Subject: 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Time, TV schedule, and how to watch live online
Wayne Simmonds reps the Flyers in today’s ASG.
- Central Division vs. Pacific Division
- Metropolitan Division vs. Atlantic Division
Today’s game can be seen on NBC in the United States, or live streaming here. In Canada, coverage can be found on CBC or Sportsnet.
Subject: NHL All-Star Game: Top 10 All-Star moments in Philadelphia Flyers history
Suck it, Phaneuf. WOOOOO!
Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll ... oh, not that All-Star? Nope! Today we’re here to talk about Flyers players that have suited up for the NHL’s All-Star exhibition game.
Here are our Top 10 Flyers All-Star moments:
10. 2015 - Voracek puts a youngster in the spotlight
Don’t you just love it when players pull all sorts of tricks out of the bag for the NHL’s breakaway challenge? One fan favorite is when a player will sometimes bring their child along, like we saw this year with Ryan Kesler. Props are also a big item, such as the time Alex Ovechkin whipped out a hat and sunglasses back in 2009 or when Ryan Johansen whipped out a jersey of The Ohio State University to win over the fans. Well, Jake Voracek had a plan of his own and wanted to make a young kids day. That young kid just so happened to be Calgary Flames winger and South Jersey’s own Johnny Gaudreau. Voracek started his attempt like any other but he stopped at the bottom of the hashmarks. He then threw his gloves over and raced to the players bench and picked up 5’9’ winger, holding him throughout the entire attempt. St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott even played along, whiffing on a shot to his five hole. Claude Giroux could be seen chuckling on the bench next to Phil Kessel and Nick Foligno, so what better of a moment to kick off our Top 10 list!
9. 1997 - LeClair scores two in San Jose
1997 was a season of such promise for the orange and black. The team ended up going very far in the playoffs, but unfortunately the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals were cancelled. It was such a shame because the team could have put up a good battle against the Detroit Red Wings, there was no way that less than six games would have been played. Oh well, maybe we’ll get an explanation some day.
The Legion of Doom line, comprised of John LeClair, Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg, was in full swing, as both LeClair and Lindros earned All-Star nods during their 1996-97 campaign. While former Flyer Mark Recchi stole the show scoring a hat trick, LeClair struck twice, while Peter Bondra assisted on both goals. Can we also take a moment to dream about how fun a line of LeClair-Lindros-Bondra would have been to watch? Oh boy.
8. 1981 - Peeters backstops the Campbell Conference to its first win
Pete Peeters was the new kid on the block in Philadelphia. After the great Bernie Parent was forced into early retirement due to a freak eye injury, Peeters was named the new starting goaltender. The 1979-80 Flyers would go on to set a North American sports record, as the Flyers went 35 straight games without a loss. Peeters finished the season with an astonishing 29–5–5 record.
As for the All-Star game ... The NHL re-aligned its conferences before the 1974-75 season, creating the Campbell Conference and Wales Conference. The Wales Conference won every All-Star game from 1975-1980. After North Stars goalie Don Beaupre did not allow a goal through 1 1⁄2 periods of play, Peeters was put in as relief. Pete allowed one goal as the Campbell Conference won their first All-Star game by a score of 4-1.
7. 2011 - Briere strikes twice in Raleigh
2011 marked the first year the NHL rolled out the goofy and not-missed fantasy draft [Ed. note: Aw, I liked the fantasy draft.]. Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom were named captains and had each rotated picks, assembling their respective teams. Danny Briere was by chosen team Lidstrom, and fellow teammate Claude Giroux was selected by Team Staal. Briere would score two goals, one at the end of the second period and one at the start of the third. Team Lidstrom would come out on top, winning by a ‘close’ score of 11-10.
6. 1993 - Crazy 8, Mark Recchi, puts up five points
Before the Legion of Doom came around, Mark Recchi (back on his first stint with the Flyers), Lindros and Brent Fedyk were known as the Crazy 8’s line. Ironically enough, the All-Star game would take place in Montreal, the place Recchi would call home for five seasons later in his career. Mark picked up a second period goal and added four assists on goals from Pierre Turgeon, Rick Tocchet, Kevin Stevens and Brad Marsh, helping the Wales conference pick up a 16-6 win.
5. 2012 - Hartnell Down!
Scott Hartnell was a fan favorite in Philadelphia, as he never failed to bring joy to the fans with his antics. Getting into arguments with Hulk Hogan or throwing his glove at Ryan Malone on a breakaway, Hartsy was a joy to watch. Scott also created a charity known as ‘#HartnellDown’ (you can read more about them here). Every time Scott fell down, he made a donation of $1,000 to charity. This also produced memorable moments where fellow teammate Claude Giroux attempted to pull Hartnell down throughout the 2012 All-Star game. We miss ya Scott.
Suck it, Phaneuf!
4. 1980 - The Riverton Rifle takes home the MVP
Reggie Leach was a member of the famous LCB line, and while both of his line mates are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Reggie has one accomplishment they do not have ... an All-Star game MVP award. After scoring a goal of his own, and assisting on a goal by Brian Propp, Leach was named the MVP of the 32nd All-Star classic.
3. 1978 - Flyers send eight players to the All-Star game
Tom Bladon, Bobby Clarke, Gary Dornhoefer, Rick MacLeish, Bernie Parent, Fred Shero, Jim Watson, Joe Watson. Those are all the names of your Flyers All-Stars for the 31st All-Star game. The mid-70’s were no doubt the best days for the Flyers; two Cup wins, and Hall of Famers in Barber, Clarke and Parent. Clarke and Parent returned to the All-Star lineup in 1973 after a one-year absence. MacLeish also scored the first goal by a Flyer at the All-Star game during the second period, with Denis Potvin and Bob Nystrom recording the helpers. Bernie Parent would allow one goal in 30 minutes of playing time, however the Campbell Conference lost in a close 4-3 game.
2. 2015 - Voracek scores three
And here Jakub Voracek makes his second appearance on our list. Jake was in the midst of a breakout 2014-15 season which earned him a very nice payday. 2015 was also his first appearance in the All-Star game, in the city that drafted him, Columbus. As you likely know, the Blue Jackets traded away a future star in Voracek and two draft picks for about 30 games of Jeff Carter until Jeff kicked and screamed his way out of Columbus, being shipped off to Los Angeles.
