In an effort to get the Flyers' offense going, head coach Dave Hakstol attempted to shake things up in last night's eventual 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Keeping the highly productive line of Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek and the play-driving unit of Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl together, Hakstol shifted bodies in the middle six. A line centered by Jordan Weal featured Dale Weise and Wayne Simmonds on the wings, while Valtteri Filppula centered a combo featuring Travis Konecny and Jori Lehtera.
Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, nothing came of these changes in terms of goals being scored. However, we can take a little bit of a deeper dive into how the middle six performed at 5-on-5 in the road loss. Keeping in mind the Flyers trailed by one goal for 58:39 of last night's contest, there can be some takeaways from the slightly score-effected possession numbers, as well as their performance when it comes to the high-danger area in front of the net known as the “home-plate” area. (All stats via firstlinestats.com.)
Team Stats, 5-on-5
Fenwick: Flyers 34, Wild 23
Shots: Flyers 27, Wild 16
Fenwick from home plate area: Flyers 14, Wild 14
Shots from home plate area: Flyers 13, Wild 11
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Fenwick from home plate area: 5-4
Shots from home plate area: 4-4
With a 63.16 Fenwick for percentage last night, the line of Giroux-Couturier-Voracek did pretty well in terms of territorial play. When it came to quality chances though, it was a little bit closer. Although they finished with an 8-6 shot advantage, the Giroux-Couturier-Voracek line had five unblocked shot attempts from the home plate area to Minnesota’s four while they were on the ice and saw both teams produce four shots on goal from the home plate area apiece.
Going up against Tyler Ennis-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund for most of the night, Philly’s top line had a 54.55 Fenwick for percentage (6-5) against this unit, but saw the Wild’s top line produce three shots from the home plate area to their one. Most of Giroux-Couturier-Voracek’s damage came in the second period, where they posted an 81.82 Fenwick for percentage (9-2), 75 shots for percentage (6-2), and a 66.67 unblocked shots for percentage (4-2) from the home plate area while connecting on three of those four shot attempts.
Dale Weise - Jordan Weal - Wayne Simmonds
Fenwick from home plate area: 3-3
Shots from home plate area: 3-2
The new-look second line had decent numbers on the night, as they posted a 61.54 Fenwick for percentage and out shot the Wild 6-4 when on the ice together, but a lot of that was thanks to a change in line matching in the third period. After seeing Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Jason Zucker for the first two periods and very early in the third period, Weise-Weal-Simmonds (thanks to Dave Hakstol or Bruce Boudreau) saw the Daniel Winnik-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin line for most of the final stanza.
The Niederreiter-Staal-Zucker line held the new second line to a lowly 20 Fenwick for percentage (1-4) while generating three unblocked shot attempts from the home plate area to Weise-Weal-Simmonds’ one. Against the Winnik-Eriksson Ek-Kunin line, however, Weise-Weal-Simmonds posted a 75 Fenwick for percentage (3-1) out shooting the line 2-0 with one shot surfacing in the home plate area.
Travis Konecny - Valtteri Filppula - Jori Lehtera
Fenwick from home plate area: 2-1
Shots from home plate area: 2-0
Although they didn’t have the most significant impact when on the ice, the trio of Konecny-Filppula-Lehtera had a fine evening in terms of controlling play, as they posted a 66.67 Fenwick for percentage while out shooting the opposition 4-0. The new third line spent most of the night against the Winnik-Eriksson Ek-Kunin line, who they posted a 100 Fenwick for percentage (2-0) against with one of those unblocked shot attempts being a shot from the home plate area.
Konecny-Filppula-Lehtera’s biggest accomplishment last night was a shift they had against the Niederreiter-Staal-Zucker line and the Matt Dumba-Jonas Brodin pairing in the middle of the second period last night, as they produced two unblocked shot attempts from the home plate area while preventing Minnesota from producing a single unblocked shot attempt.
Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Michael Raffl
Fenwick from home plate area: 4-2
Shots from home plate area: 4-1
Posting a 75 Fenwick for percentage and producing five shots to the Wild's one while they were on the ice last night, The Honey Bees were The Honey Bees. From the home plate area, Leier-Laughton-Raffl had four unblocked shot attempts (all shots on goal) and held Minnesota to two unblocked shot attempts (one of which was a miss). Against the line of Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Chris Stewart last night, the fourth line posted a 100 Fenwick for percentage (2-0) with both unblocked attempts coming in the home plate area.
The highlight for The Honey Bees last night was pinning the Ennis-Koivu-Granlund line and Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon pairing in the defensive zone for a shift that lasted over two minutes in the middle of the second period. The shift resulted in three unblocked shot attempts for Philly (two in the home plate area) and zero for Minnesota.
Again, obviously not the best return on the different middle six lines (since there wasn't, you know, a goal scored), but it wasn't the worst night at the rink for either of the lines. The top line and fourth line continued to control play despite their inability to find the back of the net. We'll see if Hakstol and company roll these four lines out there against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow night.