Man, remember last season when we all thought the Flyers had this goalie thing figured out?
Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth were arguably the best goalie tandem in the NHL last season. Both players sported even-strength save percentages above .930 and on the strength of their combined play, got the Flyers a postseason berth.
The story has changed significantly this year as both Steve and Michal have been dreadful during the early stages of this season. So, how bad has is it been?
What you’re looking at above are the five worst goaltenders in the NHL according to even-strength save percentage who have played at least 250 minutes this season. So, pretty damn bad.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though.
Steve Mason the last three years has averaged an even-strength save percentage of .932. An indicator that not only is he a good goaltender but that it is very unlikely he will continue to be THIS bad. Even at his worst during his playing career in Columbus, Mason never had an EV SV% below .911.
The same argument can be made for Michal Neuvirth that his current bout of terrible goaltending is unsustainable. Michal’s even-strength save percentage the last three years is .928.
In addition to both of these players not playing up to our and I’m sure their expectations, there have been other factors that have made life difficult for both of them. Namely, a defensive unit that was without its two most productive players, Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto.
Their absence led to a lot of ice-time for Andrew MacDonald who is not good at hockey.
Andrew MacDonald providing a great screen! pic.twitter.com/FWm7Fy5H8c
— A$AP Flyera (@BCanneyBSB) October 25, 2016
It’s already a difficult job trying to stop pucks in the NHL, but when your defenseman are making it harder on you to do that job, you’re going to have a bad time.
Now that the Flyers have their optimal defensive group healthy, I am hoping this will help with both goaltenders’ confidence. I think there is a lot to be said about a goalie’s familiarity with the defenseman playing in front of him.
It’s unfortunate that the Flyers have left points on the table because of poor goaltending, but I assure that is going to change and if this team continues to score like they are, watch out, they are going to be very dangerous.