Flyers Still Searching for Double Digit Road Wins

It should come as no surprise that the Flyers will miss the playoffs now for the third time in the last 10 seasons. Their 28-27-14 record is below average, while their minus-20 goal differential is 10th in the Eastern Conference. Even worse, however, is their play away from Broad Street. A 9-18-8 record on the road leaves the Flyers still searching for their 10th road win, as well as other answers to a rocky season.

Disturbing Company

Winning on the road is anything but easy. But for the Flyers, and three other teams, it’s a rarity beyond the norm. With their nine road wins, the Flyers are grouped with the Leafs, Sabres, and Oilers, as the only teams in the NHL who are still without 10 or more road wins. The not so flattering results have left many throughout the lineup in utter frustration.

“Obviously, I’d like to have more wins on the road,” said Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who dropped his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 shootout loss to St. Louis on Thursday. “Situations like that, from a personal standpoint, you have to laugh it off and push forward. That’s all you can do.”

Mason is right. Laughing it off is really all they can do at this point. After all, of Mason’s three shutouts on the season, two of them have ended in road shootout losses. Call it tough luck, bad breaks, or a defeat at the hands of a tough opponent – shutout losses to the Islanders and Blues.

Regardless of the explanation, Philadelphia’s sketchy road play hasn’t been excluded to the upper echelon teams throughout the league. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Of Philly’s nine road wins, six of them have come against teams with winning records.

Eight of their 18 regulation road losses have come against teams with records below .500, including losses to Arizona, Carolina, Columbus, and Toronto.

How does that happen?

“Sometimes guys are on the road, they don’t get the proper rest,” said Flyers GM Ron Hextall. “I don’t know. It’s something we’ll certainly look at moving forward.”

While there is much truth to that, along with other factors, such as travel, unfamiliarity with the ice surface, and having the first changes in personnel, it’s the same for every team in the league. This is where the law of large numbers have hurt the Flyers the most.

Game-to-game consistency is ultimately what has been the Flyers’ undoing. You never know which team will show up. — Tim Riday, CSN Philly

Of the 16 teams slated in playoff spots through Mar. 12’s slate of games, the Los Angeles Kings are the only team with a losing road record. Considering the fact that they used a 4-0 win over Vancouver on Thursday to take the position, it’s even more of a striking trend.

Philly’s 20th ranked five-on-five SAT percentage of 49.66 percent is hardly the mark of an overpowering team, but it’s still not a mark that should thrust the Flyers into the company of Buffalo, Toronto, and Edmonton. In fact, of the teams with an SAT percentage below 50 percent, Philly’s output stands as the highest – no thanks to their road play, that is.

Not surprisingly, the Flyers have thrown more pucks towards their opponents in five-on-five situations at home than away from the Wells Fargo Center. Their SAT percentage climbs to 50.2 percent, while it falls to 49.2 percent on the road.

Equally of importance, are the number of goals allowed on the road.

Of Philadelphia’s 190 goals given up through 69 games, 110 of them have been surrendered on the road – fifth most in the league. And while Steve Mason carries a 13-15-10 record into Saturday’s matchup with Detroit, his .925 save percentage on 1,194 shots seen show he is not to blame.

“You can look at a lot of things,” Hextall said in identifying the cause of the team’s downfall. “We need more from some guys.”

Philly’s 51.8 percent SAT against per 60 minutes percentage at even-strength on the road may be the league’s fifth lowest, but their their minus-48 on-ice SAT differential pits them in the lower half of the league.

When it comes to limiting scoring chances against on the road, the Flyers have held their own – at even-strength, anyway.

In addition to keeping the Blues scoreless for 65 minutes on Thursday, the orange and black have posted a 24.2 percent road Scoring Chances against per 60 minutes percentage, which stands as third best in the NHL. When the shoe is on the other foot, though, the Flyers are 25th with a 23.9 percent Scoring Chances for per 60 minutes percentage.

While there are multiple factors in play as to why the Flyers have performed so poorly away from eastern Pennsylvania, the fact that they’ve yet to reach double digit wins in their white sweaters to this point have dealt an atomic blow to their season.

It hasn’t always been that way, though.

History on the Road

Dating back to the 2005-06 season, the Flyers have experienced only three losing seasons on the road (not counting this season). Five of the previous nine seasons produced road win totals of 20 or more games, with back-to-back 25-win seasons in 2011 and 2012.

Ironically, the last time the Flyers missed the playoffs, they went 8-15-1 on the road. That was in 2013, however, which was limited to 48 games.

In all, the Flyers have missed the playoffs a total of nine times, with their 10th season without post-season action right around the corner. Of their 37 playoff appearances, the Broad Street Bullies qualified for tournament play with a losing road record nine times.

The standings below show every Flyers’ losing record on the road, including the Eastern Conference Championship season in 2010.

Year Road Record Win %
1968-69 6-19-13 0.329
1969-70 6-21-11 0.303
1970-71 8-23-8 0.308
1971-72 7-25-7 0.269
1972-73 10-22-7 0.346
1978-79 14-15-11 0.487
1981-82 13-21-6 0.400
1987-88 18-19-3 0.487
1988-89 14-21-5 0.412
1989-90 13-20-7 0.412
1990-91 15-21-4 0.425
1991-92 10-26-4 0.300
1992-93 13-23-6 0.381
1993-94 16-19-7 0.464
1998-99 16-17-8 0.488
2006-07 12-24-5 0.354
2009-10 17-21-3 0.451
2012-13 8-15-1 0.340
2014-15 9-18-8 0.375

*Playoff teams in orange.
* Qualified for Stanley Cup Final in 2010.

As of now, though, the Flyers own their worst road win total (excluding 2013’s lockout-shortened season) since going 7-25-7 in the 1971-72 season. With six road games left on the schedule, they’re one game shy of matching the 1991-92 Flyers’ 10 road wins.

By the time Craig Berube’s squad visits Ottawa on Mar. 15, they will have gone an entire month without a road win, last winning as the visitor in Buffalo on Feb. 15. Sadly enough, their current five-game skid on the road isn’t their longest of the season.

From Oct. 30 to Dec. 3, the Flyers dropped nine straight away from Broad Street. Philly’s skaters would go a span of 46 consecutive days without a road win, making their 2-9-2 start on the road seem tolerable.

There is hope, however, that the Flyers will reach that magical 10-win threshold. Of their remaining six road games, the Flyers have gone 5-3-1 against their future hosts. That includes a 2-0-0 mark against Pittsburgh, who they’ll visit on Apr. 1.

But for a team that boasts such a decorated history, the company of these numbers explain exactly what kind of season it’s been for the Flyers.