However, Jake had something to prove to the city that gave up on him so quickly, scoring three goals and adding three assists during Team Toews’ 17-12 beating of Team Foligno.
1. 2004 - Roenick goes 4 for 4
Jeremy Roenick had some very memorable on ice antics. JR had a personality like no other, and that continues to this day with his work as a member of the NBC broadcast crew. At the time, only three players had went 4 for 4 in the NHL’s accuracy shooting challenge since it was introduced during the 1990 season. Roenick went with a very unconventional approach, shooting competently off his back leg, and it worked. 2004 would be the last time a player went 4 for 4 in the accuracy shooting. In 2011, the NHL would tweak the rules, adding in a time limit so shooters had to get the puck off quickly.
Subject: 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Wayne Simmonds named MVP after 3 goals, game-winner
He’s the first Flyers All-Star MVP since Reggie Leach in 1980.
LOS ANGELES — It was basically the perfect weekend for Wayne Simmonds.
He returned , as a first-time All-Star, to the city that drafted him into the NHL, and the fans here showed him appreciation every time his name was called. He acquitted himself nicely in Saturday’s All-Star Skills Competition, scoring a beauty tight-angle one-timer in the Skills Challenge and scoring into the five hole from center ice in the new Four Line Challenge.
And then in Sunday’s All-Star Game, he scored three goals, including the game winner in the final against the Pacific Division, and was the first Flyer to be named MVP since Reggie Leach in 1980. He won a truck. He won a share of $1 million, split between he and his victorious Metropolitan Division teammates. He got a hug from Wayne Gretzky. He was coached by Wayne Gretzky.
“It was one of the best days of my life,” Simmonds said on NBC after the win. And that was before the MVP announcement.
Simmonds wasn’t originally named one of the All-Star MVP options, which were sent out by the league in the final minutes of the game. (In typical NHL fashion, they did this while the game was tied.) But it’s hard to argue against a guy who had three goals -- two unassisted in the first game -- including the one that gave his teammates a million bucks.
WAYNE SIMMONDS GIVES THE METRO THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/nx7870Uo9v— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 29, 2017
Below are some of the highlights, including Simmonds’ other two goals, from the first two games at Staples Center on Sunday afternoon.
Metropolitan Division 10, Atlantic Division 6
Wayne Simmonds came out of the gate with two unassisted goals and helped lead the charge as the Metro potted 10 in a lopsided win over the Atlantic. It was a little closer than the score indicated as the Metro piled on a bit towards the end.
Check out this view of Wayne Simmond's first goal, from the ref cam! pic.twitter.com/XL85ImoC5B— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 29, 2017
Wayne is in his office pic.twitter.com/4wk8ALygzv— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 29, 2017
Pacific Division 10, Chicago Blackhawks 3
The first game felt over before even the first Pacific Division goal was scored, as Connor McDavid and his squad dominated possession, piled up the scoring chances and waltzed to an easy 10-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Every single skater on the Pacific squad had a both a goal and an assist, with Cam Fowler and South Jersey Native Johnny Gaudreau leading the way with four points each. Jonathan Toews had a goal for Chicago, while Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith were each held without a point.
Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: WAYNE TRAIN BEST TRAIN
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* SO LET’S TALK ABOUT NHL ALL-STAR GAME MVP WAYNE SIMMONDS. First, a recap of Sunday’s game: [BSH]
* Simmonds talks more about what it meant to him to be as warmly received as he was in the city that traded him six years ago: [NHL.com]
* Here’s a recap of the Skills Competition on Saturday, featuring a scoring system that I still don’t understand at all: [BSH]
* And, a look back at the best Flyers All-Star weekend showings in team history. This was written before Sunday’s game, of course — where would YOU put Wayne’s performance from yesterday? [BSH]
* Most importantly, here’s that picture of Chris Pronger smashing Justin Bieber into the boards in Saturday’s celebrity game that you either haven’t seen yet or have gone back to look at a few dozen times already: [BSH]
* Some other things that happened this All-Star weekend! Connor McDavid just missed breaking Dylan Larkin’s fastest skater record, but it’s kind of bogus because Larkin got a running start last year and McDavid didn’t: [Puck Daddy]
* Here’s an in-person fan recap from the weekend, featuring a very realistic mannequin of Sidney Crosby: [PPP]
* Wayne Gretzky, the second-best hockey player of all time who happens to go by the given name of “Wayne”, talked about his emergency coaching stint behind the bench of the winning team: [NHL.com]
* Looking at the respect that some of the young stars in the NHL picked up over the weekend: [Sportsnet]
* Some reactions to the NHL100 list, which was arguably a bit light on current players: [TSN]
* Shifting gears for a moment — but only slightly! — here’s a recap of the AHL skills competition from last night: [Highland Park Hockey]
* In other news, here are some observations from last week’s Flyers game. Oh, right, real NHL games! Those are a thing! [CSN Philly]
* DGB’s pre-All Star Grab Bag, featuring the rarest of phrases: “the NHL actually got something right”. [VICE]
* Finally, remember a few years ago when the Flyers weren’t very good but still had like eleventy billion bad contracts on their roster and were also kind of old and had no prospects and looked like they had a pretty grim future ahead of them? (Thanks, Ron!) Turns out that’s the Detroit Red Wings right now. Bummer. For them, I mean. We’ll take it. [TSN]
Subject: Wayne Simmonds named NHL First Star Of The Week
It’s been a good week for the Wayne Train.
While Wayne Simmonds was named the MVP of Sunday’s All-Star Game, it turns out that the NHL decided that the Flyers’ winger should be recognized even further for his outstanding week. (Which, hey, I get it. I enjoy talking about Wayne Simmonds a lot, too.)
Simmonds’ being named All Star MVP, following a three-goal performance at the place where he began his career, obviously plays a big role in his being named First Star of the Week. But his performances in the Flyers’ other two games last week — he scored goals in winning efforts both against the Rangers on Wednesday and the Maple Leafs on Thursday — were what helped put him over the top here.
This is the third time this season a Flyers player has been named first star of the week; Steve Mason and Jakub Voracek received that recognition on back-to-back weeks during the Flyers’ win streak in December. Hopefully there will be many more of these coming in the home stretch of the season.
