Disappointment is the first word that comes to mind when you think about the 2014-2015 Flyers season. The center of this disappointment stemmed from the underachieving offense. The Flyers scored a total of 215 goals last season, ranking them 22 out of the 30 NHL teams. No offense to Steve Mason, but unless Carey Price is your goaltender, 2.62 goals a game isn’t good enough to get into the dance. To figure out how many goals the Flyers need to score this upcoming season I went back to the past 4 full seasons (14-15, 13-14, 11-12, 10-11) and added up the goals scored by the 32 teams that made the playoffs in that span and then divided that number by 32 to get the mean of the goals scored by the teams that made the playoffs in the past 4 full seasons. In short, I calculated the average amount of goals a team that makes the playoffs scores in the regular season. That number was 239. Therefore for the Flyers to give themselves a high chance of making the playoffs they need to score 239 goals this season, 24 more than last season. With this number I tried to make a reasonable projection of the goal totals the Flyers players will need to score this season to get back into the playoffs. I listed the projection below.
*Note that this projection takes into account that Ivan Provorov only plays 9 games with the Flyers, while Nick Cousins and Scott Laughton are up and down between the AHL and NHL.
None of those goal totals seem too hard to be achieved this season by the players except for 2 of them. Vinny Lecavalier and especially Matt Read are the biggest question marks in that projection. Although the Flyers are tempted to scratch Vinny Lecavalier in games, the reality is that he’s the best option for Philadelphia to score a needed 12 goals this season. Instead of scratching Lecavalier, new coach Dave Hakstol must give Lecavalier the chance on a nightly basis to help the club offensively or the Flyers will hurt their chances of getting in the postseason substantially. The other biggest question mark is Matt Read. Read has been a 20 goal scorer since entering the league in 2011. Last season he scored 8 goals in 80 games. A very low amount for his standards. However, at the end of the season it was revealed that Matt Read played through the season with a bad ankle which he believed was the big reason for his disappointing season. This could easily be true as Matt Read was deployed relatively the same last season as he was in 2013-2014 when he scored 22 goals. Below is a chart of how he’s been deployed in the past seasons. As you can see, he played basically the same amount of time against quality opponents and had relatively the same ratio amount of offensive to defensive zone starts in 14-15 as he did in 13-14.
Overall, Matt Read may have simply been injured last year which led to his decreased production. We’ll find out for sure this year as he should enter the season healthy and play in a very up tempo system for Dave Hakstol.
Hakstol has his work cut out for him this upcoming season, but if he could squeeze 12 goals out of Vinny Lecavalier and get Matt Read back on track to being a 20 goal scorer, the Flyers may just surprise some teams in the eastern conference with a playoff berth.