Michael Raffl and the top line (part 2)

I posted a fan post about a week ago looking at the top line in their first three games. 3 more games have passed, so we can do a similar analysis of how the top line has played since Michael Raffl's promotion.

Here are the possession stats for Giroux, Raffl, Voracek, and Hartnell in the last 6 games. I included all 5v5 minutes (since I know Phantom was bothered at my using of only close minutes last post :) ).

5v5 Corsi % 5v5 Rel Corsi % 5v5 Corsi close % 5v5 Rel Corsi close %
Claude Giroux 57.8313% 4.5190% 57.7778% 4.3616%
Michael Raffl 56.0510% 1.7565% 53.2609% -2.7140%
Jakub Voracek 55.9211% 1.5404% 55.5556% 0.8497%
Scott Hartnell 58.1967% 4.4571% 58.7302% 5.0068%

So through 6 games, we have a bigger sample about how the top line has been playing.

Overall, the Flyers have been a much better team in recent games, though that might be because they have played the Canadiens, the Bluejackets (twice), and the Capitals twice, all poor possession teams. Seeing all four guys above 55% in terms of 5v5 Corsi % is good, but we should realize that the teams they have been playing are not the best competition.

Giroux has been doing very well. Both his 5v5 Corsi numbers and his 5v5 close numbers are fantastic. The 5v5 Rel Corsi percentage of plus 4.52% is very impressive.

Raffl has been less impressive. His 5v5 Rel Corsi of plus 1.7565% of good, but his 5v5 close Rel Corsi is less impressive.

Voracek has not done as well in the past 6 games as Giroux, being only slightly positive in the two Rel Corsi columns.

Now we come to Scott Hartnell. He is the man in the middle between the stat crowd and the "eye test" crowd. He never looks very impressive, and yet no matter where he goes he seems to help his line dominate possession. He's been one of the best Flyers in the last 6 games, with a 5v5 Rel Corsi % of greater than plus 4% and a 5v5 close Rel Corsi % of plus 5 percent.

So what does this all tell us? Well, we can't be 100% sure. 6 games is a decent sample, but not a huge one. It does show us that Giroux seems to be playing well with Raffl. However, Voracek doesn't seem to be getting the same benefit, which is strange considering how often Voracek and Giroux play together. Raffl's numbers are great for a rookie, especially someone who we didn't come into the season expecting much. Finally, Hartnell is going along his merry way and helping prop the 2nd line from a poor line to a pretty good 2nd line.

The more I think about the new lines, the more I like them. I think Berube made the right move moving Hartnell down to the 2nd line and Raffl up, though I reckon Berube did it for the wrong reasons. My guess is that Berube saw the top line "struggling" (see poor shooting percentage) and decided to mix things up. However, the top line wasn't really struggling. They were dominating possession, and were only getting some pretty poor shooting percentage luck that I'd argue was unsustainably low.

However, moving Hartnell, who I am convinced more and more each day does something that the eye test can't pick up, down to the second line has made the second line much better. I still believe that a top line of Hartnell, Voracek, and Giroux is better than Giroux, Voracek, and Raffl, but I think Hartnell provides more added value carrying the second line than he does on the first line.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.