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Strong starts, a possible answer for the fourth line, and a pair of shootout wins

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Analyzing the play of the lines and pairs from the Philadelphia Flyers’ shootout wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins this past weekend.

Philadelphia Flyers Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

For most of the 2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers’ season the question has been whether or not the team is good again. Tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals will help to paint a clearer picture, but with wins over the two teams that made the 2019 Eastern Conference Final and another over a Stanley Cup contender on their current four-game winning streak it feels like the question should pivot to just how good are the Orange and Black?

A big reason for that was the team’s performance in a challenging back-to-back that started in Toronto on Saturday and concluded the next day in Boston against the Bruins. The Flyers endured a high-event game with the Leafs on Saturday as the 102 combined shot attempts and 75 combined unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 were both the highest totals in a single game for Philly so far this season. The season opener in Prague against the Chicago Blackhawks provided both the second-highest combined shot attempt and unblocked shot attempt totals in a single Flyers’ game this campaign as the teams produced 97 combined shot attempts at 5-on-5 (56-41 in favor of Philly) and 74 unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 (46-28 for Philly). This game also stood out statistically in a defensive manner but not for a good reason, as Toronto’s 52 shot attempts at 5-on-5 are the most Alain Vigneault’s squad as yielded at full strength in 2019-20.

To follow up that exhausting performance the Flyers came out strong to start their game against the Bruins before ultimately hanging on for a shootout decision. Blowing multi-goal leads in three straight games isn’t ideal, but there are plenty of encouraging things to point to in the numbers below.

Lines against Toronto

Line Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Line Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny 10:49 41.67 (10 for, 14 against) 23.53 (4 for, 13 against) 20 (2 for, 8 against) 39.83 N/A Plus-1 (drew 1, took 0) Even (forced 1, iced 1)
JVR-Giroux-Farabee 10:40 40 (8 for, 12 against) 40 (6 for, 9 against) 38.46 (5 for, 8 against) 31.84 Minus-1 (1 for, 2 against) N/A Even (forced 1, iced 1)
Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek 10:10 53.33 (8 for, 7 against) 45.45 (5 for, 6 against) 44.44 (4 for, 5 against) 45.85 N/A Minus-1 (drew 0, took 1) Even (forced 1, iced 1)
Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick 5:55 76.92 (10 for, 3 against) 88.89 (8 for, 1 against) 88.89 (8 for, 1 against) 98.27 N/A Plus-1 (drew 1, took 0) Plus-1 (forced 2, iced 1)
  • After a Travis Konecny miss just 1:34 into the game, the only unblocked shot attempts the trio of Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny saw at 5-on-5 were shots on goal from the Toronto Maple Leafs with Kasperi Kapanen registering two of them. The two teams ultimately traded chances with these three on the ice for the rest of the game, but it was all Leafs towards the end or regulation. Konecny put a shot on goal with 17:32 left in regulation for Philly’s fourth unblocked shot attempt out of the ten Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny saw up to that point before Toronto rattled off the final seven (7) attempts until the end of the third period. The final six shot attempts came on two different shifts in the game’s final six minutes against Toronto’s five-man unit of Trevor Moore-John Tavares-Kapanen up front and Morgan Rielly-Cody Ceci on the back end.
  • Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny spent most of their 10:49 at 5-on-5 against the Maple Leafs’ line of Ilya Mikheyev-Alexander Kerfoot-Kasperi Kapanen. Four of the 17 unblocked shot attempts Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny came with these three Leafs on the ice with Toronto recording three shots on goal while Philly’s only attempt was Konecny’s miss 1:34 in.
  • Three of the first four unblocked shot attempts James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Joel Farabee were on the ice for at 5-on-5 on Saturday came from Toronto before Phil Myers’ goal 8:08 into regulation. JVR-Giroux-Farabee saw nine unblocked shots at 5-on-5 over the game’s final 48:08 and traded attempts with the Leafs until the start of overtime despite being on the ice for a pair of goals against.
  • Most of JVR-Giroux-Farabee’s 10:49 at 5-on-5 came against the line of Andreas Johnsson-Auston Matthews-William Nylander. Nine of their 14 unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 came against this Toronto line to which the Flyers recorded three of them including Myers’ goal. Unfortunately, not only did they get doubled up in unblocked shot attempts by Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander but they also got doubled up in goals against by being on the ice for tallies from Travis Dermott and Nylander.
  • The trio of Carsen Twarynski-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek lost their 5-on-5 unblocked shot battle 5-6, but came away with the advantage in two of the three periods. In the first and third frames the Orange and Black finished with 2-1 counts but in the second period Toronto posted four of the five unblocked shot attempts Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek saw at 5-on-5.
  • Most of Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek’s 10:10 at 5-on-5 came against Moore-Tavares-Kapanen. Only three unblocked shot attempts happened with both of these lines on the ice at even strength with the Leafs’ coming out on top of a 2-1 advantage where all attempts were on net.
  • To be honest, this performance of Andy Andreoff-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick may have turned in the Flyers’ best fourth line performance of the season. So far this season it’s been a struggle for Philly’s fourth line to make the possession battle respectable let alone gain an advantage, but Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick dominated Toronto with eight of the nine unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 coming off the sticks of Flyers. A large reason for their edge in unblocked shot attempts was thanks to a shift early in the third period, where the line produced four attempts in a 12-second span three of which came in a three-second span.
  • Naturally Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick spent most of their 5:55 at 5-on-5 (too many fives going on here, imo) going up against Toronto’s fourth line of Dmytro Timashov-Frederik Gauthier-Nick Shore. Considering Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick’s monster shift happened with Johnsson out there instead of Gauthier it makes sense that these two lines (in their entireties) only shared three unblocked shot attempts together. All three attempts were shots on goal with the Flyers coming out on top 2-1, as Timashov’s shot with 4:23 left in regulation was the only puck that got past every Flyers’ skater with Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick out there.

