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Line report: New top line thrives

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Dave Hakstol switched up a lot of things on Saturday night

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Following a lackluster defeat to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, head coach Dave Hakstol decided to shake things up for the Philadelphia Flyers heading into in their meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Travis Konecny was promoted to the top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, while Nolan Patrick took Valtteri Filppula’s spot on the second line with Michael Raffl and Jakub Voracek. Filppula and Wayne Simmonds found themselves on the third line with Dale Weise, while Jori Lehtera played alongside Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier in Jordan Weal’s absence. On top of the changes up front, Hakstol decided to put Ivan Provorov with Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald with Robert Hagg.

The result was a contest that saw the Flyers produce 3.01 expected goals for at 5-on-5, their second-highest total for a game this season, and Blue Jackets produce 2.53 expected goals for at 5-on-5, the fourth-highest total for any Flyers’ opponent this season. Despite the 5.54 total expected goals for (the highest total for any Flyers’ game this season), the teams combined for just one goal at 5-on-5 on Saturday thanks to the play of Brian Elliott and Sergei Bobrovsky.

5-on-5 numbers from Saturday
Shot attempts: 48 for, 51 against (48.48 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts: 35 for, 41 against (46.05 percent)
Shots on goal: 24 for, 30 against (44.44 percent)
Shot attempts from home-plate area: 29 for, 27 against (51.79 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts from home-plate area: 18 for, 20 against (47.37 percent)

Although the Flyers came in well under 50 percent in three of the major possession stats, the Orange and Black’s new lines had an advantage in quality production. The 51.79 corsi-for percentage from the home-plate area and 47.37 fenwick-for percentage from the home-plate area are a little misleading, as the Flyers allowed seven of the nine home-plate area shot attempts that took place while Philly had a some variation of forwards out there that weren’t the four main lines.

Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Shot attempts: 22 for, 10 against (68.75 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts: 14 for, 4 against (77.78 percent)
Shots on goal: 11 for, 4 against (73.33 percent)
Shot attempts from the home-plate area: 14 for, 6 against (70 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts from home-plate area: 7 for, 3 against (70 percent)

The top line was out there for 32 of the 99 total shot attempts at 5-on-5 Saturday night. They owned 22 of those 32 attempts and produced 14 of the 18 unblocked shot attempts that took place when they were together on the ice. After 20 minutes of play, this group owned a 100 corsi-for percentage (12-0) with eight of their shot attempts coming from the home-plate area. The Giroux-Couturier-Konecny trio also helped to land the game’s only 5-on-5 goal while achieving their 73.33 shots for percentage. It wasn’t just quantity for the top unit, as they had a 70 corsi percentage on attempts from the home-plate area along with a 57.14 shots-for percentage from the same area.

This line spent most of the night going up against the lines of Boone Jenner-Nick Foligno-Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin-Pierre-Luc Dubois-Josh Anderson. Against the Jenner-Foligno-Atkinson unit, Giroux-Couturier-Konecny provided nine of the 11 total shot attempts for an 81.82 corsi-for percentage with five of them coming from the home-plate area. Jenner-Foligno-Atkinson were also the forwards on the ice for Columbus when Provorov and this line produced Philly’s only goal.

As for its play against Panarin-Dubois-Anderson, the Orange and Black’s top line was a little less dominant, but they still had the better of the play. Although the lines evenly split the 14 shot attempts while they were on the ice together, Giroux-Couturier-Konecny posted six of the nine (nice) total shots , including three of the five total shots from the home-plate area.

It’s also worth pointing out that this line played 8:15 of 5-on-5 time with Provorov and Gostisbehere. When all five of these players were on the ice together the Flyers posted a 68 corsi-for percentage, 73.33 fenwick-for percentage, and 68.75 home-plate area corsi-for percentage on top of the game’s only 5-on-5 goal.

Michael Raffl - Nolan Patrick - Jakub Voracek
Shot attempts: 8 for, 10 against (44.44 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts: 7 for, 10 against (41.18 percent)
Shots on goal: 5 for, 6 against (45.45 percent)
Shot attempts from the home-plate area: 6 for, 5 against (54.55 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts from home-plate area: 5 for, 5 against (50 percent)

The trio of Raffl-Patrick-Voracek may have been edged out in total shot attempts on the night, but the trio did win the quality battle. From the home-plate area, Raffl-Patrick-Voracek finished with a 54.55 corsi-for percentage and 66.67 shots-for percentage (four for, two against).

