Flyers veteran pair lagging behind


Nick Schultz and Mark Streit are the old men of the Flyers defense. At 33 and 38 respectively, they are much older than most of a defense that is under 25.

Thus far this season, that experience has not paid off for the duo.

As the chart below shows, their 5v5 Corsi percentage is lagging well behind the rest of the defense.

Admittedly, in terms of goal differences, Streit and Schultz are doing okay to this point. They would be quite fortunate to continue such a goal differential with a Corsi barely above 40 percent. (Note, an Evgeny MedvedevShayne Gostisbehere pairing is literally off the chart with a Corsi of 71.9 percent, but they haven't played together enough to be included in the graph above.)

Performing so poorly, the first thought is that perhaps the chemistry is just not there. There is not much evidence that it is a matter of chemistry.  The pair played together quite a bit last season, and earned a 50.7 percent Corsi. There is something else going on.

Evidence points to the conclusion that Schultz and Streit may not be very effective defensemen anymore. To gauge this, different factors need to be considered for each player.

The case of Nick Schultz

In the case of Nick Schultz, his Corsi numbers don't look good with anyone this season.

This shows some limited success with the now-departed Luke Schenn, but few other solutions. Truthfully, this shouldn't be all that surprising. Last season, Schultz was on a one-year contract, and earned a two-year extension largely by posting the best Corsi of his career–47.6 percent. His Corsi this season, 45.6 percent, is more in line with the rest of his career.

Nick Schultz is simply not much of a Corsi performer. He is what he is; a 33-year old shot blocking, stay at home defenseman. It is really the coach's discretion how much they wish to deploy such a player, but the results will be fairly predictable.

The case of Mark Streit

Mark Streit is a very different player than Nick Schultz. He is a goal scorer who excels firing the puck on the power play. He is also 38 years old now, which is getting up there.

There is evidence that the years are finally catching up to Streit. Going back three years, his numbers are noticeably lower this season.

Streit had straddled a 50 percent Corsi performance the last few seasons, but is seeing a big drop off this season. Right now his 5v5 points per 60 minutes haven't suffered, but they likely will fall off if his Corsi For rate remains significantly lower than past seasons.

Streit has only played 22 games this season due to injury. Perhaps that injury bug has slowed down his performance, and he will rebound as the season goes on. A more cynical answer is that his age is finally catching up to him. At 38, that puts Streit among the ten oldest players in the league. A drop off for him is a question of "when," not "if."

Solutions going forward

There are no easy answers about "fixing" the problem of Streit and Schultz lagging behind the younger legs on defense. Age and past performance are unavoidable, and coach Dave Hakstol must evolve with what the players bring to the table at this time.

Streit is definitely a candidate for a trade. He's too old to be a part of the Flyers when they are a contender again, and Ghost is already pushing him out of is best role, power play quarterback. His trade value isn't what it once was, as he was 10th in defensemen scoring last year with 52 points. He won't get anywhere near that this year between injury and losing his job to Ghost. Even with a reduced return, it still makes sense to consider less trade packages.

Short of trades, the best scenario is reducing the roles of Streit and Schultz, and hoping others are ready to step up to bigger roles. That means harder even-strength minutes for Ghost, and more responsibility for Medvedev in general. I bet most Flyers fans wouldn't mind seeing either of those things happen.

Marc Naples is a contributor to Flyerdelphia and Sports Talk Philly. Follow him on Twitter@SuperScrub47.

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