The Philadelphia Flyers looked good in their first round-robin match, picking up a 4-1 victory against the Boston Bruins. Without knowing any better, one might think that some of the usual suspects, like Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux, were responsible for the offensive production. After all, they accounted for over 28% of the Flyers’ team points in the regular season.
As it turns out, these stars were point-less Sunday night. Instead, some less likely goal scorers carried the Flyers to victory. Fourth-liners Michael Raffl and Nate Thompson scored the first two goals. Later, defenseman Philippe Myers and second-liner Scott Laughton added the final two.
Unlikely Offensive Contributors
Sunday night’s four goal scorers were not exactly offensive stars in the regular season. Here’s a breakdown of their offensive stats this season:
- Michael Raffl: 8 goals, 12 assists, 20 points
- Nate Thompson: 4 goals, 11 assists, 15 points
- Philippe Myers: 4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points
- Scott Laughton: 13 goals, 14 assists, 27 points
Of Thompson’s 15 points, 14 came during his time with the Montreal Canadiens at the start of this season. When accounting for this, these players combined for only 25 goals and 39 assists with the Flyers this season. Flyers’ leading point-getter Konecny had an almost identical stat line with 24 goals and 37 assists.
What’s even more noteworthy is that previously, none of these players had much offensive success in the playoffs. Thompson had the most success with 18 points in 62 career playoff games. After that, Raffl and Laughton had combined for just 4 points in 28 playoff games, while Myers had no postseason experience.
A Quiet Night From the Stars
The Flyers were fortunate to receive this secondary, and even tertiary, scoring because their primary scorers were quiet. The team registered four goals and five assists. Only three of those nine points were recorded by any of the Flyers’ top-eight point-getters this season.
Meanwhile, Giroux (who has the ninth-most career playoff points in Flyers history), Couturier (who recorded nine points in his most recent playoff series in 2018) and Konecny (the Flyers’ top point-getter this season) failed to tally any points Sunday night.
This is even more surprising considering that Couturier and Giroux led all Flyers in time on ice (TOI). In fact, Couturier’s 19:55 TOI was 56 seconds more than Giroux’s, and was over two minutes more than that of any other Flyer forward.
Why the Flyers Should Be Optimistic
Even though the Flyers’ usual suspects were largely held off the scoresheet, there is still reason to be optimistic. Firstly, any scoring from the bottom-six forwards will help ease the pressure off the top lines. It’s important that the Flyers maintain a balanced attack, so that their opponents have to expend their defensive resources across the entire lineup.
If the Flyers’ third and fourth lines are not producing, then their opponents can focus all their defensive energy on Giroux, Couturier and company. However, if some of the players from these lines continue to produce like they did Sunday night, then opposing defensemen will need to be mindful of them. This may lead to more favorable offensive situations for the Flyers’ top lines.
Another reason to be optimistic is that if history is any indication, it won’t be long until the Flyers’ top line gets on the scoresheet. Konecny does not have much playoff experience, but Giroux has 65 points in 70 career playoff games, Couturier has 13 points in 25 career playoff games and Voracek has 19 points in 31 career playoff games. Based on those stats, Giroux averages nearly a point per playoff game, while the other two average over a point per every two playoff games.
Finally, even when these players are not recording points, they are still making their presence felt on ice. Giroux, Couturier and Voracek each recorded three shots on goal. Combined, their nine shots represented over 30% of all shots that Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak faced. Also, Voracek did add one assist.
Ultimately, regardless of who is scoring, the Flyers are a formidable opponent. Should their bottom lines continue to produce and help shape a balanced attack, then the Flyers will only be more dangerous. Look out, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.
Covering the Flyers for THW | Lifelong Islanders fan, but promise to become a little more sympathetic to the Flyers | Also a 4X marathon-runner | UChicago ’19