Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: Goals! Goals everywhere! Just too many for the other guys though.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* They did have Michael Del Zotto on the ice for the first time all year, though: [CPSJ]
* Some words on the Flyers’ goalies, who, as you may have heard, have not been great so far. (More coming on this subject later today!) [Philly.com]
* A column on Claude Giroux’s leadership, and how it is, in fact, not bad: [CSN Philly]
* An interview with Andrew MacDonald about last year’s demotion, featuring Shayne Gostisbehere talking about how AMac likes beets: [SI.com]
* Elsewhere in the NHL, there was a big brawl in Saturday’s Leafs-Canucks game: [SBNation]
* Very sad and unexpected news on Sunday as former NHLer Marek Svatos passed away at just 34: [Mile High Hockey]
* NHL All-Star John Scott announced his retirement: [Today’s Slapshot]
* How the Vegas team filled out its front office: [Sportsnet]
* Finally, here are two Leafs singing along to Livin’ on a Prayer in-game after that brawl we mentioned earlier, because sure, why not: [SBNation]
Subject: Flyers’ high-powered offense isn’t leading to wins the way it should be
There should be a lot more to show in the standings with all these goals being scored.
In the NHL, scoring four times almost certainly means you’re winning. Let’s look at a few of the top-scoring teams in the league and how they fare when scoring four or more goals.
· New York Rangers: 9-0
· Tampa Bay Lightning: 6-0
· Chicago Blackhawks: 5-0
· Montreal Canadiens: 5-0
Those are four of the five top-scoring teams (per game) in the NHL. As the numbers suggest, reaching the four-goal mark means one thing: a victory. Those teams have an overall record of 36-11-3.
That is, of course, unless you’re the Philadelphia Flyers, where that rule seemingly doesn’t apply.
The Flyers — the other team in the top five of goals per game — have scored four goals in nine games. Their record in those five games is 5-4. That means four of their six regulation losses have come while scoring four or more goals. For comparison’s sake, the Flyers were 23-1 when scoring four or more goals last season.
Overall, they’re 6-6-1. The aforementioned four other teams have an average of 8.5 wins to their name. The Flyers could and should be 8-4-1, which would place them right behind the Rangers for the top spot in the Metropolitan.
So what’s going on?
The glaring problem is in net, where the team ranks 29th in the NHL with 48 goals allowed. Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason look nowhere near as reliable as they did a year ago. Some of the goals they’re allowing are simply a result of defensive breakdowns, but a handful fall solely on their shoulders for failing to make a big save when it matters (see below).
Canadians goal scored by #30 Michael Neuvirth pic.twitter.com/2ClsTyXDs8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2016
This team’s roster makeup is very similar to what it was last season, with both goalies back, nearly all of the same faces on the blue line besides the addition of Ivan Provorov, and a forward group whose only new pieces are Travis Konecny, Dale Weise and Roman Lyubimov.
Perhaps this is a matter of both goalies being in a slump at the same time, an issue that never transpired to this extent last season. When Mason was off, Neuvirth was on, and vice versa.
Both netminders couldn’t have lost all that talent over a summer, right?
Additionally, this is a contract year for each of them, a season typically regarded as one that sees the player perform above his level to get that next big payday. Right now, neither of the two goalies are improving their future financial situation.
As Dave Hakstol discussed earlier in the week, it’s a lot to easier to fix an issue pertaining to allowing goals than scoring them. The latter proved to be an issue for this team for much of last season. When a team can’t score, it’s hard to magically find that touch if the talent just isn’t there, whereas new schemes and techniques can certainly benefit a defensive gameplan in its in-season improvement.
Will the goaltenders play this poorly all season? It’s hard to envision that with the generally above-average-to-good track record for each.
One thing is for certain, though: if the Flyers continue to score at this rate, they have to start winning more than they are. Just look at the odds.
Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Our vote is for the Flyers to win tonight.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* So the Flyers keep on scoring goals but they don’t keep on winning games. How does this happen? The answer may shock you! [BSH]
* (Or it may not! The goaltending. The answer’s “the goaltending”.) [Sons of Penn]
* Some more goalie talk, because it’s all the rage right now! Also, Matt Read skated on the top line at practice yesterday: [CSN Philly]
* Also yesterday, Scott Laughton skated after spending some time last week with the Phantoms on a rehab stint. A brief interview with him: [Highland Park Hockey]
* A wrap of last weekend around the NHL: [VICE]
* Bob McKenzie goes in-depth on the NHL rulebook and why Nazem Kadri didn’t get suspended for his hit this past weekend on Daniel Sedin: [TSN]
* In a down Pacific division, can the Oilers actually make the playoffs this year? [SBNation]
* Jacob Trouba ended his holdout (though apparently he’s still looking to be traded) with ... a two-year, $6 million deal. That sucks for him, but also goes to show the challenges that young players looking for second contracts can face: [Sporting News]
* Across the Metro, here’s an in-depth tactical look at the Devils’ forecheck, with a lot of tracking work behind it: [All About The Jersey]
* And on the other side of the Hudson, John Tavares is on the verge of real, definitely real, 100 percent real history: [Lighthouse Hockey]
* The Canucks are really bad! But they’re probably not this bad. But it also might not matter soon enough: [The Hockey News]
* The Leafs, who the Flyers play later this week, have way too many good young forwards already. Here’s more on one of them! [SBNation]
* Finally, in honor of the election today, here the are five NHL hockey players who would apparently be the best presidents: [Puck Daddy]
Subject: Flyers prospect report: The Phantoms go streaking
Our weekly look at Flyers prospects around the globe
Phantoms go streaking, winning all 3 games last week
- 4-0 WIN vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (11/2)
- 4-2 WIN vs. Providence Bruins (11/4)
- 6-4 WIN vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (11/5)
The Phantoms get another lop-sided win against Hartford (who they beat 5-1 on 10/28). Anthony Stolarz was in goal and recorded his first shutout of the season and first in two years (he had none in 15/16). Moorestown New Jersey Native T.J. Brennan got the scoring started with his 3rd goal. Cole Bardreau followed up with his 1st of the season at the end of the 1st. Corban Knight (2) and Mark Zengerle (3) rounded out the scoring in the game.
Stolarz got the start again on Friday and was quite good, stopping 27 of 29 shots en route to the victory. He was supported by power play goals from Mark Zengelre (4) and Greg Carey (4). Nicolas Aube-Kubel notched his 2nd of the season in the 2nd period and Scott Laughton, on conditioning assignment following his LTIR stint, capped things off with an empty net goal in the final minute of the game.
The Phantoms gave the 8,000 strong crowd at the PPL Center quite a show on Saturday, rallying from down 4-2 to win the game. Danick Martel made his return after a scary knee-to-knee hit that sidelined him for a couple games with his 4th goal of the season. The LHV powerplay was on point in the game, going 3 for 7, getting goals from Carey (5 & 6) and Taylor Leier (1), with the latter tying the game. With the game tied, Colin McDonald (5) put the Phantoms ahead and Chris Connor (2) provided the empty netter to seal the victory.
Travis Sanheim (D): 2 assists, 5 shots
2014 1st Round Pick, 17th overall
With another two assists, that gives Sanheim 6 helpers on the season. His first AHL goal still alludes him.
Taylor Leier (LW): 1 goal, 2 assists, 4 shots, 2 PIM
2012 4th Round Pick, 117th overall
Leier finally gets his first goal after an 8-game drought to begin the season. He has 7 points in 9 games.
Jordan Weal (C): 3 assists, 5 shots
2010 3rd Round Pick, 70th overall (LA Kings)
Weal has 12 points in 9 games (3 G, 9 A) and we are beginning to see why he has been such a dominant AHL player the last couple seasons. He is still just 24 and you hope is given a chance at the NHL-level.
Robert Hagg (D): 1 assist, 4 shots, 2 PIM
2013 2nd Round Pick, 41st overall
Hagg got his first point of the season, a secondary assist on Aube-Kubel’s goal against Providence. Unfortunately on Saturday, he took puck to the visor and had to exit the game.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (RW): 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots
2014 2nd Round Pick, 48th overall
The two point weekend now gives Aube-Kubel 3 points in his last 4 games after starting the season a bit slow.
Anthony Stolarz (G): 3 GP, .943 SV%, 1 shutout
2012 2nd Round Pick, 45th overall
Stolarz holds a .928 SV% on the season with a 2.44 GAA. The SV% is good for 14th best in the league and has only climbed after this past weekend. He is also just 1 win off the league-lead.
Notable Canadian junior performers this weekend
Connor Bunnaman (C/LW), Kitchner Rangers (OHL)
2016 4th Round Pick, 109th overall
Bunnaman has 13 points (7 G, 6 A) in 15 games this season, which puts him 4th on the team. His 7 goals are good for 3rd most of the Rangers, behind Jeremy Bracco (2015, TOR) and Adam Mascherin (2016, FLA).
- 11/2 - 1 assist, 3 shots, 2 PIM, 5 for 19 FOW
- 11/4 - 0 shots, 1 for 5 FOW
- 11/5 - 1 assist, 2 for 2 FOW
Anthony Salinitri (C), Sarnia Sting (OHL)
2016 6th Round Pick, 172nd overall
Salinitri continues to excel in his 3rd OHL season, racking up 19 points (8 G, 11 A) in 16 games (3rd on the team).
- 11/2 - 5 shots, 5 for 10 FOW
- 11/4 - 1 assist, 2 shots, 7 PIM, 5 for 10 FOW
- 11/5 - 1 goal, 4 shots, 4 PIM, 7 for 16 FOW
Carter Hart (G), Everett Silvertips (WHL)
2016 2nd Round Pick, 48th overall
The Carter Hart hype-train continues to roll and we are now accepting any aboard. With a minimum of 3 games played, Hart leads the WHL in GAA (1.89) and is 3rd in overall save percentage (.926). The 18 year old is poised for an excellent season.
- 11/2 - 1 GA, 27 saves
- 11/5 - DNP
Carson Twarynski (LW), Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
2016 3rd Round Pick, 82nd overall
Twarynski is heating up, depositing 5 goals in his last 5 games. He has 6 goals on the season and 0 assists.
- 11/4 - 2 goals
- 11/5 - 0 points
Samuel Dove-McFalls (C), Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
2015 4th Round Pick, 98 overall
Dove-McFalls has also picked up the pace of late with 5 points in his last 5 games, giving him 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in 17 games this season.
- 11/1 - 1 assist, 2 shots, 3 for 6 FOW
- 11/4 - 2 assists, 4 shots, 2 PIM, 3 for 4 FOW
- 11/6 - 6 shots, 2 for 8 FOW
Philippe Myers (D), Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Undrafted Free Agent
Myers returns after missing 6 games due to a concussion and didn’t shy away from the contact. Hopefully all is okay from here on out and is able to participate for Team QMJHL in the CHL/Russian Series this month.
- 11/5 - 5 shots, 2 PIM, 3 hits
CHL Notes: Pascal Laberge remains out of the Victoriaville lineup since October 15 because of a concussion.
Notable European performances this week
The SHL, KHL, Czech and various other European Leagues took a break from regular season action for their young stars to participate in the U20 4 Nations Tournament this past week. Linus Högberg, Felix Sandström and David Bernhardt competed for Team Sweden, Mikhail Vorobyov for Team Russia and David Kase for Team Czech Republic. H/T to Alex Appleyard to compiling this information as some of it is not yet posted on the tournament website (but seriously, give Alex a follow for his Euro League Flyers prospect updates):
- Felix Sandström (G) - 2 GP, 2 wins, .898 SV%
- Linus Högberg (D) - 3 GP, 1 goal 1 assist
- David Bernhardt (D) - 3 GP, 1 assist
- Mikhail Vorobyov (C) - 3 GP, 3 assists
- David Kase (C) - 1 goal, 2 assists
Notable college performances this weekend
Mark Friedman (D), Bowling Green State University
2014 3rd Round Pick, 86th overall
It was a quiet weekend for Friedman who stayed off the scoresheet and saw his team fall to 2-8-1 on the season. The 20 year old defenseman has 5 points (2 G, 3 A) in 9 games so far in his junior season.
11/4 - no points
11/5 - no points, 4 PIM
Wade Allison (RW), Western Michigan University
2016 2nd Round Pick, 52nd overall
Allison picks up his 4th goal of the season and first since 10/14 against Bowling Green State when he had a 2-goal effort. He now has 6 points (4 G, 2 A) in 8 games.
11/4 - 2 shots, 2 PIM
11/5 - 1 goal, 2 shots, 0 for 1 FOW, 2 PIM
Merrick Madsen (G), Harvard University
2013 6th Round Pick, 162th overall
Madsen gets both starts last weekend and plays to a tie on Friday and gets the win on Saturday. He has a 1.47 GAA and .931 SV% through 4 games (3-0-1).
- 11/4 - 1 GA, 14 saves
- 11/5 - 3 GA, 20 saves
Tanner Laczynski (C), Ohio State University
2016 6th Round Pick, 169th overall
Laczynski continues to lead the team with 12 points (3 G, 9 A) in OSU’s 9 games this season. This is his freshman season after 2 full years in the USHL.
- 11/4 - 1 assist, 5 shots
- 11/5 - 7 shots, 2 PIM
Terrance Amorosa (D), Clarkson University
2013 5th Round Pick, 132nd overall
Amorosa makes his 2016-17 debut after sitting out the beginning of the season with an injury. This is the 21 year old’s 3rd season with Clarkson. Last year he put up an impressive 16 points in 27 games.
- 11/5 - 2 assists
NCAA Notes: Matej Tomek saw some time in the exhibition opener for UND, but has sat behind junior Cam Johnson in every regular season game this year. Cooper Marody was deemed academically ineligible and won’t be able to play this fall, missing roughly half the season. Look for updates on Marody when he returns this spring.
Subject: Which Flyers forwards have been best in the offensive zone so far in 2016-17?
With thirteen games in the books, let's take a glance at the offensive zone play of the forwards.
During the opening weeks of the 2015-16 season, the biggest question surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers was the complete absence of goal scoring. Adjusting to a new coach and a new system, the team scored just 29 times in their first thirteen contests for a pitiful 2.23 goals per game rate.
This year, however, scoring has come far easier to Philadelphia.
Through the opening 13 games of the 2016-17 season, the Flyers have a whopping 45 goals, good for a stellar 3.46 per game rate. Their mediocre 6-6-1 record can be primarily laid on the shoulders of the defense and (especially) the goaltending, which has been gashed for 48 tallies against. Still, the offense has done its job.
The team has a whole has been an efficient scoring machine thus far. But which forwards have been most effective in the offensive zone, particularly during 5-on-5 situations? Answering this question allows us to better understand which players are standing out while on the attack, which players we can expect to continue to rack up points, and which ones need to make some adjustments.
The easiest way to determine who has been most effective in the offensive zone is simply to look at individual point totals. After all, if you're scoring (and assisting) on goals, you're probably doing something right while on the attack.
But there are some issues with using that as a sole approach. First, a player could be racking up lots of points simply because either he or his teammates are scoring goals at unsustainable high percentages. Sure, an on-ice shooting percentage of 20% is great in the here-and-now, but it's probably not going to continue over 82 games. Second, a player could be scoring not because he's especially effective in the offensive zone, but because he's getting there all the time due to strong neutral zone play and lots of faceoffs on that side of the ice. That still makes him valuable, but it's just a different type of value than a true offensive dynamo.
To isolate offensive zone performance from Flyers' forward during 5-on-5 situations, we'll use two methods of evaluation. To start, we'll determine which players have been most effective in helping the team to extract extra shots per offensive zone entry while on the ice. Then, we'll look at individual passing metrics to see which forwards are actively creating the most shots, whether by pulling the trigger themselves or passing the puck to a teammate who blasts away.
Offensive Zone Scores and what they mean
Last season, I manually tracked Flyers zone entries during 5-on-5 situations. Through that tracking, I was able to grade performance in every zone of the ice. To judge players' performance in the neutral zone, I counted every entry for and against that occurred with them on the ice. To measure their offensive zone play, I determined whether the Flyers generated more shots than would be expected considering the amount of times they made it into the attacking zone. And finally, I judged defensive zone play, evaluating if the team prevented more shots relative to entry-based expectations. Using past methods pioneered by Eric Tulsky, I was able to reproduce three metrics -- Neutral Zone Score, Offensive Zone Score, and Defensive Zone Score -- to quantify my findings.
This year, I am not tracking entries. That's because Corey Sznajder, microstat tracker extraordinaire, is doing the heavy lifting for everyone in the public sphere at his website, The Energy Line. However, though Corey's data includes basically every individual microstat imaginable, he does not record who is on the ice for each event, which is necessary in order to create metrics like Offensive Zone Score.
To create those metrics, Muneeb Alam of Japers' Rink has been kind enough to help match up Corey's Flyers-centric events to the on-ice data that the NHL tracks on their own. As a result, we now can determine which Philadelphia players were on the ice for each of the entries that Corey tracked, and recreate the Zone Score metrics used last season.
To evaluate offensive zone play, we'll obviously use Offensive Zone Score. Essentially, this metric determines how many unblocked shot attempts are expected to occur with a certain player on the ice, based on the number and type of offensive zone entries (including o-zone faceoffs) that happened on their watch, and then compares it to their actual results. If the team generated more shots than expected with him on the ice, then he gets a positive Offensive Zone Score. Less than expected, and he grades out negative.
Let's now look at each of the Flyers' forwards Expected Fenwick For (on-ice unblocked attempts), their actual Fenwick For, and then the resulting Offensive Zone Score.
|Forward||Expected Fenwick For||Actual Fenwick For||Offensive Zone Score|
There's a lot to digest here, so let's start with a high-level view. To begin, it's fairly impressive that 12 out of the 14 Philadelphia forwards are either positive or basically break-even in Offensive Zone Score. This implies that the team as a whole has done a solid job of extracting extra shots out of their entries into the attacking zone. The Flyers succeeded in this area last year as well, finishing with a +2.91% team OZS, and they're off to an even better start this year, coming in a +4.39 percent. Considering Philadelphia's aggressive forechecking ways, it's good to see that the tactics are succeeding.
