More Masonry; Laughton a Phantom; Long-shot Playoff Odds
VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s not every day that you walk into work and someone hands you a ready-made blog item.
But, today, that is the case.
And it’s not like the information was slid across my desk from a member of the Flyers brass or was texted to me by a player.
Nope it came from… a fan.
I opened my email this morning and a fan going by the moniker Jersey77Girl had done a little statistical research.
Turns out Steve Mason’s statistics, the same stats that had people calling his acquisition a gamble, may not be as bad as they seem on paper.
Well, as my anonymous friend points out, Mason’s save percentage against teams in his new conference is pretty darn good in his career.
Sure it’s a small sample size, but a .920 save percentage in 52 career games is nothing to sneeze at.
Comparatively, that would rank ninth in the NHL this season among goalies who started at least half of their team’s games.
And, if you take his games against the Flyers out of the equation (one of the East teams he struggled with), that percentage goes up to .922 in 49 games.
As Adam Sandler would sing, “Not too shabby.”
Breaking it down even further, Jersey77Girl showed that Mason’s numbers against the teams in the new Atlantic Division next season are actually better than Ilya Bryzgalov’s, again with the reminder that it’s a smaller sample.
Still, not counting the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the Flyers newest division rivals whom Mason has never played against, the newest Flyers goalie has stopped a higher percentage of pucks against four of the six other teams the Flyers will play a bulk of their games against beginning next season than Bryzgalov.
With 35 games slated for inter-division play and then the likelihood of the first two rounds of playoffs coming within your division, it’s safe to say that it’s more critical to win those games, because of the four-point-swing effect each one of them has on the standings, than the rest of the schedule.
As a comparison, Mason has out-performed Bryzgalov during his career against Carolina (.952-.905), the New York Islanders (.933-.903), the New York Rangers (.907-.875) and the Washington Capitals (.931-.925).
Meanwhile, Bryzgalov has better save numbers against Pittsburgh (.913-.908) although that doesn’t include last year’s wild and wooly playoff series, and New Jersey (.918-.876).
The Devils number is a little frightening, but then again, can anyone truly name a player who put on orange and black who did have a good career against the Devils?
Hate the Penguins and Rangers all you want, but over the long haul, the Devils are the bane of the Flyers existence.
Sorry for the sidetrack there… back to the goalies.
Does this statistical breakdown prove anything? No, it’s just numbers after all.
Nor does it suggest that of the two goalies on the Flyers roster right now that one is better than the other.
But what it does do is give cause for some well-supported optimism that Mason, in whatever role he is put in here in Philadelphia, whether as a backup or a No. 1 netminder, was worth the risk for the Flyers as they finish out this season and move into the next.
The Flyers officially confirmed that Scott Laughton was assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL for the rest of the season on an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO).
Only 18, Laughton can play in the NHL now that his junior season in the OHL is officially over.
Laughton played five games for the Flyers this season, but it is unlikely that he will see a sixth because that would kick in the first year of his Entry-Level Contract (ELC) and would get him to free agency (both restricted and eventually unrestricted) a year sooner.
The first round selection of the Flyers (#20 overall) in the 2012 NHL entry draft, Laughton was a top player for the Oshawa Generals in the OHL where he had 23 goals and 33 assists for 56 points in 49 games.
He added seven goals and six assists for 13 points in just seven playoff games for Oshawa.
Laughton joins Tye McGinn on the Phantoms, who was reassigned there by the Flyers yesterday.
It looks like Nick Grossmann will be done for the season for the Flyers.
Barring a spirited comeback over the final nine games that lands the Flyers a postseason birth, Grossmann won't suit up again this season after he had a setback in his recovery from a concussion suffered in practice last month.
Grossmann had tried practicing and skating with the team, but had a recurrence of symptoms and had to pull back on his efforts to return.
On the other hand, Danny Briere skated again yesterday with some teammates and is even closer to coming back from his own practice-related concussion.
The Flyers ever-slimming playoff hopes took another hit last night with the New York Rangers winning in a shootout.
It dropped the Flyers seven points out of a playoff spot with nine games to go.
The only positives for the Flyers are the fact that they are now chasing three playoff spots instead of two, as the Ottawa Senators have fallen back to the pack and are tied with the Rangers and New York Islanders for the sixth, seventh and eighth playoff spots with 44 points.
If you are an eternal optimist then you can hang your hat on a few crumbs:
1. The Flyers still have a game in hand on both the Isles and the Rangers – and still have one game remaining against each of them.
2. The Flyers do play the Senators twice in the final nine games, and they’re in a bit of a free fall, having lost five in a row.
3. If the Flyers go 7-1-1 the rest of the way – including regulation wins in the four games mentioned above against the Rangers, Isles and Sens, then they would need one of the following scenarios to happen to make the playoffs:
- Ottawa gets eight points or fewer in their other seven games
- The Islanders get seven points or fewer in their other seven games
- The Rangers get seven points or fewer in their other seven games.
Of course, there’s also Winnipeg, New Jersey and Buffalo in front of the Flyers, but if the Flyers are going 7-1-1, it’s a good bet that’ll be enough to leapfrog those teams as well.
As for tonight, you’re rooting for Boston, Washington, Montreal, Pittsburgh and Florida – as well as the Flyers.
Yes, it’s the longest of long shots, but crazier things have happened.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37