The Philadelphia Flyers have almost looked like two completely different teams at times this season. Inside the home confines of the Wells Fargo Center, they are nearly unstoppable with league-best numbers in most categories. However, on the road they turn into a team that seems to have everything go wrong for them — and the numbers show it.
The Flyers are the best team in the league at home. Period. They have an incredible 13-2-4 record at the Farg. While their 13 wins are tied for just sixth-best in the league, every team above them has played at least three more games than them — the Bruins have played 25 home games to the Flyers’ 19 — giving the Flyers the NHL’s best point percentage (.789) on home ice.
They also have just two regulation losses at The Farg, and six losses (four in overtime) total. That is tied for the least amount of home regulation losses and their six total losses are one less than the Blues’ and Islanders’ seven home losses in 20 games each.
Both offensively and defensively the Flyers are thriving at home. They have a 72-37 goal differential for 3.79 goals per game (4th) and a sparkling 1.95 goals against per game (1st).
But for as good as the numbers look at home, they look almost just as bad on the road.
The Flyers own a putrid 9-13-1 record on the road for a .413 point percentage. Only Detroit, Ottawa, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Buffalo have a worse point percentage on the road. Their 13 regulation losses are tied for the fourth-most in the NHL, behind Detroit, LA, and Ottawa. It’s not good.
The Orange and Black have a 57-87 goal differential on the road for a below-average 2.48 goals per game and second-worst 3.78 goals against per game. The Flyers average over a full goal more per game (1.31 to be exact) and allow almost two more full goals per game (1.83). The difference is staggering.
So, what gives?
The blame has been thrown all around this season. It’s fallen on the coaches as they fail to get the proper matchups on the road, and both the top-six and bottom-six forwards have taken blame as well when the top guys don’t play to their potential or when the team’s depth has been tested due to injuries. Goaltending certainly has taken a lot of criticism due to the team’s league-worst .872 save percentage on the road.
Carter Hart has gotten the worst of it with a dominant 11-1-2 record and .947 SV% at home, and a concerning 2-9-1 record and .850 SV% on the road. It’s only a 15-game, 301-shot sample size, however, and his road performance in his rookie year shows that he can win on the road. He was actually better on the road (5-4-0, .928 SV%) than at home (11-9-1, .912 SV%) last season.
The Flyers also haven’t been given many favors by the schedule makers. Over the course of the season they have 12 games against a rested team while they’re tired, and just four games against a tired team while they’re rested.
They have already played eight of those 12 games, giving them some relief for the second half. They went 3-3-2 in those eight games, scratching out each of their wins past regulation, with Kevin Hayes’ game-winner in Anaheim being the most recent contest.
That Anaheim game was also in a particularly tough stretch. After the holiday break, the Flyers opened up their road trip with a 10:30 p.m. ET game in San Jose, then a game 22 hours later in Anaheim. They then traveled to LA for their third game in less than 96 hours before one day off between games in Vegas and Arizona. Finally, they had two days off to travel to Carolina to conclude their road trip.
Whether it’s a coincidence or not, the Flyers have struggled mightily during this post-holiday road trip, which has become all too common in recent years.
Something has to give with the Flyers’ home-road disparity, right? Well, the answer may not be as concrete as some may like. One thing that may play a factor is a simple thing: luck.
Hockey is a game of bounces, and the Flyers haven’t been getting many recently — especially on the road. The Coyotes scored a few of their goals on Saturday night simply by getting the puck on net and getting a bounce. The Flyers got some “shit bounces” Carter Hart said after the game, and that is a perfect way to sum up the Flyers’ road woes this season: shit bounces.
Luckily, hockey has a way to quantify luck in a way via PDO. PDO is the sum of save percentage and shooting percentage, with the thought that it should average out to 1.00 over a large enough sample size.
This season, the Flyers’ PDO tells quite the story.
|Goals For %||Expected GF%||GF% – xGF%||PDO|
|Road||38.32% (31st)||48.30% (17th)||-9.98%||
Overall, the Flyers are in the middle of the pack in goals for, expected goals for, and PDO. They have scored 87 goals and allowed 88 goals at 5v5 for a 49.71% goals for (21st in the NHL), 50.76% of the expected goals share (14th), and a 0.993 PDO (20th).
However, those numbers hit the two ends of the spectrum when you look at the Flyers’ performance at home and on the road.
At home, the Flyers have a NHL-best goals for of 67.65% at 5v5 (46-22) but are 13th with a 53.25% xGF. That disparity may be largely due to their 1.041 PDO, which is the highest in the league.
On the road, the Flyers have a league-worst goals for of 38.32% at 5v5 (41-66) but have an expected goals for of 48.30%, which is 17th in the league. That means the Flyers have gotten some pretty bad luck on the road, which is reflected in their league-low 0.955 PDO.
Let’s look at how the Flyers have actually performed compared to their expected rates.
|GF +/-||xGF +/-||Difference|
|Total||-1 (87-88)||+1.5 (76.19-74.69)||2.5 goals below expected|
|Home||+24 (46-22)||+4.35 (35.68-31.33)||19.65 goals above expected|
|Road||-25 (41-66)||-2.86 (40.51-43.37)||
22.14 goals below expected
The Flyers have performed about expected at 5v5 with their goal differential being just 2.5 goals less than expected on the whole.
However, as you may have guessed, those numbers grow at home and on the road.
At home, the Flyers have performed 19.65 goals better than expected. While they have performed 22.14 goals worse than expected on the road.
The good (and bad) news for the Flyers is that half of a season is a small sample size. Over time, a team should play closer to their expected metrics.
The Flyers should expect to play better on the road as the tide turns and they start to get some bounces. However, the need to keep up their home-ice advantage and hope that the team can use the benefits of playing at home (familiarity, the crowd, less travel, last change, etc.) to keep their play at home near the level that they played in the first half.
Stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com