Philadelphia Flyers’ F Matt Read Has Jump in His Step

Coming off a few disappointing seasons, Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read has a new jump in his step and has the goals to show for it

Matt Read was probably getting down to the last nerve of many surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers. Read’s career started so well with the Flyers as a 25-year old rookie, but the last 2 seasons he went from a reliabile 20-goal man to a guy struggling to hit 10 goals.

A look under the hood at shot statistics, however, showed Matt Read wasn’t necessarily as bad last season as his meager production suggested. As analyzed in his season review for last season, in terms of shot production he was an effective player last season. By some metrics, it was even the best season of his career. Those numbers show Matt Read had a real downer 2 year ago when playing injured, but last season may have been some bad luck.

Alas, the current landscape of the NHL isn’t impressed by performance in “advanced analytics” only. A forward, particularly one on a long-term deal, needs goals and points.

At the end of last season, Read recognized he would have to do more. Specifically, Read talked about getting to the dirty areas where most goals are scored.

“We talked about getting in front of the net more often, or getting in that tough area where you take a crosscheck to get a rebound or do the little things. I think that’s where 95 percent of the goals are scored off of, rebounds or things right around the net. Not many guys can shoot from the top of the circles and score 50 every year. You’ve got to learn how to score goals, it gets harder and harder every year obviously with video and how everyone’s concentrating on every little aspect of defensive hockey. You’ve just got to find a way to score and produce as much as you can to help your team.”

It was also fair to question whether Read could deliver on getting dirty to score goals. He’s a small player, so the only way to accomplish these things are with speed. Slowed by injuries and now 30-years old, walking-the-walk would be much trickier than talking-the-talk.

Following Through

Fortunately, Read has emphatically followed through on his own advice this season. We are seeing that old speed again. Furthermore, we are seeing a player fixated on getting to the net.

Read immediately put the coaches on notice in the first game of the season. Despite playing on the 4th line, Read had 4 shots on goal and some of the Flyers’ best chances of the night. He’s since been promoted to the 3rd line, and has 4 goals in the 3 games since. More importantly, all 4 goals have been scored from the doorstep like this or this, and usually after blowing past the defense like this and this.

Matt Read is thriving this season for 2 main reasons. One, there’s a renewed jump in his stride that was lacking the last few seasons, and he’s using it to go to the net. Second, Read has consistently been an efficient player in terms of shot generation, and the weight of numbers usually catches up. The combination has Read playing the best hockey of his career.

Obviously Matt Read is not going to keep up his pace of 82 goals this season. Yet if he does stay hungry and healthy, he could easily set a new career high in goals. That’s great news for a player with whom the Philadelphia Flyers organization and fans were getting impatient, and for a team currently struggling to create offense at even strength.