When it came to competition on Saturday, this line’s matchup against Jenner-Foligno-Atkinson produced the most 5-on-5 events. Of the eight shot attempts between the lines when they were out there against one another, Raffl-Patrick-Voracek produced five of them for a 62.5 corsi-for percentage. Philly’s forwards also posted a 62.5 fenwick-for percentage and 60 shots-for percentage. In terms of quality chances, the sides evenly split six unblocked shot attempts and four shots on goal from the home-plate area.

As for their defensive support, Raffl-Patrick-Voracek saw an equal amount of time with the pairs of MacDonald-Hagg and Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas. With MacDonald-Hagg, the second line had a 42.86 corsi-for percentage (three shot attempts for, four against), 40 shots-for percentage (two shots for, three against), and a 40 home-plate area corsi-for percentage (two shot attempts for, three against) in 3:03 of work. With Sanheim-Gudas, the trio produced a 28.57 corsi-for percentage (two shot attempts for, five against), a 25 shots-for percentage (one shot for, three against), and neither of the home-plate area shot attempts that took place while the five Flyers were on the ice together in 3:09.

Dale Weise - Valtteri Filppula - Wayne Simmonds
Shot attempts: 8 for, 13 against (38.10 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts: 6 for, 11 against (35.29 percent)
Shots on goal: 3 for, 9 against (25 percent)
Shot attempts from the home-plate area: 4 for, 7 against (36.37 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts from home-plate area: 2 for, 5 against (28.57 percent)

You aren’t going to believe this, but the Weise-Filppula-Simmonds line didn’t look too hot. The group finished with a 38.10 corsi-for percentage in the loss, along with a 35.29 fenwick-for percentage, 25 shots-for percentage, and 36.37 home-plate area corsi-for percentage.

Eleven of the 21 5-on-5 shot attempts Weise-Filppula-Simmonds were on the ice for came against the Panarin-Dubois-Anderson trio. Against this unit, the Flyers’ third line came away with a 36.36 corsi-for percentage (four shot attempts for, seven against), 25 shots-for percentage (two shots for, six against), and 33.33 home-plate area corsi-for percentage (two shot attempts for, four against).

For defensive support, Weise-Filppula-Simmonds spent most of the game with Sanheim-Gudas. In the 4:10 these Flyers were on the ice at 5-on-5, Philly had a 66.67 corsi-for percentage (six shot attempts for, three against), 57.14 fenwick-for percentage (four unblocked shot attempts for, three against), and 100 corsi-for percentage from the home-plate area (four shot attempts for, zero against).

Unfortunately, this line also spent a good amount of time with the MacDonald-Hagg pairing as well. In 3:49 of work, this particular five-man unit posted a 10 corsi-for percentage (one shot attempt for, nine against) and a 14.29 shots-for percentage (one shot for, six against). Weise-Filppula-Simmonds split time between the two pairs in the first two periods before MacDonald-Hagg spent most of the third period with the line, which seems like a poor choice considering the five Flyers allowed seven shot attempts from the home-plate area at 5-on-5 and failed to produce a single one of their own.

Jori Lehtera - Scott Laughton - Taylor Leier
Shot attempts: 7 for, 6 against (53.85 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts: 5 for, 5 against (50 percent)
Shots on goal: 4 for, 2 against (66.67 percent)
Shot attempts from the home-plate area: 3 for, 2 against (60 percent)
Unblocked shot attempts from home-plate area: 2 for, 1 against (66.67 percent)

Although they only saw 6:25 of 5-on-5 ice time together on Saturday, the line of Lehtera-Laughton-Leier did their part. To go along with their 53.85 corsi-for percentage and 66.67 shots-for percentage, Lehtera-Laughton-Leier provided a 60 corsi-for percentage from the home-plate area and out shot Columbus 2-0 from this area.

This line spent a good amount of time against the Tyler Motte-Jordan Schroeder-Markus Hannikainen line for a battle that didn’t produce many chances for either side. The lines evenly split six of the shot attempts between them while each team could only muster one shot attempt from the home-plate area that was ultimately blocked.

After posting a 25 corsi-for percentage with the Provorov-Gostisbehere pairing in the first period, Lehtera-Laughton-Leier spent most of the final two periods with Sanheim-Gudas. In 2:43 time together, this five-man group posted an 85.71 corsi-for percentage (six shot attempts for, one against) with three shots on goal to Columbus’ zero. This five-man unit also had three shot attempts from the home-plate area in the loss while keeping the Blue Jackets from producing a single home-plate area shot attempt.

We’ll see if these lines come out again on Thursday night in Florida against the Panthers.

*All stats provided by Corsica.Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and First Line Stats