It’s finally over.
And so let’s use this opportunity, with the stench still fresh, to take a cathartic look at some of the numbers that defined just how historically bad this season was for the Orange and Black. Then we can move on and turn the focus to next year, where perhaps some positivity can begin to creep into the lives of Flyers fans.
Numerous statistics illustrate just how awful of a season it was for the 2021-22 Philadelphia Flyers.
We’ll start with the club’s overall record of 25-46-11, good for just 61 points. It was the second worst showing by the club in a full 82-game season in its history. Their record put them 29th in the league, fourth from the bottom. They only finished ahead of the Montreal Canadiens (who won two of three against the Flyers), the openly terrible Arizona Coyotes, and the expansion Seattle Kraken (by one point).
The Flyers did manage to win a pair of games against both the Kraken and the Coyotes, while also doing the same against the Vegas Golden Knights. The other 28 clubs in the league all managed to beat the Flyers at least once this year, while the Flyers went winless in multiple meetings against 10 teams.
One of those teams was the Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the Flyers in regulation in all three of their meetings, outscoring the Flyers 16-8 in the process. This was particularly frustrating because Detroit had games against other teams this season where they gave up 11, 10, and 9 goals. Meanwhile, the Flyers couldn’t even manage that many spread across three contests against them.
Perhaps even more embarrassingly, the Flyers were swept by the Buffalo Sabres in their season series, with the Sabres winning all three contests despite the fact that they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the 11th straight season, an NHL record. The Sabres also managed to pull off an odd feat by having a different goaltender win each of their games against the Flyers: Michael Houser, 40-year old Craig Anderson, and former Phantom Dustin Tokarski. When Buffalo is looking down at you, you know it’s been a long year.
The Flyers couldn’t muster a winning record against a single Eastern Conference foe this year, something that doesn’t bode well for their chances to even remotely compete for a playoff spot next season without major changes. They also finished a full 39 points back of the final playoff spot in the conference, a chasm so large that even the most optimistic fan has to shake their head about it.
Of the 16 teams who qualified for the playoffs this year, the Flyers did not have a winning record against any of them, and they won just 11 of their 44 head-to-head meetings with said clubs. They were outscored – get ready for this – 176 to 107 in those games. That’s exactly four goals allowed per game to the league’s “good half”, while the Flyers scored less than 2.5 goals per game against them. Over the course of the season as a whole, the Flyers scored at least 5 goals on 9 separate occasions, but they allowed 5+ a staggering 23 times.
The Flyers had well-publicized losing streaks of 13 and 10 games, and they also managed to score just one shootout goal on the year, although they did bank their only shootout win as a result of said goal. With one goal in 20 shootout attempts, the Flyers’ 5 percent success rate was less than half of the second worst club in shootouts this year. 56 individual players in the NHL scored at least two shootout goals this season, more than the Flyers did collectively. And the Flyers also failed in their only two penalty shot attempts on the season. They’ve scored one penalty shot goal in their last 16 attempts, going back over a decade.
When compared statistically to the league as a whole, the picture doesn’t get any brighter. The Flyers finished 31st in shooting percentage, and they allowed the fourth-most shots per game, as opposing clubs bombarded their beleaguered goaltenders. Carter Hart and Martin Jones held up for a while but, ultimately, Flyers netminders combined to post a .903 save percentage, the sixth year in a row that it’s been below the league average.
The team save percentage was actually .894, thanks to the Flyers allowing 26 empty net goals, the second most in the league. Meanwhile, they scored just six empty netters, the lowest total in the NHL. Not surprising when you’re usually trailing at the end of the game. The Flyers also managed just one shutout, tied for the lowest in the league with three other clubs. Plus, it was against the Coyotes back in November, so it’s debatable as to whether that really counts.
And then there’s special teams. The penalty kill was ineffective enough, finishing 26th in the league. But the power play sunk to the league basement, clocking in at a dismal 12.6 percent. There were four teams in the league who converted at a rate more than double that. We’re talking dozens of goals here, the kind of thing that can make a huge impact on the season. Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers led the league with 26 power play goals this year. The Flyers had 30 as a team.
As far as individual Flyers players, a few things must be noted. Travis Konecny had a very uneven campaign, but he still did enough to lead the club with 52 points. That mark, though, was the lowest point total to lead the Flyers in a full season since their inaugural campaign of 1967-68. It also ranked tied for 115th in the NHL this year, as Konecny finished a cool 71 points back of Connor McDavid’s league-leading mark. Eight other players also had at least double Konecny’s point total, and his 52 points were the lowest of any player who “led” his team this year aside from Jared McCann’s 50 for the expansion Kraken. Oh, and our old friend Jakub Voracek had more assists (56) for the Columbus Blue Jackets than any Flyers player had points this year.
James van Riemsdyk scored 24 goals to pace the club, putting him in a tie for a mere 83rd in the NHL. Only Cole Caulfield’s Montreal-leading 23 goals was a lower total among players who led their clubs. Four players scored at least twice as many goals as JvR’s 24.
Finally, even though we all know the deal about how plus/minus isn’t a great stat, it’s worth highlighting that Keith Yandle ran away with last place in that department this year, finishing at a league low -47. It was the worst mark in the league’s “salary cap era”, which goes back to the 2004-05 lockout, and I didn’t have the desire to go back any further. Regardless of how you feel about how the Flyers handled his consecutive games streak, he was objectively terrible this season and would have been removed from the lineup much sooner if not to keep his streak intact so he could set the record.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point by now. Some painful lessons need to be learned from this season, but you can essentially flush this one down the toilet, which was also the case last year and several other times in the past decade or so of Flyers hockey. It’s getting old.
There don’t appear to be brighter days immediately on the horizon, such as was the case with the Flyers’ streak of making the playoffs every other season in recent years. But that’s over now, as 2021-22 marked the first time since 1994 that the Flyers missed the playoffs in an even-numbered year. It was a quirk, to be sure, but it also highlighted how the club never stayed bad for long. Now, though, who knows? We’re already two years into this misery, and we could be looking at several more before signs of improvement come. There’s always a chance that the timeline accelerates, but there is very little to cling to for Flyers Nation these days. Let’s all pray for a miracle.