Continuing with the comparison trend, this article will touch on Alain Vigneault and his Stanley Cup seasons with New York and Vancouver. It will compare where the Rangers and Canucks were halfway through their seasons with how the Flyers look halfway through theirs.
Here we are, halfway through the 2019/20 season. The Flyers are hanging onto the last wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re also fifth in the metropolitan division, and seventh in the Eastern Conference. Things could be much worse.
Head coach Alain Vigneault has taken a team who was 30th out of 31 teams mid-way through last year, and has them in a playoff spot right now. The Flyers had 35 points through 41 games last season. One year later, they sit at 49 points, a vast improvement from 2018/19.
Enough of the Vigneault-to-Hakstol comparisons. Let’s be honest, it’s just not a fair comparison.
Let’s talk the one thing that every Flyers fan has on his or her mind, the Stanley Cup. Vigneault has been to two Stanley Cup Finals. He went back in 2011 with the Vancouver Canucks, and three years later with the New York Rangers. AV knows what it takes to get there, but hasn’t been able to take home the NHL’s ultimate prize… yet.
This begs the question: are there similarities between the Stanley Cup teams of AV’s past and this year’s Flyers team?
The obvious launching point in this discussion is the records of each team. Starting in chronological order, the 2010/11 Vancouver Canucks were 27-8-6 at the midway point of the season, good for 60 points. At the same point in the season, the 2013/14 New York Rangers had a 20-19-2 record, and 42 points. The Flyers? They have a record of 22-14-5, accumulating 49 points in the process.
The Flyers sit comfortably between the Rags and the Canucks in this criteria. Seven points better than the Rangers, but 11 points worse than the Canucks. Given the Canucks finished the season as President’s Trophy winners, the argument can be made that it’s tough to top a team that performed as well as they did.
Where Were They in the Standings?
At this point during the 2010/11 season, Vancouver was sitting pretty in first place of the Northwest division of the Western Conference. They were the best team in not just the Western Conference, but the whole NHL at the midway point of the season.
The 2013/14 Rangers are a different story. At the midway point in the season, they were sitting at fourth in the Metropolitan division. They were three points out of a wildcard position. The Rangers, once again, exemplify the other extreme when comparing the three teams.
Once again, the Flyers fall somewhere in the middle here. While they sit in fifth in the Metropolitan division, they’re seventh in the Eastern Conference, and sitting in the second wildcard spot.
Home v. Away Records
The Canucks obviously have the best record of the three teams, and their home and away records remain the best as well. Through their fist 41 games, Vancouver was 15-3-3 at home (33 out of 42 possible points), and 12-5-3 away from home (27 of a possible 40 points).
The Rangers, on the other hand, looked a little different. Their home record was 8-10-2, earning 18 of a possible 40 points at Madison Square Garden. Away from the Garden, that’s a different story. 12-9-0 is their away record, accumulating 24 of 42 points.
The Flyers are the opposite of the Rangers. Their away record is mediocre at best, going 9-12-1 away from Philadelphia (19 out of 44 possible points). At home, they’ve been out of this world, sitting at 13-2-4 and grabbing 30 out of 38 possible points while playing at the Wells Fargo Center.
This one is pretty cut and dry, while continuing with the reoccurring trend. The Canucks had a goal differential of +42 with 141 goals for and 99 goals against. The Rangers stood at a -13 goal differential, counting 96 goals for and 109 goals against. The Flyers, once again, sit in the middle at a +8. They’ve scored 131 goals and given up 123.
This is the biggest difference between The Canucks and Rangers, and the Flyers.
After game 41, the 10/11 Canucks were converting 24.9% of their powerplays, good for first in the NHL. Their penalty kill was killing 85.4% of their penalties, which was good for fourth in the NHL at the time.
The Rangers were killing off 85% of their penalties, putting them at fifth place in the entire NHL. Their powerplay wasn’t as good, but still a top-ten unit in the league. They converted on 20.3% of their chances, good for ninth in the league.
The Flyers have a middle of the road unit right now, and can’t figure out which direction they want to head. Their penalty kill has faltered as of late, but started out strong. They’re sitting at 81%, good for 14th in the league. Their powerplay struggled at first, but is starting to convert more frequently, capitalizing on 20.1% of their chances, and good for 13th in the NHL.
What Does This Mean?
Well, it means draw your own conclusion. The Flyers appear to compare to these two teams the same way they’ve played the past five or so years: middle-of-the-road.
It’s encouraging that they have, to this point, outperformed the Rangers of 2013/14. It’s also a bummer that they haven’t quite lived up to the 201/11 Vancouver Canucks, though many teams don’t.
It is incredibly difficult to compare a team from nine and six years ago to a team playing today. All you can do is look at where they were compared to where the Flyers are, and draw your own comparisons. While the Flyers stack up considerably well against both squads of the past, it doesn’t necessarily indicate they will attain the same success either team did.
Mandatory Credit – Alex McIntyre