DARE TO COMPARE

There are some crazy similarities between this season's Flyers and the 2009-10 team that reached the Final

Monday, 02.17.2014 / 5:33 PM
Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter

You may have read about the quirky coincidences between the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

(If not, go here)

While they are steeped in a bit of strange synchronicity, they are often considered happenstance, although some think it’s eerie.

In the world of sports, there are several parallels between teams that have that same weird dichotomy. We wouldn’t have cliché sayings like, “History repeats itself” if these concurrences didn’t exist.

So, what if I told you the 2010 Flyers and the 2014 Flyers have a lot of that same concomitance?

I know, I know. This is a cheap attempt to get you thinking that maybe, if the stars align properly again as they did four years ago then this Flyers team can make the same dramatic run to the Finals.

While that sounds nice, it isn’t the intention (even if it’s mentioned on our infographic), but it’s cool if you want to look at it that way.

It was just something we decided to research after Flyers Chairman Ed Snider’s comments on the Olympics last week when, after saying he hates the Olympic break in the NHL one reporter reminded him that he went to the Stanley Cup Finals the last time there was an Olympics and Snider joked that maybe he actually does like them then.

When we went back to look, we were a bit surprised by what we found.

Sure, the teams started off a bit differently. We all know how painful the start to this season was, with seven losses in the first eight games. Well, those Flyers were 5-2-1 in their first eight games, so there was no symmetry there.

But there were these points:

1. Both teams had a coaching change in-season. The 2009-10 Flyers replaced John Stevens with Peter Laviolette. They were 13-11-1 at the time. This season, the Flyers replaced Laviolette with Craig Berube. They were 0-3-0 at the time, however, after 25 games, they were 11-12-2, only three points off.

Not coincidental enough for you? Then try this on for size:

2. Both teams hit the Olympic break with similar records. In 2010 the Flyers were 32-25-3 for 67 points in 60 games, the current Flyers are 30-23-6 for 66 points in 59 games. Oh, and both were on a four-game winning streak when the break hit.

Hmmmm. Let’s look at it a step further.

3. At the Olympic break, the Flyers leading scorers among forwards this season are Claude Giroux (57 points), Wayne Simmonds (42 points), Jake Voracek (40 points) and Scott Hartnell (37 points). In 2010 it was Jeff Carter (52 points, five fewer than Giroux), Mike Richards (46 points, four more than Simmonds, Danny Briere (40 points, same as Voracek) and Scott Hartnell (35 points, two fewer than he has this year.) All told the point comparison is 173 in 2010, 176 in 2014. Pretty close, eh?

“Yeah, but what about goaltending,” you may say. “The Flyers had a carousel of goalies in 2010, they have been riding Steve Mason this year, with the occasional break from Ray Emery.”

And you would be right… except, if you really want to look at it deeply:

4. Michael Leighton ended up being the guy who was recognized as the No. 1 goalie in 2009-10 for the Flyers (even though Brian Boucher appeared in six more games), albeit at a smaller sample size than Mason has already provided. However, if you look at those overall numbers for Leighton, and assume Mason stays about the same, it’s actually frighteningly close – Mason: 23-14-5, 2.49 goals against average, .918 save percentage; Leighton: 16-6-0, 2.48 GAA, .918 save percentage.

The one thing these Flyers need to hope though is that the regular season accordance ends there. Because those Flyers in 2010 went a lukewarm 9-10-3 down the stretch and sneaked into the playoffs in a shootout on the final day of the season.

If this season’s Flyers go were to match that (actually, with one more game, say 9-10-4), they’d finish 39-33-10 for 88 points, which would be the same number of points as 2009-10, but likely won’t be enough to get in the playoffs this year (anything is possible, but the target number appears to be 92 points).

No matter what happens the rest of the way though, the Flyers should hope that if they do return to the postseason this spring that the parallelism resumes – and that run to the Finals can come with it.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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