After a recent embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol decided to shake up his lineup, which came as a surprise to no one who watched the game. Even though they had won three straight games before the All-Star break, the Flyers started off slow on Tuesday, only mustering up 6 shots through the first two periods. What did surprise man fans were the names of the players subbed out of the lineup: Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere. Hakstol’s lineup change paid off, as the Flyers went on to beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Thursday night, but was benching Konecny and Gostisbehere for Dale Weise and Nick Shultz the right move?
Travis Konecny has played in 50 of the team’s 52 games this season and has played pretty well. The rookie is fifth on the team with 22 points and tied for sixth on the team, with Shayne Gostisbehere, with 0.44 points per game. He also ranks in the top 10 among all rookies in points and assists. The biggest knock against Konecny this year has been his defensive play. Now even though his +/- is a minus four, no Flyer player has a positive +/- and his +/- is better than teammates Jakub Voracek (-13), Claude Giroux (-14), Brayden Schenn (-15), and All-Star Wayne Simmonds (-16). Konecny is also ranked fifth on the team with 37 penalty minutes, which at first glance is kind of high for a player not averaging more than 15 minutes played per game. However, he has only committed 10 minor penalties, less than teammates Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux. Konecny’s recent play has not been poor by any means. In the month of January he played in all 13 of the team’s games scoring three goals and notching one assist, good enough to be tied with Gostisbehere for sixth on the team in scoring.
In comparison to Konecny’s numbers, Dale Weise does not stand out. Weise has played in 42 games this year and hasn’t been productive. The 28-year-old forward has only produced 5 points in those games and his 0.12 points per game rank last of all Flyers players who have played in at least three games.
When looking into some advanced stats the Weise for Konecny move just seems more and more puzzling. Konecny’s production time or “PROD” (ice time divided by points scored) is 33:28, which is ranked fifth on the Flyers compared to Weise’s 108:56 which ranks last on the team. Looking strictly at even strength stats, Konecny leads the team with 1.70 points per 60 minutes. That number is better than such All-Stars as Ryan Kessler, Kyle Okposo, and Nathan Mackinnon. Dale Weise’s points per 60 minutes is a mere 0.38, ranking last on the Flyers. Diving even further and looking at Konecny’s individual fenwick, or “ifenwick”, (shots on goal + shots directed at the net that missed), he is ranked second on the team at 130, right behind Voracek’s 131. Add blocked shots to ifenwick and you get individual corsi, or “icorsi”. Konecny’s icorsi is at 165, ranking fourth on the team. To put all of this into perspective, Claude Giroux’s points per 60 is at 0.98, his ifenwick is 96 and his icorsi is 122. Wayne Simmonds points per 60 is 1.36, his ifenwick is 117 and his icorsi is 160. Weise’s ifenwick is 69 and his icorsi is 79. This shows Konecny is taking shots when he has the opportunity, creating chances, and has arguably been the best even strength forward the Flyers have.
On the flip side Shayne Gostisbehere hasn’t lived up to the hype he created for himself in his rookie season. The offensive minded defenseman’s inability to play well in the defensive zone is beginning to catch up with him. In his 48 games played this year, Ghost is seventh on the team with 51 points but last on the team with a +/- of -19. He hasn’t scored a goal since November 25th against the Rangers, a span of 30 games. His advance stats aren’t too impressive either. His even strength points per 60 minutes is 0.42, ranking second to last on the team despite having a very high ifenwick with 113 and icorsi with 166, both ranked top four on the Flyers. That means he is shooting the puck a lot and nothing is coming out of it. Gostisbehere’s 45:21 PROD on the year is next to only fellow defenseman Mark Streit’s 38:30, however in the month of January Gostisbehere’s PROD was 56:13, behind fellow defensemen Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and rookie Ivan Provorov. Even though Shultz played in only two games last month, his PROD was 28:35, significantly better than Gostisbehere’s. Gostisbehere also finished last on the team with a +/- of -11.
It is not surprising to see Gostisbehere benched, especially after a poor statistical performance in January. Clearly his offensive ability has failed to make up for his defensive play like it has in the past and that’s a big reason Hakstol decided to go with the defensive minded defenseman in Nick Shultz, who is posting a +/- of 0 despite only recording four points in his 14 games played this year. What is surprising is seeing Dale Weise play in favor of Travis Konecny. From not only a statistical standpoint but from watching him play this year, Weise, who did play well Thursday night against his old team despite not recording a point, should not be playing in favor of the Flyers’ rookie.
According to head coach Dave Hakstol, both Gostisbehere and Konecny will be likely be healthy scratches yet again as the Philadelphia Flyers host the Los Angeles Kings Saturday afternoon. It remains to be seen whether the young coach keeps his first and second-year players out much longer.
Photo: Bruce C. Cooper (via: Wikimedia Commons)