It's half way into the 2014-2015 season and the Philadelphia Flyers are flirting with the basement of the NHL. The team sits in 25th place in the league wide standings, and is eleven points behind the Washington Capitals for a guaranteed playoff spot.
It's going to take a small miracle for the team to reach the post season -- a reality so bleak, that many fans are already drooling over which top-10 talent the Flyers can snag in the 2015 draft.
So this is probably a good point in the season to stop, reflect, and evaluate the individual performances that got us to this sorry state. And we've got forty games of scoring chance data to dissect.
A quick aside, many of you BSH regulars are already familiar with my project to track scoring chances, but if you aren't, answers to the basic questions like "what is a scoring chance?" can be found here.
It's Giroux & Voracek, and then everybody else
This works just like traditional goal plus/minus. On the ice for a scoring chance? You get a plus. On the ice for a chance against? You get a minus.
SC% Rel is how well the team controls the scoring chance battle with a player on the ice relative to how the team fares with that player off the ice.
When it comes to the forwards even strength strength results, there is Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and then there is everyone else.
The Flyers dynamic duo is shredding the opposition on a nightly basis and winning the scoring chance battle with ease. To place their performances in perspective, Jake and G have already surpassed their numbers from the entirety of last season.
Beyond that first line, there is a steep drop off in on ice results. The bottom-6 is deep in the red, thanks largely to underwhelming first half performances from Vinny Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger.
Couturier's line has struggled as a whole to keep up with top NHL competition, but Umberger has separated himself from the pack as a glaring liability in defensive minutes. He leads all forwards in scoring chances against/20 and is only marginally more effective at creating offense than the Flyers regular cast of 4th liners.
Sporting the 2nd highest cap hit on the roster, the disparity between Umberger's first half performance and his salary is staggering.
Nick Grossmann has been awful
Results on the blue line fall somewhere in between passably average and OH MY GOD NICK GROSSMANN.
It's difficult to talk about the Flyers defense without singling out Nick Grossmann. No defenseman has been worse at creating chances for, or preventing chances against. Continuing to give Grossmann ice time is a gift to the opposition.
Surprisingly, the rest of defense is breaking even or better in the scoring chance battle. Craig Berube has found some traction with the Coburn/Schultz pairing, and Mark Streit has done his best to fill in for Kimmo Timonen as the Flyers de facto No. 1 defenseman.
Individual chance numbers
In addition to tracking on ice scoring chances, I've also been keeping tabs on direct touches on every scoring chance.
- Set Up - The primary pass on a scoring chance, including rebounds.
- Chance - The primary shot on a scoring chance, including deflections.
- Involved - The sum of both set ups and chances
There are very few surprises on this list. Jake Voracek is simply on another level, surpassing Giroux as the Flyers driving force offensively.
Brayden Schenn has taken advantage of his minutes away from Vinny Lecavalier, as he is on pace for a career year in points. That success is reflected in his underlying numbers.
Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto stand out as the most creative forces on the blue line, while Nick Grossmann and Andrew MacDonald fall flat.
A word on usage
Zone starts, tough competition, and teammates can all have an impact on these results. So consider carefully who an individual plays with, who they play against, and if the coaching staff is more likely to use them in offensive or defensive situations. However, tough minutes do not always excuse poor results.