Shootouts are once again an issue for the Flyers.
They have dropped three straight games that have reached the glorified breakaway competition, and the lost points could come back to haunt them when teams are jockeying for playoff spots at the end of the season.
Their latest shootout defeat, Saturday’s 3-2 home loss to struggling Calgary, was particularly unsettling because the Flyers had outplayed the Flames through 65 minutes, outshooting them by a 38-27 margin and having a huge advantage in scoring opportunities (29-13), according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
“We generated a lot of shots and had some good chances,” said rookie center Morgan Frost, whose turnover led to Calgary’s first goal. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to put the puck in the back of the net. Some positives, but you definitely want to get those two points.”
The Flyers (11-7-5) will try to rebound Monday against visiting Vancouver (12-8-4), a team that defeated them in — you guessed it — a shootout earlier this season, 3-2.
The Flyers have had a staggering 34.8 percent of their games end in a shootout thus far this season. They have played in eight shootouts — four more than in their entire 2018-19 season — in 23 games. At this rate, they would finish with a ridiculous 29 games decided in the breakaway competition.
Based on the early results, that’s not a good thing.
The Flyers are 3-5 in shootouts.
Flyers shooters are just 7 for 30 (23.3 percent) in shootouts and are not making opposing goalies work hard to make the saves. The NHL average last year was 29.5 percent for those taking shots in the shootout, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
This season, goalies Carter Hart and Brian Elliott have combined for a .655 save percentage in shootouts, which is below last season’s league average of .705 in the skills competition.
Shootouts can play a big role, of course, on whether a team makes or misses the playoffs, especially when you consider the parity in today’s NHL. The Flyers are currently in the second wild-card spot. If they were 5-3 instead of 3-5 in shootouts, they would have entered Sunday tied in points for third place with Carolina in the Metropolitan Division.
“We’ve got to shift our focus to Monday,” defenseman Travis Sanheim said.
They will host a Vancouver team that is coming off Saturday’s 2-1 win in Washington, a game that wasn’t decided until the seventh shootout round. The Canucks have scored their last seven goals on special teams -- six on the power play, one shorthanded.
Vancouver has won two straight after losing seven of its previous eight games.