Pairs against Toronto

Pair Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Pair Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Sanheim-Myers 16:21 37.84 (14 for, 23 against) 36 (9 for, 16 against) 33.33 (5 for, 10 against) 37 N/A Plus-1 (drew 1, took 0) Minus-1 (forced 2, iced 3)
Provorov-Niskanen 15:33 43.75 (14 for, 18 against) 37.5 (9 for, 15 against) 52.94 (9 for, 8 against) 38 Minus-2 (0 for, 2 against) Minus-1 (drew 0, took 1) Even (forced 2, iced 2)
Gostisbehere-Braun 10:36 80 (16 for, 4 against) 78.57 (11 for, 3 against) 81.82 (9 for, 2 against) 94.88 N/A Plus-2 (drew 2, took 0) Plus-1 (forced 1, iced 0)
  • Travis Sanheim-Phil Myers didn’t have the best night at the office on Saturday as Toronto held the advantage in puck possession while these two were on the ice together. Here’s how the 25 unblocked shot attempts Sanheim-Myers were on the ice for shakes out by period: 3-6 in the first, 3-1 in the second, and 3-9 in the third. To make matters worse two of those three Flyers’ unblocked shot attempts in the third period were misses.
  • Sanheim-Myers spent most of their 16:21 at 5-on-5 up against Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander. Seven of the 25 unblocked shot attempts the pair saw at 5-on-5 came with these three Leafs on the ice losing the battle 2-5. On top of that one of the two for Philly was a Giroux miss with 1:33 left in the third.
  • Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen had an interesting night in terms of shot attempts, as they lost the unblocked shot attempt battle 9-15 but came out on top of the shot count at full strength 9-8. The breakdown of unblocked shot attempts (and shots) by period for Provorov-Niskanen: 2-2 unblocked shot attempts (2-2 shots) in the first, 2-7 (2-3) in the second, and 5-6 (5-3) in the third.
  • Provorov-Niskanen faced off most against Moore-Tavares-Kapanen in their 15:33 of 5-on-5 time. Of the 24 unblocked shot attempts the pair saw at 5-on-5 seven came against this line with the Flyers losing the unblocked shot attempt count 3-4 but even in shots 3-3.
  • Thanks to the fourth line’s monster shift early in the third period, Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun produced monster play-driving numbers in Saturday’s win. That shift definitely padded Gostisbehere-Braun’s 5-on-5 numbers, but even if you take away that shift that featured four unblocked shot attempts for Philly and non for Toronto the two did just fine. After being on the ice for just four unblocked shot attempts (all from Flyers) through the first 40 minutes of the game, Gostisbehere-Braun ended up splitting six of the unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 in the third period outside of that Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick sequence and won the shot battle 3-2.
  • Most of Gostisbehere-Braun’s 10:36 came against the mishmash trio of Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Gauthier with three of the nine unblocked shot attempts that the d-men were on the ice for together outside of that fourth line shift in the third coming against these three. The Orange and Black got the better of the battle, as they had two of the attempts with shots on goal from Konecny and Hayes while Toronto’s lone attempt was a Cody Ceci 2:26 into the third.

