Early in the year, we used a plot to show that the Flyers weren't putting anyone into the true heavy lifter role. They had some players starting in their own zone a lot and some players facing weak competition, but nobody was being asked to do both and nobody was getting away with doing neither.
As the season has worn on, the picture has changed. Players have gotten hurt or changed lines, but patterns of usage have emerged -- some players are consistently being asked to take on tough situations and others are being given relatively easy minutes.
The above plot shows what kind of role each forward has; players farther to the right are starting in their own end more often and players closer to the top are facing tougher opponents. The size of the player's bubble shows what kind of results the player has achieved. A large blue bubble means the team has controlled possession when the player was on the ice to a large extent, a small blue bubble means they controlled possession to a limited extent, and a large red bubble means they lost the possession battle badly.
After the jump, we have a few observations.
- Claude Giroux is taking on arguably the toughest minutes on the team. In the off-season, many of us fretted about this, because we feared that such a role would make it hard for his offensive genius to shine through. It's safe to say that he has risen to that challenge.
- Wayne Simmonds is seeing some of the easiest minutes on the team. This is shockingly different from his usage on the Kings, where he faced the toughest competition of any forward and saw the third most shifts start in his own end.
- The bubbles are all blue for players facing stronger competition and mostly red for players facing weaker competition. This suggests that the Flyers are beating opponents' top lines but losing to their depth players. I find this particularly surprising, since the Flyers have such a deep forward group. My best guess is that this is a reflection on the weakness of the Flyers' third pairing: the players who often face the opponent's weaker lines often have Andrej Meszaros, Andreas Lilja, Erik Gustafsson, or Kevin Marshall behind them, all of whom had mediocre-to-poor results against weak competition.