Last week we took a look at the Flyers’ zone exit numbers through the first half of the season. This week we’ll take a look at their zone entry numbers.
First we’ll see how well the defense did defending the blue line.
The above table is sorted by opponents’ failed entry percentage. Coburn, Streit, and Del Zotto continue to be the best defensemen at defending the blue line. Overall, there weren’t any major changes in the defenses’ numbers from the first quarter of the season on an individual level. Other than the increased sample size of the data, most of the changes were fairly minimal. MacDonald did manage to break up a few more entries as the season went on. There was roughly a 4% increase in his break up percentage. He still has horrible gap control, but at least there’s some progress. Hooray for small victories.
I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how the defense was performing based on the different pairings instead of just individual contributions.
I decided to lump the healthy scratch crew together as the third pair. Unfortunately their numbers are going to be a bit skewed when compared to the other pairings because of that extra player. Getting true numbers would require me to go through every spreadsheet and line of data individually so you’ll just have to deal with it, people.
The case coudl be made that the Streit-Grossmann pairing should be the Flyers top pair. Quite frankly, I don’t think it matters in the grand scheme of things. The Streit-Grossmann pairing has really been hammered by the opposition so far this season. It’s worth noting, that up until Grossmann’s injury they had spent almost the entire season together. I tend to think that another reason why they faced so much pressure is because of the lack of speed. Streit has been very good at breaking up entries this year, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that his lack of foot speed does leave him a bit vulnerable at times. It generally doesn’t look as bad when you’re skating alongside Grossmann, but he has gotten burned quite a few times when opponents attack the zone with speed. That is probably another factor as to why they’ve faced the highest carry-in percentage by opponents than any other pair. Oppposing teams are going to continue to attack whichever side of the ice has the slower defensemen, or Andrew MacDonald.
The above chart is sorted by controlled entry percentage. I didn’t bother putting graphs or pairing charts together for the defenses’ offensive contributions. There’s just not a lot of offensive help coming from the defense and what little contributions they’re getting are from the usual suspects. Coburn would be the only exception there, but again, that speaks to the Flyers lack of puck moving defensemen rather than an indictment against Coburn. Part of their problem stems from personnel, some coaching and lineup decisions. It’s just a tough situation right now.
I decided not to include the defensive aspect of zone entries for the forward corps this time around. They’re such rare occurrences and most of the forwards have been targeted less than 10 times. Personally, I don’t feel like it’s worth including in here. As I did with the defense, I will post the overall data and then break it down by most common line combinations.
We’re just going to take a quick look at how a few of the players have progressed since the first part of the season. Michael Raffl had a fairly large drop-off in his controlled entry percentage. I tend to think a lot of that has to do with spending so much time playing on a line with Giroux and Voracek. Both of Raffl’s linemates currently have a carry-in percentage above 50% and his entry attempt total hasn’t even come close to catching Giroux or Voracek’s. There’s really no need for him to worry about carrying the puck since his linemates are handling the workload. Scott Laughton’s numbers are mainly a product of increased sample size, with a touch of awesomeness. He’s been great at maintaining possession and entering the zone with speed. He’s a smart player with the puck and I look forward to him finishing out the season here.
Now let’s take a look at how the lines have been performing.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Giroux and Voracek spend a little time away from each other. Each player is more than capable of carrying a line on their own and driving possession. Why not divide up some of that talent to have a little more balance throughout your lines? Four of the top six forwards currently have a controlled entry percentage above 50%. It could be five of the six if you take into consideration Raffl’s performance last year. Raffl ended the 2013-14 season with a controlled entry percentage around 53%. He can handle the puck, has the speed, and the skill that would help replace the loss of Voracek if he were to be removed from the top line. Is he going to replicate Voracek’s 67% controlled entry percentage? No, but his numbers would be right up there with Giroux. A lot of the line shifting would really depend on Berube’s willingness to scratch Umberger and play Akeson or even Cousins (ha, talk about unrealistic expectations here). I know none of that is likely to happen, but a girl can dream. At the very least, I’d like to see that third line get some help entering the zone with speed and creating offense. The more I watch these games, the worse I feel for Couturier.
Couturier’s carry-in percentage is still above 50%, which is great. His numbers took a slight dip from the beginning of the season but it wasn’t anything drastic. In fact, every player on that line saw their controlled entry percentage drop as the season progressed. If this line is going to continue to have any success he is really going to need some help. Matt Read’s numbers have been down in every aspect of the game this year. Whether we look at his zone exits, entries, and transition game it’s hard to find a lot of positives for him this year. It might be safe to assume that he hasn’t fully recovered from the foot injury he suffered in November; it would certainly explain a lot of his problems anyway. Umberger is………well, Umberger. RJ has been awful and an all around drag, which most of us expected. Couturier is carrying that line on all fronts. From exits to entries, he’s had to be better at it all in order for that line to have any type of success.
I’m not concerned about the fourth line’s numbers as a whole. They aren’t expected to contribute offensively and it’s more than likely Berube just wants them to play a simple dump and chase type game. They are capable of playing a more controlled game if they, or the coaching staff, wanted them to.
Next week we’ll take a look how the Flyers’ have done in transition.