According to Sam Carchidi, the Flyers just don’t trust Matt Read to be able to get back and help defend against some of the better forwards in the league. But Matt Read is a part of the damn shut down line! You say. Yes we know it does seem confusing. Matt Read has given up offensive potential to be shoved onto the 3rd line with Couturier so that they can specifically defend against opposing teams top lines! The twitterverse screams. Yeah doesn’t make sense.
Let’s go back for some context. Friday a fan got curious about the offensive potential of Matt Read and takes to twitter to ask one of the beats if he feels the same way about Matt Read’s role on the roster which went like this:
Let’s go farther back so we can really understand why this comment makes absolutely zero sense. Ever since Matt Read came to Philly he’s been recognized as a good all-around player. Flyers fans were crazy about him back in 2010-11 when he was making his way through the AHL. His first season on the Flyers roster, Read was one of the NHL’s best rookies ending the season with 47 points (24 of them goals) and was the top scoring rookie that year with more goals than the Calder nominees, but unfortunately not more points. After that Read kind of went under the radar and got shuffled around the lines because he was able to play well at any forward position they put him in earning him the unofficial title “Swiss Army Knife”.
Under Laviolette Read didn’t get much offensive love; he’s been pushed to the middle of the lineup for a while despite being able to put up some offensive numbers with constantly changing linemates and somehow flown under the radar while still being pretty damn good. Under Berube however, Read found at least one permanent linemate with Sean Couturier and the two became the go to shut down line tasked with keeping top opposing lines from getting offensive pressure. And the duo have been praised for their role and how well they do it since they’ve been put together.
In an article from Broad Street Hockey’s Kevin Christmann back in March of 2014, Christmann points out how well Read was performing against the higher level of offensive opponents and how well Read and Couturier did when they were on the same line.
“Read (and Couturier) are in rare company with respect to their defensive role. There are only fifteen forwards that see zone starts and competition as skewed as he does (less than 45 percent zone starts and greater than 29 percent Opponent Rating which measures the quality of the competition a player faces).
Among those players, Read has the sixth best rating with respect to shot attempt differential. And this isn’t just a case of Couturier being the exceptional player and bringing Read along for the ride.
When Couturier is apart from Matt Read on the season his shot attempt differential is 46.2 percent. Matt Read is 47.4 percent when without Couturier. Together they climb to 48.9 percent. They make each other better.”
The graph of that looks a little bit like this:
For a majority of his time on ice, Read was playing against top line players; something that Carchidi tells us that the Flyers don’t trust him to do. But Berube must trust Read at least somewhat to keep him on with Couturier or else why would he risk Couturier’s great defensive play by putting someone he doesn’t think can defend on his line? Why not put read on a forward line and let someone they think CAN defend against top lines join Coots on the shutdown line?
Well according to an article from Dave Isaac, Berube sure as hell trusts Read as a shutdown player with Couturier.
They’re a shutdown unit, play against top lines at times, but that doesn’t mean they can’t score,” Berube said about the usual 3rd line pair. “You’ve got to be able to play both sides. You’ve got to be able to do your job and produce offensively.” which is kind of a ridiculous statement because Matt Read’s offensive ability hasn’t dropped even since being put against a higher level of competition.
Berube’s praise kind of answers this question that Carchidi dodged like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix:
Well if Isaac’s article isn’t a post on The Onion, we can assume that staffer isn’t Berube.
Carchidi also offered this little clarification of his earlier tweet:
So we can assume that Berube isn’t the “Flyers” that doesn’t trust Read’s defensive capability, and if Hextall is as reliant on the stats department as he’s seemed, then Hextall can’t possibly see anything wrong with Matt Read, in fact I’d expect Hextall to be giving Berube suggestions to move Read up to a bigger role.
Matt Read over the seasons has been a well kept secret for the Flyers and if given a bigger offensive role could become a damn superstar.
Remember that chart up there, well what that chart is showing you is the workload Matt Read was given in the 2013-14 season. He was put against top line players from top tier teams like St. Louis, Chicago and LA and yet Read managed to get 22 goals and have a 40 point season, something close to his amazing rookie season. All that while on a line that couldn’t really keep a 3rd man.
Imagine what kind of offense Read could put up with a 3rd man like, say, Wayne Simmonds? Sounds familiar, oh yeah! Because the Flyers had that amazing line all put together until the Brayden Schenn top line winger experiment went south and all the lines got blown up. Schenn has underperformed since coming here and a move to the 1st line was supposed to improve him and maybe spark his potential. It didn’t, and instead of just putting Michael Raffl up in his place and shuffling the bottom two lines, Berube went with line combos similar to last season; which meant moving Couturier and Read back to the 3rd line to once again become the shutdown line and focus less on their offensive ability.
So the Flyers don’t like the D of a top line with Read on it? Why the hell not? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to put a guy like Read, who you already use against top line players, onto a line that would most likely give him a major offensive boost? Not only that, but if Voracek and Giroux are the defensive problems of that line then putting a player like Read on the line with them could help them learn a little bit about how to play against the superstar forwards which would then improve the roster as a whole. Now you potentially have 4 players who can defend against top lines instead of just Read and Couturier.
Spread the knowledge, spread the talent. Wayne Simmonds certainly planned on improving his defensive play while on the 2nd line with Read and Couturier which would have been helpful for the team moving forward.
“Those guys are great defensively. I’m trying to work on my defensive game. I think playing with those two, I have no choice but to get better. I have a different offensive element that may not have been on that line before. I can go loosen up pucks for those guys and both of them are great shooters.” Simmonds said about his early season linemates.
It might seem almost impossible that the Flyers are able to look over a weapon like Matt Read year after year and then decide “Meh, not doin enough defensively.” But the Flyers have a habit of misusing skilled players; their most recent offense, scratching Jason Akeson for tonight’s game against Dallas.
The next mystery is to find this “staffer” who is obviously blind and dumb and fire his ass for having such an ass backwards opinion on Matt Read.