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Sunday, September 20, 2009

OGA SPR: The Philadelphia Flyers - by Frozen Pill

This is On Goal Analysis' 2009/10 Season Preview Report (SPR) for the Philadelphia Flyers - the 22nd installment of our daily previews leading to the start of the new season!

Fantasy Players - be sure to read the Frozen Pill's Fantasy Dose at the conclusion of the post.

The Philadelphia Flyers as Measured against the OGA Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC)

Last Season VS the PQC: A strong start to last season had the Flyers playing a full 2 points above the Curve by Game 30. It proved to be a strong enough start as OGA was able to correctly call them 'Chasing Stanley' (IN the playoffs) at Game 29 on December 13th, 2008 based on a close evaluation of the team performance as measured against the PQC. They achieved an above-average 4.95 PQC rating and never sunk more than a point below the Curve throughout the season. In fact, for five of the eight of the furlongs they were either at or above the PQC in their performance.

Post-Lockout Average VS the PQC: Philadelphia's post-lockout average PQC score is now at 4.388 - the average being brought down dramatically by the abysmal 2006-07 campaign wherein they only rated at 2.8. That nasty finish garnered some good draft positioning, though (and one of the Frozen Pill's favorite prospects - James van Riemsdyk) and the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers are coming into this year's campaign to reap the rewards of good draft positioning over the past decade.

An interesting note of how the Flyers measure up against the curve is found in mid-season. OGA measures team performance against the PQC every 10 games. The span is referred to as a furlong and each 10th game is a demarcation point. Although the Flyers have advanced to the playoffs each of the previous two seasons, when viewing the PQC over the previous four seasons, the Flyers struggle each season midway through. From the 4th furlong to the 6th (the Game 40 and Game 60 demarcation marks), the Flyers play BELOW the PQC 75% of the time, going as low as 4 full points below the Curve.

The 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers must be conscience of this and make whatever adjustments are needed to change this negative trait during this 3-furlong stretch. So in what ways did the Flyers begin prepping the changes this off-season to ensure this year's team rushes the velvet rope guarding the door to the Big Dance?

  • Salary cap issues in Philadelphia put management in the mode of tackling the business end of an appropriate budget while under the belief this team is built to win NOW. A pivotal player from last season, Mike Knuble, went to Washington as a result of operating procedures.
  • The biggest news from the summer was the deal Philly made to acquire Chris Pronger from the Ducks. The cost was hefty, though as the Flyers dealt Joffrey Lupul and future defenseman, Luca Sbisa. They also had to give up their first round pick for the 2009 draft but feel Pronger may be the missing piece on the blue line to help take the team progress deeper into the playoffs (and past PA-rival Pittsburgh). But perhaps the Flyers felt plenty-stocked on current, producing first round picks to make the move. See below in the Frozen Pill's Fantasy Dose for examples on why Philadelphia believes the current team is the one to win with.
  • Another key addition over the summer was the signing of Colorado's Ian Laperriere. The Bully-quotient just went up on Broad St. How this will affect one major area of on-ice concern from last season (the undisciplined play and time spent in the penalty box) remains to be seen. One would think, adversely. And so far, in the pre-season, the nasties have it.
  • Goalie Swap! OUT are Marty Biron (NYI) and Antero Niittymaki (TBL). IN are (he's back...), Ray Emery (NHL_exile) and Brian Boucher (SJS). The choices here are the results of a money-conscience team willing to take some chances...hoping the awesomeness assembled in front of the crease infects the play in the blue paint, too. More on this next in the Fantasy Dose, below.


The Sure Thing: Mike Richards (C). He's the captain, he represents their future and he's only played four seasons in the NHL. In the last two, he's posted 75 and 80 points and scored 58 goals. For 7 of those goals last season, he scored them short-handed, leading the NHL. He scores on the power play (8 goals last year), on the penalty kill and at even strength. He led the team in assists (50), plays in every situation and led all Flyers' forwards in ice time last season averaging 21:44. The question is not 'why' to choose Richard but 'why haven't you?'.

TrustyRusty: Danny Briere (C). Ah yes, Daniel. He's trusty in the sense that he has a proven record of putting up massive points and scoring crucial and timely goals. He's rusty in that he is returning from an injury-plagued 08/09 season. However, all reports indicate he is back both health-wise and playing-wise. In the 3 pre-season games played so far, Briere has 2 of Philly's 5 goals...and both were unassisted. Briere is back, folks and his low-ranking on many fantasy rankings reports means you may be able to sneak him into your lineup. Crazy, huh? Talking about Danny Briere on your fantasy team as a 'sneaker' pick?

