Better With Popcorn

March Introspective

The following post contains data based upon Philadelphia Flyers games from March 3rd-March 31st.

The Flyers played 15 games in March and amassed a record of 6-5-4.

5 of the 15 games had to go to an overtime to be decided. 4 of the 5 overtime games went to a shootout. The Flyers lost every overtime game this month with the exception of beating Dallas in a shootout on March 19th.

The Flyers home record was appalling. The Flyers went 1-4-3 in the eight games played at the Wells Fargo Center this month. Seven of the eight games were decided by a single goal.

The most goals allowed in any game this month was 7, when the New York Rangers defeated the Flyers, 7-0 at Madison Square Garden on March 6th. It was one of the two shutouts that would be registered against the Flyers this month. The other one came at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers on March 31st (1-0).

The most goals the Flyers scored in any game this month was 5, which they accomplished against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 29th at the Consol Energy Arena. The Flyers are now undefeated in Pittsburgh’s new stadium, with Sergei Bobrovsky registering the win in all three games and Claude Giroux netting the game-winning goal in all three games.

The Flyers penalty kill was strong killing off 48-of-56 penalties taken in the month of March. The Flyers 85.7% success rate on the penalty kill was on par with February’s 85% success rate.

The Flyers power play has been weak. The Flyers only scored 7 goals on 46 extra-man opportunities. The week of March 8th was the highpoint of the Flyers special teams play when the Flyers went 4-for-9 on the man advantage and scored a power play goal in all three games that week. Even though the Flyers were only successful 15.2% of the time, they were still more successful than February’s 10.6% success rate.

The following chart will break down the Flyers’ individual scoring throughout the month of March:

The Flyers were outscored 41-39 in the month of March

The Flyers have 6 players that registered 4 or more goals in March, which is an increase from the 3 players with 3 or more goals in February. Giroux, Briere, Leino, Carter, Versteeg, and JVR all increased their scoring. In his first full month with the Flyers, Versteeg made the most dramatic increase going from one goal in February to 5 goals in March.

Matt Carle was a pleasant surprise; last month Carle only registered 3 assists. In the month of March, Carle led the team with 10 assists. Claude Giroux was close behind with 9 assists, the exact same amount he registered in February.

For the second month in a row, Jeff Carter led the Flyers in goals scored and Claude Giroux led the team in points. Since February 1st, Jeff Carter has scored 12 goals and registered 19 points.

I feel like the primary assist is a category that gets highly overlooked. Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, and Matt Carle all played a prominent role in that category this month. Giroux is typically praised for his high quality of play and has gotten plenty of attention for his contributions to the team, but I didn’t hear anything about Matt Carle. Until I compiled the stats, I had no idea he even had 10 assists, let alone 5 primary assists. The primary assist is important because it displays the player who directly aided in allowing the goal to happen.

Mike Richards had a strong statistical month. Over the past two months Richards has registered 15 points in 27 games, which comes out to around a point every two games. Considering his line mates, I view that as successful work. Even though the Flyers don’t have “defined” line numbers, Richards is pretty much on the third line. Kris Versteeg has had more success scoring, but I correlate that directly to Richards. Of Versteeg’s 5 goals, Richards has the assist on 4 of them (3 of those 4 are primary assists). Versteeg only had one assist and that assist did not come on a Richards’ goal.

Now let’s take a look at the goaltending:

Bob had a rough beginning to the month. Coming off of a 3-3-1 February, Bob began March with two consecutive losses.

Bob’s two lowest points this month probably came in the March 12th game against Atlanta, where he allowed 4 goals in the third period to blow a 4-0 lead. The other would be the March 22nd game against Washington when he allowed 3 goals on 9 shots.

As of late, Bob seems to be back to form. He is 2-1-1 in his last four starts and has held his opponent to just one goal in three of those four games.

Boucher has played consistently through out the year. His save percentage is a little lower than normal, but close enough that it’s not that alarming and his GAA is right on the mark.

Boucher’s lowest moment came in the March 6th blow out to the Rangers when he allowed 4 goals on 18 shots.

With Bob back on track, Boucher will most likely be on the bench for game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boucher get playing time in the playoffs.

Looking Ahead

This is it. The Flyers have three games left in the season and then playoff time begins.

The Flyers are currently 46-22-11 with 103 points and are in first place in the Atlantic Division and tied for first in the Eastern Conference.

With a Pittsburgh loss tonight and a Philadelphia win or tie tomorrow night, the Flyers will clinch their 16th division title.

The Flyers race to first in the conference will most likely come down to the final game of the season. Both Washington and Philadelphia have 3 games remaining.

The Flyers will play Ottawa, Buffalo and the New York Islanders in their final games. The Flyers are 2-1 against both the Senators and the Sabres, and are 5-0 against the Islanders.

Washington will play Toronto and then close out their season with a home-and-home against the Florida Panthers. Washington is 2-0-1 against Toronto and 2-1-1 against the Panthers.

The Flyers hold the tiebreaker against Washington so both the Conference and Division are the Flyers to lose. If they do what they have to, they will still be in the top-spot on April 10th.

Considering how shaky the last two months have been for the Flyers, a strong conclusion to the season would be a great way to build momentum going into the playoffs.

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