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Flyers 5, Sharks 3: What we learned from the season opener


NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Corsi Report

In case you missed my last observations piece, here’s how the Corsi Report works: I’ll be looking at the CF% of each player on each line, then each player of each defense pairing. I will also go over the team stats and where they went right and wrong at 5v5.

1st line: Giroux (46.88) — Couturier (46.15) — Voracek (50)

It was a solid night for the first line — not the dominance we saw at times during the preseason — but a decent performance. They looked untouchable at times and they also had their struggles. Don’t expect them to be only hovering around 50% too often.

2nd line: Weal (39.29) — Patrick (40.74) — Simmonds (36.67)

So yeah...not the best night for this line from a metrics perspective, in fact, they were the bottom three in CF%. However, this line had its moments where it literally looked unstoppable. Nolan Patrick looked very nice in his first NHL game, winning puck battles along the boards and making some nifty passes including that beautiful saucer pass to Simmonds on a partial 2v1

3rd line: Weise (44.44) — Filppula (43.48) — Konecny (47.62)

Out of the four lines, this is the one that most likely will never make a whole hell of a lot of sense, or be all that productive.

But man did Travis Konecny try his hardest to make it productive.

Konecny made this line respectable all night long with his speed on the outside and tenaciousness along the boards. He also was on the ice for three high danger chances for and none against. TK was generating offense almost all night long.

4th line: Leier (73.33) — Laughton (70.59) — Raffl (71.43)


Where do I even begin with this line, Leier was absolutely fantastic not only at 5v5 but also on the penalty kill. Laughton was being his typical pesky self on the forecheck and working the cycle with his two wingers. And finally Michael Raffl was well...Michael Raffl. None of this trio played more than nine minutes at 5v5 but they showed a new era in Philadelphia Flyers hockey, a competent 4th line.

1st pair: Provorov (47.37) — MacDonald (45.16)

This needs to not be a pairing, simple as that. Provorov is way too good to be forced to carry the anchor that is Andrew MacDonald.

2nd pair: Gudas (48) — Manning (48.15)

For the most part these two played a solid game, but miscues executing breakouts and dealing with San Jose forcheckers was the main thing holding this pair back all game.

3rd pair: Hagg (51.61) — Gostisbehere (50)

The only pairing at or above 50%! This doesn’t even come as much of a shock since this is easily the best pairing of the three. Hagg is the perfect player to put with the explosive Gostisbehere and I would love to see these two spend the majority of the season together.

Team Stats/Heatmap:

While this isn’t a game the Flyers excelled at in terms of possession, being out chanced 48-45, their third period is one they would like to repeat. They dominated for the majority of the period and eventually ended out chancing the Sharks 20-14.

Another trend the Flyers would be wise to continue later tonight against the Kings is their shot selection.

A theme all of last season was that they took way too many point shots or shots from low percentage areas. That was certainly not the case in this game, with the Flyers centering clearly on the area right in front of the net.

Yes please

It’s only one game, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

However, the amount of chances allowed has to go down if the Flyers want sustained success. Not every team they face will be like San Jose and take the majority of their shots from low percentage areas.

The area the Flyers did succeed in greatly at 5v5 is High Danger Chances, out chancing the Sharks 11-10. This was something they seldom did last season and was a main reason for lost games. They would out chance their opponent more often than not, but get torched in the high danger count.

Five Takeaways:

1. Even without Oskar Lindblom, the forward corps are a lot better

It is a night and day difference between last year’s forward core and this year’s. With the subtractions of Pierre Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde from the lineup —this paved the way for players like Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier to make their presence felt on the fourth line — and man did they ever.

Despite the lines not being as spread out in terms of talent as they could be with Couturier centering Giroux and Voracek, they finally looked like a team that could run four lines and not be at a disadvantage which seems like a miracle for this team.

It’s rare as a Flyers fan to be able to praise our 4th line for creating offensive chances and keeping the opponent hemmed in their own zone.

2. Brandon Manning and Andrew MacDonald should not be playing

To quote our own Steph Driver, “IS THIS TRUE???”

As expected, MacDonald and Manning were both below average in the advanced stats department and via the eye test. Both took sloppy, lazy penalties at points in the game and created many good if not great chances for San Jose with poor positioning.

To put the cherry on top, San Jose’s third and final goal went off of you guessed it! Andrew MacDonald. It wasn’t his fault obviously, but doesn’t it just figure it’d be him?

This game showed us exactly what we expected: relatively pleased with everyone except for Manning, Mac, and Dale Weise. The three players essentially all of us wanted scratched to begin with

3. The power play! It’s alive!

After seeing the abysmal powerplay perfromance in the preseason, I would have assumed someone to be insane if they told me the Flyers would go 3/5 and 3/3 at one point, on the man advantage. Jordan Weal potted the first powerplay goal, followed by back to back Wayne Simmonds tallies. Zone entries were almost picture perfect, puck movement was solid, and shot selection was very much so on point. Even the 2nd unit looked formidable at times.

4. Taylor Leier: good at penalty killing

It only took me about one period to fall in love with Taylor Leier. One game is one game but one could honestly make a case for Leier being one of the top players from this game and definitely the best penalty killer. The 23 year old was flying to the puck at an alarming rate, disrupting on the backcheck, and making life miserable for Sharks defenseman on the point. A PK consisting of Leier/Laughton and Couturier/Simmonds could end up being one of the best in the NHL if they play like they did last night.

5. All aboard the Wayne Train

A hat trick in the opening game of the season. It doesn’t get any better than that for Wayne Simmonds and the Philadelphia Flyers.

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick