As if anything surprises the fans any more, another stat pops out that just makes sense at this point. The Flyers are letting opposing team’s backup goalies put up Vezina-worthy numbers every time they take the ice against the orange and black.
This year alone, there have been four instances where another teams backup allows two goals or less against the Flyers, and posts a solid, if not above average save percentage.
The Flyers contest against the San Jose Sharks saw backup to Martin Jones, Aaron Dell, save 31 out of 33 shots, amounting to a .939 save percentage. Dell and the Sharks went on to win that game 8-2 back on October 9th of this year.
Just over two weeks later, October 25th, the Flyers visited the Boston Bruins, and found themselves on the receiving end of a shutout at the hands of backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. Halak stoned the Flyers and all 26 of their shots for a perfect save percentage. He may have been a started elsewhere, but he’s Tuukka Rask’s backup in Boston, and he shutout the Philadelphia Flyers.
Two days later, the Flyers came back home to face off against the New York Islanders. In a 1A/1B type platoon, the Islanders deployed their 1B option, Robin Lehner, and Lehner stopped 22 out of 23 shots for a .957 save percentage on his way to a 6-1 win for New York, and a horrid loss for the Flyers.
This past Saturday night is the icing on the cake up to this point. The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to go with last years AHL-affiliate Toronto Marlies goaltender Garret Sparks against the Flyers. It turned out to be the best decision they could have made, because “Sparky” stopped all 34 shots the Flyers fired his way, and led the Maple Leafs to a 6-0 shutout victory.
Surprisingly enough, this season isn’t the only time that losses like these occur.
Back on November 10th of the 2015-16 season, the Flyers took on the Colorado Avalanche and backup goaltender Reto Berra. Berra stopped 25 shots out of 25 faced and led Colorado to a 4-0 victory.
The very next season, Aaron Dell struck again, stopping 21 of 21 shots en route to a 2-0 victory over the orange and black. Two weeks later, Philipp Grubauer and the Washington Capitals took it to the Flyers, with Grubauer stopping all 24 shots he faced and leading the Caps to a 5-0 victory against the Flyers.
Last season, the Flyers fell victim to Aaron Dell once again, where he stopped 22 of 23 for a .957 save percentage en route to a 3-1 victory over the Flyers on November 28th, 2017.
Take it for what it’s worth, but the Flyers are making a habit of turning backup goaltenders into franchise-looking goaltenders, and I’m not talking Carter Hart here. Guys like Aaron Dell, Philipp Grubauer, Reto Berra, you name them. They’re backup goaltenders. They’re solid backups, but they’re backups, and the Flyers are making them look like Carey Price.
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports