After watching the US men’s and women’s hockey teams both lose to those bag-of-milk drinking Canadians in Sochi I have been eagerly awaiting our Flyers return to the ice. Tomorrow will mark the team’s first game back when they skate against the San Jose Sharks. With their return I wanted to take some time out to highlight two players I think will be crucial to their success in the second half of the season.
Claude Giroux 19G / 38A / 57P / 59GP – So yeah, G is a pretty obvious choice but he means so much to this team that he can’t be excluded. Before the Flyers entered the Olympic break Giroux had tallied 13 points in his last 10 games. He was playing arguably his best hockey of the season and with being snubbed from the Canadian Olympic hockey team I believe he’s going to play with a HUGE chip on his shoulder. Now I’m not one for sport clichés but the fact that he got passed over for the likes of Chris Kunitz has to be eating at him. To really illustrate how important G is to the offensive success of the Flyers one can just look at his CF% Rel.
If you’re curious as to what you are looking at in the chart above I took Claude Giroux’s CF% in his last 10 games and compared them to his CF% Rel. For example on Feb 1st when the Flyers took on the Los Angeles Kings they were out shot heavily, leading to a team CF% of 28.1%. With Giroux on the ice the Flyers were still out shot by the Kings, but they posted a CF% of 36%, an increase of almost 8%. So as you can see the Flyers were better with Giroux on the ice in all but 2 games. Now I know what you’re saying, “Duh, he’s the best player on the team”, and I concede that, but also in 5 of those games the Flyers were better when it came to CF% by at least 10%. That’s pretty remarkable considering he’s going up against the opposing team’s best defensive forwards and defenseman. Right now the Flyers stand 20th in the NHL with 98 even strength goals. With G being the driving force behind the Flyers offense he needs to get us into the top 10 in that statistic when the season ends. But he can’t be expected to do it alone. That’s where Mr. Lecavalier comes into the picture.
Vincent Lecavalier 12G / 11A / 23P / 46GP – With the good comes the bad, but in Vinny’s case, it’s been pretty bad lately. At the onset of the season the Flyers signed Vinny in free agency and most Flyers fans rejoiced. Fans here in Philly had watched him throughout his career in Tampa become a very good player. There was excitement that the Flyers had signed a player who would help upgrade the Flyers offense and provide some veteran leadership. He had averaged almost a point a game the previous year so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he could continue that success with the Flyers even at the age of 33. Boy, were we all wrong, SO VERY WRONG. Vinny had tallied 9 goals in his first 20 games. Since then? A whopping 3 goals with only 1 of them being at even strength. To illustrate just how bad Vinny has been recently here’s another graph using the same statistics as the one I used for Giroux.
As you can see Vinny has been pretty awful in his last 10 games when it comes to puck possession. The antithesis of his terrible play came against the Los Angeles Kings when the Flyers shot differential with him on the ice was -16. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll give you a minute. *Begins singing Rock N Roll by Motorhead* Now that you had time to digest that crap sandwich there is good news. Vinny can’t continue playing this bad, right? RIGHT? I truly believe he’s a better player than this. As a matter of fact he needs to be better. The Flyers as I said before need to get better at scoring when it’s 5 on 5 and Vinny needs to start pulling his damn weight.
As always, please send all your hate mail to bear[dot]canney[at]gmail[dot]com and your angry tweets to @BcanneyBSB.
Stats provided by ExtraSkater.