Full text of the NHL’s recognition of Simmonds is below:
FIRST STAR - WAYNE SIMMONDS, RW, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Simmonds earned MVP honors at Sunday's 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game and also registered two goals in two contests earlier in the week with the Flyers (25-19-6, 56 points). Making his All-Star Game debut in the city where he played his first three NHL seasons, Simmonds scored twice in the Metropolitan Division's 10-6 semifinal win over the Atlantic Division before potting the tournament-clinching goal in a 4-3 triumph against the Pacific Division in the final. Earlier in the week, Simmonds notched the winning goal in a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers Jan. 25 and again found the back of the net in a 2-1 triumph against the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 26. The 28-year-old Scarborough, Ont., native paces the Flyers and shares ninth place in the NHL with 21 goals in 50 games this season (21-17-38).
The Flyers are back on the ice on Tuesday night as they head to Raleigh to face the Hurricanes.
Subject: Is Joe Mixon's high risk worth the theoretical upside?
Mixon's easy on the eyes, but nearly impossible to root for.
In a running back class that offers so much depth, it is the small things that can separate prospects from each other. Joe Mixon is a perfect example where it is easy to fall for his upside but just as easy to be scared away from taking him high due to things on and off the field. Mixon had a very nice season in Oklahoma splitting carries with Samaje Perine. In seeing an increased workload after being a change up back in 2015, he posted over 1800 yards of offense and 15 total touchdowns, despite only touching the ball 224 times. His eight yards per touch was one of the best figures in the class and only behind Curtis Samuel among top running backs. When you flip on a game, it is not hard to see how he was so productive.
Mixon is a bigger back, weighing 230 pounds and listed at 6-foot-1. So it is pretty incredible to see his ability to move laterally and explode upfield so effortlessly. He consistently forces defenses to guess where he'll be next and capitalizes on slow thinking defenders to create splash plays. Mixon is a truly incredible athlete.
Once again, with him being 230 pounds, having that type of agility and acceleration is pretty incredible. It is easy to see why so many people say Mixon is among the best backs in the class.
His athletic ability also allows him to create yardage where a lot of backs would not be able to find it. Yes, he stops his feet here, but his athleticism allows him to compensate in reversing the play and picking up a big gain.
Mixon is an amazing athlete and that affords him a lot of opportunities to create yardage at the college football level, but he also makes a lot of questionable plays that give pause to how much his game translates to the NFL. Even the above play raises questions. Texas Tech is easily among the worst defenses in college football and lots of runners have had their career days against them, so it makes one wonder if Mixon is able to make that play against any other team, let alone an NFL defense. He completely stops his feet and the back side of the defense is wide open. The chances a defender does not capitalize on him being totally stationary and gives up the back side like that is rare.
However, and I have argued this many times, running back is a high bandwidth position due to volume, and you take the highs you can get, even if they're not necessarily replicable.
The issue is that Mixon has a very bad tendency to guess wrong at the line of scrimmage and too often stops his feet in hopes of redirection.
He slows up here when he sees the blocking breaking down, but fails to redirect and ends up with a minimal gain. He is a 230 pound running back, but he makes himself seem so much smaller due to his finesse running style.
Once again, he slows up and depends on his speed/acceleration to redirect him instead of agility. This stoppage allows the defense to flow to him and he does not have the power to break tackles at low speed.
These plays may seem like cherry picking, but Joe Mixon gained either negative or no yards on nearly 20 percent of his carries. This figure nearly doubles his teammate, Samaje Perine, and is much more than a lot of the top backs in the class.
Here is a play where he actually guesses wrong initially but is saved by his athletic ability. One questions if he will consistently be able to make up for that poor vision in the NFL. Because despite the fact that he is able to get by on God-given gifts, too often due plays look like this.
Luckily, there is a surefire way to get Mixon out in the open field where his ability is most effective and that is as a receiver.
Mixon has really good hands to complement his incredible speed, making him a match up nightmare as a receiver. This alone makes him a valuable weapon for an offense, as he picked up 494 of his 547 receiving yards up after the catch.
When evaluating Mixon, it is impossible to look past the massive black mark on his career. Mixon was suspended his entire season when he assaulted a woman and broke her jaw. The assault came when Mixon tried to confront the woman's friend, who was hurling slurs at him. He used a gay slur, which provoked the woman to intervene with Mixon, pushing him in hopes of getting her friend in the clear. Mixon reacted horribly as no 230 pound athlete, or anyone really, should react to a situation of the sort. Mixon failed to apologize for the incident for almost two years until a brutal video was released to the public of the incident. One would hope that Mixon's horrific actions were just terrible judgement as a younger man, but a recent incident would just suggest that Mixon has trouble dealing with his anger.
It is impossible to divorce a player from the person they are, and Mixon's history of poor judgement and violence would make it impossible to take him with a high pick. Not that it should dictate how this risk analysis is made, but Mixon is still a project of a player. He is a great athlete and his ability is dynamic, no doubt, but we are not talking about a player who is a first round pick on the field. There is truly no good reason Mixon should be taken in the first round.
Joe Mixon's physical gifts, but lack of polish as a running back, is reminiscent of Tevin Coleman. Coleman was a bigger runner out of Indiana who made his money off of his incredible athletic ability. He did not have great vision, balance or natural strength, but his speed allowed him to get away with a lot. Coleman has developed nicely for the Falcons into a home run threat type change up in their running game and a dynamic chess piece in their passing game. Mixon could start his NFL career similarly and absolutely has the potential to develop into a top back.
Despite a fit in the Eagles scheme, Mixon would be an uncomfortable fit in the Eagles locker room. His history is worrisome and mixing him in with a locker room that already has a lot of questionable characters may set a bad dynamic. Without getting too preachy, Mixon creates an uncomfortable situation off the field that should really deflate his value in the draft. Without his off field problems, Mixon would be a great day two pick, but it would be hard rationalizing taking him before day three given his history.
Subject: 8 offensive players the Eagles met with at the Senior Bowl
Including two running backs and a wideout.
The Eagles met with a good number of the players who came to play at last week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Al. They usually talk to more than we ever figure out, but thanks to folks who head down to Alabama in January to watch college football players practice for a week, we know at least a handful of these folks.
Here are eight offensive players the Eagles talked to:
RB Matthew Dayes, NC State
5-9, 203 pounds
CBS RB No. 16
TheDraftser.com: Quite possibly the best part of Dayes game is his vision and burst. Many college running backs are good, as long as they have a massive hole that is right in front of them. Dayes is excellent at seeing the hole, even if it isn’t where it is supposed to be. Vision is possibly the hardest part of the running back position to teach, because you cannot see through the backs eyes out on the field to see what they see. However, you can always tell when Dayes finds the hole, because he plants his foot and looks like he was shot out of a cannon.
WR Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
6-1, 195 pounds
CBS WR No. 15
CBS Sports: “Taylor deserves kudos, showing steady acceleration, body control and the vision to track passes over his shoulder. Western Kentucky junior quarterback Mike White delivered strikes on his Taylor's two scores, as well as a critical 33-yard gain on the clinching scoring drive so there was plenty of credit to share.”
C Ethan Pocic, LSU
6-7, 309 pounds
CBS C No. 1
CBS Sports: “Pocic shows good initial quickness off the snap, including the agility to pull and block on the move, as well as the balance to mirror in pass protection. He is stout enough to absorb bull rushers but gives up a step or two to brace against them before collecting himself with core strength, proper hand placement and old-fashioned determination to ultimately drive opponents back. Pocic is a highly aggressive blocker who seeks out contact and fights until the echo of the whistle, finishing with power and tenacity.”
T Zach Banner, USC
6-9, 360 pounds
CBS G No. 5
CBS Sports: “A mammoth human being, Banner has the naturally wide base and wingspan to slide and create a traffic jam in pass protection. He is a people mover in the run game, crashing down, latching on with his heavy hands and driving defenders away from the lane. While he carries a lot of weight, Banner is a fluid mover for his size, doing a nice job pulling and getting in space to take away linebackers at the second level.”
T Antonio Garcia, Troy
6-6, 293 pounds
CBS T No. 7
GangGreenNation: “Garcia is a really interesting prospect because in terms of pass protection, he's extremely reliable and athletic. His balance and foot speed allows him to protect the blindside to a high degree. The problem is his leanness through the hips and into his lower body, this causes him to be pushed back and his run blocking takes a hit as a result.”
RB Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
5-9, 180 pounds
CBS RB No. 15
TheDraftster.com: “His patience, vision, low center-of-gravity and burst will allow him to succeed in a power/gap scheme that requires those up front to generate movement through pulls, traps, kick outs and down blocks. In turn, this allows Pumphrey to capitalize on said traits before accelerating downhill. That same vision, coupled with his ability to drop his hips and accelerate out of cuts, will also serve him well in a zone scheme, but he will need to shore up his indecisiveness to thrive in outside zone concepts.”
QB Davis Webb, Cal
6-4, 229 pounds
CBS QB No. 7
RevengeOfTheBirds: “Webb has the size that NFL teams look for with a mature build due to his age. He is a prototypical pocket passer who will hang in the pocket as long as possible to throw the ball since he doesn’t have the most mobility. Webb is able to reach all parts of the field with his arm with sufficient velocity. He has a tendency to hang on his backside at times, or throw off-balance when on the move, which takes away from his accuracy and ball speed.”
TE Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
6-5, 256 pounds
CBS TE No. 9
NFL Draft Bible: “With such a large frame he still manages to be a playmaker when he gets the ball in space. If used properly he creates a matchup nightmare for defenses with his combination of athleticism and strength. He has already proven himself as a red zone threat and can only improve in that aspect of the game. His main challenge will be growing his route tree as he has the skill set to be a true vertical threat.”
OT Conor McDermott, UCLA
6-8, 305 pounds
CBS T No. 8
CBS Sports: “Using the length and surprisingly light feet which no doubt helped him box out opponents on the basketball court, McDermott is a quality pass protector. He gains good depth in his initial kick slide, showing balance and agility to shuffle laterally to mirror opponents. He possesses long arms and good strength in his hands to latch on and control smaller defenders and anticipates counter moves well, reacting efficiently when he keeps his knees bent and feet active.”
Subject: The first round running back: still not worth the risk
The view from the middle of the first isn’t much different than from the top
The success of Ezekiel Elliot has revitalized the notion of drafting a running back early. It shouldn’t. Elliot was “the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson” since the last “best prospect since Adrian Peterson:” Trent Richardson. One success story doesn’t guarantee another (and equally, one bust doesn’t guarantee another as well).
But the Eagles aren’t drafting in the top five, and there is no running back drawing “best since” comparisons. But drafting one in the middle of the first round isn’t any better. Running backs taken in picks 11-32 in the past ten drafts run the full range, just like any other position, but there’s more than their fair share of disappointments and busts.
Marshawn Lynch and Chris Johnson are clear cut successes. Mark Ingram, Ryan Mathews, Doug Martin and Jonathan Stewart have had successful seasons but have been disappointments for a 1st rounders. Jahvid Best, Donald Brown, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells and David Wilson were busts. And the jury is still out on Melvin Gordon but with him unable to crack the low threshold of 4.0 yards per carry in either of his two seasons, it’s not looking good.
Two bonafide starters out of fourteen 1st (mid-to-late) rounders is a terrible return on investment.
The 2017 draft doesn’t have that “best since” kind of guy, but it does have a lot of depth, both in the later rounds and in the first. There are three running backs seen as 1st round talents, at least seen that way in January: Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffery. With running back becoming increasingly devalued in draft, two and possibly all three will be on the board when the Eagles draft at 14 or 15. In the past five years, only three running backs have been drafted in the top 14 picks.
All have something to offer, and all have their drawbacks.
Pros: Would fit the Eagles scheme well as both a strong runner and receiver. Cook is terrific in open space, both as elusive runner and a pass catching option out of the backfield. He could not only improve upon Ryan Mathew’s carries, but lessen the load for Darren Sproles, which could make Sproles more effective. And while he’s seen as a first round talent, he might be available in the second.
Cons: Has battled through injuries, the Combine medical evaluation will be important for him. He can struggle in short yardage situations, which would keep the Eagles lacking in that area. There’s some off-field concerns as well, having been suspended in 2015 for punching a woman in the face at a bar, though he was later acquitted and the Eagles have shown they’re not afraid to draft players with red flags.
Pros: Big, powerful and not afraid to show it. He’s a nasty between the tackles runner with breakaway speed in the open field. He’s going to draw comparisons to just about every great power back in recent memory, and rightfully so.
Cons: Maybe runs too hard and had a huge workload in college, which increases the chance of injury. Power back isn’t the best scheme fit for the Eagles, and he’s the least accomplished and least gifted receiver of the three. Might not be available when the Eagles pick anyway.
