In terms of how the Flyers season has gone, the team has genuinely turned a corner. They have won eight of their last twelve and have won four in a row. On top of that they have been playing a much better brand of hockey lately. They seem to either finally understand, or have at least bought into the systems that Coach Craig Berube has them playing. As well, they have been hanging with some of the NHL’s better teams (Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington). That certainly sounds like a recipe for success. So I have found myself suddenly optimistic about the stretch drive to the end of the season. The question is, am I being realistic?
I already suspected that I was being lulled into a false sense of security. This team has been just awful in most respects this year (outside of Giroux, Voracek, Mason, and a few others). They have habitually been in the bottom ten in terms of possession (at this writing Corsi For was 48.9 for 22nd in the league). Their goal differential is -11 at this point. As well they also find themselves chasing an almost insurmountable hill of 9 points to make up to even sniff the last playoff spot. As it stands right now, they have a 3.8% chance of making the playoffs according to sportsclubstats.com. To guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs from this point they will have to go 25-3-3. The odds are stacked against them. This much I can see. The thing is, as a fan I tend to think like this though:
I think this is the fun part of being a fan. Every year, shortly after the trade deadline, you begin to hear the teams outside of the playoffs hitting the milestone of being mathematically out of the playoffs. The Sabres are actually already at that point (OK if they go 32-0 down the stretch they have a 70% chance to get into the playoffs). Somehow I manage to convince myself that until that point officially hits, I can’t help but hold up some hope. I personally have a hard time with the notion that once we pass American Thanksgiving, the NHL season is basically decided (see my look at playoff match ups at the quarter and half point for further discussion on this topic). You can call me a hopeless romantic, but I really do like to hold out hope. Sometimes it does lead to being fairly disappointed as a fan, but what other reason do we watch this game if not for the hope that we are going to see something spectacular?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I can call a spade a spade. I know that the Flyers won’t make the playoffs. There is just so much evidence against the notion. The thing is, I just find it more fun to hope against hope down the stretch. As I was reflecting on this post, I was thinking about what started giving me hope for this possibility in the first place. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that as I watch every game, the team really is playing better hockey. This may not be reflective our quantifiable in a lot of the team’s statistics, but I really do see a difference. At the very least, it bodes well for the team going into next season, which can be exciting if you are willing to bypass the next 31 games as the season winds down. Or, I can continue the way I think and live in the moment a little bit. Those that defend the advanced stats will cringe at the last thing I will say in this article, but it just feels like the Flyers could make it.
Think I’m an idiot? Post a comment below.