Flyers vs. Devils: A sad scoring chance summary

"Welly just told me he'd finish this series with more chances than either of us."

Nobody needs to be told this, but the Flyers didn't generate many chances and the Devils got plenty in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

While the Flyers spent long stretches of play not getting a shot, let alone a chance, the Devils appeared to threaten nearly every time they had the puck in the Flyers defensive zone and often created chances through an aggressive forecheck. Both games that the Flyers came within five chances of the Devils went to overtime, the rest were deservedly won by the Devils as they completely dominated.

Exploiting the matchups was key to the Flyers winning the first round. Sean Couturier managed to keep Evgeni Malkin ineffective for most of the series at even strength, which allowed Claude Giroux to play against Sidney Crosby and Danny Briere to not have to play defense much at all.

The Devils were supposed to present an easier task. After playing Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique together all season, Devils head coach Peter DeBoer put Parise with Patrick Elias, Kovalchuk with Travis Zajac, who had just returned from injury, and Henrique was put on a third line with a variety of players. Every line had at least two strong possession players and created matchup problems for Peter Laviolette.

Looking at the head-to-head chances, if one of the Flyers lines was good against a Devils line, it was also bad against another one. Zajac and Kovalchuk scored a lot of points in the series but the Elias line and the Henrique line deserve a lot of credit for pinning the Flyers in their own end and creating chances.

Scoring chance definition

A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area -- loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots (see below), though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net.

Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score.

Scoring chance area

5574591295_290295c6d8_medium_medium_medium

Total chances

Period CF CA ESCF ESCA PPF SHA SHF PPA
1 16 32 10 22 3 1 3 9
2 13 29 11 22 1 1 1 6
3 21 22 15 19 6 1 0 2
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 50 83 36 63 10 3 4 17

CF, chances for; CA, chances against; ESCF, even strength chances for; ESCA, even strength chances against; PPF, powerplay for; SHA, shorthanded against; SHF, shorthanded for; PPA, powerplay against.

A pretty clear illustration of the dominance New Jersey had. The Devils beat the Flyers by seven chances on average every game. The Flyers didn't get anything going in the first two periods, where the Devils got double the chances, and the third period total was propped up by Game 1 where they had nine chances in the final frame. The powerplay was bad, getting only 10 chances in 19 opportunities while the penalty kill allowed 17 chances in 18 opportunities.

Game 1: Flyers win 4-3 in OT (OT chances not recorded)

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 1 8 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0
2 5 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
3 9 2 4 1 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 15 11 10 5 5 2 0 0 0 4 0 0

A poor start was covered up by a great finish. The third period was dominant, allowing the Flyers to come back into the game and gave them a chance to win in OT.

Head to head

Ecsf1_medium

The Danny Briere line drove most of the offensive chances for the Flyers and the Patrik Elias line did the same for the Devils.

Game 2: Devils win 4-1

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 6 8 4 5 0 0 0 0 2 3 0 0
2 0 8 0 6 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
3 3 8 2 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 9 24 6 19 1 1 0 0 2 4 0 0

Off the top of my head, there wasn't a period in the regular season that the Flyers were held without a chance. The Devils going 16-3 over the last two periods is an absolute beatdown.

Head to head

Ecsf2_medium

So this is what it looks like when your team gets beaten 19-6 at even strength. This time, the other Devils lines joined Elias and Co. to run over the Flyers. Lavy appeared to be looking to match Sean Couturier with Elias, and it didn't work. A lone bright spot is Briere's line winning against Travis Zajac's, but that doesn't help when they get beaten by the likes of Adam Henrique, Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta, and Ryan Carter.

Game 3: Devils win 4-3 in OT (OT chances included here but not in total chart above).

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 2 6 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
2 4 2 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 5 5 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 3 4 2 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 14 17 11 14 3 1 0 0 0 2 0 0

This game was a huge improvement over Game 2, but still the Flyers fell short. The two overtime powerplays only led to a single chance.

Head to head

Ecsf3_medium

Lavy juggled the lines in order to generate some offense with some success. This was the only game of the series that Elias' line played poorly, but that was compensated by Henrique's playing well.

Game 4: Devils win 4-2

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 3 7 0 7 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
2 2 10 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
3 2 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 7 21 4 17 2 0 0 0 1 4 0 0

Another appalling effort. Outchanced 3:1 in total and 4:1 at even strength is so, so bad. During the regular season the Flyers were on the giving and receiving end of some lopsided chance totals, but none like this.

Head to head

Ecsf4_medium

Another sea of red.

Game 5: Meh.

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 4 2 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 2 8 1 6 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0
3 2 4 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 8 14 7 11 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0

Meh.

Head to head

Ecsf5_medium

Meh.

Goalies

As with last series, I looked at the chance save percentage of each goalie.

Brygalov: 13 chance goals on 83 chances = 0.843 chance save percentage

Brodeur: 9 chance goals on 50 chances = 0.820 chance save percentage

Individual scoring chances (ES and PP)

# chances
Briere 8
Talbot 5
Giroux 5
Simmonds 5
Voracek 5
Wellwood 5
JVR 5
Hartnell 4
Schenn 2
Gustafsson 2
Carle 1
Meszaros 1
Jagr 1
Read 1
Couturier

0

Eric Wellwood had more chances than Hartnell, Schenn, Jagr, Read and Couturier. Good for him!

All said and done, this was a brilliant effort by the Devils. The Flyers attack was blunted nearly every game and they created many chances at 5-on-5. Matchups seemed to have little to do with it, as the top three New Jersey lines routinely got chances against all four of the Flyers lines.

Bryzgalov had a decent series, 0.843 is around an average chance save percentage. The individual chance chart might be most telling. Wellwood had as many or more scoring chances than all forwards not named Briere, and Gustafsson had half the chances for all defensemen.

Credit to the Devils. The Flyers didn't even play this badly last year when they were swept by the Bruins.

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