Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Improving on Last Season’s Benchmarks, Quick Hits

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HOW WILL 2014-15 FLYERS COMPARE TO LAST SEASON’S BENCHMARKS?

New Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has said repeatedly over the offseason that the primary way he wants to use analytics — both readily available statistics and proprietary benchmarks — is to help the team on the ice rather than as the basis of roster moves. In a nutshell, Hextall sees it as a tool for identifying specific game-within-the-game areas the team and its individual players can either exploit to their benefit or must work to improve.

Heading into the 2014-15 season, the biggest area of improvement the Flyers need is to improve their goal differential at even strength. Beyond that, there’s a variety of other performance areas the club hopes to either match or improve upon from last year.

It is always good for a team to benchmark itself in a variety of different ways against the rest of the league, especially the clubs on top. By way of comparing the Flyers starting place in preparing for the upcoming season, here is where they ranked in a variety of different areas in the regular season last year. The comparison clubs are the regular season rankings of the 2013-14 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers.

OVERALL SCORING/ DEFENSE

Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.84 (8th) , LA 2.42 (26th), Rangers 2.61 (18th)

Non-shootout goals against : Flyers 2.77 (20th), LA 2.05 (1st), Rangers 2.32 (4th)

Shots per game: Flyers 30.4 (14th) , LA 31.6 (7th), Rangers 33.2 (2nd)

Shots against per game: Flyers 30.6 (19th), LA 26.2 (2nd), Rangers 29.4 (15th)

GOAL DIFFERENTIALS BY PERIOD

1st PD: Flyers +3 (60 GF, 57 GA), LA +15 (66 GF, 49 GA), Rangers E (60 GF, 60 GA)

2nd PD: Flyers -4 (79 GF, 83 GA), LA -2 (55 GA, 57 GA), Rangers +7 (78 GF, 71 GA)

3rd PD: Flyers +5 (90 GA, 85 GA), LA +13 (73 GF, 60 GA), Rangers +18 (74 GF, 56 GA)

Overtime: Flyers +2 (4 GF, 2 GA), LA +2 (4 GF, 2 GA), Rangers -1 (2 GF, 3 GA)

SITUATION PLAY

Five-on-five GF/GA ratio: Flyers 0.96 (17th), LA 1.28 (3rd), Rangers 1.07 (10th)

Power play efficiency: Flyers 19.7% (8th), LA 15.1% (27th), Rangers 18.2% (15th)

Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 84.8 (7th), LA 83.1% (11th), Rangers 85.3 (3rd)

Opposing shorthanded goals yielded: Flyers 11 (28th), LA 6 (T-9th), Rangers 7 (T-17th)

Shorthanded goals scored: Flyers 8 (14th), LA 5 (T-19th), Rangers 10 (4th)

Average PP/SH time per game: Flyers 28th, LA 13th, Rangers 5th

PLAYING WITH LEAD/ PLAYING FROM BEHIND

Scoring first: Flyers 39 of 82 games (47.6%), LA 52 of 82 (63.4%), Rangers 38 of 82 (46.3%)

Winning percentage when scoring first: Flyers .744, LA .692, Rangers .816

Winning percentage when trailing first: Flyers .302, LA .333, Rangers .318

Record when leading after 1st period: Flyers 21-5-2, LA 23-5-2, Rangers 20-4-2

Record when leading after 2nd period: Flyers 29-2-4, LA 27-3-0, Rangers 28-1-2

Record when trailing after 1st period: Flyers 8-18-3, LA 6-15-1, Rangers 6-18-0

Record when trailing after 2nd period: Flyers 7-22-2, 6-21-3, Rangers 5-23-2

TEAM FENWICK (SHOTS + MISSED SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR/AGAINST RATIO)

Close: Flyers 48.21 (23rd), LA 56.46 (1st), Rangers 53.34 (6th)

Tied: Flyers 46.75 (26th), LA 56.55 (1st), Rangers 54.06 (7th)

Up by 1: Flyers 47.25 (14th), LA 52.82 (1st), Rangers 47.62 (11th)

