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Who have been the standout skaters for the Flyers so far?

Looking at the most noticeable Flyers, both good and bad.

Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Flyers have taken a 2-1 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens thanks to some sturdy in-zone defense and some key saves from Carter Hart. Though the Flyers managed to win yesterday, they did a poor job of controlling the puck and lost the possession battle to the Canadiens for what essentially amounted to the entire game. The Corsi-For percentage numbers ended up 56.96% to 43.04% in favor of Montreal, which is a fairly significant split given how much of a theoretical advantage the Flyers have in terms of skaters who are known to drive play and control the puck.

Regardless, the Flyers have somehow found ways to win, and today I wanted to take a look at the metrics to validate some of the thoughts I’ve been having about this series so far. I’ll be looking at both the good and the bad here. Though Corsi isn’t the end-all-be-all of statistical measures, it’s going to be hard to find much good in that department, unfortunately. So, I’ll be diversifying things a bit in this article.

Note that all statistics are taken from Natural Stat Trick, and all are assumed to be at 5-on-5 unless stated.

The Good

Sean Couturier

Though Couturier is almost always a possession positive player regardless, the re-tooling by Alain Vigneault, putting Giroux and Voracek back with Couturier on the top line for Game 3, helped all three players. The line was the only line for the Flyers to stay Corsi-For positive at 5-on-5 (66.67%), and in the end it scored the Flyers’ (and the game’s) only goal.

Regardless, I think Couturier (obviously) was the driving force behind that, and he’s been the best forward in the series for the Flyers, head and shoulders above anyone else in my opinion. His Corsi-For of 60.61% in the series leads the Flyers (in fact is the only player who is above break-even), and Couturier is 5th on the team in expected goals for.

This only serves to validate the eye test. As we at Broad Street Hockey have raved about for countless paragraphs, he makes so many little plays that impact the game more than anyone would think. An example I can think of from yesterday’s game would be this little poke at the puck he did to prevent the Canadiens from clearing their own zone. He reached out and just tapped the puck lightly at full stretch to take it away, out of the path of the Montreal skater (I wish I could find the play), and though in the end it didn’t amount to anything, it’s things like this that make Couturier so special. He sees the game at a different level.

Phil Myers

Myers has looked great paired with Travis Sanheim, and while I think both players have had a good series so far, I’ve liked Myers a bit better since I think he’s looked the more dangerous offensive threat when he steps in from the blue line. He has an excellent shot, both from in close and from far away, and I’ve seen him utilize it fairly often so far.

Myers has played well defensively as well, and has so far, been a break-even possession player (50.00 CF%). Myers has actually played the most minutes at 5-on-5 of any Flyer skater with 46:39 minutes. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far.

Scott Laughton

Though his line may not be clicking like we’ve seen them before, I’ve liked what Scott Laughton has been able to do. He’s looked like one of the few Flyers who could actually score a goal in this series! He would have a goal if it weren’t for Carey Price making an unreal save.

In fact, his individual excepted goals sits at 0.71, which leads the Flyers (well that’s kind of sad). Laughton also leads the team in individual high danger Corsi-for.

Laughton’s 47.67 CF% is not terrible, but could be improved, however. It doesn’t help that his line mates, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny, really haven’t looked themselves in this series so far. I would really like to see that line start to click again, and Laughton continuing to be solid would help with that.

The Bad

Nate Thompson

Well yeah. Enough said about him. He’s been negative in nearly every advanced metric. Next.

Matt Niskanen

Steady Eddie really doesn’t look all so steady anymore. He’s sitting on a 37.62 CF%, which is just miles below what we’ve come to expect of Niskanen in his time as a Flyer. He’s honestly being partially carried by Ivan Provorov, which hasn’t been the case for really any other time this season. Niskanen currently holds the unfortunate record for Corsi-Against on the Flyers in the series with 63 CA. His relative Corsi-For percentage figure also stands at a miserly bottom three on the club.

Could it be that he’s simply tired? I would hope not given the length of the pause, but equally, not having played intense, playoff hockey really at all before the resumption of the season could leave him in the ditch. It sounds like a poor excuse given the fact that NHL players are elite athletes, but I can tell you from experience that it can take a while to find your feet in situations like this (well, on a waaaaay lower scale).

Kevin Hayes

I just have not thought Hayes has looked good from the eye test. He seems to be near languid out on the ice, and he’s giving away too many pucks either due to carrying it in the zone and being pressured, or just due to poor passes.

The numbers support my claim as well. His Corsi-For percentage sits at 41.67%, when he sat around break even during the regular season (49.35 CF%). Hayes has never been an amazing play driver, but he makes a lot of smart plays and generally doesn’t hurt teams possession wise. However, so far he is actively hurting possession, and in honesty, that would explain why the fourth line got more minutes yesterday than the Hayes line.

If the Flyers are wanting to really turn the series on its head, they’ll need Hayes to become his old self again.

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