Just a week ago, Charlie O'Connor explained in an article on this site how Evgeny Mededev has been "a revelation" for the Flyers in the neutral zone, helping to fix what was one of the team's biggest weaknesses a year ago.
Today, as the Flyers prepare to hit the ice for a late night game against the Vancouver Canucks, Medvedev is a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career. According to the Courier-Post, the defensive pairings are as follows at the morning skate in Vancouver:
- Michael Del Zotto and Mark Streit.
- Nick Schultz and Luke Schenn.
- Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas.
Gudas, Manning and Schenn have all been healthy scratches this season. Two of those guys are going to be a pairing in Vancouver. Oh God. There's really no rational explanation for why Medvedev should sit unless he has an injury we're all unaware of or something.
It's not as though Medvedev has been great, and he's clearly been worse in the last seven days than he had been in the first two weeks of the season. But the whole team has been pretty :poop emoji:, and he's still better than Schultz or Gudas or Manning by a considerable margin.
Let's use Schultz as a specific example, just because it's so damning. Look at this chart from hockeyviz.com, which illustrates how the Flyers perform while a given player is both on and off the ice:
Click here to see the chart larger. As you can see by looking at the "55" boxes here, the Flyers are considerably better in both shots for and shots against while Schultz is off the ice. He's having a negative impact, and he's been the worst Flyers defenseman in terms of both shot generation and shot suppression at five-on-five.
That's kind of remarkable. It's equally as remarkable that Schultz is still on the ice tonight in Vancouver while Medvedev sits.