The Flyers defense has been doing more than just patrolling the blue line this season. They’ve been part of a league-leading stat.
To find the Flyers defensemen with the most goals this season, you have to look quite a ways down the list. Ivan Provorov sits ninth on the team with 12 goals. Matt Niskanen and Travis Sanheim have eight apiece. Shayne Gostisbehere has five. Phil Myers has four. Justin Braun and Robert Hagg each have three goals.
Add that all together and it gives the Flyers defensive core 43 goals this season. That is the most in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens are right behind them with 42 goals by defensemen. Shea Weber leads them with 15 goals. The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers have 41 goals by defensemen. Jared Spurgeon leading with 11 and Tony DeAngelo with 13. And the Florida Panthers have 40 goals by defensemen.
This group has accounted for about 20% of the Flyers’ goals this season. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, all but two Flyers defensemen that have played this season have at least three goals. Samuel Morin only appeared in one game and Mark Friedman has an assist in six games. So the team is getting contributions from everywhere in their lineup.
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Looking deeper into each player’s contribution on the offensive side, the team has the biggest threat when Travis Sanheim is on the ice. Using Micah’s work over on Hockey Viz, we can see the offensive threat when Sanheim is on the ice. The team is at +8% in 1,095 minutes of on-ice time for Sanheim. A lot of the shots come from the slot area and very close to the net or on the right side of the point.
Niskanen and Provorov both have positives when looking at the unblocked shot rates as well. Niskanen sits at +2% and it appears a majority of the shots on ice are coming from right in front of the net when he is on the ice. There is also a small section towards the right point as well. For Provorov, the section where the excess shots per hour are the biggest is once again in front of the net. His threat is at +1%.
Despite this not being positive, we cannot look at this stat without talking about some of the players on the negative side as well. Hagg has the worst percentage at -14%. There is hardly a spot on the ice where the Flyers are getting a lot of shots off when he is on the ice. It appears that the left side of the point and the middle are the main spots, leading to believe that may be Hagg or his defensive partner shooting. With Hagg having the second-lowest point total among active defensemen, this isn’t a big surprise.
Going back to Sanheim, it isn’t a surprise that he has the most points during 5v5 play. His seven goals are also the most among defensemen at even strength. He has the second-highest points-per-60 at 1.06. Sanheim has also been on the ice for the most goals at even strength, though he has also seen the most goals against. Continuing on the trend of where Sanheim leads, his 52.58 CF% is also the best among the group of defensemen.
For the Flyers to continue this upwards trend, they will need everyone in the lineup to keep producing at the level that they are. And with the defensemen chipping in like they are, the Flyers should be in good shape as long as that pace continues.