Almost ten years to the date, the Flyers shocking run to the Stanley Cup Finals was cut short in game six against the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Kane slid one under Michael Leighton’s right pad and under the padding of the net. After minutes of confusion in the Wells Fargo Center amidst a celebration by Chicago, the refs located the puck, along with Chris Pronger, and the Blackhawks were hoisting Lord Stanley.
Fast-forward to 2020, and the Flyers are in a similar, yet different position. Sitting at second place in the Metropolitan Division, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, they’re in a much better position than the 2010 club was. Taking a look at different stats however, these teams appear to be more similar than the naked eye would suggest.
In 2010, the top scoring forwards for the Flyers were as follows:
- Mike Richards – 82 games, 31g, 31a, 62pts
- Jeff Carter – 74 games, 33g, 28a, 61pts
- Daniel Briere – 75 games, 26g, 27a, 53pts
- Claude Giroux – 82 games, 16g, 31a, 47pts
- Scott Hartnell – 81 games, 14g, 30a, 44pts
This season, the top scoring forwards for the Flyers were as follows:
- Travis Konecny – 66 games, 24g, 37a, 61pts
- Sean Couturier – 69 games, 22g, 37a, 59pts
- Jakub Voracek – 69 games, 12g, 44a, 56pts
- Claude Giroux – 69 games, 21g, 32a, 53pts
- Kevin Hayes – 69 games, 23g, 18a, 41pts
At first glance, this season’s team has more potent scoring. Konecny and Couturier are all-but point-per-game scorers, while Voracek and Giroux are producing at a high level. Topping things off, Kevin Hayes has been a consistent threat for putting pucks past opposing net-minders. Konecny has one less point than Mike Richards, but in 16 less games. Coots has two less points than Carter but in five less games.
What sticks out after analyzing these numbers is the fact that there’s no sure-fire stud on offense. There were scorers and playmakers on both clubs, but no one player stood head-and-shoulders above the rest in regards to point production. What this shows is just how dangerous the offense on these teams are. When you get scoring from up and down the lineup, that’s a recipe for success, and a big reason for the respective success of each team.
The top defensive performers for the 2010 Flyers are as follows:
- Chris Pronger – 82 games, 10g, 45a, 55pts
- Kimmo Timonen – 82 games, 6g, 33a, 39pts
- Matt Carle – 80 games, 6g, 29a, 35pts
- Braydon Coburn – 81 games, 5g, 14a, 19pts
- Oskars Bartulis – 53 games, 1g, 8a, 9pts
The top defensive performers for the Flyers this season are as follows:
- Ivan Provorov – 69 games, 13g, 23a, 36pts
- Matt Niskanen – 68 games, 8g, 25a, 33pts
- Travis Sanheim – 69 games, 8g, 17a, 25pts
- Justin Braun – 62 games, 3g, 16a, 19pts
- Philippe Myers – 50 games, 4g, 12a, 16pts
2010’s defensive unit was a big reason why the Flyers made it as far as they did. While they were solid, the unit for the 2020 Flyers isn’t any slouch. While Provorov may not post the points that Pronger did, he soaks up the minutes like Pronger did. Prongs averaged just under 26 minutes per night in 2010, while Provorov is averaging just under 25 minutes per night in 2020. 2010’s first defensive pairing in Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen were two dynamic defensemen with a flare for scoring. Pronger was just as impressive on the defensive side of the puck. With the addition of Matt Niskanen, the pairing of him and Ivan Provorov present the perfect pair of that savvy veteran and skilled young blue-liner.
2020’s second pairing is a young pair, but have done incredibly well against some of the best lines the NHL has to offer. Mike Yeo made note of this in an interview in July:
“Not only did we not hide those guys, but we purposely matched them against the best lines in the league…they have that ability, and because we wanted them to grow. Really, the only way to do it is by doing it. I would say the same holds true for the playoffs.”– Flyers Assistant Coach Mike Yeo
Undrafted free agent Phil Myers has blossomed into a great dual threat, while Travis Sanheim has grown up before our very own eyes. These two could be a formidable second pairing for the Flyers for quite some time. Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn made up the second pairing for the Flyers in 2010, with Carle being the more offensively gifted of the two. With 35 points (6g, 29a) in 80 games, he had a knack for big time assists. Coburn was a brute on the back end given his size (6’5” 223lbs.) While different in playings styles, the top two pairs from each of these years presented a big challenge for their opponents.
