Myself, along with many other Flyer fans, are hoping that our boys from Philly will continuously turn on the red light over and over, game after game throughout the upcoming 2009-2010 NHL season.
Realistically, what fan of an NHL team doesn't want that?
When I make proclamation, "Many Goals for the 2009-2010 Season," I am mainly referring to aspects of the Flyer's game play that can be improved for the upcoming duration of season play. There are, in fact, a great number of defensive goals that Philly can work towards in order to increase our totals in the win column and to get a better shot at Lord Stanley's Holy Grail.
Let's talk about some key areas that need improvement from last season, in no particular order:
1. Shots Against: Last season, the Flyers allowed the 5th most shots per game in the league. That total averaged out to about 33 shots allowed per game. Luckily, we had plenty of offense to compensate for allowing all those shots and we ended up winning enough games to make the playoffs. If it turns out that losing Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul does seriously affect our goal production this upcoming season, then our defense will have to compensate by limiting the opposing team's shot totals game after game. Last season San Jose only allowed about an average of 27 shots per game. Let's try to match that.
Goal: Limit opposing team's shots to an average of less than 30 per game.
2. Faceoffs: Our faceoff percentage at the end of the season was ranked 22nd out of 30 at a success rate of about 48%. That's not horrible, but its not good either. The more faceoffs we win, the more control of play we will possess during games. Laperierre could help boost that rating, but he alone will not give the Flyers the game play control that they need in order to win games. Philly's four centers will have to do better than 48% in order for us to be successful. Last season, Detroit had an average faceoff success rate of 55%. Something to shoot for.
Goal: Win between 50-55% of faceoffs taken.
3. 5v5 play: Our five on five play was average this past season. Our goals for/goals against ratio during 5v5 play was about 1 to 1 which ranked us at 15th out of 30. Could be better. With more faceoff wins, better forechecking and fewer penalties, that number could definitely increase. Boston had a Goals For/Goals Against ratio of 1.42 last season. That's almost a 50% increase over the Flyers ratio.
Goal: Increase Goals For/Goals Against Ratio to total between 1.25 and 1.50
4. Penalties: The Flyers were tied with Anaheim for being the most penalized team in the league last season and were the second most shorthanded team. This doesn't make the Flyers tough, it makes them vulnerable. I loved how well the Penalty Kill performed last season, specifically the addition of Mike Richards' offensive zeal, but all that time spent without an extra player on the ice could have been spent making a rush into the opposing zone and generating scoring chances.
Yes we led the league in short handed goals with 16 during the 393 times we were shorthanded. The reason we led the league in short handed goals is because we were shorthanded all the time. That's the way it works. The potential for scoring is going to increase no matter how good your PK is and you're eventually going to score on the PK. The point is, we still have a better chance of scoring 5 on 5 than we do short handed. That's obvious. Last season, Minnesota was shorthanded about 100 times less than the Flyers. Granted, MN's offense was not as good so it didn't benefit them as much, but imagine allowing almost half of the goals the Flyers surrendered on the Penalty Kill with almost 100 fewer times a man down?
Goal: Decrease times shorthanded by at least 50.
These goals may seem a bit out of reach, but it's something to strive for. I guarantee John Stevens is thinking about ways in which the Flyers can improve in these areas and I honestly think we will in some ways. I think the defense would have been better with or without the addition of Pronger, so his presence only solidifies that. I'm excited for the upcoming season and really think Philly will have a great shot at the cup. But I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Thanks for reading. Constructive criticism and thoughts much appreciated.