A wise man once said that all things eventually even out, good, bad or indifferent. So far this season the Flyers have been skating on some thin ice and their recent four game road trip has exposed a possible crack.
The Flyers finished up their trip an impressive 3-1 but head coach Peter Laviolette has to be somewhat concerned over the team’s lackluster efforts in the first and third periods of each game.
Only once in their last four games did the Flyers outshoot their opponent in the games first 20 minutes. Outshooting the Panthers 18-5 to open up a two goal lead and when the Black and Orange score first they are 28-3-2.
In the remaining three games Philadelphia was outshot 33-19. But the Flyers have been fortunate, very fortunate to escape the first period of these games without being behind. As a matter of fact their only loss of the road trip came when they trailed Carolina 2-0 at the end of the first.
With one of hockey’s most prolific scoring teams Philadelphia has exited the first period with a deficit only 16 times this season. They have gone on to win just six of those games.
The numbers are even more compelling if the opposition scores first. The Flyers have a winning percentage of just .423 in those contests. Philadelphia allowed 43 first period goals this season making them the eighth toughest team to score upon but they have managed only 51 tallies themselves.
When the Flyers light the lamp first they are virtually unbeatable at 28-3-2. Philadelphia owns the second period outscoring their opponents by 29 goals. The Flyers are tied for a league’s best 72 second period goals. They also stepped it up defensively. They are the second stingiest team in the NHL, surrendering only 43 goals during the middle 20 minutes.
And taking a lead into the third period the Flyers have lost only once this season, compiling a 30-1-2 record. But when they entered the final 20 minutes of a game trailing Philadelphia is a dismal 1-12-2.
In February, the Flyers play in the third period has slipped a little and maybe the cause for some concern as the postseason nears. New York on Sunday put a scare into Philadelphia climbing back to within a goal. The same happened in Florida, if not for stellar goaltending both games could’ve ended in bitter disappointment.
The Rangers outshot the Flyers 15-3 in the third period, the Panthers 19-9, allowing three goals. This season Philly has surrendered 58 third period goals, their worse 20 minutes of a game. Usually playing with a lead the Flyers can ill afford to rest on their laurels, they are not a come from behind team.
To win the Stanley Cup you must have a hot goaltender, hopefully the Flyers aren’t using up their hot goaltending, they will need to save some of that for the postseason.
In April, Philadelphia may not be as lucky when the stakes are much higher.