Up by 2: Flyers 47.87 (8th), LA 52.24 (2nd), Rangers 47.79 (9th)

Down by 1: Flyers 54.64 (14th), LA 60.16 (1st), Rangers 56.36 (7th)

Down by 2: Flyers 54.59 (18th), LA 59.57 (3rd), Rangers 55.56 (15th)

IN-GAME BATTLES

Faceoff winning percentage: Flyers 50.0 (16th), LA 52.8 (3rd), Rangers 48.8 (22nd)

Credited hits: Flyers 2,174 (6th), LA 2,609 (1st), Rangers 1,905 (14th)

Blocked shots: Flyers 1,200 (15th),LA 927 (29th), Rangers 1,119 (21st)

Credited takeaways: Flyers 445 (28th), LA 344 (30th), Rangers 564 (12th)

Charged giveaways: Flyers 587 (10th), LA 862 (27th), Rangers 706 (20th)

*********** QUICK HITS: SEPTEMBER 11

* The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) regular season got underway yesterday. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, the Flyers’ second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, notched a pair of third-period goals in the Val-d’Or Foreurs’ 4-2 win over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Val-d’Or trailed 2-1 in the third period when Aube-Kubel beat goaltender Jeremy Belisle with a wrist shot to tie the score. After Stephen Anderson’s second goal of the game put the Foreurs ahead, 3-2, Aube-Kubel notched an insurance goal with 3:05 remaining on the clock.

* With the exception of two players in Europe and their collegiate prospects, the Flyers will have theit full contingent of prospects plus three unaffiliated tryout invitees in Voorhees tomorrow for the start of rookie camp. Players such as Aube-Kubel and first-round picks Samuel Morin (Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL) and Travis Sanheim (Calgary Hitmen, WHL) will take leave from their junior teams to participate in the camp.

* Flyers Alumni birthdays:Former first-pick Glen Seabrooke turns 47 today. Mike Comrie turns 34. The late Mike Byers, who passed away four years ago come Sept. 16, was born on this date in 1946.

* Today in Flyers History: On this day in 1995, the Flyers got restricted free agent left winger John LeClair under contract. Coming off his breakthrough season following his trade to Philadelphia from the Montreal Canadiens, LeClair was still unsigned as training camp opened. As a show of good faith and to avoid missing preparation time for the upcoming season, LeClair attended camp without a contract. The situation was resolved on Sept. 11.

LeClair agreed to a five-year contract for $1.25 million per season. The contract would almost instantly become one of the NHL’s most underpriced deals, as he scored 51 goals and 97 points in 1995-96 (the first of three straight seasons with 50-plus goals). As early as the midway point of the 1996-97 season, LeClair’s agent demanded a renegotiation of the existing contract while it still had several seasons to go (which was still allowed under the NHL rules of the time).

Shortly after the Flyers signed Chris Gratton to a massive restricted free agent offer sheet in the summer of 1997, the LeClair camp threatened a holdout from training camp if his contract was not immediately torn up and replaced with one that was more in line with the player’s by-now indisputable stature as one of the NHL’s premier left wingers.

The Flyers agreed to a renegotiation but the two sides remained far apart on dollars. On Sept. 9, 1997, LeClair began a nine-day holdout from training camp. Owner Ed Snider and general manager Bob Clarke refused to negotiate with the LeClair camp as long as he held out but met with LeClair. Management assured him they knew he was underpaid in his existing deal and that something agreeable to both sides would be worked out if he ended the holdout promptly.

LeClair reported on Sept. 18, 1997. On Oct. 17, the Flyers officially voided the remainder of the deal that LeClair signed in 1995 and replaced it with a new contract that exponentially increased his salary. The new deal ran through the 2000-01 season.

In June 2001, the Flyers signed LeClair to a new five-year contract that topped out at $9 million per season. Unfortunately, LeClair’s body had begun to break down. He never again surpassed the 25-goal mark in a season after undergoing back surgery. Following the cancellation of the 2004-05 season due to a year-long lockout, the NHL adopted a salary cap system. On July 23, 2005, the Flyers bought out the remainder of LeClair’s contract.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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