The Philadelphia Flyers’ streaky nature shouldn’t come as much of a surprise in the City of Brotherly Love.
If anything, it’s only become natural over the past few seasons.
The NHL sends out daily emails filled with wonderful statistics for the media to sink its teeth into. On Thursday, they keyed in on the Flyers current eight-game winning streak (one they will look to push to nine against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night).
Streaky has been the name of the game for the Flyers, and they’ve had mixed success within that formula. For instance, last year the Flyers became the fourth team in NHL history to rebound from a winless streak of at least 10 games (0-5-5) to make the playoffs.
But the year before in 2016-17, the Flyers won 10 straight before ultimately missing out on the postseason, becoming the only team in league’s then 99-year history to do so.
What the future holds for the Flyers this season is anyone’s guess. Three weeks ago, no one would have been talking playoffs and Flyers in the same sentence, but their current heater has changed the conversation. They’ve gone from 15 points adrift to seven, passing five teams along the way as they began their ascent from the basement of the NHL.
The Flyers eight-game winning run comes after an eight-game slide, and a 10-game stretch where they won just one game. You don’t have to dig all that deep to figure out why the wins and losses have come in waves.
Looking at the eight-game block prior to the current one, they scored just 13 goals and allowed 27. Math is hard, but it’s easy to sort out this one. They scored less than half the goals they allowed. You don’t win like that.
Conversely, they’ve scored 30 during their current run and have allowed just 17.
A big part of that has been the play of Carter Hart.
He’s allowed three goals or fewer in five of his seven straight wins — a .934 save percentage. The 20-year-old’s fine play, coupled with the extra run support, has made Philly a dangerous team to contend with. They’ve knocked off Winnipeg, Boston, Montreal and Minnesota — all teams in playoff position — during their run. The string of wins could get a little longer, too, with their next two games coming against Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Can the streak reach 10 for the second straight year?
How many wins in a row would Hart need to put himself in the Calder Trophy conversation? (Or is he already there now?) He has to be, right?
Sure, Elias Pettersson is having a great season and still the runaway leader at this point. But let’s say Hart puts the Flyers into the playoffs… sprinkle in a little east-coast bias and some recency bias and Voilà, some first-place votes may head his way.
Hell, if that happens, Hart would surely have to be on the long list of Hart Trophy candidates, too.
Yes, we’re putting the cart before the horse here. The Flyers still have a mountain to climb. Their eight-game winning streak has only improved their lot in life by eight points when looking at the standings. They’re still eight points behind the third-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division and seven out of a wild card spot. And they won 10 straight last year and still couldn’t walk in the back door to get to the playoffs.
But they’re heating up at the right time and they have a goalie who is playing with all sorts of confidence (with a team the following suit thanks to their netminder’s play).
There’s hope in Philly these days.