Before I embark on this, let me just point out that this isn't meant to be a knock against Jeff Carter. It's a lesson and, moreover, a warning that we can't just look at a box score and expect to understand what happened in a hockey game. It just so happens that Carter will be our guinea pig.
If you're not aware, Carter had a solid game on the score sheet last night. He scored a goal and put up two assists. As a result, he was named one of Puck Daddy's three stars of the night and at one point he was referenced with a big photo on NHL.com's front page. His night was the lede in the Sports Network recap of the game, and according to the Associated Press headline, his three points "lifted" the Flyers over the Sabres.
Oh, if only that were true.
That's not to say we don't all do this. We all look at box scores without watching, or at least without comprehending what happened in the actual game and say "oh, this guy had a goal and an assist, he must've had a good game."
It appears that a lot of people did just that last night with Carter, including prominent hockey writers. Take the jump with us and we'll prove that watching the game is much more important than just perusing the box score.
Carter had three points! Great night, right?
Ehhhh. Let's look at all three points. The first came on Danny Briere's first period goal.
As you can see, with the Flyers on the power play, Carter simply throws the puck into the corner where Briere can pick it up. He didn't make a pretty pass or a nice set up. He dumped it into an area where there was a high percentage chance his teammate would pick up the loose puck. Briere picked it up basically behind the net, stepped in front, took a shot, batted his own rebound out of mid-air and tied the game.
Jeff Carter didn't really do much of anything -- any of us would've done the exact same thing on that play. But he gets a point on the score sheet.
Let's jump to the next one. It came on Darroll Powe's second period goal.
Again, it's really just Carter hopping on a semi-loose puck along the boards near the defensive blue line. He beats a Sabre to it, lunges at it, pokes it enough to get it by that Sabre and out to center ice, where Claude Giroux is fast enough to poke it by a weakly-positioned Steve Montador. If Giroux is a step slower, it's a turnover for Carter instead of an assist.
But Giroux is fast. So is Darroll Powe. They turn the play into a quasi-two-on-one and Giroux's gorgeous pass is really the play that makes the whole thing happen. A solid defensive play in the defensive end is what Carter should be credited with here.
Instead, he gets a point.
And now his third point -- a goal in the third period.
Pretty simple look here. Mike Richards makes a beautiful slap pass to Carter, who redirects it into the top corner. It was pretty. It's a tough deflection. The play that makes it, though, is Richards' perfect pass. Carter deserves plenty of credit for doing a lot of good things on the play, and of course, he put the puck in the net. We're not saying he didn't deserve a goal.
Again, we're not trying to knock Jeff Carter here. He had an average game last night. Not terrible by any means, but not great either. If you're just looking at the box score this morning without watching the game, however, you probably think that Carter was the story of the night.