The narrative since that point has been that the Flyers have failed to take home the Cup because of their poor goaltending, while the Devils have flourished because of their Hall of Fame goalie. The Flyers have employed 11 different starting goaltenders in the playoffs since 1995, while the Devils have used only one. Devils fans are already beginning to panic that they will 'become like the Flyers' once Brodeur leaves or retires. I'm less concerned about this, as I think that having an elite goaltender is not as important as having elite forwards or an elite defense. So, I decided to look at a year-by-year breakdown of the two clubs' playoff results, while ignoring offense - I wanted just to focus on defense and goaltending.
I suspect that fans of both teams would be surprised to learn that the Flyers have actually won more playoff games than the Devils since 1995. Still, it's hard to ignore goaltending as the difference. Here's a breakdown of the Flyers from 1995 on, numbers courtesy of hockey-reference.com - MIN is total minutes played by goalies, SA/60 is shots against per 60 minutes:
|Year||Phi Goalie(s)||Phi W||Phi L||Phi GAA||Phi SV%||Phi SA||Phi MIN||Phi SA/60||PHI GA|
|16 Years||11 Goalies||93||87||2.54||0.907||5111||11279||27.2||477|
Aren't the playoffs strange? The Flyers actually got excellent goaltending in 1999 and 2002 but failed to make it out of the first round. Let's take a look at New Jersey's results:
|Year||NJ W||NJ L||NJ GAA||NJ SV%||NJ SA||NJ MIN||NJ SA/60||NJ GA|
Let's simplify things a little bit by putting the Flyers and Devils total results together:
So the Devils have both had a better defense and a better SV%. I haven't looked at all at offense, but that's not part of the narrative, so I'm choosing to look past it. However, let's just do a fun experiment before we leave these thoughts behind - what if we take out the years the Devils won the Cup? What do the Devils' numbers look like then?
|No Cup Devils||43||53||2.25||0.91||2464||5889||25.1||221|
They look somewhat similar, but I suspect the two teams were simply built differently. The Devils traditionally relied on an elite defense and above-average goalie, the Flyers, an elite forward corps and above-average D. Whatever the case, the Flyers signed a 'big-time' goalie and the Devils may be heading into the great beyond without one. Both teams figure to be good for quite some time, so it will be interesting to see how these numbers change if and when the tables have turned.