First Impressions

I don't know what this post started as, but it turned into a praise of the good start of Marc-Andre Bourdon and a comparison between (or persuasive essay on) advanced and traditional stats. Bourdon has put up some impressive numbers (much more on that later) but at only nine games in, the sample is really too small to conclude anything as far as who is a "better" player at this point. However, you do get a feel for a player and there are some numbers that do accumulate quickly to paint a decent picture of how well they are or aren't playing.

Player GM G A P +/-
Bourdon 9 0 0 0 minus-1
Marshall 7 0 0 0 plus-1
Lilja 20 0 3 3 plus-4
Gustafsson 5 0 1 1 plus-6

Not much going on in the "traditional" stat columns for the current players fighting to be the Flyers #6 when everyone's healthy (Walker excluded due to him not being any good at hockey and the idea of him being in our top-6 come playoff time is vomit-inducing). Bourdon has been very below-average having no offensive production at all in the second most games. Marshall has been poor as well, but at least he's a 'plus-1.' Gus' plus-6 is outrageous and gives people somethign to talk about but his one assist tells me that it's probably just a freak occurrence. Lilja has been solid, produced some offence (his assist on the Matt Read catch-and-put-down-and-score counts as 'some'), and is 'plus-4.'

Now lets take a look at stats from the "dark" side:

For those unfamiliar with the stats, I'll give a quick run through. TOI/60 is even strength time on ice per game. CRelQoC is the quality of competition being faced (1 is top pair, 3 is bottom pair), and CRelQoT is the quality of teammates being played with. OZS% is the percentage of non-neutral zone faceoffs taken in the offensive zone. CRel is Corsi-Rel, essentially plus-minus with shots instead of goals. There are more shots than goals, therefore a greater sample size and in theory, a more accurate reflection of how well the player drives the play forward.

Player TOI/60 CRelQoC CRelQoT OZS%-->CorsiRel
Bourdon 12.62 1 1 45% 1.6
Marshall 9.11 3 1 65% -20.5
Lilja 11.87 3.5 2 44% -6.5
Gustafsson 15.6 2.5 2 53% -2.1

The worst player, by far, is Kevin Marshall. He's starting in the offensive zone more than 10% more than any other player in the table and has the worst Corsi Rel on the team (and he playes the least amount of time, plays against the oppositions weakest players, and plays with our best players). However, he's only played seven games, he's twenty-two, and has been my favorite prospect for over two years now (lol). Lilja hasn't been special either. His CRel of -6.5 is bad, but not horrible. However he's being aided at what I had to give a 3.5 in the CRelQoC. The Flyers have played so many defenders that Lilja's CRQoC is -1.7, and is the only negative player on the team, something only explained by way too many injuries. Gus has been marginal---granted he's been sheltered with between 2nd and 3rd pair competition (Go to and try to figure out our CRelQoC, it's tough, trust me) and a 53% OZS% and is still being driven backwards to the tune of a -2.1 CorsiRel.

That leaves the worst "traditional" stat player from above: Marc-Andre Bourdon. Other than Erik Gustafsson (aided by one blowout win where he played more than all other defenders), Bourdon is playing the most per game (slightly behind Chris Pronger's 12.92 to give it some relevance---however that number doesn't include special teams TOI, which Pronger leads the team in). In that time, he's being aided by top line teammates, but facing top line competition at a 45% OZS% and driving it backwards. Those are some impressive numbers for a kid who's only played nine games in the NHL.

And to put a cherry on top, Bourdon's PDO (a combo of on-ice shooting% plus on-ice save%, average is 1000) is dead last on the Flyers at 958, which explains why his +/- is bad. Once his PDO starts regressing to the league average if he keeps driving the play, his +/- has no choice but to go up. Other fun facts: Gus's on-ice shooting % is 20! Marshall's is 16 while Bourdon's is a measly 4. Lilja's .947 on-ice save % is tops on the squad.

I know he's only played nine games, and this is a big "if" but if Bourdon keeps playing like he is, and he continues his physical game (he has dropped the gloves) the Flyers may have found their 6th defender---and from what it sounds like they have at least put the eminent trade for a defender on halt. Andrej Meszaros is all the offense a 3rd pair needs and the Flyers have 4 (Pronger, Timonen, Carle, Mes) capable PP-defenders in addition to JVR and Matt Read who have also manned the point on the PP--- which leave unique skill set irrelevant for the big club. He should refine those skils getting time as an elite defender in the AHL. As for Bourdon, he just turned 21, makes 845k this year which is the last year of his ELC and he won't make too much more than a million next year, and that's a stretch considering he's only played 9 games in the NHL. It's an interesting story line going forward to say the least.

So how do you feel about first impressions? Do you look at traditional stats? Do you look at advanced stats? Do you look at a mix of each?

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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