Good morning, Flyers fans. While we sit and wait for the NHL season to hopefully return, I wanted to start conversations today about some of the ways we evaluate NHL players in this analytics-crazed era.
I’m old-school. I think the eye test is more valuable than anything analytics can tell us.
Example: Claude Giroux is among the Flyers’ bottom-six forwards in collecting even-strength points and goals per 60 minutes, but that doesn’t take into account the other things he does so well – his dominance in the faceoff circle, his terrific passes that aren’t converted, his relentless drive on the ice.
That said, I believe there is a place for analytics, but only if they are just a small piece of the evaluation. The eye test is still more important, but analytics can give us some valuable information when evaluating players.
You will be surprised, for instance, who leads the Flyers in even-strength goals if you base his performance on playing 60 minutes.
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Any guesses on which Flyer leads the team in goals if you extrapolate his time on ice to 60 minutes per game?
Hint: He would probably be about your eighth or ninth guess.
The answer is Scott Laughton, a center/left winger who has played up and down the lineup this season, mostly on the third line.
Laughton has had his best NHL season, collecting a career-high 13 goals in just 49 games. He has missed 20 games because of finger and groin injuries.
The almost-26-year-old forward leads the Flyers in even-strength goals per 60 minutes with 1.245, just ahead of Travis Konecny (1.241).
Here is the team’s top 10:
- Scott Laughton: 1.245 goals per 60 minutes.
- Travis Konecny: 1.241.
- Oskar Lindblom: 1.152.
- James van Riemsdyk 1.107.
- Sean Couturier: 1.041.
- Kevin Hayes: 0.927.
- Nic Aube-Kubel: 0.809.
- Claude Giroux: 0.756.
- Derek Grant: 0.728.
- Tyler Pitlick: 0.696.
As far as even-strength points per 60 minutes of ice time, Grant leads the team with 2.912 per game. But Grant has played just seven games with the Flyers, collecting five points while averaging 11:46 of even-strength time on ice per contest.
The “true” Flyers leaders in that category are Couturier (2.661), Laughton (2.586), Konecny (2.483), and Jake Voracek (2.411).
As stated above, a lot of stats can be taken with a grain of salt, but they can serve as a complement to the eye test.
The eye test told us Laughton was a relentless forechecker this season and a terrific defensive player who was just starting to come into his own as a scorer.
The analytics tell us that maybe, just maybe, he deserves a little more ice time.
I’m putting together a 10-part series on the best Flyers playoff wins in franchise history. It’s been difficult to pare it down to 10 because of all the great victories, most of them in the team’s earlier years.
Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with some of the playoff games that you think are worthy of being mentioned. I’d love to have your input.
While putting together this series, I’ve learned some interesting updates about some of the Flyers who were on the Cup-winning teams in 1974 and 1975.
For instance, Bill Barber, the Hockey Hall of Fame left winger who divides his time between living in Florida and South Jersey and is still a Flyers adviser, recently had both knees replaced at the same time. He can now walk for a long period of time -- something he hasn’t been able to do for more than a decade -- and is able to ride a beach bike and his motorcycle without any problems.
Gary Dornhoefer, the hardworking right winger who played with the grit of Wayne Simmonds in front of the net, lives in Dover, Del., with his wife and has a busy household. He and his wife have 10 parrots, four greyhounds, and five cats. If he weren’t a hockey player, I get the feeling Dornhoefer would have been a veterinarian.
“We send the vets to Florida every year, believe me,” Dornhoefer half-kidded, referring to the money he spends to care for his pets.
Bernie Parent, the Hall of Fame goalie who had shutouts in each of the Flyers’ Cup-clinching wins, is making a nice recovery from last year’s back surgery. He is working out every day.
“I want to be fishing this summer," the always-jovial Parent said. “I have a 45-foot boat in Avalon, and that’s my purpose -- to get in good shape and be on my boat this summer.”
Tuesday: Twenty-five years ago from today, Eric Lindros collected two assists as the Flyers defeated Buffalo, 4-2, and took a 3-1 lead in their playoff series against Buffalo. Ron Hextall was the winning goalie.
Thursday: A replay of the epic Game 7 of the Flyers’ 2010 playoff series vs. Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, 7 p.m. (The NBC Sports Network will also show the game at 6 p.m. Thursday.)
Saturday: Thirty-five years from this day, Dave Poulin scored a five-on-three shorthanded goal, and Pelle Lindbergh was flawless in the nets as the Flyers defeated visiting Quebec, 3-0, and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in franchise history.
Why isn’t Andre “Moose” Dupont in the Flyers’ Hall of Fame?
(@slapschotts) via Twitter
Answer: Thanks for the question, Ken. Dupont was a solid defender who supplied offense from the back end and was also one of the most physical players on the Broad Street Bullies.
To me, he was a good player and was somewhat underrated, but not quite a Flyers Hall of Famer. That said, I understand your question. Starting with the Flyers’ first Cup season in 1973-74, Dupont was plus-34, plus-41, plus-41, plus-58, plus-31, plus-21, and plus-37 in an impressive seven-year stretch.
He also had the primary assist on the most important goal in the Flyers’ history, Rick MacLeish’s tip-in in the Cup-clinching 1-0 win over Boston in 1974.
Among defensemen, Dupont is first in franchise history in penalty minutes, 12th in points, eighth in goals, and third in plus-minus stats. He was on one All-Star team in his career, and is 23rd in points per game among defensemen who have played at least 200 games with the Flyers.
Was he a good defenseman whose physical presence helped the Flyers win two Cups? Absolutely. A Flyers Hall of Famer? From here, he’s just a shade below.