The Flyers powerplay and its downward trend

Roses are red, violets are blue. When you commit a penalty, the Flyers won’t score on you. At least they haven’t been able to do that with any type of consistency yet this season. The most frustrating part is that they started out alright on the man advantage. As the season has progressed, so has the struggle when up a man. The Flyers came out of the gates relatively hot, going two-for-three in game one and one-for-six in game two. They were three-of-nine in their first two games. Obviously a small sample size, but they started out on the right foot.

Since then, the Flyers are 11/69, good for a 15.94% conversion rate on the man advantage. Just that mark alone would put them at 26th in the NHL on the powerplay. Yes, not good. Even worse is that when factoring in the rest of the season, the Flyers are only four spots higher on that list.

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Yes, it could absolutely be worse. The Flyers could be dead last below Minnesota’s lowly 6.9% conversion rate. You think you’re frustrated with how the Flyers powerplay is, imagine how Wild fans feel? Minnesota has resorted to rolling out their normal forward lines on the powerplay. Whether that’s admitting defeat or trying to be at the forefront of an innovative approach is yet to be determined.

While the Flyers aren’t there yet, they’re certainly trending that way. Through five-game intervals, the Flyers powerplay has gotten progressively worse as the season has moved along. What started as promising has turned into a slippery slope, and the Flyers can’t seem to gain any traction.

Last 20 Games

Sans the first two games of the season where the Flyers went 3/9 on the man advantage, the Flyers are 11/69 on the powerplay. That’s good for a 15.94% conversion rate. In today’s NHL, that would be good for 26th best in the league. While two percent lower than their season average of 17.95%, it’s the start of the downward trend that’s about to be explained.

In those 20 games, the Flyers have had six games where they had five or more powerplay opportunities. In those games, the Flyers have converted on seven of 33 chances, good for a rate of 21.21%. While that’s a solid conversion rate, it’s the games between the lines that are worrisome. In two of those aforementioned games, they went 0/5 on both dates. The 0/2’s and 0/1’s add up as well, rounding out a decent powerplay, but one that is clearly missing some umph.

Last 15 Games

The slope intensifies as we take a look at the last 15 games the Flyers have played. In those 15 games, the Flyers are 7/54, putting their powerplay at a 12.96% conversion rate. That mark alone would put the Flyers at 28th in the NHL on the powerplay. The Flyers powerplay strays further and further away from their season mark in the more recent games that they’ve played, and this is just the beginning.

In eight of those 15 games, the Flyers had four or more powerplay opportunities. In those eight games, the Flyers went 5/39. That’s a 12.82% conversion rate. In today’s NHL, let alone any day’s NHL, that simply won’t get the job done. Mix in a few 1/2 and 1/3 performances, and you reach their 12.96% conversion rate in their last 15 games.

Last 10 Games

Their last 10 games haven’t seen as steep of a drop off, but their conversion rate continues to slide. In those 10 games, the Flyers have scored five powerplay goals out of 40 attempts. That puts their powerplay rate at 12.50% in those games. That would put them just below the New Jersey Devils at 29th in the league when it comes to powerplay percentage. Again, not a steep drop, but a drop nonetheless.

Six of those 10 games saw the Flyers have four or more opportunities on the powerplay. In those 30 opportunities, they scored only three times. For those of you that want to see the math, that’s three divided by 30. Crunch those numbers, and you get a Flyers powerplay that converted on only 10% of their chances in those games. That mark would be the second-worst in the league right now.

Last 5 Games

The last five games have been bad. The valley of the Flyers powerplay, if you will. They’ve had 17 opportunities on the man-advantage in those five games and only converted twice. Two times out of 17 opportunities. That’s 11.76% for those that prefer percentages. Three of those games saw the Flyers have four or more opportunites, and they converted once. They had 13 opportunities in those games and mustered one goal in those 13 opportunities. To put it in the simplest of terms, that just ain’t gonna cut it.

Sure, you can attribute it to solid penalty killing on the part of the opposition. Four of the East Division teams are in the top-10 in the NHL in penalty killing. Boston is a league-best 89.2%, while the Rangers are fourth best at 87%, Islanders are seventh best at 83.3%, and the Caps round out the top-10 at 82.1%. 11 of their last 20 games have been against top-10 penalty killing units. You can take the easy way out and say that’s why the Flyers PP isn’t clicking.

Even better, you can look at the offensive capabilities of the Flyers players and ask, “Why are they not putting pucks in the back of the net on the powerplay?” The Flyers have scorers, and they have the right type of players for potential powerplay dominance. James van Riemsdyk is amongst the best players in the league when it comes to redirecting pucks in front of the net. Joel Farabee has developed into a dangerous scoring threat from anywhere closer than the blueline. Shayne Gostisbehere and Erik Gustafsson are offensive defensemen who should be thriving on the powerplay. Hell, Ivan Provorov led all defensemen in powerplay goals last season.

Call it an inability to adapt. Call it the players just going through the motions. The fact remains that this powerplay is underperforming and it’s hurting their chances at winning these games.

Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

All Flyers powerplay stats gathered from Pod Street Bullies stat section.

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