As for the individual players, Roman Lyubimov obviously stands out. My eye test had him pegged as a particularly effective forechecker in the early going, and the numbers clearly back that up. Next up, we have the entire Konecny-Couturier-Voracek line, all of whom are solidly above-average in terms of offensive zone shot creation. This also should be no shock to even casual Flyers observers, as they've looked monstrous on the attack thus far.
Also interesting are the two players at the bottom of the list. Brayden Schenn was dropped off the first line recently, and his OZS shows that the Flyers have not been particularly effective in creating extra shots on the attack with him on the ice. Schenn does have the mentality and skillset to be a strong forechecker, but we haven't seen it manifest in the numbers so far this year.
Dale Weise's awful performance here also stands out. The offseason signing was a surprise scratch last week, but these metrics could help to explain why. Maybe Weise is struggling to adjust to the aggressive nature of the Flyers' offensive zone forecheck, and that's resulted in the winger moving into the coach's doghouse. Considering the ease at which NHL rookie Roman Lyubimov has seemingly helped his team to generate extra offense on the attack with a Weise-like skillset, it's surprising that Weise himself has graded out so poorly in this area.
The good news for Weise is that the jury is still out regarding the repeatability of Offensive Zone Score when it comes to individual players. It's clearly repeatable on a team level, but past research implies that individual players may not be able to consistently extract more value from their entries than their teammates do. My hope is that the current forechecking project that I am working on this season with Ryan Stimson and other writers at Hockey-Graphs will move this research area forward, but for now, OZS needs to be taken with a grain of salt. As a result, let's look to other methods of evaluating offensive zone play from the Flyers' forwards.
Introducing Primary Shot Contributions
One of the most enlightening projects in recent hockey analytics has been The Passing Project headed up by Ryan Stimson. Essentially a group tracking undertaking, The Passing Project is primarily focused on the impact of certain types of passes upon shot and goal creation.
One of the most intriguing findings so far has been the development of a new stat - Primary Shot Contributions per 60. The name is more threatening than the definition, which is extremely straightforward -- raw PSC is simply the total number of shot attempts and primary shot assists that an individual player creates. A "primary shot assist" is similar to a "primary assist," as it's the final pass that precedes a shot attempt by a teammate. PSC/60 (weighting the raw metric by time on ice) gives us an accurate view into which players are creating the most offense, whether by shooting the puck themselves or directly creating shots for teammates.
PSC/60 not only allows us to determine who is directly responsible for the creation of shot attempts for a team, it also has proven more predictive of future Primary Points for an individual player than even past primary points. Essentially, if Player A has a low Primary Points/60 rate through 10 games but a high PSC/60 rate, we can expect he'll score more points over the final 72 contests than a teammate who has racked up lots of primary assists with a low PSC/60. This makes intuitive sense -- if you're involved in the creation of lots of shots, over the long term, you're going to score points.
In addition to tracking entries and exits, Corey has also tracked shots and shot assists this season. Using that data, we can put together a ranking of Flyers forwards and their respective PSC/60 rates at 5-on-5, to determine who is actually creating the most offense and who can be expected to score a significant amount of primary points in the future.
|Forward||5v5 Primary Shot Contributions/60|
If you needed yet another reason, PSC/60 should get you really excited about the potential of Travis Konecny. No Flyers forward has created more shot attempts and primary shot assists at 5-on-5 this year, after accounting for ice time. Considering this and his stellar +11.87% Offensive Zone Scorer, it's not inaccurate to call him Philadelphia's best 5-on-5 shot creator so far in 2016-17, and this is as a 19-year old NHL rookie.
Aside from Konecny, the top of the chart reflects Philadelphia's "top-six" forwards so far this year. Voracek, Simmonds, Giroux and Couturier are no shockers here, but the appearance of Michael Raffl over Brayden Schenn is a bit of a surprise. As it turns out, the numbers backed up Dave Hakstol's decision to bump Schenn off the top two lines in favor of Raffl, who has done a much better job of directly creating tangible offense so far this year.
Matt Read's hot offensive start appears to be a bit of smoke and mirrors, as he still is grading out as a bottom-six forward in terms of offensive creation, even if he's been his usual useful self in the middle of the ice in terms of driving play. But yet again, the eyesore here is the performance of Weise, who has been less effective in creating shots at 5-on-5 than even Boyd Gordon, he of the four points in 65 games last season. The Flyers need to hope that this has just been a slow start for Weise, because he's under contract for three more years after this one.
PSC is predictive, but does it isolate offensive zone play?
The best attribute of PSC/60 is its ability to predict future primary points on an individual level better than past primary scoring itself. However, for the purposes of this exercise, it does not perfectly isolate offensive zone performance. After all, a player could be racking up lots of PSC tallies simply because he's getting into the offensive zone more than his teammates, not because he's been especially efficient once there. In that case, his strong PSC/60 would be more a product of stellar neutral zone play than effectiveness on the attack.
By the same token, a player could have a PSC/60 that looks mediocre, but he's actually quite useful once in the offensive zone. He maybe has just struggled to get there in the first place. This could be the type of player that might be best served receiving a heavy dose of faceoffs in the attacking zone, in order to put him right in his comfort zone.
But how do we strip away neutral zone (and zone start) impacts from PSC? The easiest way would be to divide a player's total number of PSC events from the amount of times he has been on the ice for an offensive zone possession. For example, Sean Couturier has been on the ice for 268 Flyers offensive zone entries and 58 offensive zone starts. Since he has generated 69 primary shot contribution events, that means he's averaged 0.21 PSC events per entry.
Even this is an imperfect method, though, because not all entry types are created equal. We know that controlled zone entries generate an average of 0.66 unblocked shot attempts, while uncontrolled entries (dump-ins) and faceoffs generate about 0.29 unblocked attempts. As a result, let's weight each entry in our formula by those rates to truly isolate offensive zone PSC creation.
Konecny remains by far the most impressive Flyers forward, even after correcting for number and type of entries. But our adjusted list gets interesting soon after. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, uninspiring in PSC/60, jumps all the way to second in our new measurement, above Voracek, Simmonds and Giroux. Regular linemate Chris VandeVelde also moves into more than respectable territory, in fifth.
At first glance, this is a shock. But PSC has liked Bellemare in the past. The work done by Alan Wells this past summer on Stimson's data showed very clearly that the French forward graded out in the 84th percentile in PSC/60 last year, much higher than most would have expected. We're not dealing with incredibly large samples here, but it's looking legitimately possible than Bellemare may have some untapped offensive zone potential, at least in terms of shot creation.
Moving further down the list, Sean Couturier drops out of the high-end tier and more into the muddled middle once we control for his always-stellar neutral zone play. He's not a useless forward in the offensive zone by any means, but he certainly could stand to be a bit more assertive there. If that's not possible, he'll have to continue to use his neutral zone dominance to make up for his relative weakness in Isolated PSC.
The bottom of the list is enlightening for what it may tell us about Dave Hakstol's evaluation preferences. The bottom five players on the list are Gordon, Read, Cousins, Schenn and Weise. Out of those five, three have been scratched at least once by Hakstol, one has been demoted from the top-six, and Read is riding a sure-to-decline 23.1% shooting percentage to offensive usefulness. It's just a theory, but this metric may be giving us a glimpse into what is driving the Philadelphia coach's decision-making at forward. The more active you are in the offensive zone at 5-on-5, the more job security you seem to have.
When evaluating the best Flyers' forwards in the offensive zone so far this season, the conversation begins with rookie Travis Konecny. With Konecny on the ice, Philadelphia has averaged 11.87% more unblocked shot attempts than would be expected, and no Flyers player has directly contributed to the creation of more 5-on-5 shots than Konecny thus far. The stats back up the eye test here -- every time Travis Konecny hits the offensive zone, he's been a fright for opposing defenses.
Right behind are the usual suspects. Jakub Voracek has been Konecny's partner-in-crime, ranking second in PSC/60 and third in isolated PSC, while holding a +8.80% Offensive Zone Score. Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl also have been effective in the offensive zone, while Sean Couturier has been more of a support forward while on the attack, helping his linemates to get into the opponents' end and then letting Konecny and Voracek take the lead on creating shots.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Roman Lyubimov are the most intriguing forwards. Bellemare's Offensive Zone Score and PSC/60 are nothing special, but his Isolated PSC trails only Konecny. Considering his strong performance in PSC last season, Bellemare's skillset is getting harder and harder to pin down. It seems like he may be above-average at helping to generate shots in the offensive zone, but his career 0.72 Points/60 at 5-on-5 implies that very few of those shots end up in the net.
As for Lyubimov, he hasn't factored into the creation of many shots, but his +30.99% Offensive Zone Score leads all Flyers. He could be due for a big regression in terms of play-driving, or maybe he is so good at forechecking that he can help his linemates to generate extra shots without directly creating them himself.
The three most disappointing players so far have been Brayden Schenn, Nick Cousins, and Dale Weise. Schenn was a disaster to start the season, posting just 10 primary shot contributions in his first four games. His offensive zone play has picked up recently, and the Flyers will be hoping that positive trend continues, especially because of the substantial financial commitment they made to Schenn in the offseason. Cousins' offensive zone play has been comparable to that of Boyd Gordon, which is certainly not company that the 23-year old wants to keep from a shot creation standpoint. He does have the excuse that he's spent lots of time at wing (a new position for him) but his offensive game simply needs to be better on the whole.
