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Quick Hits:Secondary Assists, Giroux, Charity Classic and More

July 10, 2018, 8:33 AM ET [221 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

1) Former HockeyBuzz blogger Travis Yost had an interesting article on TSN about the valuation of primary vs. secondary assists. He raised some good points about the likelihood of regression
for players with the highest percentages of their points coming from secondary assists.

Yost's article discusses valuations of points, not the scoring system itself. However, that is inevitably an offshoot of this topic.

My first inclination is to say that the point-scoring system should either be left alone or to be re-thought as to when it is justified to award two assists or, if one assist is the limit, to whom to award it.

For example, it seems silly to me for the first pass of a tic-tac-toe goal sequence to lose an assist because there's a one-assist maximum. Likewise, if Player A directly creates a scoring chance for Player B but the goalie makes an initial save and Player C stashes the loose puck over the goal line, it wouldn't make sense for the only assist to be to the shooter who didn't convert the scoring chance and for the actual playmaker to get nothing.

A third common scenario: Player A sets up a scoring chance for Player B and his shot is tipped by the stick or deflected off the skate of Player C into the net but it takes several replays to determine who gets credited with the goal. If only the last player to touch the puck before a goal gets an assist, the playmaker on this play would lose his assist. We sometimes see this where an original secondary assist is lost because it turned out to be the third-to-last touch due to the deflection. To change the primary assist to no point, however, seems wrong.

In short, if there was a more discretionary system for awarding only one assist (the "actual" primary one) or an allowance for situations where two assists are the most correct way to score a play, I'd have less problem with the argument that only "primary points" matter. But since this opens up more potential for building-to-building variance due to the increased subjectivity, I'm not really in favor of that, either.

When all is said and done, I'd just leave the point-compilation system alone. As for point "quality" valuations, I think you have to go player by player and look at the video evidence behind each point to have a better sense of how many were "random luck" points and how many came from key involvement in the goal sequence.

2) While there is more randomness to points the further separated they are from the goal that's scored, there as some players who pretty consistently generate a healthy number of "secondary" assists where they are the primary playmaker.

Claude Giroux is one such player. Yost's article noted that among Sean Couturier's 76 points last season, only six were via secondary assists (31 were by goal, and 39 were by primary assist). Giroux's secondary point percentage was held against him by some in the Hart Trophy balloting, but if you back and watch a compilation of his 68 assists from last season, a large number of his secondary assists would fall under the description of him being the most important playmaker in the sequence. That's especially true on the power play.

From his power play office on the left half boards and left circle, Giroux is one of the NHL's best players at carving up the PK box to set up a good scoring chance. The Flyers power play, however, doesn't have a true sniper on it. Giroux ended up with a lot of secondary assists on plays where Jakub Voracek (himself a fine passer) would either re-distribute the puck off an initial tape-to-tape feed cross-ice from Giroux or else Giroux would pass to Shayne Gostisbehere or Couturier to trigger a sequence where the netfront forward (usually Wayne Simmonds but, later, Nolan Patrick) would score off a deflection, rebound put-in or goal mouth scramble.

Year after year, Giroux picks up numerous assists on plays that develop as described above. There's nothing all that random about it. What was unexpected from Giroux this past season was not his career-best 68 assists (three more than his previous career high) but his 34 goals (six more than his twice-achieved previous career high of 28 and a jump of 20 goals from his down season in 2016-17).

3) Speaking of Giroux, congratulations go out to the Flyers captain and well as to Simmonds for their respective recent weddings.

4) Today is final day for online registration for Sunday's Flyers Charity Classic. There will also be walk-up registrations allowed on July 15 at the Wells Fargo Center Complex. As a final reminder, fans can sign up for four different Flyers Alumni-captained teams -- Flyers Alumni Team, Ides of Marsh, Bundy's Chariot of Flyers and Team Guffaw -- with all proceeds going to the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Proceeds raised by other teams go to Flyers Charities, and distributed in full to a variety of worthy causes around the Delaware Valley.

If you cannot attend the Flyers Charity Classic on July 15, you may prefer to donate what you can to the cause in the name of one of the participants. I am a member of Brad Marsh's Ides of Marsh team, doing the family 5k run/walk. Thanks to all who have kicked in, I have already surpassed my initial goal of raising $400 on behalf of Brad's team. Of course, it would be great to keep going with five days left to fundraise. Currently, I've raised $569. I am very grateful.
My donation page is here. Thanks again!

5) July 10 Flyers Alumni birthdays: Ilkka Sinisalo (1958- 2017), Blake Wesley (1959), Mark "Trees" Laforest (1962), Glenn "Chico" Resch (1948).
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