Pros: Tremendous versatility, excelling as a runner, receiver and kick returner, so the Eagles would have no problem finding ways to get him the ball. Like Cook, he’s outstanding in space and will present matchup problems as a receiver.
Cons: Huge workload in college, with 724 touches in his two seasons as a starter, which is more than Fournette’s entire career (681) and almost as much as Cook’s three year career (766). Despite that, he might not be an every down player in the NFL, which is a reach for a first round pick.
Should one be available to the Eagles, and it’s extremely likely that at least Cook and McCaffery will be, there will also very likely be other outstanding prospects at other positions available as well. Should a scenario where the Eagles add veteran help at wide receiver for Carson Wentz to throw to play out, there’s some justification to getting him a running back to hand off to and give him a more complete offense to work with. But they should probably address other areas in the first. All of these guys are good prospects, but none of them are can’t miss, if they were they wouldn’t be available to the Eagles in the middle of the 1st.
Subject: The Linc: Todd Herremans is an advocate for medicial marijuana
News and notes for 1/30
How did you first discover the benefits of marijuana for pain relief?
Todd Herremans: That actually happened more by chance. During college, I started to dabble into the world of cannabis -- recreationally, of course. I found it to be more enjoyable of an experience than drinking alcohol, mainly because I didn't have the lingering effects of alcohol the next day (i.e. hangover). This was important to me because of the training aspect of being a collegiate athlete. As time went on and years passed, I found myself in the NFL playing and was still enjoying cannabis from time to time. It wasn't until I failed a drug test and had it taken away from me that I really noticed the medical benefits of cannabis.
Explain what your body felt like when you were using marijuana as opposed to when you stopped.
Herremans: While I was using cannabis, my body felt normal. I didn't notice the daily discomfort that came with playing in the NFL. After failing the drug test and stopping my use, I gradually started to notice the wear and tear of the long season on my body with quite a few aches and pains. That was when it was evident to me that cannabis could be used to manage pain.
"We had looked at it before, and in years where there's positions of strength where you think you can get guys later, what typically happens is there's a run on those guys, and (teams) want to get their own guy, so you just have to be careful that you're not sitting there and going, 'Hey this is great draft at position x, and we'll be sitting there in the sixth round and we'll get a great guy.' I think that's why just sticking to your board and not getting too cute and making sure you get the right players for the Philadelphia Eagles is so important."
In the 2017 NFL Draft, "position x" is cornerback, as it is considered to be extremely deep and talented. Unlike last year with defensive tackle, cornerback most definitely IS a significant need area for the Eagles.
If the Eagles are on the clock at pick number 14/15, and the best player on their board happens to be a corner, they should just take him, rather than hoping that one with comparable skill will still be there in round 2 or 3.
And if a player with comparable skill is still sitting there in the second round after taking one in first round, maybe you just take another one.
Roundtable: NFL reporters on concussions, under-covered stories and more - Sports Illustrated
How have the issues of concussions and domestic violence changed, if at all, how you feel about the beat you cover?
Bowen: Yeah, that’s something I really feel. If I’d lived in ancient Rome, would I have been scribbling on some scroll about what a beautiful move the lion made to take down the Christian? Sometimes it feels like that. I try hard not to feed into the “back when men were men, that wouldn’t have been a penalty” line of thinking. I believe football must be made safer. If there are people watching who will stop watching if players aren’t knocking each other out, I say let those people watch something else. NASCAR doesn’t worry about losing fans who get a thrill from the prospect of seeing drivers maimed or killed. The domestic violence issue is tougher. I think our culture is moving very quickly in the right direction on this, and the NFL is just going to have to come with it. High school and college players need to know mistreating women will affect their careers, just as seriously as if they’d shot someone or robbed a bank. I especially don’t like it when you get the sense the player isn’t really contrite, but is saying what he’s been told to say, or just won’t talk about what he did at all, giving you no idea whether he feels remorse. If a guy is sincerely working on a “second chance,” fine, let that mostly linger in the background and write about how he plays, but I’m not gonna get all Brent Musburgery about how great it is that he’s overcoming adversity, or any of that crap.
Subject: The running back conundrum
Help wanted, any and all can apply
It’s no question the Eagles need a starting running back, not just for 2017 but for beyond. Ryan Mathews was the team’s leading rusher, but spent the middle of the season as a backup, ended it with a serious injury, and there are significant cap savings from releasing him. Darren Sproles is not a starting running back, and 2017 is probably his last season. Wendell Smallwood showed some promise, but got just six touches a game on average when there were plenty of opportunities for more. Byron Marshall and Terrell Watson have a chance to carve out a role as a backup, expectations for them shouldn’t exceed that.
But there is the question of how and where to get a starting running back.
Sign one in free agency? There might be options there, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Latavious Murray are all scheduled to be free agents, one of them may actually hit the market; and Jamaal Charles could be a cap casualty in Kansas City.
Draft one? The depth of talent at running back in the draft this year is very good, it makes a lot of sense to go that route. With Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Donta Foreman, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffery, Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Donnell Pumphrey and others in this draft, it’s pretty well stocked.
Both approaches have their rewards. The quarterbacks in the Super Bowl would know, they have seen all types be successful. In Matt Ryan’s rookie year, the Falcons signed Michael Turner, who had spent four years as a caddie to LaDainian Tomlinson. Turner gave them a workhorse to lighten the load on Ryan, leading the league in carries and finishing second in the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, and the Falcons went 11-5 and made the playoffs. In the Super Bowl, Ryan has Devonta Freeman, a 4th round draft pick in 2014, and Tevin Coleman, a 3rd in 2015 who have combined for one of the league’s best running offenses. Tom Brady has seen everything in his career and running back is no exception. In his first Super Bowl winning season, the Patriots signed Antowain Smith, whose 1157 yards rushing and 12 TDs gave the Patriots a balanced offense. Brady won his third with Corey Dillon finishing third in the league in rushing yards. His fourth ring came with a textbook example of running back by committee: despite the team’s leading rusher having just 412 yards the Patriots finished 18th in rushing yards and four different runners scored multiple touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, he’ll have free agents LeGarrett Blount and Dion Lewis leading the way at a combined cap hit of just over $2 million.
There are different solutions, but there’s no foolproof plan either, as both approaches have their downsides.
