(Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography)
As we sift through the ashes of a disappointing hockey season in Philadelphia, we will continue to look at the Flyers using a variety of different lenses. Today, I wanted to take a look at the Flyers through a new lens that has recently become available to us: high danger shot attempts. Through the season, scoring chance data from War-On-Ice and from BroadStreetHockey helped to show us who excelled at both creating and preventing high quality scoring opportunities. High danger shot attempts is a similar, yet different idea that is certainly worth looking at.
Let’s first introduce the concept of a high danger scoring opportunity. Unlike scoring chances, high danger opportunities depend solely upon the location of the shot attempt. Attempts from the areas that were found to have the highest success rate (success on >10% of attempts) are considered ‘high danger’ opportunities. This idea is pictured below, with the blue areas indicating the high danger zone. No attempts taken from the medium (red) or low (yellow) danger zones are counted.
Graphic via war-on-ice.com
Using this data, I wanted to take a look at how the Flyers fared when it came to high danger scoring opportunities. Let’s take a look at some numbers, as there are certainly some important takeaways here.
THE FLYERS AND HIGH DANGER SHOT ATTEMPTS
Chart via War-On-Ice.com
The vertical axis here shows high danger shot attempts against, while the horizontal axis shows attempts for. Let’s just get straight to some bullet points, as there are several things that stand out here. Here’s what caught my attention.
–The first thing that jumped out at me here was clearly Michael Del Zotto. He hugely struggled to suppress high danger shot attempts (HDSAs) against. It’s tough to put into words how alarming these numbers are, so I put together some Fun Facts™ here!
- Del Zotto’s percentage of HDSAs for was lower than even Nicklas Grossmann’s.
- His total HDSA differential of -60 was twice (!) as bad as Grossmann’s -30. Think about how bad Grossmann is, and then think about someone being twice as bad as him at anything.
- The only player on the Flyers with a lower HDSA% than Del Zotto was Zac Rinaldo. Yikes.
- In terms of HDSA suppression, Del Zotto is in the bottom 10 league wide amongst defensemen with 1000+ minutes played.
This could go a long way towards explaining how he fell out of favor with Craig Berube at times. Perhaps we were a bit too harsh on Berube for that one? Del Zotto is decent in terms of his puck moving ability, but he still really, really struggles defensively at times. When it comes to high danger shot attempts, the good does not seem to outweigh the bad. The Flyers need to be extremely careful with both the length and value of his seemingly inevitable contract extension.
–The next thing that immediately caught my attention was the success of Carlo Colaiacovo, who has almost no chance of returning to the Flyers next season. While the Flyers continue to prioritize a Del Zotto extension, Colaiacovo allowed over 5 (!!) less high danger attempts per 60 minutes than Del Zotto did, and led ALL Flyers in HDSA%. He is going to be an absolute steal this offseason for whichever smart team is willing to give him regular time as a 5/6 defenseman. That kinda stings, especially given that the Flyers are probably going to retain two other inferior 2015 UFA D signings.
–The only other defenseman with a lower HDSA +/- than Grossmann was Nick Schultz. Luckily we have him locked up for two more years.
–The Flyers are really going to miss Braydon Coburn and his shot suppression ability. Nothing new there, but he was extremely successful at preventing HDSAs against.
–This is another reason to feel pretty good about Sean Couturier’s season. Despite his defensive usage and low quality linemates, Couturier managed 48.9% of HDSAs while on the ice, good for 4th amongst all Flyers forwards. He was markedly better than both RJ Umberger and Matt Read, despite spending most of his even strength time with them. When it comes to suppressing HDSAs against, Couturier was more successful than both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Definitely something to be encouraged about.
–Shockingly, Zac Rinaldo is terrible.
–The worst single game HDSA differential belonged to Brayden Schenn, who posted a -13 differential in a January 15th loss to the Canucks
–The best single game HDSA differential was shared by Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl, who all posted a +13 as linemates against the Nashville Predators in February. No real conclusions can be drawn from one game, but I really liked the way the team looked with Voracek and Giroux playing on separate lines.
While the availability of this data is still fairly new, it is absolutely worth looking at. High danger shot attempts seem to be able to explain some trends and decisions that go well beyond standard puck possession metrics.
Coming up shortly, we will take a look at how the Flyers fared on both the penalty kill and the power play. For now, let us know what you take away from these numbers. What jumped out at you? Does seeing this data change your feelings about how much Michael Del Zotto should be offered this summer? Could Zac Rinaldo find a way to be even more useless? Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter!