An Analysis Of Philadelphia’s Impressive Turnaround In Vigneault’s First Season

Last season, Philadelphia finished with a record of 37-37-8 and missed the playoffs by sixteen points. They had already fired GM Ron Hextall and officially hired Chuck Fletcher to replace him a week later. Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault to replace the ousted Dave Hakstol nine days after the 2018-19 regular season ended, which sparked the beginning of this exceptional turnaround.


In his first season behind the bench in Philadelphia, Vigneault led his team to a 41-21-7 record in only 69 games played, good for second in the Metropolitan Division with 89 points. They were one of the hottest teams in the league before the stoppage, with a 9-1 record in their last 10 games, only trailing the division-leading Washington Capitals by a single point due to this stretch. Alain Vigneault is a special head coach, and we are working on developing a new metric that can show who the best coaches are in terms of AB enhancing to figure out just how special he really is.


The following table shows the Philadelphia Flyers player’s 2018-19 AB Scores under either Dave Hakstol or whoever they played for last season elsewhere, compared to their scores this year under Alain Vigneault.


Player Name AB 18-19 AB 19-20 Change
Jakub Voracek -3.38 3.36 6.74
Ivan Provorov -5.84 0.66 6.5
Robert Hagg -4.97 0.22 5.19
Shayne Gostisbehere -4.97 -0.45 4.52
James van Riemsdyk -2.81 1.61 4.42
Oskar Lindblom -1.27 2.29 3.56
Michael Raffl -3.27 0.24 3.51
Sean Couturier 1.25 4.61 3.36
Matt Niskanen -2.44 0.84 3.28
Connor Bunnaman ROOKIE 3.22 3.22
Tyler Pitlick 0.98 3.87 2.89
Justin Braun -5.18 -2.58 2.6
Scott Laughton -2.5 0.07 2.57
Derek Grant -3.22 -0.82 2.4
Morgan Frost ROOKIE 2.29 2.29
Travis Sanheim -2.59 -0.64 1.95
Philippe Myers -0.8 0.6 1.4
Nicholas Aube-Kubel ROOKIE 1.26 1.26
Travis Konecny -0.56 0.2 0.76
Mikhail Vorobyev -2.56 -2.22 0.34
Claude Giroux 1.88 2.19 0.31
Joel Farabee ROOKIE -0.07 -0.07
Andy Andreoff -1.31 -2.78 -1.47
Carsen Twarynski ROOKIE -1.84 -1.84
Chris Stewart -0.53 -3.49 -2.96
Nate Thompson 0.23 -2.85 -3.08
Kevin Hayes 1.37 -2.39 -3.76


As you can see, this table is pretty remarkable. Vigneault was able to take players with negative scores from the previous season and improve their scores by multiple points. The team improved by playing under Vigneault by a net +47.3 points. Only six players got “worse” under him; two were rookies, two weren’t in the league last season, one was a trade deadline acquisition, and one was their prized free-agent signing.


Due to this impressive turnaround, the Flyers were one of only seven positive teams in terms of team AB score with a +7.39, which was good for the 6th best score in the league. They trail only Colorado (+27.59), Boston (+20.8), St. Louis (+15.88), Tampa Bay (+13.87), and Pittsburgh (+8.01). If play resumes, we expect the Flyers to be one of the main contenders for the Stanley Cup and will be following them closely as they compete to do so.


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