Analytics: Flyers, Hart probably can’t keep this up

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

With the way this season has gone so far, if you are a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, you have a question to ask yourself – Do you look forward to the end result or do you just prefer the enjoyable ride?

If the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies taught us one thing during their magical ride to the World Series, it was to be happy that there was exciting baseball here in October and November. The Phils were an 87-win group that was the last of 12 teams to qualify for the postseason, before taking the world by storm and pushing the talented Houston Astros to Game 6 of the Fall Classic before finally bailing out.

The Phillies had flaws that became evident the brighter the lights shined during their impressive run. But now that’s it’s over, wasn’t it fun?

Most will agree. More stubborn critics will say the Phillies never had a chance and what was the whole point of all this just to be disappointed in the end?

The Flyers are going to disappoint us too. It’s inevitable. You know it if you follow hockey analytics, you know it if you’re good at the good old fashioned eye test, and you certainly know it if you are a Philadelphia sports fan.

The Flyers, through their first 11 games, a punching well beyond their weight with a 6-3-2 record, which is mostly due to their goaltender Carter Hart having nothing short of a phenomenal start to his season.

Hart has a record of 6-0-2 with a .946 save percentage and a 1.97 goals against average. For comparison, New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin won the Vezina last year with a .935 save percentage and a 2.07 goals against average.

Can Hart keep it up? Probably not, although there’s no mistaking he has taken a leap in terms of his play. But the Flyers probably won’t keep it up either. They have a chance to add to their early season success with games against the struggling St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators over the next week. But sooner or later, the Flyers lack of offensive talent is going to show. In years past, fans had a right to be angry as a talented core repeatedly underperformed and missed the playoffs more times than they made it. Now, you have a group of overachievers who might not be collectively good enough, but are doing their darnedest to prove the doubters wrong.

There’s something that can be said for that and it’s called entertaining hockey. The Flyers are giving it to us, at least through the first 11 games of the season. If anything, they are baby steps towards building a more positive culture that is demanding its players to try harder.

So far, the Flyers are doing that. It’ll probably all blow up in the end like it did for the Philadelphia Union in a disastrous end to the MLS Cup or like it did when the magic ran out for the 87-win underdog Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series.

But right now, watch the games and root for the team in orange. Maybe you’ll get to see something special.