The 2019-20 NHL season is still in its infancy, and as we saw last year before the St. Louis Blues captured their first-ever Stanley Cup, things can change dramatically over a long 82-game schedule.
However, even though the season is just a few games in, there are some early takeaways one can gather around the league.
In the case of the Philadelphia Flyers, who are 3-3-1 through seven games, their record doesn’t tell the whole story.
Flyers Buying-In to Vigneault’s System
Under former head coach Dave Hakstol, the Flyers played a more laid-back style. That system provided for some frustrating hockey for Flyers’ fans, who saw their team sit-back and wait the majority of the time. And as one could guess, it also yielded some poor results.
New head coach Alain Vigneault brings with him more of an attacking style and through seven games, the difference is noticeable. Even with varying results so far, the Flyers are forcing the action nightly.
After opening the season earning five of a possible six points in their first three games, the Flyers dropped three-straight in regulation. However, after falling to the Dallas Stars 4-1 despite out-shooting the Stars 39-16, Vigneault’s comments were telling.
“At the end of the day right now, we’re having a challenging time as a group finding the back of the net. We’re doing a lot of the right things — traffic, jamming pucks, going hard to the net. But we’re having a tough time making the other team pay for their mistakes. As far as our process and how we’re playing offensively and how we’re playing defensively, you’ve got to like our game.”Jordan Hall NBC Sports Philadelphia
After that loss to the Stars, things seemingly came together for the Flyers, who erupted for six goals in a dominating 6-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Flyers Are Getting Pucks to the Net
Ahead of their next matchup Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flyers are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to getting pucks to the net, while also keeping opponents chances in check.
The Flyers have out-shot their opponents in six of their seven games. On the year, they’ve out-shot their opponents 254-191.
In an early sample-size, the Flyers are second in the league in shots per game:
- Los Angeles Kings 38.0
- Philadelphia Flyers 36.3
- Florida Panthers 36.1
- Vegas Golden Knights 34.9
- Columbus Blue Jackets 34.8
While the Flyers have done a nice job of putting shots on net this season, they’ve done an equally good job of keeping their number of shots against down as well.
No team in the league allows fewer shots against.
- Philadelphia Flyers 27.3
- Los Angeles King 28.0
- Pittsburgh Penguins 28.0
- Carolina Hurricanes 28.9
- Dallas Stars 28.9
Flyers Are Dominating the Possession Battle
As far as advanced stats go, the Flyers’ are off the charts, proving that their 3-3-1 mark is due in large part to some bad luck.
The Flyers have dominated the possession battle, boasting an incredible high Corsi-For percentage (CF%) as a team, while several players have posted impressive individual advanced stats as well.
Entering Thursday’s matchup against Chicago, the Flyers are tops in the league in CF%.
- Philadelphia Flyers 57.0
- Pittsburgh Penguins 54.7
- Winnipeg Jets 53.5
- Los Angeles Kings 52.9
- Nashville Predators 52.7
In total, 15 Flyers who’ve played all seven games this season have a CF% of over 50 percent.
- Sean Couturier 66.9 CF%
- Travis Konecny 65.7 CF%
- Claude Giroux 63.8 CF%
- Shayne Gostisbehere 61.3 CF%
- Ivan Provorov 61.2 CF%
- Jakub Voracek 60.5 CF%
- Oskar Lindblom 56.0 CF%
- James van Riemsdyk 54.5 CF%
- Matt Niskanen 54.2 CF%
- Travis Sanheim 54.0 CF%
- Justin Braun 53.9 CF%
- Kevin Hayes 53.4 CF%
- Robert Hagg 52.4 CF%
- Scott Laughton 52.3 CF%
- Michael Raffl 51.7 CF%
The impressive possession numbers for the Flyers don’t end there, as they’ve also dominated things in the face-off circle as well.
The Flyers currently have the highest faceoff win percentage (FO%) in the league:
- Philadelphia Flyers 57.3 FO%
- Anaheim Ducks 56.1 FO%
- Vancouver Canucks 53.6 FO%
- St. Louis Blues 53.4 FO%
- Toronto Maple Leafs 52.9 FO%
Furthermore, Sean Couturier (67.6 FO%) and Claude Giroux (67.0 FO%) lead the league in face-off win percentage among players with 60 or more draws taken.
Flyers Still Aren’t a Finished Product
When looking at the stat sheet this season, a few names still remain absent when it comes to goal-scoring for the Flyers. There are names who you’d expect to eventually come around, especially considering how the Flyers have dominated possession and the shot chart.
Travis Konecnyis tied for the team-lead in goals this season with four and leads the team in points with 10 on the year. While Konecny was expected to be a big part of the offense, and unlikely name in Oskar Lindblom has equaled Konecny’s goal total through seven games.
A few names who have yet to tally their first goal on the season include Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Giroux has received criticism from some, but in reality, he’s been doing everything this season but score. Giroux is second on the team in shots with 24, but has yet to light the lamp, something you’d expect to change and soon.
Meanwhile, the team-leader in shots, van Riemsdyk, has failed to score despite putting 35 shots on net. Yet again, another trend that isn’t expected to last too long.
Also, offensively talented defenseman Gostisbehere has taken just 15 shots, but should also find his game, especially on the power play. Gostisbehere has been a part of the top power-play unit which hasn’t clicked as of yet. However, that should change as well considering the Flyers are fifth in the league in power-play percentage due to the second unit doing the majority of the damage.
With numbers in their favor nightly and some key contributors off to slow starts, there are plenty of reasons to believe the Flyers may be headed for much better hockey.
Seven games isn’t a lot to go on, however, where the Flyers are consistent usually leads to winning hockey.
As the season goes on, they’ll continue to try and prove they’re less like the team that lost four games in a row earlier this month and more like the team that blew the Golden Knights off the ice on Monday.