It’s easy to see Claude Giroux as the Philadelphia Flyer’s Batman. As Travis Yost of TSN writes, the rest of the roster is so pitifully bad that the team’s underlying numbers take a total swan dive when the first line is taken off of the ice, making Giroux’s numbers all the more impressive.
Yost has a valid point. Philadelphia’s team is top heavy, and their first line is so much better at controlling the puck and producing points than the rest of the unit.
One thing that is overlooked, however, is how important Jakub Voracek has been to the success of that first line this season.
When we compare Giroux to Voracek without revealing which stats belong to which person, it’s tough to decide who is the better player. Take a look at the below chart, and pick either Player A or Player B before reading further to see who’s who.
Here’s a quick glossary for the terms featured below:
Goals/60 — Goals scored for every 60 minutes of ice time.
Primary Assists/60 — Primary Assists for every 60 minutes of ice time.
Secondary Assists/60 — Secondary Assists for every 60 minutes of ice time (more luck based than primary assists).
P/60 — Points for every 60 minutes of ice time.
Scoring Chance% — Percent of scoring chances for, based on War on Ice’s definition of scoring chance.
Relative Scoring Chance% — Percent of scoring chances for relative to team play while that player is off the ice (On ice percentage – off ice percentage.
Corsi% — Percent of total shot attempts for. Proxy for puck possession, which correlates strongly with winning hockey games.
Relative Corsi% — Percent of total shot attempts for relative to the team.
Individual Scoring Chances — Number of scoring chances that the player himself has taken
SAGs through 12 games — Shot attempts generated through passes. This stat is hand tracked, so we only have 12 games worth of Flyers data, spread across the season. For more information on passing stats, please read here, or ask @RK_Stimp on Twitter.)
So, Player A gets a tad bit more goals than Player B, though the majority of Player A’s assists are secondary assists and not primary ones. Player A also scores points at a higher rate than Player B, though that could be because of the elevated secondary assist total.
When it comes to two-way play, Player A helps his team get a higher percentage of both scoring chances and shot attempts, meaning that his team controls play a tad bit more efficiently when he’s on the ice.
In terms of individual stats, Player B generates more scoring chances on his own, while Player A is a better distributor of the puck (at least in the 12-game sample we have tracked).
Which one would you want on your team?
If you picked Player A, you took Jakub Voracek, and if you took Player B, you took Claude Giroux.
Both are very good hockey players, especially when compared to the rest of Philadelphia’s roster. Though Giroux may be getting a lot of attention around the league, I think it’s safe to say that Voracek isn’t exactly along for the ride; he’s helping Giroux as much as Giroux is helping him.
We saw something similar to this happen last year, when Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin posted similar numbers and Doughty got most of the credit, even though Muzzin’s underlying numbers looked a tad bit more impressive.
There is such a thing as a late bloomer, especially in the NHL. This may be a career year for Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux as well. Though Giroux may be getting the recognition around the league as the best player on the Flyers, Jakub Voracek is no sidekick, and his accomplishments this season certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
(Sticktap to Domenic Galamini for making the cool graphics featured above. Follow him on Twitter (@MimicoHero) for more graphics, or for some of his other analytics work like usage adjusted Corsi. All stats taken from war-on-ice.com, and are at five-on-five, unless otherwise spcified.)