Like drafting a wide receiver, giving Carson Wentz a weapon in the backfield to grow with is a natural and logical pairing. Doug Pederson wants to run the ball, and we saw in 2016 that when the Eagles offense is balanced, the team wins. But drafting a running back is a risky proposition. Every year there are hidden gems at the position, such as Jordan Howard’s 1313 yards after being a 5th round pick last year, or Jay Ayaji (4th round 2015) or Latavius Murry (6th round 2014) climbing to the top of the depth chart in their second year. But for each of those success stories, there are many more who aren’t. Terrance West, taken in the 3rd round in 2014, is on his third team in as many years, and fellow 3rd rounders that year Charles Sims, Tre Mason and Jerrick McKinnon have stalled as backups. The 2013 2nd round produced Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Giovanni Bernard, which is an impressive haul, but also Montee Ball, who hasn’t played a down since 2014. DeVonta Freeman’s fellow 2014 4th rounders are Andre Williams, who has already changed teams, Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has spent part of every season on IR, and James White, who is the Patriots third string running back. Like every other position, the earlier you take a running back, the better. There’s always early round busts and late round steals, but plugging and playing a rookie RB isn’t so easy. If it was, Wendell Smallwood would have played more than 164 snaps.
And as Eagles fans saw in 2015, signing the top guy in free agency can be a fool’s errand. With wide receiver and cornerback more dire needs in free agency and the draft, an approach closer to running back by committee is an option, though much less attractive. The Eagles carried four running backs on the active game day roster in 2016 and very well may do so again. Bringing in a free agent to replace Ryan Mathews’ tough running role, Wendell Smallwood getting an increase in touches, and taking another late rounder to fill Kenjon Barner’s roster spot would be a patient and potentially very cost effective move for a rebuilding team. Or it could lead to them having another season struggling to consistently run the ball.
There’s arguments for each approach. Over the past couple of weeks we have looked at options at wide receiver and offensive line. This week, we’ll explore all the options at running back, a position that needs to be addressed but has a few routes to choose from.
Subject: Malcolm Jenkins is up for the NFLPA’s Whizzer White Award
The National Football League Player’s Association announced on Saturday its five finalists for the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, given annually to “those who go above and beyond to perform community service in their team cities and hometowns.”
Among the five finalists is the Eagles’ own Malcolm Jenkins. He’s up for the award for the second time in the past three years.
On top of being the Eagles’ best defensive player this year, Jenkins was also a stud in the community.
For the second time in three years, Jenkins is a finalist for the Whizzer White Award following a strong year of initiatives through the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, which was established in 2010. The Eagles Pro Bowl defensive back partnered with several educational programs to provide scholarships and other resources for students while collaborating with community outreach organizations to feed thousands of low-income families.
Jenkins was also quite outspoken during the season about police-community relations, and traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with Speaker Paul Ryan and members of Congress about improving race relations between police officers and people of color.
The winner will receive $10,000 for his foundation, or a charity of his choice. The NFLPA will announce the winner at 4:30 p.m. EST on February 2, at the NFLPA’s annual Super Bowl press conference.
Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Let the (regular) games begin (again)!
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*In case you didn't already realize that Simmer being named MVP of the All-Star game was a huge awesome big deal, he's the first Flyer to receive the honor since Reggie Leach in 1980. [Inquirer]
*Okay, let's check in on how the kids are doing. Specifically, the prospects. [CSN Philly]
*German Rubtsov in particular is having quite the week. [Sons of Penn]
*DGB on which Western Conference GMs are under the most pressure as we slide into the back end of the season. [Sportsnet]
*Seems like NHL hockey players want to go to the Olympics. [ProHockeyTalk]
*And finally, NHLers as South Park characters. Should've given the Canadian ones the split open heads imo. [Puck Daddy]
Subject: BSH Radio # 95: Wayne Simmonds for President!
The gang lost Bill to the AHL All-Star game but the show must go on!
John Barchard from Bleeding Green Nation joins Steph, Kelly and Charlie in an All-Star Weekend edition of BSH Radio. Kelly breaks down why this year's All-Star Game festivities seemed so underwhelming, and the league's questionable picks for the "Top 100 Greatest Players of All Time" list are also critiqued. Then, the panel goes through some "Top 10" lists of their own. Finally, the post-All Star status of the Flyers is discussed, as Steph makes note of how frustrating the team has been to watch, even in the wake of a three-game winning streak, while Charlie is a bit more optimistic.
Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio for the best dang sports content you can get in 140 characters. Sometimes.
Subject: NHL trade deadline: The Flyers probably aren’t going to do much (again)
As was true last year, and the year before ...
As somebody who has written about the Philadelphia Flyers regularly for nine years now, I sometimes feel like covering trade deadlines and drafts and free agency periods gives me a bout of whiplash.
Consider what these events were like under Paul Holmgren. They were franchise-altering nearly every time, be it a trade for Chris Pronger, or trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, or a Shea Weber offer sheet, or any other number of big moves.
But under Ron Hextall, that has dramatically changed — hence the whiplash. Sure, Hextall has made some big moves: a coaching change, he dumped the Pronger contract on the Coyotes, he dumped Zac Rinaldo on Boston. Stuff like that. But trade deadlines and free agency periods have been quite dull under Hextall as the team’s construction has moved to an internal, draft-based formula.
We’re still seeing the fruits of that with Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and other young players still growing in the AHL or juniors. It will likely be a few more seasons until Hextall’s grand plan reaches its zenith.
So, don’t really expect to see much movement at this deadline. Not movement that involves key pieces or key prospects, at least. Here’s Bob McKenzie, speaking last week on NBCSN (via Chris Nichols):
“I don’t think the Flyers are likely to make big moves between now and the deadline,” predicted McKenzie. “I think Ron Hextall, the general manager in Philadelphia, has charted a course for this team. He wants to build through youth and get that going.
“Now, if you start looking as they get close to the deadline – are they in the playoffs, are they out of the playoffs. They do have a bunch of guys on expiring contracts. On defense you’ve got Streit, you’ve got Del Zotto, you’re got Schultz. Up front, Bellemare and Vandevelde. But, you don’t want to just throw the season away.