The goalies in 2010 are as follows:
- Michael Leighton – 27 games played, 16-5-2 record, .918sv%, 2.48GAA
- Ray Emery – 29 games played, 16-11-1 record, .905sv%, 2.64GAA
- Brian Boucher – 33 games played, 9-18-3 record, .899sv%, 2.76GAA
The goalies this season are as follows:
- Carter Hart – 43 games played, 24-13-3 record, .914sv%, 2.42GAA
- Brian Elliott – 31 games played, 16-7-4 record, .899sv%, 2.87GAA
Omitting Alex Lyon because he played three games, most games were split between two goalies in 2019/20. That’s a far-cry from the 2019-20 season where the Flyers used eight goaltenders all year. The three goalies used in 2009/10 were good. Boucher didn’t post the greatest numbers, but we can thank him for getting the Flyers into the playoffs.
Whereas the Flyers had three quality goalies in 2010, they have two quality goalies in 2020. Hart played more games in less time than the 2010 goalies, solidifying himself as the go-to option in 2020, but even Elliott got more time than both Leighton & Emery as Hart’s backup this season. Credit the defenses in front of each of these goalies, they’ve done a great job of keeping lanes clear and shots to a minimum.
Top Scorer Comparison
When looking at Mike Richards and Travis Konecny, there are a lot of similarities to discuss. Aside from the numbers, you have two forwards who aren’t afraid to mix it up, get into the dirty areas, and throw their bodies around. In 2010, Mike Richards was 24 years old. Travis Konecny is 22 years old. Both led their respective squads in scoring during the seasons being discussed.
The obvious difference being that Mike Richards was the captain of the 2010 team and Konecny doesn’t even have an “A” on his chest. With that out of the way, let’s discuss their performances. Mike Richards potted 31 goals and added 31 assists in a 62 point campaign in 2010. Travis Konecny netted 24 goals while adding 37 assists for a 61 point campaign this season. Keep in mind, TK played 16 less games than Richards did in 2010.
Would Konecny have surpassed Richards’ point total from 2010 if the Flyers played a full 82 game slate? Logic says yes. However, we can only play the cards we are dealt, and Konecny was dealt a 66 game season. Regardless, their point totals are very similar. While Konecny leaned heavier on the assist side of the statistical column, he still managed 24 goals, only seven less than Richards. It’s fun to note that the point totals were near-identical for the leading scorers on each squad though, adding to the similarities between the 2010 and 2020 teams.
In 2010, the Flyers had a relatively young roster in the grand scheme of things. You had your veterans like Briere and Pronger, but you had your talented youth like Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Even Mike Richards (24) and Jeff Carter (25) were relatively young as well. The average age of the Flyers in 2010 was 26.6, putting them somewhere in the middle of the NHL at that point in time.
In 2020, the Flyers are fielding a team more than a full year younger than 2010. The average age of the Flyers this season is 25.4. This team is also a solid mix of veterans and younger players. From the youngsters like Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny to the veterans like Matt Niskanen and Claude Giroux, the Flyers are getting contributions from all up and down the lineup, no matter the age. The most important part, the elder players like Niskanen, Braun, even Giroux to an extent, have solid playoff experience. Matt Niskanen even has a few Stanley Cups to his name. That can only benefit the younger players on the Flyers roster this season.
In 2010, the Flyers special teams were, in a word, special. Their powerplay was converting at a 21.5% clip, good for third place in all the league. Their penalty kill was efficient, killing off 83% of their accumulated penalties. That number was good for a tie at 11th in the league. The Flyers were a dangerous team on the powerplay, scoring 68 of their 232 goals on the man advantage (29.3%.)
Ten years later, now the Flyers are converting on 20.8% of their man advantages, good for 14th in the league. Their penalty kill is ranked the same at 11th, killing off 81.8% of their penalties. Their powerplay has amassed 47 goals. That’s good for 20.7% of their total goals (227.) The Flyers special teams have been much better than last year, but that’s not saying much.
Goals For/Goals Against
Recently, it always seems that the Flyers end up giving up more goals than they score. This season is a different case. The Flyers have given up 227 goals in 69 games this season, good for seventh best in the league. They’ve given up 36 fewer goals than they’ve allowed, only 191 goals total. That mark is good for eighth in the league. Their goal differential of +36 is good for third in the Eastern Conference, and fourth in the NHL.
In 2010, the Flyers were more middle-of-the-road when it comes to goals for/against. They scored a total of 232 goals on the year, ranking eighth in the NHL. They gave up 222 total goals, good for 15th in the league. With a goal differential of +11, the Flyers ranked fifth in the Eastern Conference and tied for 12th in the NHL.
Closing It Out
The paths each team has taken vary. While the 2020 team had a comfortable spot in the playoffs as the season concluded, 2010’s squad creeped their way in on the last day of the regular season. While 2010’s squad took the Chicago Blackhawks to six games before eventually losing, the 2020 team looks to best that performance and take home a Stanley Cup. Getting there is half the battle, and it’s a battle this team is well-suited for.
With so many similarities between the 2010 and 2020 teams, it’s only fair we take a look at the real possibility of the Flyers making a run at Lord Stanley this season. With the hype surrounding the team, it’s justified.
Mandatory Credit – © Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports