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MELTZER: Re-establishing home ice advantage

Inside the numbers at how the Flyers have been strong at home in the early going

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

While it's still very early in the 2019-season, it is worth noting that the Philadelphia Flyers will bring a 5-1-1 home record into Thursday's game against the Montreal Canadiens. The game will conclude the Flyers' current three-game homestand.

Note: The totals including the neutral-site regular season opener in Prague against the Chicago Blackhawks, because the Flyers were the designated home team in that game. The Flyers won it, 4-3.

Last season, the Flyers had one of their most disappointing home records in many years. The club's meager 42-point output (19-18-4) on home ice last year was the lowest since 1993-94 (41 points). Previously, the Flyers had posted 50 to 55 points at home in every season from 2008-09 to 2017-18 excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign in which only 24 home games were played. 

Here's a look at the key factors in the Flyers' strong start at home:

SCORING FIRST: The Flyers have scored the game's first goal in six of the first seven home games. On a leaguewide statistical basis both this season and historically, the team that scores first wins more than 70 percent of the time. Last season, both at home and on the road, the Flyers were plagued by slow starts and gave up the game's first goal in 50 of 82 games (going 16-31-3 in those games). 

POWERFUL PP: The Flyers power play at home have been scorching hot. Through seven home games to date, the club scored 10 power play goals on 29 opportunities (34.5 percent success rate). That type of success rate is unsustainable but the team's ability -- for the first time in many years -- to ice two different power play units that are a bonafide threat to score portends very well moving ahead.

JUST AS POWERFUL PK: The same thing applies with the Flyers home penalty kill, which has staved off 21 of its first 24 opposing power plays. The team will be hard-pressed to sustain its current 87.5 percent success rate, which is even higher at the Wells Fargo Center because the number factors in Alex DeBrincat's power play marker in the Prague opener. Nevertheless, the Flyers have clearly improved on this side of special times, too. Last year, the Flyers had a 79.8 success rate on the PK at home.

MY TERRITORY: Through the first seven home games, the Flyers have outshot their opponents and enjoyed an overall territorial edge in six. The exception was Tuesday's 4-1 win over Carolina. Oddly enough, the Flyers lone home regulation loss, 4-1 to the Dallas Stars on Oct. 19, saw Philly hold Dallas to just two shots for a span of 38-plus minutes from the waning seconds of the first period until late in the third period. Unfortunately, one of the shots was a goal by Dallas' Corey Perry that turned a 2-1 game into a 3-1 edge. The Stars' next shot after that was an empty net goal.

AND IN NET...: The Flyers goalie play has been solid at home thus far. Here's a look at how the Flyers' starting goaltender has fared in each of the seven home games to date, including the opener in Prague.

* Oct. 4 vs. CHI (Prague): Carter Hart stopped 28 of 31 shots, .903 SV%
* Oct. 9 vs NJ: Hart had a 25-save shutout, 1.000 SV%
* Oct. 19 vs. DAL: Hart stopped 12 of 15 shots, .800 SV%
* Oct 21 vs VGK: Brian Elliott stopped 33 of 35 shots, .943 SV%
* Oct 26 vs. CBJ: Elliott stopped 22 of 26 shots, .846 SV%
* Nov 2 vs TOR: Elliott stopped 23 of 26 shots (.885 SV%), 9 of 11 in shootout.
* Nov. 5 vs CAR: Hart stopped 33 of 34 shots, .971 SV%

Overall, Hart and Elliott have combined to stop 176 of 192 regulation and overtime shots on goal for a .917 save percentage. By comparison, through the first seven home games last season, the Flyers starting goalies (Elliott and Cal Pickard) had a combined .874 save percentage. It was not entirely the goaltenders' fault, as the Flyers team defense was poor in several of the games but there were also needed saves that were not made. 

So far this season on home ice, the Flyers goalies have erased mistakes in front of them and have been sharp overall in all but Hart's loss to Dallas and Elliott's win over Columbus.

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