Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
As the Dave Hakstol era in Philadelphia goes on, we will start to learn more and more about his tendencies and about which players he leans on in certain situations. Thanks to some of the great data that is available to us these days, we can now break ice time down by score situation to analyze which players Hakstol is going to more with either a lead or a deficit. While the samples we are using here are still pretty small, especially for score situations where the Flyers are leading (sigh…), they will still give us a small glimpse into how Hakstol’s mentality changes when the Flyers are looking to protect a lead or climb back into a game.
[A couple notes: Thanks to @IneffectiveMath for the idea behind these charts. All data from the charts was retrieved from Puckalytics.com.]
The following charts break down ice time by % Team TOI. So, for example, Claude Giroux has played 30.8% of the total number of minutes that the Flyers have been tied for.
- Michael Raffl needs more even strength time with the game tied and with the Flyers ahead by one. I’d prefer to see him up there ahead of both Simmonds and Vandevelde as time goes on. Raffl is one of the strongest forwards on the team, especially in terms of defensive play. So far, Hakstol has actually used him more with the Flyers behind.
- Craig Berube simply did not use Jakub Voracek enough with the Flyers ahead. Early on, Dave Hakstol does not have that problem. Voracek has played a good deal more than anyone else with Philadelphia nursing any lead.
- Aside from Voracek, Sean Couturier and Matt Read have the 2nd and 4th highest TOI% with the Flyers ahead by one. That’s a good job by Hakstol to utilize two of his strongest defensive forwards in the situations where he needs them the most.
- Hakstol definitely trusts his fourth liners to protect a lead. Both Chris Vandevelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare have generally seen higher ice time with the Flyers either tied or leading. In fact, Bellemare has played more than anybody with the Flyers up 2.
- Early on, Dave Hakstol really does trust Michael Del Zotto in a top pairing role. Del Zotto has seen generous helpings of ice time in basically every situation. In the past, Del Zotto hasn’t been a guy you’d really want to lean on heavily when protecting a lead, so we’ll see if this is a tendency that Hakstol sticks with. MDZ has played well enough to earn the ice time so far.
- Nick Schultz, supposedly a strong defensive defenseman, plays less than almost anybody with the Flyers ahead. While it’s frustrating that he remains in the lineup, maybe it’s a good thing that Hakstol hasn’t gone to him more in those situations?
- Something I’d like to see as time goes on is Evgeny Medvedev getting more ice time with the Flyers ahead. Del Zotto, Gudas and Streit are all capable offensive players who have struggled defensively in the past. They’ve all played more than Medvedev while leading so far. With the Flyers holding a lead late in the game, I’m not sure there’s any defenseman on this roster I’d want out there more than Medvedev. His disruptive ability in the neutral zone is something nobody else has been able to replicate.
- Shayne Gostisbehere only has a handful of games under his belt, but it’s already clear that Hakstol wants him out there more with the Flyers behind. This definitely makes sense given Ghost’s offensive ability. As time goes on, I’d like to see him out there more in general, but he’s been used just about perfectly so far.
It’s important to note that this early in the season, there are many things that could throw these numbers off, especially in the ‘Up 2+’ and ‘Down 2+’ categories. Changes in linemates and defensive pairings could have just as much to do with these numbers as anything else. As the season goes on and the sample gets bigger, these numbers will only tell us more about Dave Hakstol’s tendencies when it comes to player usage and score situations.