Sending a message to his team for last night’s contest against the New York Islanders, Flyers’ head coach Alain Vigneault decided to sit one of the team’s best forwards in Travis Konecny. It was a bold move to make, but a move that was likely necessary given the Flyers’ languid and frustrating nature to which they were somehow winning games over the past week. In fact, Konecny hadn’t been playing like his usual self. In the last three games, Konecny only mustered one shot on goal at 5-on-5, despite his statistical profile of shooting in 2020-21 ranking him at a 13.9% above average shooter. Both the volume and quality were not there for Konecny, and it made sense for Vigneault to make a statement.
It was none other than Sam Morin who took Konecny’s spot in the lineup against the Islanders. Morin would play on a line with Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee, and be primarily matched up against the Islanders’ fourth line.
So, how did Morin do?
He would log 5:31 minutes of ice time in nine total shifts as Vigneault shuffled his lines around throughout the game, well, mainly shuffled around Laughton and Farabee. The Laughton, Morin, and Farabee combination, at 5-on-5, were out on the ice for 5.9% of the action, while Laughton, Farabee, and Jake Voracek would appear 4.3%, as well as the duo paired with Ivan Provorov of all skaters (4.3% again). This indicates that Vigneault truly only made this move to send a message, if Morin is only playing five minutes (compared to 18 and 20 shifts, with far more minutes, for Farabee and Laughton). He’s clearly still learning the forward position, and it would be understandable to shield his minutes in a game that was tied 2-2 for a long stretch of time.
Morin would register a single shot on goal, a long range effort that MoneyPuck scored at 0.017 for an expected goals/shot. He would also register three hits and one blocked shot.
Perhaps as expected, he did not drive play. Morin’s Corsi-for at 5-on-5 was calculated at a dismal 30.00%, -15.90% relative to his teammates. In this regard, he was tied for last place on the team with Scott Laughton who was also at 30.00%. Morin’s individual event Corsi-for was only 1.0 (meaning he only individual accounted for one Corsi counted event, his shot on goal), and on-ice shot attempts (tracked by Corsi) were 7-3 in the Islanders’ favor when Morin was on the ice.
By the numbers, it wasn’t a miraculous debut for Morin. Since he had such limited ice time, I wouldn’t even say he played very poorly, he just wasn’t really good by a trackable metric. Morin played physically as as expected of him against a chippy Islanders team, and he served his purpose to that extent, though it appeared that on the Islanders’ second goal he fell into some defensemen habits and gave Scott Mayfield a bit more room to shoot than he maybe should have.
For a player who has become an interesting project (for the second time), whatever little expectation there was on him tonight was fulfilled. Morin likely needs time at the AHL level to truly become an effective forward, and he did what he was asked on Saturday.
Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Moneypuck, and Left Wing Lock