The moves we should expect from the Flyers — or at least attempted moves, whether they get done or not — are around the edges. At it’s most exciting, this deadling will be something like we saw at the 2015 deadline when Hextall moved Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen in trades. Getting things in return for guys like Mark Streit or Michael Del Zotto, who likely aren’t coming back next year anyhow, will probably be something Hextall attempts to do.
And if one of those defenseman does leave town at the deadline, the Flyers do have options in the AHL, as McKenzie went on to note. Maybe they don’t call up Travis Sanheim since he’s an AHL rookie, but it’s believed that at least a player or two could be called up in a pinch should other roster moves necessitate it. The same applies to moving a bottom-six forward; there are certainly guys like Taylor Leier who could come up and help Philadelphia in the event of another move.
But that’s why the next few weeks are particularly interesting with regards to the Flyers playoff hopes. As of this point in the season, the Flyers have played like a cusp playoff team. They’re pretty middle of the road. If they completely tank in the next month, that makes Hextall’s job easy. If they surge, that also makes his job easy.
The most likely scenario is that they’ll be right where they’ve been all season, though: on the playoff bubble, with a small point gap between making the postseason and missing. And much like last year at the deadline that makes Hextall’s decisions a bit harder: does he try to move contributing pieces, or does he keep the roster together for the stretch run?
Then there’s the AHL factor. The Phantoms are trying to win a Calder Cup and as one of the best teams in the AHL this year -- feels weird saying that — very easily could. Obviously the Flyers take precedence, but given that Hextall probably doesn’t want to rush Sanheim or Samuel Morin or Robert Hagg into the NHL anyway, maybe he’d make the decision that the middling draft pick he’d get in return for a Streit or a Del Zotto just isn’t worth both rushing a kid up and hurting the AHL squad’s chances at a Cup run.
Regardless of what Hextall’s mindset ultimately becomes on that topic, there’s likely not to be a major move at the 2017 trade deadline. Par for the course these days. What a brave new world we live in.
Subject: Flyers vs. Hurricanes: Lineups, TV coverage, how to watch online and discussion thread
The Flyers are back for their first game after the All-Star break, down in Carolina against the Canes.
Tonight’s game is on CSN Philly and streaming on CSNPhilly.com. The Flyers radio broadcast can be heard on 97.5 The Fanatic. In the Carolina market, the game can be seen on 97.5 The Fanatic. Elsewhere, NHL Center Ice and NHL.tv are your options.
- Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
- Travis Konecny - Brayden Schenn - MVP Wayne Simmonds
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Meat Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Radko Gudas - Mark Streit
- Steve Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
- Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Lee Stempniak
- Brock McGinn - Victor Rask - Teuvo Teravainen
- Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
- Joakim Nordstrom - Jay McClement - Viktor Stalberg
- Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk
- Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
- Noah Hanifin - Klas Dahlbeck
- Cam Ward
- Eddie Lack
Subject: Steve Mason has new gear for the Flyers’ Stadium Series game
He’s going all-in on the black and orange.
The Philadelphia Flyers play their Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field on Feb. 25, and they’re probably going to look pretty cool out there.
Steve Mason, in particular, appears to be going all-in - at least, if the first look at his special pads are any occasion.
Steve Mason's pads for the upcoming Stadium Series game. pic.twitter.com/ntWG895CFs— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) January 30, 2017
It’s most important, of course, that a goalie is comfortable with his pads and has them broken it; aesthetics take a back seat to that. That said, badass pads are always welcome, and these are going to look great with the Flyers’ black jerseys.
Oh, and it looks like his glove to match is in, too:
A photo posted by Brian's Custom Sports (@goaliesonly) on
Here’s to Mason’s recent uptick in play keeping up through the rest of the season - both for the Flyers’ sake, and also because it would be a real shame to let this awesome gear go to waste.
Subject: Flyers at Hurricanes recap: Worst performance of the season gives Flyers a loss out of the break
Absolutely nothing good happened in this hockey game.
- The Flyers, despite trailing for all but 7:11 of the game, were outshot 28-16 on the night. 16 shots is tied for the fewest shots on goal the Flyers have had in a game this year.
- For Carolina, a guy named Sebastian Aho had a hat trick. I’m not sure that’s a real person, but apparently he scored three goals on the Flyers tonight.
- At 5-on-5 in particular, Carolina more than doubled up the Flyers in shot attempts, by a count of 48-23. This, again, despite the fact that they trailed for the entire game, against a team with a bad goaltender (Cam Ward). These are situations in which you would expect a team to outshoot its opponent, not get doubled up by them.
- Also, the Flyers didn’t have a high-danger scoring chance at 5-on-5 (via) in the second or third period.
- Those numbers might sound bad, but wait! It gets worse! The Flyers had four shots on goal in the first period and two in the second. That second period in particular was a struggle, as the Flyers didn’t tally a shot on goal until the 12:44 mark of the frame.
- You may see that number above and the team’s final shot count of 16 and be thinking “well, at least they put together a solid effort to rally in the third period,” but that didn’t really happen either! In fact, the Flyers played 11:16 of the third period before they finally got a shot on goal in that period, and it was at that point where they would finally get a few power plays and manage to avoid totally embarrassing themselves, sort of, I guess.
- To that end, there was a point in the third period at which the Flyers had one more shot on goal than the Hurricanes had goals. Is that bad? Like, I’m not an expert here, but I think it’s bad.
- Of course, no one needs any numbers to know that the Flyers were bad tonight. But here’s the thing: everyone was bad! Your favorite player? He stunk tonight! Yes, yours. Claude Giroux? Totally whiffed on a clear that led to Carolina’s second goal, and lost his temper in the second period. Travis Konecny? Awful turnover that led to Carolina’s first goal. Shayne Gostisbehere? Blew his coverage on that same goal. Brayden Schenn? Also blew that coverage. The VandeVelde-Bellemare-Lyubimov fourth line, which the broadcast went out of its way to praise for being in the offensive zone a lot tonight? They were on the ice for three 5-on-5 shot attempts, total. Steve Mason? Tough to blame him on most of those, but five goals on 28 shots isn’t a good look for any goalie no matter how tough the saves are. Andrew MacDonald? I don’t know why Andrew MacDonald is your favorite player, but he was bad too. Ivan Provorov? I get why he’s your favorite player, but he, too, is not writing home about this evening. And All-Star MVP Wayne Simmonds? I mean, he didn’t single-handedly cure world hunger tonight, so while sure, I guess we’re holding him to high standards here, it was an off-night for him as well. Seriously, pick your player wearing orange. He is not going to want to remember this game.
