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Early Season Trends

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Even though we're only 5 games into the season, there is already a large break in action.  The Flyers will only play once between now and next Thursday, which is both good and bad.  Bad we don't have any hockey to watch but good that JVR and Blair Betts can get some recovery time.

With this free time, I decided to look at some of this season's stats.  Now, before anybody yells "sample size!", it's important to realize this is just to point out trends.  But there are in fact some emerging already.  Check after the jump.

First, it appears as if John Stevens wants Mike Richards on the ice to take defensive zone faceoffs.  Richards has been on the ice for 25 of them, as opposed to 7 in the offensive zone and 29 in the neutral zone.  Only Chris Pronger and Matt Carle have started in their own end more frequently.  In contrast, Blair Betts was on the ice for 12 defensive draws in 3 games.  One would imagine Richards' number would be even higher (is even higher?) if Betts wasn't on the team (since he's been hurt). 

Even with Richards on the ice for 5 defensive draws a game, the team still isn't winning those face-offs.  Only two players have been on the ice for more defensive zone wins than losses so far this season and you won't even guess who they are; James van Riemsdyk (3 for 5) and Darroll Powe (7 for 13).  That's because the best face-off man this year has in fact been Darroll Powe (5 for 9).  Betts (50 FOs) and Danny Briere (4 FOs) are an even 50%, while Giroux (43 FOs) is one loss below 50%.

Second, in terms of where players start (offensive zone vs. defensive zone), it is clear John Stevens wants van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere away from their own net, as they begin in the offensive zone 61.5% and 59.3% of the time, respectively.  That helps explain why JVR leads in team shots for per 60 minutes of play with 34.6 and why Briere is 5th at 32.3.  But what about shots against?

Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell love to play wide open hockey as evidenced by them ranking #1 and #2 in SA/60 as well as #2 and #3 in SF/60.  This is probably more indicative of the fact that they have been starting all over the ice, but with Briere, Timonen, and Coburn rounding out the top 5 in SA/60, one has to wonder if the second D pair and the second O line should be split up. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the three players who have started in their own end most frequently - Richards (25), Pronger (29 times), and Carle (26) - are ranked 1st, 2nd, and 4th (respectively) in lowest SA/60. One cannot understate the start those three have had so far.

All stats acquired from Behind the Net.