FanPost

Top Line LW Options: Hartnell or Raffl?

Taking a look at the Flyers two main top line LW this season and where to go from here.

The Flyers have primarily used Scott Hartnell and Michael Raffl as LW on the top line this year with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Which one is the better fit, and could one be better suited elsewhere in the lineup?

Hartnell WYWO

5v5 ZS Adj

When on ice Together

HARTNELL when apart

Teammate when apart

Impacts

Player

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

Teammate on Hartnell

Hartnell on Teammate

Combined

HARTNELL, SCOTT

602:00

53.3

0:00

0.0

0:00

0.0

GIROUX, CLAUDE

332:16

54.4

269:44

51.9

397:13

50.0

2.5

4.4

6.9

VORACEK, JAKUB

297:57

55.7

304:03

51.0

343:53

52.6

4.7

3.1

7.8

SCHENN, BRAYDEN

231:06

51.5

370:54

54.4

424:31

46.1

-2.9

5.4

2.5

SIMMONDS, WAYNE

214:06

53.6

387:54

53.2

420:48

47.0

0.4

6.6

7.0

COUTURIER, SEAN

30:37

58.8

571:23

53.0

638:19

48.4

5.8

10.4

16.2

LECAVALIER, VINCENT

26:02

42.4

575:58

54.0

461:20

43.8

-11.6

-1.4

-13.0

DOWNIE, STEVE

19:07

47.7

582:53

53.6

519:36

49.3

-5.9

-1.6

-7.5

READ, MATT

13:59

61.5

588:01

53.2

572:40

49.2

8.3

12.3

20.6

HALL, ADAM

12:47

35.0

589:13

53.7

308:44

42.4

-18.7

-7.4

-26.1

RINALDO, ZAC

11:37

60.0

590:23

53.3

295:26

40.7

6.7

19.3

26.0

RAFFL, MICHAEL

6:13

23.5

595:47

53.8

433:31

52.6

-30.3

-29.1

-59.4

Hartnell has been great this year. Fitting in on whichever line he is put on and driving possession to the tune of a 53.3% CF. Not surprisingly, most of his ice time has come with his off-and-on top linemates of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, followed closely by the "power forward" line during the middle of the season of Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.

Scott has had a positive impact on all of his linemates, improving their CF% by anywhere from 3 to 5 percent. Similarly, all of these linemates, minus Schenn, have also improved Hartnell's CF% by a few points. Hartnell may fail the eye test, or even the balance test, but theres nothing down about his possession numbers there.

After those 4 main linemates, the sample size really drops off. Hartnell has played only 30 minutes with his next highest teammate, Sean Couturier, and progressively less with the rest. Not surprisingly, Vincent Lecavalier has brought down Hartnell some, as have small sample sizes with 4th liner Adam Hall and Steve Downie who has been floating around the lines. A few numbers that jumped out at me were how well Hartnell played with both Couturier and Matt Read.

Of course you have to be wary of the small sample size, but Hartnell with Couturier and Hartnell with Read both produced a CF% of around 60%. This is 12% higher than when Read is away from Hartnell (all but 13 minutes), and 10% higher than when Couturier is away from Scotty. Despite the small sample size, this is definitely something that the Flyers should look into experimenting with. Couturier and Read seemed to blossom when they had another power forward, Steve Downie, on their line in the earlier part of the season. Maybe Hartnell could bring some of that same playstyle to help out Read and Couturier's already growing offensive production.

