WASHINGTON — At least the Flyers spared us from the throwaway cliché of “If we play like this, we’ll win a lot of games this season” following their 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Sunday afternoon (see observations).
It’s an all-too overused line that is thrown out there when a team dominates in possession time and by outshooting their opponent by a significant margin, only to be on the short end of the final score — much like the Flyers were in Washington.
It’s hardly believable on a number of levels.
First, only the elite teams in the league dominate possession consistently over the course of an 82-game season enough to actually believe that, and secondly, the Flyers have proven when they do play like that, they simply don’t win.
The Flyers have been an analytics nightmare this season when it comes to the metrics of shot totals.
The “Corsi For Percentage” at even strength metric is an easy computation of the team that attempts more shots (shots on goal, blocked shots and missed shots) than its opponent. Over the course of an 82-game season, the conventional wisdom is that the better Corsi teams will win a higher percentage of games.
Quite simply, more volume equates to more victories.
For the most part, this season has played out like the proponents of advanced metrics would have hoped for. The top ten teams in the CF% metric are currently occupying a playoff spot, while eight of the bottom 10 teams are currently outside the playoff picture.
Except in the case of the 2018-19 Flyers, who are a completely flawed team in the analytics department.
Sunday’s game was yet another example of the Flyers dominating possession and shot totals only to lose, and the most puzzling part is that this has been the case all season long.
When outshooting their opponents, the Flyers are a dismal 10-20-2, but when they’ve been outshot, they’re a head scratching 23-12-6. You’d expect those records to be flipped.
Under interim head coach Scott Gordon, those lopsided shot totals are even more tilted. The Flyers' CF% is 43.7 percent in the team’s wins under Gordon and nearly even at 50.5 percent in their losses.
By comparison, the Ottawa Senators, as you might expect, own the worst Corsi For Percentage in the NHL at 45.1 percent, as they’ve played the majority of their games in the defensive zone this season.
But how does one explain the Flyers?
During their eight-game winning streak in January, the team's CF% was a miserable 41.4 percent when rookie Carter Hart was bailing them out on a nightly basis. Throughout their eight-game winless stretch in December and January, it was a very respectable 52.3 percent.
Numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
With the Flyers this season, they seem to be telling us a lie.
They needed to win the majority of games in which they outplayed the opposition, and to win a handful of games when they didn’t.
Jakub Voracek may have summarized it best Sunday: “I don’t want to take anything out of this season, to be honest. I had way higher expectations. I think everybody did. It’s really disappointing. It sucks.”
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