Weise has been the biggest issue. Not only have the Flyers struggled to create shot attempts with Weise on the ice (-17.82% Offensive Zone Score), Weise himself has barely factored into the offense. He's last on the Flyers so far with a PSC/60 of 15.12, and grades out even worse in Isolated PSC. Interestingly enough, Weise's play in the neutral zone has actually been okay (54.84% Controlled Entry Rate), but he's giving back all of those gains due to utter invisibility in the offensive zone. Keep an eye on Weise the rest of the way to see if his shot creation game continues to be nonexistent, or if he begins to assert himself more in the coming weeks.
All derived metrics are courtesy of Corey Sznajder, Muneeb Alam, Corsica.Hockey, and NaturalStatTrick.
Subject: Flyers vs. Red Wings preview, lineups, how to watch and discussion thread
Just like last week ... it’s still be nearly 20 years since the Red Wings have won in Philadelphia
- Meat Read - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
- Travis Konecny - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
- Michael Raffl - Brayden Schenn - Dale Weise
- Scott Laughton - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Chris VandeVelde
- Michael Del Zotto - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Ivan Provorov - Mark Streit
- Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas
- Steve Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
Scratches: Roman Lyubimov, Nick Cousins, Boyd Gordon
Injured: Andrew MacDonald
- Dylan Larkin - Frans Nielsen - Tyler Bertuzzi
- Tomas Tatar - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader
- Andreas Athanasiou - Darren Helm - Gustav Nyquist
- Riley Sheahan - Luke Glendening - Steve Ott
- Danny DeKeyser - Mike Green
- Jonathan Ericsson - Alexey Marchenko
- Niklas Kronwall - Brendan Smith
- James Howard
- Petr Mrazek
Subject: Flyers vs. Red Wings recap: Things are back to normal (for now) as Flyers lose a shootout
The Flyers’ two-decade home winning streak against Detroit came to an end as the Flyers’ old-enemy-turned-friend got them in the end.
Among all of the oddities of this young Flyers season has been the fact that two of their wins have come in a place where they’ve been in tough to find wins in recent years: the shootout. Wins over Buffalo and the Islanders got the Flyers — by far the worst shootout team in the NHL since its advent in 2005 — gave us all some hope that maybe, after years of futility, this would be the season where the Flyers’ shootout luck would take a turn.
Alas, things would course-correct a bit on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center — and in the process, a 19-year streak would come to an end for the Flyers.
After 65 minutes weren’t enough to declare a winner, Andreas Athanasiou would roof a puck past Steve Mason in the third round of the shootout, which was the only goal in the three-round skills competition and the goal that would give the Red Wings a 3-2 win.
The win was the Red Wings’ first win in Philadelphia since 1997, a streak that spanned 12 Flyers wins.
Still, despite the loss, there were some good things to come from this game. Steve Mason, in his first start in five games, had one of his best games of the season so far, and while that’s a pretty low bar to clear, he made a number of key saves in the first and second period to keep the Flyers tied, and his overall numbers of 33 saves on 35 shots are reflective of his strong night.
And offensively, things were more of the same for the Flyers, whose two goals came from their two most consistent sources of offense this season: their top power play unit and the Travis Konecny - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek line. Two goals seems like a pretty lean night for the Flyers offensively with the way they’ve played lately, but the Flyers had a number of good chances snuffed out by Jimmy Howard as well.
Still, despite never trailing, this felt like one of the Flyers’ sloppier games of the season. Even though they scored the first goal, the orange and black got out to (you’re not going to believe this) a slow start, with Detroit opening up a sizeable lead in shots on goal in the game’s early going into the second period. The 35 shots allowed were a season-high for the Flyers, and that high volume came largely thanks to some overall lackadaisical play in their own zone.
But also, this happened.
Yo Steve Ott, you just got rocked by a 5'10 175ib 19 year old. pic.twitter.com/DY3OerKOXn— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 9, 2016
Fifth in the league in faceoffs, first in the league in gettin’ clobbered.
All in all, an even game and a tough loss in a matchup that was pretty even. Off to Toronto on Friday. Go Flyers. Here are your highlights.
Claude Giroux scores with the one timer! pic.twitter.com/7VOfhptSRZ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 9, 2016
WAYNE SIMMONDS JUST DESTROYED ERICSSON pic.twitter.com/jVAnpvn4bc— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 9, 2016
Sloppy play by the Flyers leads to a Detroit goal. pic.twitter.com/MA3fjfyROO— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 9, 2016
COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT'S— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 9, 2016
GOALS ARE THE BEST GOALS pic.twitter.com/YkpHen5amm
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Oh right THAT’S what happens when the Flyers play in shootouts.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* The Flyers lost in a shootout last night, which sounds more like the Flyers we know and love: [BSH]
* A deep look at how Flyers forwards have fared in their offensive zone play this season. Turns out Travis Konecny is really good! [BSH]
* How have Flyers prospects been doing? Pretty well! This week’s update: [BSH]
* Some odds were posted on which head coaches were most likely to be fired. An old friend is featured! [Puck Daddy]
* The Rangers traded their 2010 first-round pick yesterday for basically nothing: [Blueshirt Banter]
* Jaroslav Halak talked in-depth about being on Team Europe in the World Cup: [The Players’ Tribune]
* Jacob Trouba, who signed his bridge contract with Winnipeg after an extended trade request, has apparently rescinded said request: [NHL]
* The Vegas team will, officially, unveil its name and logo on November 22: [TSN]
* Finally, the NHL’s least-penalized players: [The Hockey News]
Subject: Red Wings 3, Flyers 2: 10 things we learned from a narrow loss
In another era, this would have been a perfectly-acceptable tie. Instead, the shootout resulted in the Flyers walking away as losers despite an evenly-matched game.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: A game where both teams deserved a point
In recent weeks, the Flyers have lost a number of games where they outplayed the opposition in terms of raw shots on goal and overall even strength play-driving metrics. Last night, they didn’t get taken to the cleaners, but by the advanced statistics, it was a perfectly even contest. Natural Stat Trick had the Red Wings slighly up in score-adjusted Corsi (50.08%), while Hockeystats.ca sided with the Flyers (50.01%). Detroit also had a slight edge in xG on Corsica (51.39%), but again, nothing dramatic. This was a game that went to overtime and a shootout for good reason — the two squads were basically evenly matched.
#2: Choppy game due to two aggressive neutral zone teams
Philadelphia has been involved in quite a few high-scoring, back-and-forth games so far this season, including Saturday’s loss to the Canadiens. This one felt more like the tight checking contests of the back half of the 2015-16 season, however. Both the Flyers and Red Wings favor aggressive play in the neutral zone, which can lead to dangerous rushes when coverages break down, but usually results in choppy play in the middle of the ice due to constant turnovers being forced.
That was the story of last night’s game at even strength. Sure, occasionally one squad would break the quagmire, like the speedy Andreas Athanasiou did to tie the game in the third period. But for the most part, this was a game filled with turnovers and lacking extended cycles or end-to-end rushes on the part of either side. That’s what happens when you have two teams trying to win the same way.
#3: Mason delivered a bounceback performance
The last time we saw Steve Mason in net for the Flyers, he was skating off the ice after allowing three goals (two especially bad ones) in the first period against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Dave Hakstol uncharacteristically called out Mason’s play in his post-game press conference, and since then it had been four straight games of Michal Neuvirth. But after a terrible performance against Montreal on Saturday, Neuvirth returned to the bench and Mason got another shot in net.
The start was shaky, to say the least. After the Flyers had taken a one-goal lead due to a Claude Giroux power play goal, Mason misplayed a turnover by Brandon Manning, failing on a cover attempt before getting turned around and later beaten by Tomas Tatar. It was the type of tally that Flyers goalies have been allowing far too often in the early season, one born of poor positioning and a momentary lapse. But Mason did not let that goal affect the rest of his game. He made a number of big saves in the second and third periods, only allowing Athanasiou’s breakaway goal. Corsica had Detroit with an all-situations Expected Goals total of 3.64 (not counting shootouts), and Mason outperformed that metric easily.
#4: Power play continues to be effective
The Flyers’ power play units have surged in effectiveness in recent weeks, and last night was no different. They were 1-for-2, courtesy of Giroux’s first period tally, but also succeeded in peppering Jimmy Howard with shot after shot attempt. In fact, in less than two minutes of ice time, the top unit ripped seven shot attempts at Howard, good for a Corsi For per 60 of 238.64, over double what the top power plays in the NHL average over a full season. Their problem last night was a lack of opportunities on the man advantage — a couple more power plays and this game probably doesn’t even make it to overtime considering how dangerous the Flyers’ top unit was looking.