Raffl WYWO

5v5 ZS Adj

When on ice Together

RAFFL when apart

Teammate when apart

Impacts

Player

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

Teammate on Raffl

Raffl on Teammate

Combined

RAFFL, MICHAEL

439:44

52.0

0:00

0.0

0:00

0.0

GIROUX, CLAUDE

203:58

55.5

235:46

48.6

525:31

50.7

6.9

4.8

11.7

VORACEK, JAKUB

161:24

57.7

278:20

48.2

480:26

52.7

9.5

5.0

14.5

SIMMONDS, WAYNE

88:54

58.2

350:50

50.6

546:00

47.9

7.6

10.3

17.9

COUTURIER, SEAN

82:58

51.0

356:46

52.3

585:58

48.7

-1.3

2.3

1.0

SCHENN, BRAYDEN

81:38

53.5

358:06

51.8

573:59

47.3

1.7

6.2

7.9

HALL, ADAM

67:51

41.3

371:53

53.9

253:40

42.4

-12.6

-1.1

-13.7

READ, MATT

53:34

47.4

386:10

52.6

533:05

49.7

-5.2

-2.3

-7.5

RINALDO, ZAC

52:56

40.2

386:48

53.6

254:07

41.4

-13.4

-1.2

-14.6

LECAVALIER, VINCENT

37:57

42.4

401:47

52.8

449:25

43.8

-10.4

-1.4

-11.8

DOWNIE, STEVE

22:27

45.8

417:17

52.4

516:16

49.4

-6.6

-3.6

-10.2

HARTNELL, SCOTT

6:13

23.5

433:31

52.6

595:47

53.8

-29.1

-30.3

-59.4

Raffl has been a surprise to most, if not all, this season. Coming into camp and taking not only a roster spot but the jersey number of the beloved Simon Gagne did not sit well with some fans. However, after being given a chance on the top line after strong play down in the lineup, Raffl showed some of the reasons as to why the Flyers' scouts liked him so much.

Since then, he has been moved around the lineup a bit, but has provided the team with consistent play nonetheless. Like Hartnell, Raffl has played most of his minutes with Giroux and Voracek. After that, there is an assortment of linemates that Raffl has had. Both Giroux and Voracek have a better CF% when playing with Raffl than when playing without him, at about 5% each. These numbers are similar for Raffl, when comparing his CF% without Giroux and Jake to his CF% with them.

Unbeknownst to me, Wayne Simmonds and Raffl apparently hit it off during their nearly 90 minutes of icetime. A CF% when together of nearly 60% is 7% higher than Raffl's when he is apart, and 10% higher than Simmonds when he is apart. Going hand in hand with this is Raffl's numbers with Simmonds primary linemate, Brayden Schenn. Raffl and Schenn have both been beneficiaries of each other's success. However, Raffl has not seen too much success down in the bottom of the lineup, with each of the bottom 6 having a negative impact on Raffl. This could obviously be due to a higher level of competition or worse linemates, or quite possibly both.

Giroux with Hartnell vs. Giroux with Raffl

Claude Giroux

Together

Giroux Apart

Teammate Apart

Impacts

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

Hartnell/Raffl on Giroux

Giroux on Hartnell/Raffl

Combined

Scott Hartnell

5v5

393:53

55.4

463:40

50.1

310:47

52.5

5.3

2.9

8.2

5v5 ZS Adj.

332:16

54.4

397:13

50

269:44

51.9

4.4

2.5

6.9

5v5Close ZS Adj.

205:29

53.3

242:23

50.9

154:21

49.7

2.4

3.6

6.0

Michael Raffl

5v5

243:25

56.4

648:33

53.4

579:28

47.8

3.0

8.6

11.6

5v5 ZS Adj.

203:58

55.5

525:31

50.7

235:46

48.6

4.8

6.9

11.7

5v5Close ZS Adj.

126:51

55.9

321:01

50.5

152:08

44.6

5.4

11.3

16.7

Both Hartnell and Raffl have had great success with Giroux this year, and for good reason. Analyzing the 3 available Corsi categories to avoid bias, Giroux has had a much more profound impact on Raffl than on Hartnell.

Voracek with Hartnell v. Voracek with Raffl

Jakub Voracek

Together

Voracek Apart

Teammate Apart

Impacts

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

TOI

CF%

Teammate on Voracek

Voracek on Teammate

Combined

Scott Hartnell

5v5

353:18

57.1

406:16

52.9

351:22

51.2

4.2

5.9

10.1

5v5 ZS Adj.

297:57

55.7

343:53

52.6

304:03

51

3.1

4.7

7.8

5v5Close ZS Adj.

179:44

55.5

216:16

52.4

180:06

48.2

3.1

7.3

10.4

Michael Raffl

5v5

194:48

58.5

564:46

53.5

319:38

48.1

5.0

10.4

15.4

5v5 ZS Adj.

161:24

57.7

480:26

52.7

278:20

48.2

5.0

9.5

14.5

5v5Close ZS Adj.

100:59

55.7

295:01

53.1

178:00

46.5

2.6

9.2

11.8

As one would expect, the numbers are pretty similar for the two when playing with Voracek as well.

Conclusions

With the Flyers stockpile of good-to-great but not quite at the next level (elite if you will) wingers, the correct line combinations and matchups could make or break this team. This may not be as much of a case of Raffl improving the top line as it is Hartnell being able to fit in and drive possession no matter where he plays. I would be interested in seeing a top line consisting of Giroux, Voracek and Raffl, and seeing if the small sample size of Hartnell, Couturier and Read could have any staying power.

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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