Better With Popcorn

Week of March 13th Introspective

The Philadelphia Flyers ended the week of March 13th on a strong note by defeating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in a shoot out. The win was the Flyers 44th of the season and gave them enough points to qualify for the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Last week’s Recap:

The Flyers went 2-0-1 in the week of March 13th and are 4-0-2 in their last 6 games. Each game was decided by a single goal and 2 of the 3 games went to a shoot out.

The Flyers power play dropped drastically in the week of March 13th. The Flyers went 0-for-7 on the man advantage after going 4-for-9 in the week of March 7th.

The penalty kill unit was unbeatable. The Flyers did not allow a single power play goal against this week successfully killing off all 11 penalties.

Scoring Breakdown:

The Flyers most offensive periods came in the second. This is no surprise considering the orange and black currently lead the league in second period goals, scoring 85 of their 228 goals in the second stanza.

The Flyers third period has been heavily criticized as of late. As the numbers show, the third was their lowest scoring period of the week, but the first period had the lowest amount shots attempted in it. When you look at the breakdown of how the shots were distributed in the third, it is easy to see that when the Flyers had a lead going into the third (against Florida and Dallas) they sat back and tried to protect their lead. When they trailed Atlanta, they were more offensive and attempted 11 shots because they were playing from behind.

Even though the Flyers defense has been criticized over the past few weeks, they were not out-shot or out-scored in any combined period this week.

The Flyers trailed their opponents 4 different times this week (3 of which came against Atlanta), and were able to tie up the game every time. They only had 2 leads this week and lost one of them (against Dallas).

Claude Giroux leads the team with 66 points this season. He also leads in assists with 43.

Jeff Carter has a team-high 33 goals and is second to Claude Giroux in points with 62.

Scott Hartnell and Mike Richards both scored their 20th goals of the season this week. The Flyers now have 5 different players with 20+ goals and have 3 players that are within 4 goals of 20 (JVR-16, Ville Leino-17, Kris Versteeg-18).

Looking Ahead:

This upcoming week will be an important one for the Flyers. They will take on the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins both of which are trying to take away the Flyers’ first place seedings. Washington trails Philadelphia by two points for first place in the Eastern Conference; Pittsburgh trails by 6 points in the Atlantic. The Flyers will be looking to win both of those games and will certainly want to register points.

PITTSBURGH

The Flyers are 3-1 against Pittsburgh this season. They won all three games by a score of 3-2.
Claude Giroux has 4 goals against Pittsburgh this season and has scored the game-winning goal in 2 of the 3 Flyers victories.

The Penguins will be at a huge disadvantage as 2 of their 3 top scorers against the Flyers, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, will not be playing due to injuries. Malkin and Crosby have a combined 10 points against the Flyers this season. Kris Letang has 1 goal and 5 assists against the orange and black himself. But with that being said, Pittsburgh has done an amazing job of staying afloat in the standings. Just because Geno and Sid are out does not mean that this will be a cake walk for the Flyers.

WASHINGTON

The Flyers are 2-0-1 against the Capitals this season. All three previous meetings have gone to OT, one of which went to a shoot out.

Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux have both scored 2 goals against the Capitals this season.

All of Washington’s big scorers have put up a goal against the Flyers, but Eric Fehr is the only Capital to score more than one:

Unfortunately for Washington, they too will be injury depleted against the Flyers. Mike Green has been out since February 25th and it was just reported this morning that superstar, Alex Ovechkin, will not play on Tuesday night because of an unknown ailment.

With Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, and Green all not playing against the Flyers, this is the perfect time for Philadelphia to take advantage of their biggest opponents moving forward. Every point is huge at this point of the season and the Flyers now have the opportunity to put some room between themselves and the competition.

Player Profile: Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux has had a breakout season. Going from a Philadelphia fan favorite to a league-wide star, Claude Giroux has been a huge component of Philadelphia’s success.

Through 71 games played, Giroux has 23 goals, 43 assists, 66 points, and a +13 rating.

Giroux is undoubtedly the team’s MVP this season and because of this it is very difficult to criticize him. But as of late I have been very concerned by one element of his game; his lack of goal scoring. Giroux’s stats make it very difficult to bring up this issue, but Giroux has been scoring goals far less frequently then he did earlier in the season and he appears to be looking to pass first and seems to lack confidence in his shot.

As the charts above will show, Giroux’s goal scoring has drastically dropped. Obviously his assist totals have astronomically soared and his plus/minus has not been hurt, but in my opinion Giroux has had quite a few opportunities up-close that he has had a difficult time finishing. He has also had some clear shots that he decides to drop pass or send to some one else. I understand that these opinions may sound irrational but from watching every game, I think it’s fair to say that Giroux certainly could be producing more goals.

I bring this point up mainly because of Saturday’s game against Dallas. Giroux had an opportunity to put the Flyers up 3-1 but hit the post. The Stars then took the puck up ice and tied up the game. The Flyers are 17-1-3 when Giroux scores and 12 of those 17 wins have been decided by a single goal.

I don’t mean to make it sound like Giroux is hurting the Flyers. Obviously he is a phenomenal player and Philadelphia is lucky to have him. I also don’t mean to put a premium on goal scoring; dish masters are just as important as goal scorers. Jeff Carter has scored 8 goals since February 1st. Of those 8 goals, Claude Giroux has an assist on 6 of them.

Giroux will play a huge part in any kind of success Philadelphia will have moving forward. Considering that he has scored 6 goals against Washington and Pittsburgh combined this year, I hope Giroux pads his stats a little bit this week. The only reason I bring up these concerns is because of Giroux’s tremendous ability. Most recently, 7 of the Flyers last 9 games have been decided by a single goal*. On a broader scoop, 17 of their last 20 have also been decided by a single goal*. We’re at a point in the season where every goal counts and I will be much more confident in the Flyers chances if Claude Giroux starts rippling the twine.

*Empty net goals were not counted

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