#5: Strong early start wasted by defensive zone follies
There’s a strong case to be made that the Flyers were most effective in this game during the first six or seven minutes of the contest. They raced out to a 1-0 lead, and were dominating from a shot attempts standpoint (7-1) before a Brandon Manning turnover helped to cause Detroit’s first goal. From that moment through at least the end of the first period, the Flyers seemed to have a severe case of the yips in the defensive zone. It wasn’t one player who was most responsible, as everyone was in on the act. Manning’s made a few more mistakes, Ivan Provorov had a blind turnover on a zone exit, and even Shayne Gostisbehere gave up the puck twice on two of his patented “blast up ice right beside the goalie” breakout rushes. The result was that Philadelphia gave back all of their gains from a territorial standpoint, and actually lost the Corsi battle in the opening stanza by a 16-15 count.
#6: Brandon Manning’s play beginning to sag
One of the biggest surprises of the early season was the stellar play of Brandon Manning, who went from possible waiver candidate to key member of the blueline. His play with the puck took the biggest step up, as he was posting defensive zone exit metrics comparable to those of Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, both viewed as plus puck movers. However, his performance on Saturday night against Montreal was underwhelming, and last night it moved into the territory of disastrous.
It was his turnover that directly led to Detroit’s first goal, but that wasn’t Manning’s only mistake. He continued to struggle with the puck on his stick all game long, and finished with a poor 44.33% score-adjusted Corsi, coming in -12.80% relative to his teammates. Manning also was a mess in coverage, often cheating over to his partner’s side of the ice to directly attack the puck carrier even when his partner (usually Gudas) seemed to have to side covered. Manning showed real regression last night, and the Flyers can only hope he bounces back, or else they’ll have to turn to one of Nick Schultz or Andrew MacDonald (when healthy), and neither are particularly appetizing options.
#7: Gostisbehere-Del Zotto pairing continues to thrive
Shayne Gostisbehere received a great deal of criticism in the early season for what was perceived to be underwhelming play, specifically in the defensive zone. While that talk wasn’t totally unwarranted, it was fair to note that Gostisbehere’s strengths as a player never lay in d-zone coverage or winning puck battles along the boards. It was his ability to control the neutral zone and create in the offensive zone that made him such an effective defenseman in his rookie season. That’s why it never made much sense to pair him with players like Andrew MacDonald or Nick Schultz, whose offensive instincts are limited and whose plan on defensive is to concede zone entries and keep opposing forwards to the outside. Gostisbehere was never going to flourish alongside those types of defensemen.
Now, Ghost Bear is playing with Michael Del Zotto, who fits his preferred style far better. The result has been superior play-driving statistics and a far more dynamic-looking Shayne Gostisbehere. For the second straight game, Ghost’s Corsi metrics were in the black, as his finished with a strong 58.98% score-adjusted Corsi and was +18.66% relative to his teammates. He still made mistakes — those two defensive zone turnovers in the first period especially — but when playing an aggressive style in the offensive and neutral zones, he can overcome them. With Gostisbehere on the ice, the Flyers generated four high-danger chances and allowed just one, lending even more support to that claim.
#8: Couturier finally breaks his scoring slump
Sean Couturier didn’t have his strongest night. His Corsi For percentage was a mere 48.65%, far below his best games so far this season, and the Red Wings generated nine scoring chances with the shutdown center on the ice. But one great shift by he and his linemates resulted in Couturier finally adding to his goal totals, scoring right in front of the net in the dirty area. His offensive production had disappeared after a hot start, and even though he and his linemates were clearly driving play, the hope was that at some point, all of that offensive zone time would eventually turn into tangible points for Couturier. His underlying individual metrics remained strong (such as PSC/60), so it really was just a matter of time before he lit the lamp. Even in a loss, it’s good to see him break his cold streak.
#9: The Bellemare line is officially the fourth line
Over the few few weeks of the season, Dave Hakstol seemed dead-set on testing out Pierre-Edouard Bellemare as the team’s third line center. Granted, the forward corps was not fully healthy, but with other, better options on the roster, the insistence upon Bellemare as 3C was mystifying. But as they’ve moved into the second month of the season, it appears the 30-year old French forward is moving back to his past role as 4C on the depth chart.
Last night, his linemates were clearly behind the Raffl-Schenn-Weise line in terms of 5v5 time on ice, finishing with under nine minutes while Schenn and his unit easily cleared double digits. Bellemare line was actually fairly effective in that role, as Roman Lyubimov in particularly remained a demon on the forecheck. All of Bellemare, VandeVelde and Lyubimov finished with score-adjusted Corsi For percentages over 66%, a solid performance for the line in their limited minutes.
#10: Despite the outcome, this game doesn’t bode poorly for the Flyers
Obviously, you’d like the team to come away with a victory, especially against a Red Wings squad that they appear to have the talent edge over on paper. But to be clear — the biggest reason for Philadelphia’s early-season mediocrity has been goaltending, or a lack thereof. The fact that Steve Mason finally delivered an above-average performance for the team in net, without the skaters totally sacrificing the territorial advantage that had become their trademark over the first month of the season, is a good sign for Philadelphia moving forward. With two goalies both having delivered above-average results in the past, they just need one to steady himself in order to take full advantage of their strong offensive play and improving defensive results. While Mason will obviously have to prove he can string together multiple solid efforts, this was a good start.
Subject: Dale Weise’s Movember mustache is underway
Well, if you can call it that.
Hey guys, remember Movember? It’s that time of year when, in November, people grow mustaches to raise awareness, and also funds, for various cancers, including prostate cancer in particular.
It’s been very popular in the NHL, so it should come as no surprise that any Philadelphia Flyers are taking part in it.
Dale Weise is, and here’s his first update:
Well, technically there’s something there. And it’s all for a good cause, so that’s what really counts - but hopefully he can get a little more going as the month continues!
Subject: Injury report: Could Bennie Logan return this weekend?
The big man might be making his comeback.
Bennie Logan was a full participant in the Eagles’ Wednesday practice, and judging from locker room this afternoon, it looks like Logan should be back on the field against Matt Ryan and the Falcons this weekend:
Bennie Logan said he's "definitely" on track to play on Sunday, after missing the last three games due to a groin injury.— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) November 9, 2016
Beau Allen has played well in Logan’s absence, but a Bennie Logan return would be welcomed by most everyone.
Here’s the full injury report:
Did Not Participate In Practice
G Allen Barbre (hamstring), S Terrence Brooks (hamstring), TE Brent Celek (rib), LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (hamstring)
Limited Participation in Practice
DT Taylor Hart (ankle)
Full Participation in Practice
DT Bennie Logan (groin), CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring)
Subject: Crunching The Numbers: Week 9
A new team on top for the midway point
Another week, another division loss, this one not without its share of controversy and frustration. For the third time this season, the team quickly found itself in a 14 point deficit that was ultimately too steep to overcome and the Eagles suffered their fourth loss in five games. I’ll have more on this - and the rest of the season - in a post later this week, so I won’t touch on it too much here.
But what about the numbers? Are the statistics catching up to a team that’s currently in free fall? (A full archive of previous rankings can be found here.)
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index: Week 9
New England’s time on top was short-lived as they were toppled by the surging Cowboys, who easily dispatched the hapless Browns last Sunday. Minnesota continues their own downward spiral - they were the top team as recently as Week 6 - while the Chiefs have quietly entered the top five.
Why the Eagles are Third
Philadelphia retained its position as the third-place team, which on the surface seems hard to justify. The issue with the Eagles is not that they’re losing, but they’re finding creative ways to lose. This is extremely frustrating but also a good indicator that they are not really being completely outmatched and overwhelmed in their losses. They are being outplayed, certainly, but that is something to be expected of a team with marginal talent at multiple positions. To me, the Eagles are following the same arc that the Oakland Raiders embarked on in 2015 - a team that you could tell was not quite there, but they were on the cusp of greatness. In the offseason they put a few more pieces in place and are now legitimately challenging the Patriots for homefield advantage in the playoffs. The Eagles might not be ready to make that kind of leap, but they should absolutely be in playoff contention next season. Until then, they will continue to play competitive football, grade out decently in the metrics, but ultimately come up short.
Week 10 Reconnaissance: Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta has been a curious team this season: deadly on offense but laughable on defense. This is even more odd when you consider that their head coach, Dan Quinn, is a defensive mind from Seattle. Playing at home for this game is a critical detail for the Eagles; the defense has yet to give up more than 10 points at the Linc. Another masterful home performance will be more than necessary as the Falcons’ offense has been an unstoppable force all season long. Matt Ryan is averaging a blistering 9.1 yards per attempt while only tossing a pick on 1.28% of his dropbacks. The Falcons are also taking care of the ball on the whole as they only fumble 0.6 times per game. And finally, they average an impressive 7 rushing first downs per game (the league average is 5.9).
Defense is a different story. Atlanta is slightly below the league average in takeaways per game (1.3) with 1.1. They are also essentially average with yards per pass attempt allowed (6.8) and are middling at best with their third down defense (44.6% conversion rate). Even though these numbers are not atrocious, they have added up to create a defense that allows almost 29 points a game. Even with the Eagles’ struggling offense, they should be able to move the ball.
