Flyers Relying Too Much on ‘Loser’ Point
Tuesday night was the sixth straight game where the Flyers picked up a point in the standings. To claim a six-game points streak in late March is normally a strong indication that a team is trending in the right direction as the regular season winds down.
The Flyers, however, have made this points streak feel a lot different. In the last six games, the Flyers are 3-0-3. Two of the three wins were brutal tests of overcoming frustration. The three overtime losses have been equally as frustrating.
While the Flyers continue to make progress, both in the second half of March and overall this season, they have been to overtime or a shootout a whopping 24 times this season. Getting to overtime can be an accomplishment, a way of indicating that a team is still locked in a close game at many points in a season.
Lately, it’s also been a way for the Flyers to mask their deficiencies and mask an otherwise dismal stretch of games heading into the playoffs.
The point gained for an overtime or shootout loss is often referred to as the “loser” point. It is the subject of hockey debates at times, a wonder that a team should be “rewarded” for a loss.
The Flyers have often used this as a crutch at times. During their 10-game losing streak in November, five games went beyond regulation. That served as a way to mask a near month-long losing streak as a sign that the games were close and that points were still being earned in a playoff race.
During the Flyers dominance through January and February, the Flyers won six games beyond regulation in a span just over four weeks. When you go into extra time, whether it be 3-on-3 or the glorified skills competition, getting the extra point is all that matters.
A win will mask everything from the previous 60 minutes. A loss will only magnify the errors and mistakes.
The Flyers current run in March is not near as bad as November was. In November, the Flyers were just 2-5-6. In March, the Flyers have recovered in the last couple of weeks to be 4-6-4 with one game remaining on Wednesday night. But the story still remains the same. The Flyers constantly cherish the point and use it to aid their playoff push.
Every point is critical for any team in a playoff race, and the Flyers have needed all 90 points they have in the standings. That said, no team in the Eastern Conference has as many overtime or shootout losses as the Flyers. Tuesday’s loss was the 14th time the Flyers have suffered a defeat beyond regulation and taken home the “loser” point. No team in the NHL has more overtime/shootout losses.
In fact, many teams don’t even come close to the 14 losses beyond regulation the Flyers have. In the East, only the Boston Bruins have more than 10 overtime/shootout losses and are holding a playoff spot. The six other teams in the East with 10 or more are all out of the playoff picture. Five of the six teams have mathematically been eliminated from playoff contention.
If teams were ranked by points percentage, the Flyers would obviously look a lot better. The Flyers have picked up points in 52 of 77 games. Their 25 regulation losses are lower than three other playoff teams.
That said, the Flyers record of 38-25-14 has them in the first wildcard and really shows exactly what the team is. A team that has earned points in 67.5 percent of their games should be much higher ranked in the standings.
Out of the eight playoff teams in the East, the Flyers have the fewest wins. They even sit one win behind Florida, the first team out of the playoffs.
It is the Flyers continued reliance on the “loser” point and getting one point out of a game. Every point is certainly earned. But every overtime/shootout loss is a point lost. The Flyers are starting to see that now, as points become even more critical in the last week and a half of the season.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.