Breaking Down Philadelphia Flyers' Top Stars in 2013-14 Using Advanced Metrics

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Breaking Down Philadelphia Flyers' Top Stars in 2013-14 Using Advanced Metrics
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers' 2013-14 season has not started off on the right foot. Even with back-to-back wins, they still have a measly 3-7-0 record through 10 games.  

Philadelphia has also scored an abysmal 18 total goals this season, which is legitimately difficult to believe. Only five players have scored more than one goal.

With that in mind, it is time to dig deeper and look what some advanced metrics say about the Flyers' start to the season.

Corsi and Fenwick are the two best-known advanced metrics in the hockey world right now, and are useful measures of a team's effectiveness.

They essentially just measure a team's shots, with the impression being that if you are taking shots, you have the puck, and the more you have the puck the better chance you have of scoring.

And of course, the more shots a team takes, especially when the score is close, gives them a better chance to win. For this reason, I will look specifically at Fenwick "close" stats for when the score is tied or close.

The only difference between Fenwick and Corsi is that Fenwick does not take into account blocked shots, which are often knocked out of the zone and/or taken possession of by the opposition. For this reason, I prefer Fenwick to Corsi.

They are not perfect by any means; in a way, they treat all shots equally, which is of course not true. But it is, in my opinion, the best we have right now and should be used for what it is.

Another interesting number to look at is a player's percentage of offensive vs. defensive zone faceoffs taken. If a player takes a large amount of faceoffs in the offensive zone, they are considered "sheltered" because they take on less defensive responsibility.

Taking a player's offensive zone starts and dividing it by their offensive zone starts plus their defensive zone starts can help get the clearest picture of a player's deployment by zone. 

These advanced numbers can paint a different picture of a player's effectiveness than the classic stats of goals, assists and plus/minus.

Maxime Talbot, for example, is one of the Flyers' most effective players according to advanced metrics. His Fenwick percentage is 51.8, which is calculated by dividing the Fenwick for by the sum of both the Fenwick for and against. A Fenwick percentage above 50 means that a player is helping his team generate more shots than they are allowing. 

Talbot's Fenwick percentage is tied for third best on the team, which is a testament to his hard work on the forecheck, his defensive responsibility and his underrated puck-moving skills.

Talbot also has one of the lower offensive zone start percentages on the Flyers. He is tied in Fenwick percentage with Sean Couturier, who, like Talbot, has not scored a goal yet this season but has a promising advanced metric outlook.

He is a smart, responsible player who does things that fans don't notice and is also very heavily relied on to take defensive zone faceoffs.

/Getty Images

Couturier also has more offensive talent than he is given credit for, but with the Flyers' roster constructed the way it is, he rarely gets the chance to focus on offense and play with more talented linemates.

Talbot and Couturier are also the Flyers' two best penalty killers, which means that they are relied on heavily there and use a lot of their energy in that unglamorous role. 

A somewhat surprising number is Kimmo Timonen's 58.8 offensive zone start percentage, which not only leads the team but is also significantly higher than his 52 percentage last year.

The trust is just not there anymore for him to be the team's leading shutdown guy, and his role is becoming more and more offensive-focused.

He has certainly looked slow this season, which is not particularly surprising for a 38-year-old. But it is clear that he is a shell of his old self.

Vincent Lecavalier has also been deployed in the offensive zone frequently, with the second-most starts after Timonen. And while his 48.8 Fenwick percentage is not fantastic, it's hard to argue with his six points in seven games.

Matt Read has not lit up the scoresheet, with just two goals and an assist, but his 51.1 Fenwick is fifth best on the team and he has been an effective penalty killer as well. 

At the very bottom of the Fenwick percentage chart are four very different players: Jay Rosehill, Zac Rinaldo, Mark Streit and Brayden Schenn.

Rinaldo and Rosehill's presence is not surprising, as they have been nothing more than energy guys who are really just mistake-prone goons so far this season.

But Streit's presence is not encouraging at all. The 35-year-old defenseman was given a big four-year contract worth over $5 million this offseason, but his impact has been minimal. 

He has just four assists and no goals in 10 games, and he has done nothing to improve the Flyers' woeful power play, which was supposed to be his major contribution.

Schenn is also disappointing, although he is tied for the team lead in points with six. He has also been taking more defensive than offensive zone faceoffs, which could contribute to his low Fenwick percentage.

His game is not really like Talbot's or Couturier's, who are better defensively and are adept at getting the puck out of their zone. Schenn should get more of a chance to focus on offense with Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell returning to the lineup.

Jakub Voracek got his first goal Saturday night in New York, while Claude Giroux is still searching for his first. Both get slightly more offensive than defensive zone starts, while Voracek's 50.5 Fenwick is superior to Giroux's 46.9.

The advanced numbers are consistent with their point totals in that they are disappointingly mediocre. Both players need to step it up in all facets of the game.

Two similar Philadelphia defensemen have also had very different starts to the season when incorporating advanced metrics in the equation.

Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann could be said to have comparable playing styles; both are big, slow, physical defensemen.

But right now, Grossmann has three assists and leads the team with a 52.9 Fenwick while only starting 40.8 percent of faceoffs in the offensive zone. 

Schenn, on the other hand, has just one goal, zero assists and is 17th on the Flyers with a 43.7 Fenwick. He needs to step up in a big way.

Finally, it is worth taking a look at rookie Michael Raffl, who has played in Philadelphia's past five games and was kept on the NHL roster over Tye McGinn, who was sent down to the AHL yesterday as the team's leading goal scorer.

Raffl is a much better skater than McGinn, and is a more creative and energetic offensive player than the big, net-crashing McGinn.

But he didn't have a point until his assist on Saturday night against the Islanders, and his 44.1 Fenwick is pretty poor as well.

The Flyers problems can be simplified into two simple concepts; their defense is too slow and their stars have not played like stars.

Grossmann should not be the top Fenwick guy on the team, and Timonen and Streit are relatively ineffective while Luke Schenn has not played well. 

Giroux and Voracek have just eight assists and one goal between them, and their advanced metrics do not make up for this lack of production on the stat sheet.

Lecavalier has been good but not great, while guys like Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read need to elevate their games as well.

If their top six forwards collectively raise their level of play, they might be able to pull this team back into playoff contention, but there is little hope for a Stanley Cup run this year. 

 

All stats taken from extraskater.com

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