Overall, the Falcons still probably get the edge in this game, purely because the Eagles’ defensive play has been suspect as of late. As much as I love deferring the opening kickoff, Pederson should consider receiving if he has the option. The key to beating the Falcons is to make them play catch-up; this gives you the opportunity to control the clock and keep Julio Jones off the field. Ball security is also paramount here and a facet of the game that the Eagles have wrangled with during their 1-4 skid.
The Chiefs lead the league in takeaways by a significant margin at 2.5 per game... New Orleans is allowing an embarrassing 8.1 yards per pass attempt... The Ravens are only managing 3.9 rushing first downs per game.
Subject: Film Room: Looking at a Giant Loss
What went wrong against the G-Men?
The Eagles have had some rough losses this year, and Sunday was certainly another one. I hate to say this because I said it last week as well, but I think the Eagles were the better team once again. They moved the ball well throughout the game and for the most part the defense was fine.
The Eagles just couldn't recover after a disastrous start and they made too many mistakes throughout the game. I'm not saying the Eagles are a good team, you can't be a good team if you make these mistakes and don't win these games. I'm just saying the game plan has been good two weeks running despite two tough defeats. Anyway, film time!
So yeah, Wentz was up and down. Actually, he was down, up and then down again. He started awfully, then recovered and was playing well until the final drive, where he didn't get the ball out quick enough on 1st and 2nd down, which caused a 3rd and 4th and long. Let's touch on the last drive later though.
Wentz seems to start the games too fast at the moment, and his mechanics are all over the place. I'm not worried though, he's a rookie and he had this issue coming into the NFL. It's not something he's suddenly developed that the coaching staff didn't know about. I'm impressed by his backbone. He doesn't let those picks bother him at all. To be honest, I don't want to show the picks because there is nothing to break down. They just weren't good throws. Let's look at a certain receiver called Bryce Treggs instead.
It's pretty obvious the kid can fly. This is a clearly designed shot play. The Eagles have 6 offensive lineman and only one wide receiver which forces the Giants to play single high on the play. Treggs runs a good route and flies downfield. I like the way Treggs runs directly at the outside cornerback to close the gap and then accelerates up the field. Wentz slightly underthrows him but they probably haven't practiced much and Wentz isn't used to throwing to someone so quick. I'm not overly worried by Wentz slightly underthrowing him here, it was still a good throw.
Here Treggs is the outside receiver on the left side of the field. Treggs will never have to run a perfect comeback route to get open because cornerbacks will have to respect his deep speed. Treggs does an excellent job selling the deep route here. Agholor actually gets open, but if you watch him at the top of the right hand side, do you ever really believe he is running a go route? I don't. I think if you watch Treggs, it does look like he is going to run downfield. This is a great play by Wentz too.
Treggs could have had 2 other deep completions. On the first one, he runs an okay route but his speed gets him a bit of separation. I was surprised the Giants didn't try to press him at all. This looked like a good throw by Wentz too and it was clearly pass interference. On the second play, it's not a special route it's just pure speed and he definitely has a step. Wentz big time under throws him here but like earlier I'm hoping this is just a timing issue. I'm not going to go overboard on Treggs but it's clear he can fly.
For those wondering where Treggs has been all year. Just keep in mind, he played in an air raid offense in college and then spent summer with Chip Kelly in San Francisco so he hasn't played in a pro style offense before. He only arrived here in early September and he then had to learn the offense and how to run certain routes. If he was active over someone like Josh Huff, could he have contributed on special teams like Huff? If Agholor got hurt during the game, would he know the offense well enough to be able to fill in? Just things to keep in mind.
As I said earlier, Wentz got it together in the middle of the game and I really liked these two throws.
On the first throw, Zach Ertz does a great job using his big frame and boxing out the safety. Wentz makes a really nice touch throw too. On the second play, Wentz puts the ball in a great position where Matthews can go up and get it. For once, an Eagles receiver actually made a really nice play.
On the other hand, I didn't like any throw to Dorial Green-Beckham who was terrible.
Here are 3 of DGB's 5 targets from this week. I mean, the guy can't get off press coverage. This is bad. I hope he's trying 100% because if he's not that would suck. But you can't be an outside receiver if you're this bad at beating press coverage. Here's a stat for you: When targeting Ertz and Burton, Wentz was 11/11 for 152 yards. When targeting Matthews, Agholor and DGB, he was 10/22 for 129 yards. Safe to say the receivers are a problem.
Wentz did miss a touchdown earlier on in the game though that was on him.
He's off balance here and I think he trusts his arm talent too much and thinks he can make this throw off balance. If he had taken half a second to set his feet properly, he would have been able to throw a better ball. Credit Doug here for this wonderful zone beater too. To be fair though, this is an incredible play by the Giants safety too.
Onto the final drive. I could write a post about it here but I'll be brief. On the first couple of downs, Wentz wanted to go for it all and should have just checked down to Ertz over the middle. On 3rd down, Doug called the perfect screen but Jason Pierre-Paul made a fantastic play to break it up. Then the final play...
Lots of smart people I follow disagree on this play. Some think it's a bad throw and Matthews does everything he can. Others think it's a good throw and Matthews doesn't do enough. I sort of think it's both. I think Doug designed the play to go to the inside more and I think that's how Matthews runs it.
However, when Wentz sees the cornerback so far to the inside, I think he throws it further to the outside than it's normally thrown. I think Matthews should realize that against cover 1 with the corner having inside leverage, the ball is likely to go further to the outside and he should turn his head around the other way. He might then be able to make the catch.
If Matthews was a more athletic receiver too, he may have been able to recover and catch the ball. I find it hard to blame either one of them too much without knowing exactly what the coaches tell them to do. Of course, Wentz blamed himself and Matthews blamed himself. Go figure.
How much did the Giants spend on Olivier Vernon again? Big V had a pretty good game against him.
Overall, the offense line was excellent in pass protection. Big V is certainly getting better weekly and the Eagles had no problems handling the Giants 4 man rush. Problems did occur when the Giants blitzed but that's not exactly unique.
The Eagles running game was average at best on Sunday. They had some nice runs but they couldn't consistently get it going and they had to rely on Wentz to move the ball. There seemed to be a lot of 3rd and longs caused by poor runs on 2nd down. They did show this look that I can't remember seeing much this year before.
Here they use an unbalanced line with Big V lining up next to Jason Peters and it worked perfectly, with Darren Sproles having a big gain. Wiz does a nice job and left guard pulling and sealing the edge too. The interior offensive line, especially Jason Kelce, struggled though in the running game against a good Giants front. This next play by Smallwood was the best blocked running play of the game.
Here Smallwood just has a huge hole to run through. Credit Kelce here, although he wasn't great again he does a fantastic job here coming of his double team to create a huge running lane for Smallwood. Peters makes a really difficult block here too. I said this on twitter yesterday, I think the Eagles might need to bring back Peters next year. He's been playing well. He would have to take a pay cut I imagine though.
Right, onto the controversial calls - the 4th down runs. I actually can't show you the 4th and 2 run because the camera got confused and focused on the fake to Sproles so it wasn't very clear what happened but anyway here are my thoughts.
I am happy Doug went for it. You win in this league by being aggressive and I am glad that he has shown he will be an aggressive coach. I didn't love the call to run Wentz, but it was blown up before it had a chance to work because Jordan Matthews completely whiffed on a simple crack block on JPP. This meant Peters had to block his guy and not the cornerback who had the edge. The play never had a chance to work from then on.
Oh, and for those wondering why he would ever run Wentz to the side on a 4th and 2... it worked against the Vikings didn't it?
On the second play, it was a simple zone lead play. The interior offensive line didn't get a great push and Sproles needed to simply fight his way for the extra yard. With a power back, you make the 1st down about 8 times out of 10 I reckon. It's fair to question why Sproles was in the game and not Mathews. But I don't believe the decision to go for it was a terrible decision or the play call was bad.
I spent ages on the offense this week so I'll try be brief. Once again the Eagles couldn't really get pressure with their front 4. Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin are struggling. Fletcher Cox is collapsing the pocket at times but Beau Allen simply cannot collapse the pocket from the other side so it's easy for quarterbacks to avoid the pressure. I was disappointed Schwartz didn't blitz more but I guess he trusted his front 4 to get pressure. The first touchdown the Eagles gave up was frustrating too.
The Eagles have 2 deep safetys on the play which means this route should never come open. McKelvin has pretty bad coverage to begin with and somehow lets the receiver come underneath him. If this was a corner route, McKelvin would have been toast. Because the receiver is the wrong side of McKelvin, I don't think Watkins really sees the receiver and he's focusing too much on the out route. Anyway, McKelvin and Watkins collide and then McKelvin seems to just give up on the play and leaves the receiver wide open.
The final deep touchdown to Shepherd wasn't actually a miscommunication like this one. It was the perfect offensive play call to get open against the zone coverage the Eagles were running at the time. This happens if you can't get the pressure at times. There's no excuse for the first touchdown though, it's just bad.
McKelvin had a bad game, he got roasted multiple times. Jalen Mills was okay but he got burned once by Odell Beckham on one deep throw that Manning missed. Something I noticed throughout the game, when the Giants wide receivers get seperation, they can create like yards of separation. They are so obviously open you can't miss them. When the Eagles wide receivers get half a yard of separation, I'm almost surprised. The difference in quality is staggering.
