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Flyers 5, Flames 2: What we learned as the losing streak ended

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The losing streak is finally over.

Flyers vs Flames 11.18.2017
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Corsi Report

Flyers raw CF% leaders

Player TOI CF CA CF% CF% Rel
Player TOI CF CA CF% CF% Rel
Scott.Laughton 11:15 8 9 47.06 18.85
Taylor.Leier 11:36 7 9 43.75 14.64
Jakub.Voracek 15:09 12 17 41.38 14.11
Jordan.Weal 11:52 7 10 41.18 11.69
Michael.Raffl 15:45 12 19 38.71 10.58
Valtteri.Filppula 16:53 11 19 36.67 7.44
Sean.Couturier 14:49 9 16 36 6
Brandon.Manning 15:16 8 16 33.33 2.35
Shayne.Gostisbehere 16:43 10 20 33.33 2.56
Andrew.MacDonald 20:25 14 29 32.56 1.79
Robert.Hagg 18:36 12 27 30.77 -1.37
Wayne.Simmonds 14:13 7 16 30.43 -1.51
Ivan.Provorov 20:00 12 28 30 -2.73
Claude.Giroux 15:10 8 19 29.63 -2.72
Travis.Sanheim 7:58 4 11 26.67 -5.83
Dale.Weise 6:46 4 21 16 -21.14
Travis.Konecny 6:52 3 21 12.5 -25.53
Nolan.Patrick 5:37 2 18 10 -27.33
stats via natural stat trick

Flyers raw xGF% leaders

Player TOI xGF xGA xGF%
Player TOI xGF xGA xGF%
SCOTT.LAUGHTON 11.1 1.02 0.12 89.47%
JORDAN.WEAL 11.7 0.74 0.12 86.05%
TAYLOR.LEIER 11.4 0.74 0.12 86.05%
JAKUB.VORACEK 15.2 0.96 0.35 73.28%
MICHAEL.RAFFL 15.8 0.96 0.36 72.73%
ANDREW.MACDONALD 20.3 1.45 0.78 65.02%
IVAN.PROVOROV 19.9 1.44 0.83 63.44%
VALTTERI.FILPPULA 16.9 0.67 0.48 58.26%
SHAYNE.GOSTISBEHERE 16.7 0.47 0.37 55.95%
SEAN.COUTURIER 14.8 0.38 0.4 48.72%
ROBERT.HAGG 18.6 0.57 0.65 46.72%
WAYNE.SIMMONDS 14.2 0.28 0.4 41.18%
CLAUDE.GIROUX 15.2 0.3 0.64 31.91%
BRANDON.MANNING 15.2 0.23 0.59 28.05%
TRAVIS.SANHEIM 8 0.09 0.37 19.57%
DALE.WEISE 6.8 0.15 0.75 16.67%
TRAVIS.KONECNY 6.9 0.13 0.75 14.77%
NOLAN.PATRICK 5.6 0.04 0.6 6.25%

Not going to lie, I took one look at the CF% leaders and I started laughing hysterically. To say the least, this kind of game is not one the Flyers will want to repeat. They were out shot 45-21 and out-corsi’d by a 65-30 mark. All signs pointed to the Flyers losing this hockey game, except for the expected goals-for department.

Overall the Flyers had an xGF of 2.92 while the Flames put together a 2.44 performance. I had mentioned in my November analytics overview that the Flyers were still generating a decent amount of scoring chances from high percentage areas (with a few outliers) — but the main problem continued to be allowing chances from those same spots. Last night it looked like they took that message to heart, as shown by the heatmap below.

Yes, the Flames dominated possession in this game, and yes they out shot the Flyers by a very wide margin. However, if when we get out shot and get absolutely destroyed in the corsi game but the heatmap looks like this? I’m a lot less angry at the amount of chances given up. The Flyers weren’t stringing together a lot of consistent offensive chances, but when they were it was coming from the home plate area prime for scoring chances. To put this in perspective, even with the Flames obvious advantage in CF%, they had the same amount of high danger chances for as the Flyers did.

If the Flyers can utilize this same strategy, except limit the shots and total chances just a little bit, then it can be golden. Goaltender Brian Elliott even said in the post-game interview that they had a “system adjustment”. They were back-checking hard all night long and it was especially evident in the third period, keeping the Flames even more to the outside with scoring chances.

Flyers raw CF%: 31.58

Flyers adjusted CF%: 35.72

Even when adjusting for the fact the Flyers lead most of this game, it was still an apparent nightmare of a game for them. No line really had it going consistently all night long except for maybe the new look fourth line. Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier were reunited and joined by Jordan Weal. While all of their CF%’s were still below 50 percent, they took three spots in the top four in CF%. Laughton recorded two 5v5 goals last night with Leier and Weal assisting on his second tally.

The second line was about the only other truly redeemable line from that game. Surprisingly enough the “line of passers” in Michael Raffl, Voracek, and Valtteri Filppula put together two goals. The first coming on this greasy rebound goal from an Andrew MacDonald point shot.

And the second coming off of one of the most beautiful passing plays you’ll probably see the Flyers make this season. Believe it or not, passing is actually a good thing!

It was just one game and it’s obviously too early to tell if these lines will work out in the future, but I gotta say I’m impressed by the first impressions of the second and fourth lines.

Five Takeaways:

1. BAMF Brian Elliott stole the show

Brian Elliott, in returning to the place that let him go at the end of last season, put together a dominating performance. If you’re looking for a game that maybe defines who the real number one goalie of the team can be, this might just be the one. After the first goal, which he admitted in the post-game interview was a bad rebound, Elliott was rock-solid the rest of the way. The final goal he allowed was more of a defensive issue than anything else, with a bad pass from Nolan Patrick starting the Flames the other way and it eventually lead to a Sean Monahan boring wrist shot over Elliott’s glove. This was the definition of a statement win from Elliott.

2. The back-check was dominating

A big reason why the Flames weren’t able to generate much in terms of quality scoring chances was the Flyers excellent back-checking efforts. Obviously, they were playing ultra-conservative as soon as they got that three goal lead, which attributes to this as well. But seemingly every time the Flames entered the zone there was a Flyer right behind them ready to intercept a pass or at the very least, keep them to the outside with their shot. I’m definitely not a fan of sitting back, but there are sometimes effective ways to do it.

3. Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny disappeared after the second period

To be fair, the third line with Patrick, Konecny, and Dale Weise was not good last night. This should come as a surprise to no one because we’ve seen this line before and it was bad then too. I’m not gonna talk about their CF% because everyone’s was god awful last night, but just by using the eye test, this line needs to be scrapped for good.

With all of that being said, I do not agree with essentially benching two of your most promising young players (one being the 2nd overall pick) for an entire period. We knew Hakstol was going to be ultra-conservative in the third, but this was taking it to a different level. Patrick played a whopping 5:37 at 5v5, and Konecny played a little over a minute more at 6:52.

4. Quality outweighed quantity

On many different occasions this year I’ve had to talk about how the Flyers lost despite dominating in possession. The reason, most of those times, is because of their shot selection being poor despite having many attempts. Finally, we got to be on the other side of that on Monday night. The Flyers only mustered 30 shot attempts at 5-on-5, but as shown by the heatmap earlier, most came from right in front of the net or the slot.

5. It’s finally over

Let’s just take a break from the analyzing, and enjoy the first Flyers win in almost a month. Soak it in, Flyers fans, we deserved this.