Better With Popcorn

Shot Selection Study Vs. NYR

The Philadelphia Flyers continued their losing ways on Sunday by falling to the New York Rangers, 7-0. The Flyers are now 4-1 on the season against the Broadway Blue shirts and are in the midst of a 4-game losing streak, the longest such streak of the year. The Flyers have been outscored 19-6 during that span and have allowed at least 3 goals in their last six consecutive games.

Coming off of a shaky February and a winless beginning to March, many are beginning to wonder what has happened to this team. Not only are they not scoring goals, but they’re also giving up a ton of goals. Bob has not looked great as of late and has gone 1-3-1 in his last five games. Boucher is now 4-3 in his last seven and had a poor performance on Sunday, allowing 4 goals on 18 shots. But it’s not just the goaltenders’ faults. As Bill Rightnour pointed out in his last column, the Philadelphia D-core’s +/- ratings are plummeting at an alarming rate. Watching the game on Sunday, it just looked like all the players were bored, uninspired, and completely disinterested in playing. The Rangers looked like a stampede continually charging the net. Ryan Callahan was like a bomb, exploding for a career high-4 goals, all 4 of which were made to look very easy due to a lack of Flyers defense. I understand the flu bug has run rampant in the locker room and we can all only hope that it is the cause of the Flyers lack of motivation. I would like to point out that the current 4-game losing streak began with the Ottawa Senators. To my knowledge, that was the first time that the flu bug was referenced in regards to the Flyers (Mike Richards took part in ceremonies, had an interview with Steve Coates, and then was promptly scratched minutes before opening puck drop.) Since then several members of the Flyers have fallen ill with the bug including Coach Laviolette. The Flu is a component that shouldn't go unnoticed.

With that being said, two things (independent of the last 4 games) have alarmed me as of late; 1.) The Flyers ability to allow “quick strike goals” and 2.) Their poor shot selection, specifically on the power play. Considering that I already detailed quick stike goals (the Flyers added 2 more to their growing number*; Callahan .59 seconds into the game, and Callahan 1.22 after Zuccarello, to make it 4-0), I decided to take note of the Flyers shots and the positions where they came from. (*Note: the Flyers have now allowed 14 “quick strike goals” in the last 20 games)

In past articles, I have referenced “high percentage shots”. In the charts below, you will view black lines I have drawn that look similar to the lane on a basketball court. Those lines designate where I think high quality opportunities are generated. It is important to note that the blue line to the goal line is 60 feet in length. I based my beliefs on the premise that scoring from 15 feet away is far easier than scoring from 60 feet away. By taking shots in the designated area I believe that teams have a better chance of getting a shot to:

-The back of the net

-Through traffic

- To create rebounds for secondary chances

I was unsatisfied with the shot selection in the Buffalo game and decided to take note of where the Flyers were deciding to take shots from in the game on Sunday. The “X” marks represent registered shots. I tried to keep track of blocked shots and missed shots, but found it to be far too difficult to keep track of and found myself conflicting with the official scorer (the Flyers missed 15 shots and had 20 shots blocked). I was able to keep track of blocked shots and missed shots on the power play. I denote a blocked shot with a “circled X” and a missed shot with a circle.. The Flyers took 24 shots on Sunday, Here is a breakdown of them:

Flyers even-strength shot selection:

The Flyers took 21 of their 24 shots in even-strength situations. 13 of the 21 shots were taken inside the designated area; 3 of the shots came from inside the face-off circles, and 5 came from the point. Unfortunately, all 21 of these shots can be characterized as “primary” shots. A lot of the times, offenses take shots with the intention of creating rebounds so that they can create second and third scoring opportunities. The Flyers seemed to take shots that the Rangers immediately controlled and turned up ice, which eliminated any chances of fielding rebounds and putting them back on the net. I was surprised by the Flyers choice in shots on Sunday because I thought that they were pretty good. They picked good areas to shoot from but appeared to have no power behind the shots. This problem plays more to their lack of motivation rather than poor shot selection.

Now, Lets examine the power play shot selection:

As you can see, the power play was very poor. Only one shot came inside the designated area and 7 shots were attempted from the point, with 5 of those 7 shots coming from the center portion of the point. Only 1 of the 5 attempted centered point shots got to the net. What this says to me is that the Flyers are predictable. Teams know where the Flyers power play is going to move the puck to and they clog that area up. The point shots are clearly not getting to the net and they most certainly are not going to the back of the net. The Flyers need to find a way to generate the puck to the lower portions of the zone and allow their goal scorers to take shots. The Flyers went 0-5 on the power play on Sunday.

The Flyers currently stand at 40-19-6 and are still stuck at 86 points. They are still leading the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference but are only holding onto both positions by two points. The Flyers look like they are very frustrated and are trying to turn things around as quickly as they can. I hope that they slow down and put things into perspective. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to step back, realize something is wrong, and take your time to figure out how to solve it. Coming to the rink early and leaving late and over-skating may not be the smartest course of action. Simplifying the system, getting some rest, and realizing that they have a full month to right the ship, might be best for everybody. Considering that the flu has plagued the team for a few weeks, I hope coach will go light on them in the next couple of days. It has been reported that they have the day off today, which I think is a good idea. When things are going wrong, it’s real easy to over-react and lose control. I hope the Flyers collect themselves and realize that even though they are struggling they are still the best team in the Eastern Conference. I hope they don’t allow a little turbulence to de-rail what could be a championship season.

The Flyers will go back to work Tuesday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center for a 7PM puck drop.

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*This article originally appeared on 7th and


Mark Trible's picture

Excellent work Matt, I was especially startled at the shots on the PP. Often people refer to 'greasy' goals that are needed to break scoring slumps. Those greasy goals can't come unless the team creates chances in front of the net