Goal-scoring problems when it matters most and more in 5 unimpressive stats from 2019-20 Flyers season

Jordan Hall
·5 min read

Goal-scoring worries and more in 5 unimpressive stats from 2019-20 Flyers season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Flyers came within one win of what would have been their first Eastern Conference Final appearance since 2010.

While there are positives to take from the team winning its first postseason series since 2012 and going to a second-round Game 7 with the Islanders, the Flyers were inconsistent in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and it cost them. A run at the Cup is never guaranteed the next season, so the Flyers fell short of a great opportunity.

The falling short outlined areas in which the Flyers must improve upon if they want to take the next step. Let's look at five unimpressive statistics from the 2019-20 season. On Tuesday night, we looked at five impressive stats.

Where did the goals go?

From Jan. 8 to the end of the regular season on March 12, the Flyers went 19-6-1 and led the NHL in goals per game with 3.62. After four-plus months of no games because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Flyers saw their offense seriously dry up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It didn't carry over or click again as the club scored 2.08 goals per game in 13 contests through the first and second rounds.

Despite winning their first-round series, the Flyers were actually outscored by the Canadiens 13-11 in the six games. They were then outscored 24-16 by the Islanders in the second round.

Scoring does not come easily in the playoffs. Time and space are limited. As Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said, you have to take a hit to score in the postseason. Too often the Flyers had the game taken to them, committed a costly turnover or stomached a systematic breakdown.

So far, the Flyers are trusting their in-house options to answer the bell from a goal-scoring perspective next season.

Power outage

The Flyers' power play went 4 for 52 in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament and did not score a goal in the seven-game Islanders series. Their 7.7 power play percentage was the second worst in the tourney. Over the Flyers' last three playoff appearances, the club's man advantage is 7 for 97 (7.2 percent).

Assistant coach Michel Therrien is coming off Year 1 of running the Flyers' power play. He'll have his work cut out for him in Year 2. Under Therrien, the power play units improved during the regular season and were predicated on not being predictable.

"We've got two different setups that we like and I think it puts the other team more on their heels," Therrien said in July before the restart. "We tried [Claude Giroux] on his strong side. He’s been used to playing on his forehand side but we wanted to go through that process about getting used to playing on the right side, too. We want to have different looks and it takes time to work on different looks, it takes time for the players to feel comfortable on different looks. There’s no doubt in the end the players feel a lot more comfortable about the way we want to approach our power play."

Needing Konecny

Rather puzzlingly, Travis Konecny couldn't find the back of the net in 16 games of the tournament. The pressure definitely built for a younger player who had a breakout regular season and led his team in goals.

"For me, personally, I was trying hard to find my game and get back to where I was at the break when the season stopped," Konecny said in September. "I think I was just fighting it a little bit and trying to find other ways to contribute to the team, just find ways to win games. Honestly, I wish I knew the exact answer because I would have tried to change it when we were going through the playoffs."

Konecny's zero goals in 16 games marked the second-longest drought of his career. He went 22 consecutive games without a goal as a 19-year-old rookie in 2016-17.

No doubt, the next step for Konecny in his career will be delivering come playoff time. That's when players truly win over Philly.

New York nightmare

When 2019-20 was all said and done, the Islanders were the Flyers' worst nightmare.

Including the preseason, regular season and playoffs, the Flyers lost nine of 12 games to the Islanders and needed overtime for all three of their victories.

The structured and well-coached New York team looked like a bad matchup stylistically for Vigneault's club. The Flyers will continue to see a lot of the Islanders in a deep Metropolitan Division.

"The Islanders, if you go back to preseason and the regular season and the seven games we played in the bubble, we played them 12 times this year — they beat us nine times and all 12 games they scored three or more goals," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in September. "We didn’t play them well this year. Why? We’ll have to dig into it. They’re a heavy team, but it’s hard to generate speed and look fast when you’re defending and having your defensemen get run through the end boards."

Road woes

The Flyers didn't start playing well on the road until mid-January. They ended up going 16-15-3 and allowed 3.56 goals per game away from home, the third most in the NHL.

They made up for it by recording the best home mark in hockey. Given the uncertainty of next season with where games will be played and whether fans will be allowed in the stands, the Flyers should know they can't always rely on home cooking and the comfort of their fans.

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