Lines against Boston

Line Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Line Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny 12:13 66.67 (14 for, 7 against) 60 (9 for, 6 against) 63.64 (7 for, 4 against) 75.83 Plus-2 (2 for, 0 against) Minus-2 (drew 0, took 2) Plus-4 (forced 4, iced 0)
Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek 11:09 46.67 (7 for, 8 against) 50 (5 for, 5 against) 71.43 (5 for, 2 against) 59.34 N/A N/A N/A
JVR-Giroux-Farabee 10:06 45.45 (10 for, 12 against) 47.06 (8 for, 9 against) 46.15 (6 for, 7 against) 38.01 Minus-1 (0 for, 1 against) Even (drew 1, took 1) Even (forced 2, iced 2)
Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick 9:06 47.06 (8 for, 9 against) 46.15 (6 for, 7 against) 60 (6 for, 4 against) 67.57 N/A N/A Even (forced 1, iced 1)
  • Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny ended up being on the ice for 15 unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 with nine belonging to the Flyers. After a Matt Grzelcyk miss 51 seconds into the game, this line saw six straight unblocked shot attempts from Philly including goals from Konecny and Myers. The first Bruins’ shot on goal at 5-on-5 against this line was off the stick of Anders Bjork with 6:49 left in the middle frame. The breakdown by period: 6-1 in the first, 3-1 in the second, and 1-4 in the third.
  • This trio was tasked with going up against Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak for most of their 12:13 at 5-on-5 with nine of the 15 unblocked shot attempts they saw coming against these three. Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny lost the unblocked shot attempt battle 4-5 against Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak but won the shot battle 4-3.
  • The unit of Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek didn’t win the quantity battle on Sunday, but they did win the quality battle. The Flyers produced five of the ten unblocked shot attempts these three saw at 5-on-5, but Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek controlled the shot count 5-2 and nearly posted a 60 expected goals-for percentage. By period the trio went 3-2 in the first, 1-2 in the second, and 1-1 in the third.
  • Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek spent most of their 11:09 at 5-on-5 up against Joakim Nordstrom-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner. Half of the ten unblocked shot attempts the Flyers’ trio saw at 5-on-5 came with Boston’s trio out there with Boston taking the 3-2 unblocked shot attempt edge but Philly taking the shot contest 2-1.
  • JVR-Giroux-Farabee opened the game with five Flyers’ unblocked shot attempts before they closed out the game by seeing nothing but five Bruins’ unblocked shot attempts in the third period including Danton Heinen’s goal. The trio went 5-1 in the first, 3-3 in the second, and 0-5 in the third.
  • JVR-Giroux-Farabee saw the group of Heinen-David Krejci-Charlie Coyle for the majority of their 10:06 5-on-5 time. The two lines split the six unblocked shot attempts evenly, but Boston came away with a 3-1 edge in shots on goal and 1-0 in goals.
  • Similar to Twarynski-Hayes-Voracek on Sunday night, Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick lost the quantity fight but held the advantage in terms of quality chances. The fourth line lost the unblocked shot attempt battle by one, but provided 60 percent of the shots and posted a 67.57 expected goals-for percentage. The quantity and quality battles by period shake out as 1-2 unblocked shot attempts (1-1 shots on goal) in the first, 0-1 (0-0) in the second, and 5-4 (5-3) in the third.
  • As expected the fourth line saw Boston’s fourth line of Bjork-Par Lindholm-Zach Senyshyn the most out of their 9:06 at 5-on-5 in the win. Three of Andreoff-Raffl-Pitlick’s 13 on-ice unblocked shot attempts came with Bjork-Lindholm-Senyshyn against them with Boston recording three shots on goal.

Pairs against Boston

Pair Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Pair Time on ice Corsi for % Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Expected goals for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Provorov-Niskanen 19:07 61.29 (19 for, 12 against) 58.33 (14 for, 10 against) 61.11 (11 for, 7 against) 72.1 Minus-1 (0 for, 1 against) Minus-2 (drew 1, took 3) Plus-1 (forced 2, iced 1)
Sanheim-Myers 15:58 46.15 (12 for, 14 against) 52.63 (10 for, 9 against) 61.54 (8 for, 5 against) 62.8 Plus-2 (2 for, 0 against) N/A Minus-1 (forced 2, iced 3)
Gostisbehere-Braun 12:30 41.18 (7 for, 10 against) 33.33 (4 for, 8 against) 36.36 (4 for, 7 against) 17.81 Minus-1 (0 for, 1 against) N/A Plus-1 (forced 2, iced 1)
  • It was an eventful night for Provorov-Niskanen as they were on the ice for 24 unblocked shot attempts, three icings, and four penalty calls if you include Pastrnak’s penalty shot. They were also on the ice for Marchand’s goal in the third period. The unblocked shot attempt totals by period for Provorov-Niskanen went 6-3 in the first, 3-0 in the second, and 5-7 in the third.
  • These two were the d-men that spent the most time with Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny against the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak unit. Of the 24 unblocked shot attempts Provorov-Niskanen were on the ice for in their 19:07 of 5-on-5 work seven (all shots on goal) happened against the Bruins’ top line with five of those seven (including Marchand’s goal) coming off sticks of B’s.
  • Sanheim-Myers saw most of their work in the first 40 minutes of Sunday’s game as 15 of the unblocked shot attempts they saw at 5-on-5 came in the first and second periods. The tandem oversaw nine unblocked shot attempts in the opening stanza with the Flyers producing six of them, as one came from Sanheim and two (including a goal) came from Myers. They were on the ice for a 4-2 advantage in the second period and saw nothing but four unblocked shot attempts from Boston in the third.
  • A good chunk of Sanheim-Myers’ 15:58 at 5-on-5 came against the Bruins’ top line as they matched against them for the game’s first 40 minutes while Provorov-Niskanen faced them in the third. Eleven of the 19 on-ice unblocked shot attempts for Sanheim-Myers came against Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak with Philly finishing with a 6-5 edge in unblocked shots and 5-2 in shots on goal.
  • Gostisbehere-Braun followed up Saturday’s performance with a pretty poor tilt the following day. After Braun accrued his second shot on goal just 6:05 into the contest to give Philly a 3-1 advantage in 5-on-5 unblocked shot attempts with the two out there before Boston collected seven of the final eight unblocked shot attempts this pair was on the ice for at 5-on-5. The breakdown by period of unblocked shot attempt counts for Gostisbehere-Braun on Sunday: 3-1 in the first, 0-3 in the second, and 1-4 in the third.
  • The Flyers’ D pair lined up against Boston’s second line of Heinen-Krejci-Coyle for most of their 12:30 on the blue line at 5-on-5. Only four of the 12 on-ice unblocked shot attempts Gostisbehere-Braun were on the ice for at 5-on-5 came against Heinen-Krejci-Coyle with the line winning a 3-1 count and provided a goal on the only forward shot that actually hit the net out of the four unblocked shot attempts.

Play on the fly

Lines/Pairs Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Lines/Pairs Unblocked shots for % Shots for % Goal differential Penalty differential Icing differential
Lines vs. Toronto 45.83 (11 for, 13 against) 57.14 (8 for, 6 against) N/A Even (drew 1, took 1) Minus-2 (forced 0, iced 2)
Pairs vs. Toronto 45.45 (5 for, 6 against) 40 (4 for, 6 against) Plus-1 (1 for, 0 against) N/A N/A
Lines vs. Boston 36.36 (4 for, 7 against) 28.57 (2 for, 5 against) Minus-1 (0 for, 1 against) N/A Minus-2 (forced 0, iced 2)
Pairs vs. Boston 36.36 (4 for, 7 against) 50 (3 for, 3 against) N/A N/A Plus-1 (forced 1, iced 0)

*Stats courtesy of NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick