The Flyers special team woes are nothing new. Fans have become accustomed to the old “dump and chase” routine on the power play, and the “sit back and wait” mentality exhibited on the penalty kill.
The last time the Flyers had a top 5 penalty killing unit was the 2013-14 season. They trailed only Ottawa, Toronto, Chicago and Boston, and were only 2% off of the top spot. My how things have changed.
Currently, the Flyers sit at 30th out of 31 teams on the penalty kill, and have only killed off 39 of 57 penalties, making their penalty kill percentage a measly 68.4. The PK has allowed a league-high 18 power play goals to opposing teams. Looking over the years between the top-5 season and now, there are some interesting trends to take note of.
During the 2014-15 season, the Flyers allowed 61 power play goals out of 266 chances. Interestingly enough, the very next year, the Flyers took four less penalties than before, and 10 less goals on the penalty kill. Their PK% went down, but they took less penalties and allowed less goals.
The very next season, 2016-17, the Flyers took 15 less penalties than their 2015-16 campaign, and allowed one less goal than their prior season. Their PK% went down, but only by .7%. A year later during the 2017-18 season, the Flyers took even less penalties than before, 24 less to be exact, but allowed four more power play goals to opposing teams. Sitting at 223 penalties and allowing 54 goals, their final PK% on the year was 75.8%.
This year, the Flyers are on pace for a record setting year, but not in a good way. 16 games into the season, the orange and black have been short handed 57 times, and allowed 18 power play goals. Their penalty kill percentage stands at 68.4 percent, well below the league average of 79.4%. The Flyers are on pace to go short handed 292 times, their most since the 2013-14 campaign, and allow 92 goals, almost double what they allowed last season.
Penalty killing average is correlating with the Flyers penalty kill average, in that both have been going down steadily over the past few years. However, the Flyers haven’t had an above average penalty kill percentage since the 2013-14 campaign, when they had players like Braydon Coburn, Mark Streit, even Kimmo Timonen patrolling the blue line.
The Flyers, if they hold true to their current penalty killing ways, are on pace to have the fourth worst penalty killing percentage since the NHL started recording the statistic. Only the 09-10 Maple Leafs, 78-79; 82-83 Kings, and the 78-79 Washington Capitals have a worse penalty killing percentage than the Flyers currently have.
If things don’t change soon, the Flyers could find themselves in the record books, and not for the right reason.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports