The Philadelphia Flyers looked pretty impressive in their first preseason win of the year on Saturday in a 4-1 decision over the New York Rangers. We know the team overall played well and the Blueshirts didn’t have much of an answer, but where did the Orange and Black gain their advantage in play? What matchups tilted the ice in Philly’s favor? This is a question Line By Line will look to answer after each game this season.
In addition to looking at which lines are going up against which, this series will hopefully illustrate the quality of chances each line is producing and allowing throughout all 82 games this regular season. In addition to unblocked shot attempts being counted for each matchup, every attempt from the home plate area (attempts valued as better chances) will be tallied. For those unfamiliar with the home plate area here is the scoring area the term is referencing.
On top of the numbers, Line By Line will try to paint the bigger picture by breaking down plays that won’t end up in the box score. With that out of the way let’s take a look at Saturday’s game.
Joel Farabee-Morgan Frost-Michael Raffl
83.33 unblocked shots-for percentage (10 for, 2 against)
100 unblocked shots-for percentage in home plate area (5 for, 0 against)
77.78 shots-for percentage (7 for, 2 against)
100 shots-for percentage in home plate area (3 for, 0 against)
Minus-1 icing differential (forced 0 icings, iced it once)
Although this line didn’t score, Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost continued to illustrate why they should be on the opening night roster. The two prospects worked with Michael Raffl for 10:49 at 5-on-5 and abused the tandem of Greg McKegg and Boo Nieves the entire evening with whoever was floating in as their third wheel. The group of Tim Gettinger, Connor Brickley, and Micheal Haley took shifts with McKegg and Nieves, but Farabee-Frost-Raffl bulldozed their way to a 83.33 Fenwick-For percentage and 77.78 shots-for percentage. Not only did this Flyers’ trio not allow the Rangers to take a single attempt inside the home plate area but the only two shots on goal from New York came off the sticks of defensemen, as Adam Fox tested Carter Hart halfway through the first period with a shot just inside the blue line and Libor Hajek let go of a shot just inside the blue line at the left point within the first two minutes of the final period.
The Little Things
- About two minutes into the second period, Frost created offense thanks to a great individual forechecking effort. After Robert Hagg launched the puck into the Rangers’ zone, Frost went in to pressure Ryan Lindgren behind the net as the lone forechecker. The 2017 draft pick was able to pin Lindgren to the boards and with some support along the boards from Farabee and Raffl the line was able to provide a pair of shot attempts in the ensuing cycle.
- Farabee and Frost provided excellent neutral zone play on a scoring chance for JVR in the second period. After he received a pass in the neutral zone from Travis Sanheim, Farabee turned and braced for a check near center ice. Farabee’s guidance of the puck allowed a streaking Frost to pick up the disc and enter the offensive zone with some steam. Drawing the attention of a few Rangers with his drive through the middle of the ice, Frost was able to dish the puck to JVR at the right point, who walked to the right faceoff dot and had a decent chance blockered away by Igor Shesterkin.
- While Carsen Twarynski sat in the box for hooking midway through the first period, Ivan Provorov ragged the puck in the defensive zone before firing it all the way down the ice below the Rangers’ goal line, where Raffl retrieved it and proceeded to kill off a little bit more time by engaging in a board battle in New York’s end.
Oskar Lindblom-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
63.63 unblocked shots-for percentage (7 for, 4 against)
50 unblocked shot-for percentage in the home plate area (3 for, 3 against)
85.71 shots-for percentage (6 for, 1 against)
75 shots-for percentage in the home plate area (3 for, 1 against)
Plus-1 icings differential (forced 3 icings, iced it twice)
This line may have not put up the same volume of shot attempts as the oter lines at 5-on-5, but Oskar Lindblom-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek was the only line to both score a goal and not allow a Rangers’ goal in the victory. Despite the fact they were on the ice for 10:09 together at full strength, Lindblom-Hayes-Voracek didn’t allow a single Rangers’ shot on goal until Lias Andersson’s try with just 29 ticks left in regulation. In fact, this line went nearly half the game without allowing a single unblocked shot attempt against, as New York’s last Fenwick-For event before Andersson’s shot was a missed shot from Matthew Robertson with 9:33 left in the second stanza. Not only did Hayes score in the final minute of the first period, but Voracek made it a four-goal game with a little under 15 minutes left in regulation with a power-play tally. When your top two lines are able to post numbers like this for an entire game there’s a good chance you’re going home with a pair of points in the standings.
The Little Things
- A Matt Niskanen clear off the glass in the defensive zone led to Voracek getting past Ryan Lindgren in a race for a loose puck in the neutral zone. Voracek managed to set up Lindblom with a no-look backhanded pass on the ensuing rush, which led to a chance Shesterkin stopped up high. The rebound landed in the slot where Lindblom managed to whack it cross ice to Voracek, who danced his way to the slot to take the shot Hayes would redirect in for a goal.
- Hopefully we saw a glimpse of what the Hayes-Voracek chemistry will look like going forward. After a laser pass from Voracek in the neutral zone set up Hayes for a 2-on-1 with Lindblom halfway through the third period, the line cycled in the offensive zone before a give-and-go between Hayes and Voracek led to Phil Di Giuseppe hooking the Czech forward to prevent a scoring chance.
- Lindblom’s best chance of the night came off an incredible multi-line pass from Travis Sanheim. With a window up the middle of the ice Sanheim hit Lindblom at New York’s blue line with a tape-to-tape three-line pass that Lindblom nearly slipped five-hole with just seconds left in the middle stanza.
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
58.82 unblocked shots-for percentage (10 for, 7 against)
40 unblocked shots-for percentage in the home plate area (2 for, 3 against)
50 shots-for percentage (7 for, 7 against)
40 shots-for percentage in the home plate area (2 for, 3 against)
Even icings differential (forced 1 icing, iced it once)
The line of James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny were in a somewhat peculiar position on Saturday. Their 9:40 of ice time at 5-on-5 together was the third-most ice time behind the units featuring two intriguing prospects and what will most likely be the team’s second line to start the season. Not only that, but JVR-Giroux-Konecny spent most of the evening going up against the skilled units of Ryan Strome-Lias Andersson-Phil Di Giuseppe and Chris Kreider-Filip Chytil-Vitali Kravtsov. Those two lines may not sound like a terrorizing group of six, but looking at what else the Rangers were offering that night these two groups were their best lines. With all that being said JVR-Giroux-Konecny managed to essentially split the difference with the Blueshirts’ finest while partaking in the highest-paced action of the Flyers’ four main lines. The group failed to score at 5-on-5 but they also prevented the Rangers from scoring at full strength either even though Konecny and Robert Hagg smacked iron 11 seconds apart.
The Little Things
- In a span of 52 seconds early in the second period the Flyers managed to hit iron on three different shots. Provorov got the party started 36 seconds before Konecny nailed the outside of the right post, which happened 11 seconds before Hagg whistled one off the inside of the left post.
- Although this was his first game action all preaseason, Konecny didn’t miss a beat. About a minute into the second period he carried the puck into the Rangers’ zone in the middle of the ice before gliding the disc over to Giroux at the right point, who flipped it cross ice to JVR. Konecny then went to the front of the net and just missed redirecting JVR’s shot past Shesterkin to make it a three-goal game.
- Konecny also started a rush that nearly led to a Giroux goal in the second period. After he grabbed the puck along the boards in the neutral zone, Konecny quickly looked up ice and hit JVR with a pass to start a 2-on-1 with the captain. Giroux’s shot was ultimately turned away by Shesterkin, although the puck did glance off the post after it went through the netminder.
Carsen Twarynski-Scott Laughton-Chris Stewart
91.67 unblocked shots-for percentage (11 for, 1 against)
85.71 unblocked shots-for percentage in the home plate area (6 for, 1 against)
90 shots-for percentage (9 for, 1 against)
83.33 shots-for percentage in the home plate area (5 for, 1 against)
Even icings differential (not on the ice for any icings)
If there was ever a statement game in Carsen Twarynski’s career, it may have been on Saturday. After a surprisingly deep run for a roster spot in last year’s training camp was followed up by a rather quiet regular season in the AHL, Twarynski was regarded as a long shot to make the team coming out of camp this year. Twarynski’s line with Chris Stewart and Scott Laughton were only on the ice for 7:28 on Saturday, but the former Kelowna Rocket made his mark and carried his linemates to unconscionable possession numbers against the triumvirate of Gettinger, Brickley, and Nick Jones. Not only did he have game-highs with seven individual shot attempts and a 0.62 individual expected goals for at 5-on-5, but of the twelve shot attempts that took place with these three Flyers on the ice Twarynski fired seven of them with five coming within the home plate area. It’s unfortunate this unit finished the night even in terms of goal production, as Jones’ innocent wrist shot with just over four minutes left in regulation was New York’s first unblocked attempt against these three.
The Little Things
- On the most notable play of his memorable night, Twarynski started his goal-scoring sequence with a nice poke check in the neutral zone. The power forward took time and space away from Matthew Robertson before he poked it past the d-man to start a 2-on-1 with Stewart. His original shot was denied by Shesterkin, by Twarynski managed to knock the puck out of midair and into the cage for a goal.
- It feels as though Stewart hurt his chances of making the team a decent amount in this game. Although he showed he’s willing to fight, Stewart should have also been penalized twice in the game’s first 13 minutes. After he got lucky that Twarynski was called for a hook on Nick Jones rather than a slash of his own, Stewart knocked Jones to the ice with a hit from behind during a board battle to earn an interference call just minutes later. Stewart’s chances of making this team are based on how much the coaching staff value the role he can fill. However, if the coaching staff has any kind of desire to bring in a player like Stewart, isn’t Twarynski just a younger and better version?
- Scott Laughton had a game-high five hits. None of them led to a change in possession.
Lines On The Fly
85.71 unblocked shots-for percentage (6 for, 1 against)
83.33 unblocked shots-for percentage from the home plate area (5 for, 1 against)
80 shots-for percentage (4 for, 1 against)
75 shots-for percentage in the home plate area (3 for, 1 against)
The trio of Lindblom-Hayes-Farabee was the only random line to be on the ice for a Rangers’ unblocked shot, but they also provided a chance from the home plate area as well to breakeven. The line of JVR-Frost-Farabee produced a pair of unblocked shot attempts while Farabee-Laughton-Twarynski’s lone chance was a Farabee blast off the post early in the third period. The lines of Lindblom-Hayes-Stewart and Farabee-Hayes-Twarynski each provided a home plate area shot for Philly.
*Stats via Natural Stat Trick