Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Examining Flyers' shootout stats

The Flyers are below league average in almost every shootout statistical category - except for goaltending.

Examining Flyers' shootout stats

Sean Couturier skates with the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 2-1. (Chris Szagola/AP)
Sean Couturier skates with the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 2-1. (Chris Szagola/AP)

CHICAGO -- Sean Couturier attempted to achieve two firsts in his NHL career on Monday night against the Senators.

In the first period, he dropped the gloves in his first career fight against Kyle Turris. It was a bout that included more grappling than punching, but Couturier said it was just an exercise in releasing frustrations.

“It was all right. I think I did a good job,” Couturier said. “But I think I’ll stick to playing hockey.”

He did that - and nearly helped the Flyers to a second point in the standings when he tried score his first ever goal in the shootout.

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Couturier, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Saturday, skated in on Craig Anderson and clanked a wrist shot off the crux of the cross-bar and right post. He was the Flyers’ final shooter, since neither Matt Read nor Claude Giroux scored before him.

“A half an inch lower and it was in,” Couturier said. “I think I had him.”

The Flyers are now 1-2 in the shootout this season. They remain a league worst 25-45 all-time in the shootout. The Flyers have missed the net (twice) as many times as they’ve scored this season.

On the surface, those two points lost this season might not seem like a lot - yet it would be the difference between being in a playoff spot for the first time this season and being out the outside looking in, like they are now.

And if league averages (4.53 shootouts per team so far) mean anything, the Flyers are bound to participate in a few more the season. Each game has a 14 percent likelihood of heading to a shootout.

Steve Mason has been excellent in the shootout this season, stopping 8 of the 11 (72.7 percent) shots he’s faced. Of the 19 goaltenders to face at least 10 shootout attempts this season, only Jaroslav Halak (9-for-10), Jonathan Quick (10-for-11), Corey Crawford (20-for-24) and Evgeni Nabokov (11-for-15) have been better.

It’s just that Mason hasn’t gotten much help in front of him - par for the course this season. The Flyers have scored on 2-of-10 attempts and still managed to win one shootout, in Nashville on Nov. 30 at the start of this road trip. Vancouver, Ottawa, Detroit, Nashville and the Devils are the only teams with a worse percentage.

As a whole, skaters are scoring at a 32.2 percent clip (157-for-487).

It is hard to argue with Craig Berube’s selections so far, aside from maybe picking Kimmo Timonen over Jake Voracek in the fifth round in Winnipeg on Nov. 15 after Bryan Little netted what ended up being the game-deciding goal.

As it turns out, though, Timonen (25 percent) had better career success in the shootout than Voracek (23 percent) at the time.

Here are the Flyers’ career numbers through last night:

Matt Read: 5/11 = 45 percent
Claude Giroux: 13/32 = 41 percent
Adam Hall: 3/10 = 30 percent
Wayne Simmonds: 3/12 = 25 percent
Vinny Lecavalier: 13/51 = 25 percent
Jake Voracek: 3/13 = 23 percent
Kimmo Timonen: 2/9 = 22 percent
Scott Hartnell: 0/1 = 0 percent
Andrej Meszaros: 0/1 = 0 percent
Sean Couturier: 0/2 = 0 percent
Steve Downie: 0/3 = 0 percent
Brayden Schenn: 0/3 = 0 percent
Mark Streit: 0/6 = 0 percent

Tye McGinn, Michael Raffl, Jay Rosehill, Luke Schenn, Zac Rinaldo, Erik Gustafsson, Hal Gill, Nick Grossmann and Braydon Coburn have never attempted a shot.

Ray Emery: 42/67 = 62.7 percent, 7-13 record
Steve Mason: 73/111 = 65.7 percent, 13-20 record

What do those numbers tell us?

For one, it might not hurt to give Adam Hall - perhaps an unconventional candidate - a crack at the skills competition. Scott Hartnell’s career attempts are low because he has said in the past he asks to not participate. I’d also like to see Michael Raffl on the breakaway, he has one of the better set of hands on the team.

They also tell us the Flyers need to continue to work on the shootout in practice. Unfortunately, it’s something time doesn’t often permit - especially during 13-day road trips, where efficiency on-ice is key.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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