season total of 231 goals allowed. So, since six goals in goal differential equal 2 points in the standings, we can back solve the amount of goals the Flyers need to score to hit 97 standings points. We do this by first setting the even goal differential at 91 points (which is from the same earlier linked BSH piece) and that means, to break even at 91 points, the Flyers would need to score an average of 3.177 goals per game from here on out, which is a total of 197 goals over the last 62 games. Assuming the same shots on goal per game, that would mean the Flyers need to shoot 10.45% from here til the end, which is roughly 25% higher than league average. Again, this is just to break even. To add the extra 18 goals needed for 97 points, the shooting percentage is 11.4%, over 30% higher than league average, which isn’t happening.

So, given the mountain that needs to be climbed, it’s probably better for the Flyers to jump into the tank race. While PDO and On-Ice SH% will correct themselves, they won’t over correct to the tune of 11.4%, to believe in that is the definition of the gambler’s fallacy.

Because of that, at this point, the Flyers should start looking for rentals, and dare I say, should think about getting Andrew MacDonald back in the NHL to help the tank along.

There’s hope in the future, prospects like Gostisbehere, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Cooper Marody are coming. This season is painful, and Mark Streit’s injury is probably the best way to describe watching this team early on, however, the long term vision is far more important at this time then attempting to salvage this season.

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