Six games into the season, the Flyers had one win - and a very poor one at that.
They had four points in the standings, one from a blown game against Montreal at home on Oct. 11, where a 3-0 lead in the final period ended in a 4-3 shootout loss. They had another point from a hard-fought 4-3 shootout loss to the Ducks on Oct. 14. And they had their only win, a 6-5 overtime win that felt more like an All-Star contest than a hard-fought hockey game.
The sixth game of the season was the Flyers pitiful effort in Chicago, resulting in a 4-0 loss. There stood the Flyers looking up at a majority of the NHL early in the season for the second time in two years. They had a 1-3-2 record on Oct. 22. Three weeks later, they are 7-5-2 after winning six of their eight games.
That kind of recovery bodes an honest question: how have the Flyers done it?
Prior to Saturday’s game the Flyers organization suffered yet another setback. After leaving the game in the 3rd period after crashing into the boards, it was announced on Saturday that Shayne Gostisbehere would be out indefinitely with a torn ACL.
Gostisbehere had a cup of coffee with the big club, playing just two games and scoing no points. In 5 AHL games this year he registered 5 assists. There is no doubt that the development cycle of Gostisbehere will be delayed, but it isn’t a total loss. GM Ron Hextall wants Gostisbehere to view both the AHL and NHL game from the press box to help his learning curve, much like Samuel Morin did after his jaw injury.
Hours after learning that one of their top defensemen would be missing for a period of time, the Phantoms took to the ice in Portland against the Pirates. That didn’t go much better for them. The Phantoms were outshot 40 to 27 and although Rob Zepp made 37 saves, the Phantoms went 0 for 5 on the power play and were shutout in a 3-0 loss. Scott Laughton managed just 1 shot and was on the ice for both even strength goals against in a tough day all around for the Phantoms organization.
The Phantoms will get back on the ice on Friday at the Penguins then back at the PPL Center on Saturday to face the Toronto Marlies.
After losing to the Fort Wayne Komets Friday night, they went right back at it Saturday night to try to get revenge on the Komets. After a 7 goal game (4-3 loss) on Friday, that was topped by a 7-6 game on Saturday, unfortunately the Royals were on the losing end again. The Royals had a two-goal lead three times in the game, but just couldn’t hang on.
The Royals have a busy weekend coming up, with a two-game set in Kalamazoo before a Sunday matinee in Toledo.
Ryan Gilbert is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia and can be found on twitter @RiskyBryzness.
When the Philadelphia Flyers signed Michael Del Zotto in August after the tragic injury to Kimmo Timonen, many expected him to play minimal minutes in a 3rd pairing role. However, due to injuries to Braydon Coburn, Andrew MacDonald and now Luke Schenn, Del Zotto has been forced to play more minutes and play against tougher competition. Fortunately, he has thrived in his newfound role as a shutdown defenseman. Del Zotto has been one of the best Flyers defenseman so far this season.
Of all the defensemen on the Flyers’ roster, only 5 have played more than 7 games. Those five, listed alphabetically, are Michael Del Zotto, Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz and Mark Streit. Not exactly the names you would expect to be the main defensive core for a 7-5-2 hockey club, especially given the tough schedule the Flyers had at the beginning of the year. Coming into the season Del Zotto admitted that he had a chip on his shoulder after moving from the New York Rangers to the Nashville Predators last season and having no one sign him until an emergency injury occurred. He has used that to his advantage, working as hard as he can every second of every shift, of every game and of every practice to be the best hockey player he can be, and boy do the numbers show that.
*All the stats in this article are at 5v5 play. No power play or penalty kill numbers are included.
The first thing I looked at was simply time on ice; which defensemen are being trusted with the most minutes.
It is no surprise that Mark Streit, the Flyers prized free agent of the 2013 offseason is leading the charge at just under 17 minutes. However, Michael Del Zotto is right behind him with just over 16 minutes. Nick Schultz isn’t too far behind at nearly 16 minutes, with penalty killing specialists Nicklas Grossmann and Luke Schenn pulling up the 5v5 rear with 15 and 14 minutes respectively.
