Flyers CF% leaders vs. MTL
Overall, the Flyers had a solid night in the metrics department. The first line lead the way posting the three best CF%’s among forwards and on the team in general, all coming in at over 69% (nice!). The star power of the Flyers once again was the main reason they were able to stay in this game as the top defense pairing of Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov lead the way among defensemen. Provorov ended the night with a CF% of 60.61 and his partner in crime ended with a 55.88. One of the major concerns with this team even with the winning has been the lack of depth outside the top 6 in forwards and top 2 defensively, but if they keep having nights like this? Star power can take you a long way.
Once again, the Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas pairing had a solid outing. Both ended above 55% and had the kind of game you expect and want from them. We didn’t notice them a whole lot, and that’s a good thing. Then you have the ugly duckling of the group in the Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg pairing. While overall I don’t think they exactly had that bad of an outing, they were certainly more noticeable and not usually in a good way. MacDonald had an egregious turnover in his own zone attempting to break the puck out (see below), and he had one of the most frustrating plays I’ve ever seen in this one. Mac gets the puck in the neutral zone, the Flyers are making a change, Mac sees the Flyers are making a change, hesitates as if to organize a rush, then proceeds to say “screw it” and dump the puck in essentially giving it to Montreal. I want to not trash this guy, believe me I do, but when he makes plays like that...it’s impossible.
Anyway, the third line was alright in this one, didn’t do a whole lot but didn’t give up a whole lot either. The fourth line? I’ll get to that mess later.
1. Petr Mrazek...pretty dang good at this whole goaltending thing!
What else is there to say about the Flyers new netminder. He absolutely stole this one for the Flyers and especially in overtime, making countless game-saving stops. 28 saves for his first shutout as a Flyer and was only beaten once in the shootout. Who knows if this guy is going to be in orange and black next season, but for right now I’m enjoying every last second of watching him play. He tracked the puck extremely well, made the big saves when he needed to, and gave the Flyers confidence to take risks at certain points in the game. Fair to say maybe the most electric of his saves came on this glove hand snab.
HIGHWAY ROBBERY BY PETR MRAZEK! pic.twitter.com/aIWDfSHpPt— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 27, 2018
2. The first and second lines were fantastic
Throughout this game there were multiple periods where these two lines dominated play in the opposing zone. Couturier kept winning board battles and Giroux and Konecny continued to cycle between the two of them. They had Montreal on their heels more often than not, which was backed up statistically by the three of them being at the top of the CF% rankings in this one. Despite not scoring any goals, when this trio has that kind of game? It’s going to equal a few pucks in the back of the net.
The same could be said for the second line at times during this one. The entire line continued to excel at board battles despite losing a few more as the game wore on, and Patrick just keeps gaining confidence every time he steps on the ice. One of the biggest takeaways from a player aspect for me in this one was Patrick’s explosiveness as he charges through the neutral zone. This is something we just didn’t see in the beginning of the year and now he’s opening up plays for not only himself, but his two linemates. Despite just average metrics, the line was quite clearly second best last night.
3. First 60 minutes...not fun. Last five? VERY FUN
I love hockey, I love it so much that usually even the boring games I can find some interesting little plays that keep me entertained, but man was it hard for this game. Both teams were getting some chances every now and then but it was mostly a lot of easy saves, or no shot attempts at all. The Flyers especially seemed to miss the net a lot in this one but both teams weren’t exactly on target.
Then...3-on-3 overtime happened.
The five minutes of sheer chaos and wizardry from the goaltenders made up for 60 minutes of meh. Dazzling saves from Mrazek and Charlie Lindgren alike were absolutely incredible to watch. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how Giroux was stopped at the goal line late in the OT. Hell, they spent a good two minutes of the period just trying to get the first unit off the ice with Montreal blowing past dead tired Flyers. If that right there doesn’t make you want to be rid of the shootout then nothing will. Even with the Flyers winning, there is absolutely no reason why a game like this should be decided by a damn skills competition.
4. The fourth line needs to change
Alright, look, I get Dave Hakstol loves his veteran leadership and everything. But now that Matt (Meat) Read has rejoined the team, can we get some of his veteran leadership on that fourth line and not Dale Weise? At this point I’ve become “okay” with Jori Lehtera if it means getting Weise the hell off of that line. Lehtera may not be fast but at least he sometimes knows the correct play to make, Weise seemingly just glides around the ice hoping something good happens. Also I’m not sure if I’m the only one who felt this way about Valtteri Filppula’s game last night, but he’s almost unwatchable at this point. After maybe three seconds of speed he’s pretty much done. This team has the chance to have three crazy good lines once Simmonds comes back, let’s make it four by the end of the year, please?
5. Let’s talk about Sean Couturier
So, we all know Coots is having the best season by far of his NHL career, he’s one goal away from 30 on the season and he’s most likely going to end up very close to point per game this season. He’s going to be a favorite for the Selke especially if the Flyers go far in the postseason. But something happened last night that even the biggest Couturier fan out there probably wouldn’t have expected he do, WIN A GAME WITH A SHOOTOUT GOAL!
As much as I love Coots, shootouts are most definitely not his thing. So when he sniped one by Lindgren to win the game last night...you know this guy is having a special season. Sure, who cares about shootouts since it’s the dumbest way to end a hockey game, but this is more so about Couturier having the utmost confidence in himself, and maybe more importantly, his shot. The Flyers are going to need that confidence from him come playoff time barring an absolutely embarrassing collapse.
All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick