We continue our annual, player-by-player look at the 2010-11 Philadelphia Flyers. In no particular order, we'll analyze one player per day (or so) over the next few weeks. Up next, fourth-line favorite Blair Betts.
#11 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
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Expectations: What do we expect out of Blair Betts? Just solid, defensive fourth line hockey. He's not a flashy guy, he's not going to light up the score sheet, he's not going to get talked about on WIP. And really, that's all good. We don't need him to be flashy, we don't need him to light up the score sheet -- and God forbid the day somebody mention his name on WIP. That would mean they actually, you know, maybe watch the game.
The one question mark with Betts is his health, and really, that's not something we can really judge him on. Still, with a guy that you know exactly what you're getting out of him like Betts, I think a lot of us probably based our expectations on his health after some nasty shoulder issues last year.
The good news is that Betts had a damn good year health-wise. He played in 75 of the team's 82 games, missing four games with a finger injury and three at the end of the season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. But he played every game in postseason, so his health is likely fine.
His faceoff numbers weren't fantastic or anything, but they were still above 50 percent, below only Jeff Carter on the team in terms of win percentage among players who took more than 136 of them. (In other words, Ville Leino's superior faceoff percentage doesn't matter when analyzing Betts.)
His goals against per 60 minutes did rise as opposed to last year, from 1.74 to 2.38, but he also played with worse teammates, as the Relative Corsi of his teammates dropped from a team-worst -3.955 to an even-worse -4.643. In other words, Jody Shelley isn't as good as Ian Laperriere.
He wasn't on the ice for as many goals this season, and thus his goals for per 60 fell quite a bit and he failed to outscore his opponents as he did last season, but again, when you're playing with hands-of-stone Darroll Powe and Jody Shelley, it's hard to put the puck in the net.
Not that Lappy is a great goal scorer, but how many times do we recall Betts and Powe on a rush this season, developing a scoring chance and then failing to finish? We can't fault them too much for that. With a Corsi percentage of 40.5 percent, Betts still directed the puck up the ice relatively frequently for a guy that started shifts in his own end all the freakin' time.
All in all, Betts started just 26.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. That's the second lowest number in the league behind Manny Malhotra of the Canucks, known as one of the league's best defensive forwards.
Overall at five-on-five in the regular season, Betts took 226 faceoffs in the defensive zone, 226 in the neutral zone and 81 in the offensive end of the ice, meaning that Peter Laviolette trusts him more than any other forward when it comes to starting shifts and taking draws in his own end.
Simply put, Blair Betts serves a role on the Flyers and he does it damn well.
Grading criteria: We assign grades on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best. We base our grades on expectations, execution on those expectations and a player's overall potential. A 10 means that the player had a fantastic, expectation-surpassing season. A 1 means that he was horrible and needs to go. Like, yesterday.
The grade: We're giving Betts an 8. He definitely suffered when the Flyers replaced Ian Laperriere on his wing with Jody Shelley, but Betts was still a perfectly serviceable fourth-line center. His defensive numbers were a little less impressive than a year ago, but we won't fault him too much for it.
What about you?