TrustyRusty Honorable Mention: Chris Pronger (D). New to the Flyers this season, Pronger is going to get your fantasy team points on the blue line. He will play tons of power play time and be counted on anchoring the Flyers' defensive play, eating up ice time like a summer-time sno-cone. He'll get some goals, plenty of assists and, playing in a Broad Street Bullies sweater, he will Prongerize your PIMs.

ARRIVED (fka Up and Coming): Jeff Carter (C). Although he lead the team last season with 84 points (46/38), he is just one of the Flyers' 'up and comers' because he, like Mike Richards, defines what the future of this team looks like. B0th Carter and Richards centered this team to offensive prowess via physicality. They both racked up PIMs in the 60s, led the team in scoring and plus/minus (+23 and +22, respectively) and were both drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 NHL entry draft. Like Richards, Carter is easy pickins, as it were.

Under the Radar: Claude Giroux (RW). Here's the deal. And we can make this one quick. Either your competing GMs are already familiar with Giroux and made sure to have him on their team early in the draft or, if not, he should be high on your draft-order list. Another first round pick (2006-22nd overall), Giroux scored 27 points (9/18) and finished +10 in 42 games for his rookie campaign. For his first taste of NHL playoffs, he contributed 5 points (2/3) in six games. Giroux is good. Grab him if you can, with or without the stick.

The Watchful Eye
: James van Riemsdyk (LW). Another first round pick (2007, 2nd overall), van Riemsdyk entered the 09-10 camp and pre-season as a 'hopeful' to crack the starting roster. He then scored the first goal of Philly's pre-season in a 3-1 loss to Detroit and assisted on a Richards' power play goal against Toronto. Reporting shows the kid (20 years old) has been impressing a lot of folks at the camp - both teammates and media. Keep an eye on van Riemsdyk as he may not only make the starting roster right out of camp, but perhaps garnish some time on the Philly power play.

The Crease: Ray Emery. The reformed hot-head returns from a stint in the KHL to become the new starting goalie in Philadelphia. His troublesome history in Ottawa is behind him and a new chapter is open for the writing this season. But is he a starter for your fantasy team? I think many fantasy GMs will remain leery about selecting Emery. Odds are it will go one way or the other: Emery will either a) start strong, stay with team and again be a goalie we talk about for performance reasons or b) show he hasn't reformed himself enough to keep the media and fans' focus on team performance and become a distraction and, thus, a fun goalie to watch at the now-Adirondack Phantoms games. But Emery took responsibility for what happened in Ottawa and the need for a true, elite goalie in Philly gives Ray every opportunity to start the season fresh...and gives you a risky, albeit potentially rewarding, choice for a starter on your fantasy team.

OF NOTE: If the Emery-Experiment does not work out, Philadelphia signed former backup netminder and Phantom Phamiliar, Brian Boucher during the off-season. He split his time in the last two seasons between the Philadelphia Phantoms and the San Jose Sharks and did a great job backing up Evgeni of the Nabakov with 2 shutouts in his first two games. This is the same Boucher who achieved notoriety during his time in Phoenix where he set the modern NHL record of 5 consecutive shutouts. So be watchful of this occasional shutout artist who started his career in Philadelphia as yet another first-round pick (1995).

Mad Scientist: Daniel Carcillo (LW). Since Carcillo is no longer playing with the Coyotes and battling Pacific Division rivals, the Dallas Stars 20 times a season, Carcillo may not score as many goals in Philly as in previous years. But you cannot ignore last season's league-leading 254 PIMs if your fantasy league rewards you with points for minutes spent feeling shame. His closest competitor in the NHL here was Shane O'Brien with 196. Beware the -15 finish last season for Carcillo, though. Perhaps such a stat will be offset with increased scoring when comfortable with his new environs and the system in Philadelphia as Carcillo was acquired at the trade deadline last season and only laced up for 20 regular season games with the Flyers.


Will the Philadelphia Flyers be in contention for the playoffs again this season? Well, they have to start playing the games before anyone knows. But give us ten games and we might be able to tell you. OGA knows. And you can, too.

Make sure to sign up for the daily, bargain-priced analytical tool for your NHL analysis and fantasy needs by ordering the OGA Daily Tip-In Report (DTIR). For only $10.00, the season-long subscription to the DTIR is delivered to you each morning via email (minus the Olympics, of course). With OGA's Daily Tip-In, you will have insight to the teams' chances of qualifying for the playoffs - potentially well before the mathematical call is made - in addition to important team notes as their play is measured each night against the PQC. See a teaser and read about the DTIR here.

And remember, the OGA 2008/09 Report Card (how accurate are our calls?) will be posted at the conclusion of the SPRs on September 30th.

For the next few days, you get your regular dose of the Frozen Pill. Tomorrow brings the Phoenix Coyotes. Sunrise or sunset in the desert?

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