Jaylen Watkins played a really good game although he needs to learn how to hit without using his helmet. I thought the Eagles best defender was Rodney McLeod on the day. Yes, he missed the tackle on the first touchdown but tackling Beckham in the open field is nearly impossible. I loved these two plays though.
On the first play, the Eagles fake like they are playing cover 1 with McLeod being the single high and move to a cover 2 zone look. This means that McLeod has to sprint over to his side of the field. Manning recognises this and hits the receiver in the gap between Carroll and McLeod which is one of the weaknesses of cover 2 zone. However, you can run cover 2 zone when you have a safety like McLeod who can hit the receiver like this.
On the second play, it's the exact opposite. The Eagles fake cover 2 and then transition into cover 1 with McLeod as the single high. He has to run towards the middle of the field and the receiver comes open towards the side he was just on. That means he has to completely change direction and he shows incredible burst to hit the receiver just after the ball has arrived and strip the ball out. This play just shows off his pure athleticism and speed.
The Giants are an awful running team, they simply can't do it. So although the Eagles deserve credit for shutting down the Giants rushing attack for the most part, it's not something that's particularly difficult to do. Fletcher Cox was a monster against the run and made a number of great plays in the backfield like the two below.
It is no surprise that the Giants can't run the ball when they try plays like this. On the first play, they try to get the center to get out and block Cox one on one. That is never going to happen. On the second play Cox and Curry just explode past the offensive lineman. Look at how Cox moves on this play. It's freakish for a guy that size.
I don't have much else to show in regards to run defense because the Giants didn't run much. Brandon Graham, Beau Allen, Cox, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham all played well in run defense. In addition, both Watkins and McLeod came down into the box and made some nice plays on running plays. Jenkins can't do it as much when he's a slot cornerback which is a shame.
As always, hit me up with any questions in the comments below or on twitter.
Subject: Paul Turner or Aaron Grymes could get a roster nod this week
Doug Pederson talks about a possible roster move.
Last week, after the Eagles cut Josh Huff, Doug Pederson said the Eagles would make a roster move before last Sunday’s game against the Giants. So did Howie Roseman. The Eagles then did not make a roster move. Pederson explained on Monday afternoon they decided against it because of how short the turnaround would have been.
On Wednesday morning, Pederson was asked again about a possible roster move, it having been a week since Huff was cut.
Pederson said the team is still mulling over its options.
“We’ve got some guys we’re evaluating on our practice squad,” Pederson said.
“You know, Paul Turner, Aaron Grymes. We don’t have to make a move right now. There’s no hurry.”
Turner is a wide receiver who flashed in the preseason. The Eagles had four wide receivers active on game day against the Giants, and with Bryce Treggs playing well this weekend, Turner would be the team’s fifth wide receiver and likely inactive against the Falcons if he were to be bumped to the 53-man roster.
Grymes is a cornerback who flashed in the preseason. The Eagles had three cornerbacks active on game day against the Giants. Jalen Mills didn’t have his best game, but it would still take a big change in how the team views its talent for Grymes to be active against the Falcons if he were to be bumped to the 53-man roster.
Pederson also provided an update on the team’s injuries this morning:
— Allen Barbre (hamstring) is still week to week, and is not practicing Wednesday
— Terrence Brooks (hamstring) is also not practicing
— Brent Celek (rib) is being held out of practice on Wednesday, but Pederson says the tight end should be good for Sunday’s game
— Kamu Grugier-Hill (hamstring) is being held from practice
Subject: Power ranking round up: Eagles slip out of reach of the top 10
Birds fall after another loss
A close loss. To a division rival. On the road. Would the power rankings that be grade the Eagles on a curve?
no write up
Well, Doug Pederson must've heard the complaints about him being a Conservative Connie (in a football sense, not politically). A week after taking heavy criticism for not stepping on the gas pedal in Dallas, Pederson played to the masses and went for it on two key fourth downs in the first half ... and got stuffed on both. At least his special teams unit made up for it by allowing a blocked field goal on another first-half possession. Those empty trips to the Giants' side of the field cost the Eagles the game. Is it just me, or do Carson Wentz and Jordan Matthews often seem to notbe on the same page?
82 percent: The Eagles started the season 3-0 and had an 82 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to NFL FPI. That was fifth best in the NFL at the time.
29 percent: Since dropping four of their next five, the Eagles' playoff chances have dipped to 29 percent, according to FPI, 16th in the NFL. The Eagles have the second-hardest remaining strength of schedule (.602).
I’m not quite sure why the Eagles have given up on Ryan Mathews. He has played just eight snaps in each of Philadelphia’s last two games, with Darren Sproles getting almost all of the action. Mathews hasn’t been great but he hasn’t been bad either. The Eagles could use a better running game instead of asking quarterback Carson Wentz to do it all.
Make up your mind, Doug Pederson.
Is your Eagles team the kind that’ll kick a field goal when it's trailing by a touchdown? Or is it the kind that’ll roll the dice on fourth down and try to move the sticks?
Answer those questions before a critical divisional game against a hated rival. Then, if you plan on pushing the envelope, make sure you have better plays on tap than a weak Carson Wentz sweep. That’s how you force rookies to make mistakes.
Philadelphia lost its edge because of poor coaching, not poor overall play. Pederson needs to turn his season around before his team can.
After a scorching hot start, Carson Wentz and the Eagles have cooled off a bit, falling all the way to 4-4. Their struggles have mostly come on offense, but cornerback is a weak spot of the defense and isn’t likely to improve. They have one of the toughest remaining schedules with only one opponent having a losing record.
Making Carson Wentz Look Like A Rookie Again.
This was the largest discrepancy between rankings we’ve seen so far this year. Most moved the Eagles down just a few notches after yet another close loss, but ESPN was particularly unkind, dropping them 8 spots. The Eagles fell from an average of 10th to an average of 14th. At this point in the season that’s a little harsh for a close, divisional loss, but take out the ESPN ranking and they’re 11th on aggregate.
Subject: Philadelphia Eagles Howie Roseman approval poll: November 2016
What do you think of Howie Roseman’s first season back in power so far?
Yesterday we began a series of approval polls to mark this moment in Eagles franchise history: halfway through the 2016 season, with the Eagles sitting at 4-4 and last in the NFC East. As of this story’s publishing, Jeffrey Lurie’s approval poll from Tuesday sits just above 70 percent.
Today, we look at executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
The last time we asked you about Roseman’s performance as the team’s man in charge of personnel was September of this year. The Eagles were 3-0, and Carson Wentz was an absolute stud with no interceptions heading into the bye week. The results were expectedly positive: Roseman received a rave 97 percent approval rate.
Now, one trade deadline, two arrests, and four losses later, we ask you to evaluate Roseman’s job halfway through the season. He has plenty of work to do if he wants to field a team capable of competing in the NFC. There are glaring gaps at wide receiver and cornerback, and the running back position also needs to be addressed.
There’s the case of whether Roseman handled the trade deadline correctly: by not making a deal for a wide receiver, namely Torrey Smith, Roseman subjected Carson Wentz to the weakest wide receiver corps in the NFL for the remained of the season with no chance of parole. The deal the 49ers were looking for was likely too high, which means Roseman probably made the right decision. But he also didn’t help his team.
Roseman also likely had a big hand in the Eagles’ "collaborative" effort to release Josh Huff after his arrest last week. Head coach Doug Pederson seemed to be under the impression that Huff would be retained early in the week, but after a meeting with Roseman, Lurie, and other coaches, the team released Huff.
Roseman’s explanation for the move was largely fluffy PR verbiage. I think it was the right move, but plenty of people have differing opinions on the team’s decision, one that, again, Roseman probably had plenty of influence over.
All that said, Roseman’s team is still 4-4 in a season widely expected to be a rebuilding one, and he still seems to have nailed the most important move of his return to power: finding the franchise its quarterback.
Do you approve of the job Howie Roseman is doing as executive vice president of football operations of the Philadelphia Eagles? Vote now in the poll below and leave your thoughts in the comments.
Roseman Approval Polls:
- September 2016: 97% approval
- May 2016: 74% approval
- February 2015: 28% approval
- January 2015: 39% approval
- December 2014: 86% approval
- November 2014: 89% approval
- October 2014: 87% approval
- July 2014: 89% approval
- May 2014 (post-draft): 91% approval
- May 2014 (pre-draft): 85% approval
- April 2014: 79% approval
- March 2014: 97% approval
- January 2014: 87% approval
Subject: Week 9 Power Rankings
One stat to rule them all
It seems like half the league was on a bye last week. This week we’ll look at a stat or two that paints a fairly accurate picture of why a team is having the season they’re having this year.
1 Patriots (last week: 1)
The Patriots have started three quarterbacks and have thrown zero interceptions. Zero.
2 Cowboys (last week: 2)
No team gets more first downs per play than the Cowboys offense. Death by a thousand paper cuts.
3 Chiefs (last week: 3)
Kansas City’s defense has gotten multiple turnovers in 6 of their 8 games.
4 Falcons (last week: 5)
The Falcons lead the league in yards per play at 6.8, 2nd place is 6.2. The gap between 1st and 2nd is the same as the gap between 2nd and 15th.
