PHILADELPHIA – If you believe that numbers never lie, then you believe that this Flyers team should make the playoffs.
Let me explain.
Currently, the Flyers power play ranks first in the NHL in power play efficiency at 24.8 percent. They also lead the NHL in power play goals with 32.
Since the era of expansion in 1967, when the Flyers came into the league, only one team who led the NHL in power play percentage failed to make the playoffs – the 2006-07 Montreal Canadiens.
But the special teams numbers go deeper than that.
The Flyers also rank sixth in the NHL in penalty killing currently, thwarting opposing power plays at a clip of 84.6 percent, a mere 0.8 out of the top five in the league.
Over the course of the same expansion-era period, there have been 73 instances of a team finishing in the top five in both special teams categories.
Of those 73 teams, 71 have made the playoffs.
And the two that didn’t were way back when the league was much smaller and fewer teams qualified for the playoffs.
Those teams were the 1971-72 Detroit Red Wings, who missed the playoffs in a 14-team league, and the 1968-69 Minnesota North Stars, who missed out in a 12-team league.
Oh, and of those 73 teams that have done it, 13 have gone on to win a Stanley Cup.
It tells you that special teams success is usually indicative of a very good team.
And yet, here are the Flyers, on the outside looking in – and on the brink of being a top five team in both categories.
“Specialty teams has been really good for us in the last… 25 games or so,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s a big part of our team right now.”
And if the Flyers are going to climb these seemingly insurmountable mountain and make it into the playoffs, it’s a good bet they’ll lean heavily on the specialty teams. Otherwise, they will go into the record books in a negative way for positive statistics.
Kent Huskins, whom the Flyers traded for yesterday, made his debut Sunday against Washington.
Huskins didn’t have a practice with the team, but skated briefly with scratches Tye McGinn, Harry Zolnierczyk, Kurtis Foster and backup goalie Michael Leighton at Skate Zone Sunday morning.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I get to come into a situation where I can play some games – and that’s a big thing. I’m also excited to come to a great organization and be part of it.”
Huskins hasn’t played since Feb. 24 with the Detroit Red Wings in a game against Vancouver. He has played in 11 games this season.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37