Time on ice is important, but how a player is used in that time is even more important. Offensive zone starts are in green (easier starting position), while defensive zone starts are in red (more difficult starting position). The zone start percentage is exactly what is sounds like, what percent of a player’s shifts are started in a certain zone. Players who receive more offensive starts are deemed “sheltered” from the tough usage and are typically more offensively inclined. Therefore players who receive more defensive starts are looked at as more solid defensively.
Michael Del Zotto has seen the most defensive zone starts out of any of these defensemen despite being viewed more as an offensive type of defenseman. He has definitely shifted roles this year and has been able to transition his game well to succeed in all areas on the ice. Mark Streit who we saw had the most time on ice at even strength doesn’t quite have the same zone start numbers as Del Zotto. Streit is a bit more sheltered and has by far the least amount of defensive zone starts of this group. Not only is Del Zotto playing a lot of minutes, he is playing in tough situations on the ice. It is amazing to think that he is receiving a higher percent of defensive zone starts than anyone on the team, especially Grossmann and Schenn who are seen more as defensive specialists.
Even though Del Zotto has been receiving a pretty tough assignment, he has still managed to put some points on the board.
P60 shows how many points a player scores per 60 minutes of ice time. Obviously this is still a relatively small sample size of just over a dozen games, but it is still worth looking at. Del Zotto has even outperformed Streit as far as even strength scoring rates are concerned. Nick Schultz has also had some solid numbers so far this year despite his track record.
Now we are going to look deeper into the numbers with some advanced stats, particularly corsi percentage.
A player’s corsi percentage is the number of shot attempts his team has while he is on the ice divided by the total shot attempts while he is on the ice. For example, is the Flyers have 6 shots and the Avalanche have 4 shots when Del Zotto on the ice, his corsi percentage (also notated as corsi for, CF%, Corsi%, etc.) would be 60%.
Looking at this group of Flyers defensemen, Del Zotto is once again near the top. A surprising year so far for Luke Schenn puts him at the top of the chart, a tenth of a percentage point above Mark Streit who is half a percentage point above our favorite bachelor. Once again, Del Zotto has been playing a lot of minutes, and a lot of tough minutes at that and he is still performing very well.
As we look a bit deeper into corsi we can break it down a few ways.
CF60 shows how many corsi (shot attempts) a team generates with a player on the ice per 60 minutes.
As expected Del Zotto is right there near the top, again below Streit and Schenn as this loosely follows the corsi percentage stat as well. Del Zotto has produced nearly as many shot attempts for his team as Streit despite having less offensive zone starts and many more defensive zone starts. Schenn has similar zone starts to Del Zotto though not to the same extremes and leads the Flyers defensemen in CF60.
CA60 is just like CF60 but measures shot attempts against per 60 minutes.
On the surface many would expect the Flyers’ “defensive defensemen” such as Nicklas Grossmann and Luke Schenn to be better at surprising shot attempts against, but that isn’t the case. These two are actually the worst at this while the Flyers two “offensive defensemen” are the best. Streit’s numbers are more understandable as he sees the least amount of time in the defensive zone. However, Del Zotto sees the most time in the defensive zone as far as zone starts are concerned and is nearly the best at suppressing shot attempts. He is able to not only keep teams to the outside to prevent shot attempts, but he is able to transition the game up ice and generate shots as shown in the CF60 chart above.
Signing Michael Del Zotto in August seemed like a knee-jerk reaction by GM Ron Hextall after losing Kimmo Timonen indefinitely, but there was definitely some reasoning and research behind it. Del Zotto has been one of the best Flyers players so far and has seemed to fly under the radar not only around the league but in Philadelphia as well.
Ryan Gilbert is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. He can be found on Twitter @RiskyBryzness.
Twenty-nine years ago, one of the brightest young stars was gone from the NHL sky. Today marks the anniversary of the day we lost our Vezina Trophy-winning netminder, Pelle Lindbergh. As hard as he played on the ice was also as hard as he played off of it.
Steven Stamkos, Ben Bishop and company are rolling. Since losing 7-2 to Minnesota on October 25th, the Tampa Bay Lightning have won six straight games and lead the Atlantic Division by two points over Montreal. Stamkos scored two more goals on Sunday in the team's 4-3 win over Detriot giving him a team leading 10 goals on the year.