5 Raiders (last week: 6)
Oakland, who are 5-1 in one score games, seem destined for a heartbreaking playoff loss when their defense, the worst in the league in yards per play (along with the Saints) finally lets them down.
6 Seahawks (last week: 7)
Seattle’s only win by more than 10 was against the hapless 49ers.
7 Broncos (last week: 4)
Opposing QBs have a passer rating of 67.2 against Denver. That’s like having JaMarcus Russell (career 65.2) at QB.
8 Giants (last week: 13)
The Giants have more games with less than 50 rushing yards (3) than they do with more than 100 (2).
9 Redskins (last week: 11)
DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon combine for $19.45M in cap space, they are the 2nd and 3rd highest earners on the Redskins this season. They have combined for 2 TDs.
10 Cardinals (last week: 12)
Larry Fitzgerald is once again Arizona’s leading receiver, but he’s having the worst season of his career with 9.9 yards per catch.
11 Eagles (last week: 9)
2015 1st round pick Nelson Agholor, who has played in 84% of snaps this year, has as many TD receptions this season as Donald Penn and Taylor Lewan, and his season high in yards in a game is 57. UDFA teammate Bryce Treggs eclipsed that in his debut on Sunday.
12 Steelers (last week: 10)
The Steelers have given up less than 17 points in each of their 4 wins. They’ve scored less than 17 points in each of their 4 losses.
13 Vikings (last week: 8)
Defensive points per drive: 1st. Offensive points per drive: 28th. They had been the last undefeated team, now Minnesota is in danger of missing the playoffs.
14 Saints (last week: 15)
New Orleans are the opposite of the Vikings: 2nd in offensive points per drive, 28th in defensive points per drive.
15 Lions (last week: 18)
Matthew Stafford is 5th in the league in passer rating. If “QBs who played the Lions” were a singular player, he would be 3rd.
16 Chargers (last week: 20)
San Diego has gotten a takeaway in every game and multiple takeaways in 6 games, but has the 26th worst scoring defense because they are the 4th worst red zone defense.
17 Texans (last week: 14)
Prized free agent Brock Osweiler, under QB guru Bill O’Brien, is 32nd in the league in yards per attempt. That’s worse than Blaine Gabbert.
18 Bengals (last week: 17)
At 1.0%, Andy Dalton is having his best interception rate season. At 3.1%, he’s also having his worst touchdown rate season.
19 Bills (last week: 16)
Since firing Greg Roman, the Bills would be 12th in the league in yards and 4th in the league in scoring.
20 Dolphins (last week: 21)
Adam Gase was brought in to get Ryan Tannehill over the hump. Nobody throws the ball less than Miami.
21 Colts (last week: 23)
Indianapolis’ defense is bad, but it’s consistent: 5th worst passer rating and 5th worst yards per rushing attempt.
22 Ravens (last week: 26)
Division leaders with a point differential of 1. One.
23 Panthers (last week: 25)
Last place in their division with a point differential of -1.
24 Packers (last week: 19)
What a weird season Aaron Rodgers is having. 3rd in touchdown percentage, 4th worst yards per attempt.
25 Bears (last week: 24)
At 393 yards, 32 year old tight end Zach Miller is the Bears second leading receiver. His career high is 439.
26 Jets (last week: 22)
4. 3. 2. 1. 4 QBs on the roster. 3 of them are Jets draft picks. 2 of them have gotten any meaningful playing time. The Jets are 1st in the league in turnovers.
27 Titans (last week: 27)
Marcus Mariota is 6th in the league in touchdown percentage and 10th in yards per attempt. So of course the Titans are 27th in the league in attempts per game.
28 Buccaneers (last week: 28)
Tampa’s leading rusher, Jaquizz Rodgers, already has a career high in rushing yards with 393.
29 Rams (last week: 29)
Jeff Fisher ain’t fucking going 7-9, or 8-8. Or 9-7. Or 10-6 for that matter. He’s on track to go 6-10. Should have ruled that one out coach.
30 Jaguars (last week: 30)
Jacksonville is having their best defensive scoring season under Gus Bradley: 25th.
31 49ers (last week: 31)
San Francisco is on pace to have the worst point differential in a league that might have a winless team.
32 Browns (last week: 32)
It’s a cop out, but 0 wins really says it all.
Subject: Eagles news: As hard as he tries, Carson Wentz can’t do it all by himself
News and notes for 11/9
Eagles' Wentz needs more support - Daily News
Very little of that stuff has gone exactly to plan. The Eagles have a middle-of-the-road running game, as long as nothing happens to 33-year-old Darren Sproles. Mathews (five carries, 15 yards Sunday, one carry for 1 yard in the second half) seems to be sinking slowly out of sight, for reasons that have not been adequately explained. The o-line without suspended right tackle Lane Johnson has its ups and downs, is far short of dominant. Wentz gets way more pressure than is ideal.
Wentz should never have tried either of the two passes that were intercepted on the Eagles' first two series Sunday, but the lack of a decent pocket figured into both picks. The first, he was throwing on a dead run after Jason Kelce tripped over Stefen Wisniewski. Wentz should have thrown the ball away, but tried to salvage the play and find Agholor. The second, he tried to step up and was sandwiched between Kelce and Wisniewski, who were both being shoved toward him. The ball sailed because Wentz was throwing from a tight space, unable to turn his shoulders.
Wentz and the Eagles are facing better defenses than in those first few weeks, and the rookie QB is being asked to do too much, trying to do too much, looking for plays that aren't there.
Maybe Wentz is simply trying to do too much - Inquirer
Wentz said after the game that he probably would have made the same decisions on those attempts. The throws just needed to be better. When he has missed receivers - dating all the way back to the spring - the passes have tended to sail high. The Eagles altered his footwork and the way he carried the ball during the offseason, but Pederson said mechanics weren't the problem.
If there has been an overarching issue, it's that Wentz has sometimes tried to do too much. It could be said that he has stretched his limits to compensate for the rest of the offense. And it could also be alleged that he has forced plays because Pederson has asked too much of him.
Plays that give Wentz the option to run have been part of the offense since Game 1, but he has increasingly kept the ball. The results haven't been as fruitful as they were initially. Wentz ran four times on Sunday and lost a total of 4 yards.
"We ask Carson to do a lot with [run-pass option] things, with the read options, making some checks there," Pederson said. "So, I think going forward, yeah, probably should rely on [running backs] just a little bit more."
Alright, now you’re down to one play, fourth and 10. They blitzed the last three plays. Spags says, ‘Shoot, we’re getting to him, we’re gonna bring it again.’ Carson reads it. He brings Sproles in. He brings him into the backfield. They bring Ertz to a tight position. They’re in a position to have seven blockers now, so the guy furthest away from the quarterback will be the guy you let free. He’s actually a little late in coming, because he’s worried about Sproles releasing. Matthews is on the quick fade, should be an easy touchdown throw.
Alex Mack’s pivotal role in the Falcons' potent offense - Sports Illustrated
Coming back from injury and with his offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Kyle Shanahan, now relocated to Atlanta, Mack had a 2015 season that was good for most centers but not for him. In 2016 he's healthy and playing for Shanahan again. ProFootballFocus.com rates him as the No. 3 center this season.
Shanahan employs a run-based scheme similar to what his father, Mike, ran in Denver and Washington. The inside- and outside-zone running system is demanding for a center.
On an inside-zone run, Mack and a guard will usually double-team a defensive tackle and then scoot quickly to block a linebacker. Late in the first quarter of a 48–33 victory over the Panthers, Mack blasted standout defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with his right shoulder, directing him into the block of right guard Chris Chester. Mack then kept moving to hit All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Mack squared up Kuechly and turned to the right to form a wall that Freeman could run behind. Kuechly, the best middle linebacker in the game, was rendered helpless for one of the few times in his career, as Freeman scored from 13 yards out.
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: A day off today so we can have back-to-backs tomorrow!
*Well looks like we're done with the Lyubimov experiment for at least a little while. [The Morning Call]
*What's that, you say? Recent events have left you feeling woefully bereft of joy and happiness? WELL GOOD NEWS FAM. New BSH Radio will drop this morning. Good news is no one cries.
*Mason's relatively good play in the Detroit game is a step in the right direction. [Daily News]
*Speaking of Mase he makes an appearance on the latest Puck Daddy round table, the focus of which is what NHL players we should be most concerned about. [Puck Daddy]
*And finally, Eric Lindros, finally on his way into the Hall, is happy and content. Which is a nice thing to hear. [ESPN]
Subject: BSH Radio #83: Nice guy, tries hard, bad at the game.
In which Kelly, Steph, Bill, & Charlie continue to wonder what’s up with the goaltending & why Wayne Simmonds is so dang awesome.
BSH Radio is back for a new episode in which they talk about hockey — specifically, the Flyers. Have you been wondering just how long the Flyers’ goaltending can keep playing this badly? Then this episode for you. The gang also spends some time discussing the defense - the return of Michael Del Zotto and the possible renaissance of Mark Streit. Also, Bill continues to gush over Wayne Simmonds and his awesomeness. Fun times to be had by all!
Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio so you can join the conversation!