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August 28, 2018

The Flyers are FiveThirtyEight's definition of an average sports team

Philadelphia's fourth franchise hasn't made much of a dent in the NHL over the last five years

Flyers Statistics
042418_Flyers-Coots_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier.

With a Super Bowl title in tow, a young core of potential basketball superstars, and an imminent MLB playoff push all currently coursing through the veins of Philadelphia sports fans, it’s hard to make an argument for the Flyers being anything other than the fourth-most-adored franchise in the city right now.

Hockey is already a tough sell in the United States, and the Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012. They’re not bad — and, soon, they might be very good! — but they just kind of… don’t seem to matter all that much in the city’s grand sporting landscape.

And now, if all that anecdotal evidence wasn’t enough, stats-first website FiveThirtyEight has assembled a rankings system to find the most average pro sports teams in the country. What does the site have to say about the Flyers?

Well…

“For fans seeking long-term mediocrity, the Philadelphia Flyers might be a good option, having finished with between 39 and 42 wins in four of their last five seasons. […] According to our algorithm, no team in major pro sports has been more consistently mediocre over the past five seasons than the Flyers.”

Ouch.

The analysis looked at points percentage, goal differential, goals per game vs. the average, and shots per game and shooting percentage vs. the average, all weighted at different values.

In fairness, consistent mediocrity and regular pushes for playoffs spots would seem to be more enjoyable than whatever it is the Carolina Hurricanes have been doing for the past nine years.

On the other hand, Philadelphia’s basketball fans were so against the idea of perpetual mediocrity that a good portion of the Sixers’ fanbase cheered on the front office’s race to the bottom of the league.

The good thing about the Flyers’ current situation is that it seems their future is bright. 

Between wunderkind Carter Hart’s impending takeover of the goalie position, last year’s flashes of brilliance from also-youngster Nolan Patrick, and obvious young stars like Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov, the Flyers will probably be quite above-average for the next five years, and then some.

But for now, the Flyers are the definition of average, and that’s kind of funny.


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