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ENDGAMES

In the final 20 minutes (and sometimes more) the Flyers are among the best in the business.

Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 12:00 PM / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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ENDGAMES
You think playing Flappy Bird is tough? Try playing hockey against the Flyers in a close game in the third period or later.

You think playing Flappy Bird is tough? Try playing hockey against the Flyers in a close game in the third period or later.

I know I threw a few of these statistics out there last week, but after the Flyers dramatic 5-4 overtime victory over Washington on Sunday, it’s becoming more and more evident to me that the Flyers are going to win a lot of close games late.

In other words, Flyers opponents, if you want to beat the orange and black, be sure to build a comfortable lead through the first 40 minutes because after that, all bets are off.

I’ll highlight the statistical reasons why in a moment, but first I want to look at why they are such a good team in the third period.

We really started noticing this around the holidays, and thought that maybe coach Craig Berube’s commitment to a harder, faster skating regiment might have had something to do with it.

Then, we examined his propensity to use his fourth line more than Flyers teams have been used to. It keeps the top players more fresh as the game goes on and they ultimately end up being more productive later in games than earlier in games.

And while both may actually have an impact, the reason the Flyers are so successful late in games has a lot more to do with their character and desire to win than anything else.

How else do you explain such clutch numbers as the Flyers are posting this season?

The Flyers have scored 70 third period goals this season, second most in the NHL. Add in a pair of overtime tallies and of those 72 goals, 46 have either tied the game, given the Flyers the lead, or were an insurance goal (two-goal lead). Believe it or not, comparatively to the rest of the NHL, that’s a very good number.

Since Nov. 8, in which the Flyers are 28-14-5 in 47 games, the Flyers have dominated their opponents in the third period and overtime, outscoring them 66-43 in that period.

We’ve already made mention of the franchise record 11 wins when trailing in the third period (the NHL record is 15 by the way, by the 2005-06 Dallas Stars) but the Flyers also have notched seven victories this season when trailing after two periods, tied for most in the NHL.

Individually, a dozen different skaters have registered a tying, go-ahead or insurance goal in the third period this season – which, heretofore will be referred to as “clutch time” because any time a game is tied or within a goal in the third period, the players who make the difference usually come up big in the clutch.

Claude Giroux has 10 such goals. That’s 47.6 percent of his goals. By comparison, Alex Ovechkin of Washington,

Claude Giroux (middle) and Scott Hartnell (right) have had a lot to celebrate in the third period this season.

who leads the NHL with 43 goals, has 12 such scores, or just 27.9 percent of his tallies coming in clutch time.

Giroux isn’t alone though.

Scott Hartnell has seven “clutch” goals out of 15 (46.7%) and Vinny Lecavalier has seven of 14 (50%).

It’s not just on the offensive end though.

While the Flyers are relentless with their third period play, they are getting a strong effort in net from Steve Mason as well.

Mason has allowed just 32 third period-or-later goals in 43 games this season that he’s played in the third period, or later.

His goals against average in the third period and overtime is 2.22 as compared to his season GAA of 2.57.

Meanwhile his third period and overtime save percentage is .926 as compared to his full season save percentage of .915.

The Flyers are 6-2-0 in the last eight games Mason has played and in those eight games Mason has allowed just two third period goals.

And the numbers don’t just suggest the Flyers are a good come-from-behind team or a good team when the game is tied after two periods, but they are also excellent with the lead.

Since that magical date of Nov. 8 (Giroux scored his first goal of the season in the very next game after it) the Flyers are 17-0-4 when leading after two periods.

Regardless the situation, the Flyers seem to know how to play when the game is on the line in the final 20 minutes.

Whether it’s playing from behind, or protecting the lead, the third period has become the Flyers time to shine.

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

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 63 36 16 11 184 165 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 OTT 63 29 23 11 179 169 69
11 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
12 NJD 65 27 28 10 146 168 64
13 CBJ 64 27 33 4 166 203 58
14 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
15 CAR 63 24 32 7 145 170 55
16 BUF 65 19 41 5 125 218 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 65 19 46 6 65
C. Giroux 64 18 42 1 60
W. Simmonds 65 26 18 -1 44
M. Streit 65 9 33 -5 42
B. Schenn 65 12 23 -6 35
S. Couturier 65 13 16 4 29
M. Del Zotto 53 9 17 -3 26
M. Read 65 6 20 -7 26
M. Raffl 50 15 5 6 20
V. Lecavalier 46 7 10 -9 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 13 13 8 .926 2.24
R. Emery 10 10 4 .893 3.15
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