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Flyers vs. Devils: How Briere, van Riemsdyk were put in position to succeed

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Oh look, it's another offensive zone faceoff for Briere.
Oh look, it's another offensive zone faceoff for Briere.

Here's a quick look at how the lines matched up in game 1 courtesy of timeonice.com:

5v5 minutes Parise Kovalchuk Henrique Gionta
Giroux 4.5 5.9 3.1 3
Briere 1.4 4.8 5.5 2.4
Couturier 8.4 2.7 1.3 1
Schenn 1.2 2.8 2.8 1.3

And here are the head-to-head results (numbers below are the fraction of the shots the Flyers got with both players on the ice, adjusted for how often the head-to-head matchup started in the offensive zone):

Flyers' Adjusted Corsi Parise Kovalchuk Henrique Gionta
Giroux 40% 32% 55% 6%
Briere 86% 70% 46% 53%
Couturier 44% 72% 100% N/A
Schenn 0% 20% 30% 0%

Analysis after the jump.

The sample sizes here are so tiny that they are irrelevant for making predictions about the future, but they can still provide insight into what happened in the past.

The Flyers have clearly identified Parise's line as the one that needs the most defensive attention, and are using Couturier and Giroux against that line as a result. Not surprisingly, the remainder of Giroux's line is being used against Kovalchuk, and Briere is then being used against Henrique.

The thing that jumped out at me most when I prepared this table is that Briere's line wasn't as remarkable as I thought it would be. After all, Briere was a mind-boggling +22 Corsi for the game -- the Flyers got 29 shot attempts with him on the ice and gave up only 7.

But the table is adjusted for zone starts, and Briere (and van Riemsdyk, for that matter) took 11 offensive zone faceoffs and 0 defensive zone faceoffs.

Did they really elevate their game in the playoffs, or were they just put in position to be noticed at the offensive end time and again?