Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltending is back to being bad as usual

But since Hextall hung up his skates in 1999, things have been going downhill.

Since the beginning of the 2000-01 season, the average NHL goalkeeper has made 27 saves per game. Given the average savings percentage at that point, the average goalkeeper would have allowed approximately three goals per competition. During this time, 28 players wore the orange and black of the flyers between the tubes. Only three – Roman Cechmanek (2000-03), Martin Biron (2006-09) and Steve Mason (2012-17) – have exceeded this average mark.

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Only the Tampa Bay Lightning has passed through more below-average netminders (28) than Philadelphia since 2000. But finally the Lightning achieved gold with Andrei Vasilevskiy, who won the Vezina in 2019 and was a finalist in 2018 and 2020 when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Flyer goalkeepers have not received such awards since the dawn of the new millennium.

The flyers thought they had finally found their savior in Carter Hart. Hart played 31 games for the Flyers as a rookie in 2018/19 and went 16: 13: 1 – including a winning streak in eight games that was the longest connected to the NHL record of a goalkeeper before his 21st birthday – and scored a .917 Save a percentage. In 2019-20, he ended the regular season with a slightly lower save percentage (0.914) but sparkled in the playoff bubble, stopping the Flyers for 14 games and brushing aside 399 of 431 shots (0.926). His performance helped marginalize the New York Islanders in their seven-game playoff streak before the Flyers eventually fell. In January he was announced as a potential Vezina candidate. Since then, however, he’s been just the last of the net disappointments for Philadelphia.

Among the 31 goalkeepers who have appeared in at least 20 games this season, Hart ranks last in percent (0.873), last in quality starts (8 out of 23, 34.8 percent) and last in goals saved above average. Hart’s GSAA is already among its worst since the NHL was locked out in 2005, and he has a chance to get all the way down if he plays 30 games or more at his current pace.

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It’s hard to blame the defense for Philadelphia’s poor net retention. Since 2008/09, data on shot quality in the first year have been available in the Moneypuck archives. The Flyers have admitted a lower rate of high risk shots – those from the slot or the fold – than the rest of the NHL. This means that for the average NHL team, Philadelphia’s goalkeepers must have fewer good scoring opportunities than goalkeepers. But even with that above-average defense, Philadelphia had a below-average savings rate against low-risk shots for seven of their 13 years, meaning their goalkeepers sometimes can’t handle routine shots.

For a graphic example of the shuffle, see a game between the Flyers and the New York Rangers on March 17th. The Flyers allowed nine goals; Based on the quality of each shot, they should have allowed two or three.

Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia was eliminated from the playoff picture because of the terrible goalkeeping game. In early January, the Flyers had a 71 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. According to the Hockey Reference, it’s 5 percent this weekend. According to the NHL playoff field projections in playoff status, the Flyers would have to win 13 of their last 17 games to reach the postseason better than 50:50.

“The season is just around the corner,” striker Jakub Voracek told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week. “We’re in a big hole. In principle, we cannot afford to lose games. It is just the way it is. We shot ourselves in the foot. “

Voracek is right, but the Flyers goal deserves – as always – a large part of the blame.