The Philadelphia Flyers have been scoring in bunches at times, but that isn’t what is keeping them in the bottom half of their division. The problem with their team is that they haven’t been able to keep up with the amount of goals scored against them.
While some of the blame can be put on the poor play of the defensemen on the team, it ultimately comes down to the play of the goalie, which has been subpar to say the least. As a team, none of the Flyers’ goalies have been doing a great job of keeping their team in the game as their 2.9 goals allowed per game is seventh worst in the NHL.
The No. 1 goalie for the Flyers has been Steve Mason. Mason signed a three-year contract extension last year that will pay him an average of $4.1 million. He has played as a serviceable goalie with a 2.50 goals against average. Where Mason really struggled though, has been in overtime games.
Over the last season and a half, Mason has a record of 6-13 in games that require extra time. Mason also struggled down the stretch last season as he wasn’t the starting goalie in Philadelphia’s playoff series against the New York Rangers. Last week, Mason hurt his knee and is expected to miss another week before he is able to return. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they have two tough games against the top of the division before they break for the All-Star weekend.
Flyers: G Steve Mason expected to miss 2 weeks with lower-body injury; G Rob Zepp recalled from AHL (ESPN) http://t.co/P3mOkUhpKQ
— Tom Callahan (@CallahanOnAir) January 12, 2015
The backup goalie for Philadelphia is Ray Emery, who has struggled since leaving the Chicago Blackhawks. Emery was actually with the Flyers before finding success with the Blackhawks, and thought it’d be nice to return to the City of Brotherly Love. Emery hasn’t performed up to expectations in his two seasons back with Philly. Emery has a record of 7-8-1 and has been allowing more than 3.30 goals per game to go along with a .885% save percentage, which won’t cut it in the NHL nowadays. This is a far cry from the guy who was starting playoff games a year ago.
Recently with the injury to Mason though, Emery would be the natural choice to fill in as the starter. That hasn’t been the case though, as third-string goalie Rob Zepp has made three of the last four starts and came in for Emery when he struggled against Vancouver on Thursday.
Zepp has done well in his short time with Philadelphia as he is 2-1-0 in four games with a 2.20 GAA and a .909 save percentage. The percentage isn’t great, but he is the only goalie on the roster with a positive record. Of course it helps that the Flyers have scored 11 goals Zepp’s last three starts.
Even though Philadelphia has a high-powered offense that can score goals in bunches, they are prone to the occasional shutout. The Flyers have been shutout five times this season, and in two of their past three games. This comes despite having two of the top point scorers in the league with Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux who are ranked first and tied for fourth respectively. Even though these men have been scoring points like crazy, their +/- rating isn’t spectacular so they could stand to play some better defense.
Now even though the goalies are the last line of defense, a poor grouping of defensemen can hurt a team just as much. It doesn’t matter how good your goalie is if teams are able to pass the puck deep in your zone and set up easy goals. Besides allowing a lot of goals, the majority of them have been allowed on the power play. Philadelphia has allowed 41 goals on the power play, which is the most in the league. Their penalty kill is the worst in the league, only killing off 77% of the time, the Flyers need to either play better defense or stop taking so many penalties.
If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to get back to being a playoff team, they are going to need some changes. Those changes start with their goaltending as they haven’t been able to keep with games more often than not. After this season, Philadelphia should move on from Emery and see if anyone is willing to take Mason off their hands. Either that or spend some money on some better defensemen. They tried it with Michael Del Zotto, but that deal looks to be a bust as he hasn’t been able to do much in his half-year.