- (Except Schenn, I guess. Schenn scored a power play goal, because that is a thing Brayden Schenn does. It was his league-leading 12th power play goal of the season and the 100th goal of his career. It is the only remotely good thing that happened to a player wearing orange and black tonight.)
- And while I’m at it, screw you, the officials. This hit by Lee Stempniak — a hit on which no one could rationally believe Stempniak had any aim but to drive Andrew MacDonald’s head into the glass — received only a two-minute minor.
Lee Stempniak hit to the head on Andrew MacDonald pic.twitter.com/TNeqK9WfHk— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 1, 2017
Awful. Let’s hope Stempniak gets a call from the Department of Player Safety tomorrow.
- AND THEN! Jeff Skinner plainly checks Brandon Manning in the face, uncalled, approximately three seconds before Jeff Skinner (yes, the same one) got open in front of the net to score and put Carolina up 3-0, all while Manning was in a heap over by the boards. It’s not like I wanted to watch the Flyers’ power play very much tonight (oh yeah, that sucked too), but this team very much played poorly enough to lose by four goals without any help from the guys in stripes, so this seemed like overkill.
- Did I mention that this game was about as important in the standings for the Flyers as a game in January can possibly be for a team? Seems like a good time to have a game like this.
- Also, while I’m yelling, you know what? Fuck hurricanes. They’re bad. Like, have you ever seen one? They suck a lot. Who was like “oh, yeah, massive storms that kill people and destroy entire communities, those are cool, we should name a team after those”? Good idea, jerks.
... whew. OK. Needed to get that off my chest. Feeling a little better now, folks.
(In seriousness, the Flyers had been playing solid hockey leading up to the All-Star Break. This is one game and it shouldn’t change how you feel about this team that much. But no, this was not an ideal way to come out of the break.)
Montreal on Thursday. Watch the tape, learn something from it, then burn it and move on. Go Flyers.
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Oh right, hockey is bad.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Man a few days off and you forget that hockey is actually trash and it brings nothing but sorrow to your life. Recap!
*To that end, did anyone even know there was a celebrity hockey game this weekend until AFTER it was over? [Puck Junk]
*Seems like the AHL All-Star game in Allentown was a rousing success, though. Here are some pictures! [The Morning Call]
*The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and you can expect that Ron will do absolutely nothing. [BSH]
*The NHL thinks its arenas need to do better jobs with their ice. [ProHockeyTalk]
*Yesterday we saw DGB's list of Western Conference GMs facing pressure, now he looks at the East. [Sportsnet]
*On NHL goalies and their new pants. [The New York Times]
*And finally, in case you missed it, here's the newest episode of BSH Radio, in which we rank things and yell incoherently about how the NHL is bad at things. [BSH]
Subject: Hurricanes 5, Flyers 1: 10 things we learned from the worst game of the year
It was a game with no redeeming characteristics, aside from the fact that no one ever has to watch it again.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: The worst game of the year
There’s no sugarcoating it — this was the least-watchable, most horrifically-played contest of the season for the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ve had other bad games, to be sure, but there always was something of a viable excuse. Either their underlying metrics weren’t terrible and they were buried by egregious breakdowns, or there was a schedule-related reason (like the Devils loss right before Christmas that Hakstol essentially forgave because he believed the team was spent). This was different; a shellacking with no real excuse.
Despite trailing during almost the entire game, the Flyers were outshot 48-23 in total attempts at 5v5, good for an embarrassing 29.6% score-adjusted Corsi. And there was no uptick in performance as the game progressed and Carolina expanded their lead, either. Aside from a brief burst with less than ten minutes remaining (that died quickly after power play opportunities dried up), Philadelphia was completely impotent offensively. The numbers and the eye test don’t lie — the Flyers were never in this one.
#2: Total team effort
As is usually the case when a team lays a stinker like this one, no players can avoid criticism. Ten of the 18 skaters finished with score-adjusted Corsis below 30% during 5-on-5 situations, with Brandon Manning bringing up the rear with an incredible 6.84 percent mark. But there wasn’t a line or pairing that stood out in a positive way. The Schenn line (which Chris Therien noted early in the game is one that Dave Hakstol “loves,” something I simply don’t understand) was on the ice for two goals against and created just four shot attempts. Bellemare and his linemates had some decent forechecking shifts and were rewarded with a PP opportunity late, but as usual, they created basically nothing offensively.
The Couturier line took two penalties (on one shift!) and couldn’t muster one high-danger chance. Giroux’s trio actually finished in the black from a Corsi standpoint, but broke down completely on Carolina’s second goal, so they can’t fairly be praised. As for the pairs, only the Provorov-MacDonald pairing avoided a goal against, and just Streit-Gudas were in the black in terms of play-driving. This isn’t really a game where you look for positives. You just accept it was an awful performance, and hopefully move on as quickly as possible.
#3: Defensive zone passing buried them early
It’s hard to single out one specific issue for the team in last night’s game, because they were poor in every single area. But the early problems stemmed from a total inability to exit the defensive zone. All too often, the Flyers would attempt to get the puck to the high winger along the boards next to the red line, making it very easy for a Carolina defenseman to pinch down and keep a cycle alive by pressuring the waiting Flyer. However, brainless turnovers truly killed them on the scoreboard in the first period. Travis Konecny attempted to thread a drop pass back to Brayden Schenn in tight traffic, resulting in a clean path to the net for Sebastian Aho. Then, Giroux failed on a tip pass at the blue line to a teammate, not getting the puck out of the zone and allowing for a swift counterrush ending in another goal.
Some of the problem was simply poor execution — accuracy, hesitation — but there also felt like a casual approach to passing as well. Too often, the Flyers assumed that the guy receiving the pass would make the extra effort to win a puck battle or speed up to accept it in stride, and instead no one was doing their job. Peter Laviolette would have been disgusted.
#4: It’s just one bad game, though
There’s no reason to absolve the Flyers for their performance last night. It truly was an unacceptable effort down to the last man, and all of the players admitted exactly that during their postgame media availability sessions. But as bad of a game as this was, it was just one game. The Flyers’ performance last night is almost certainly not a reflection of the team’s true talent level, in the same way that the team’s ten-game winning streak did not mean that the Flyers were going to run the table the rest of the season. Prior to the All-Star break, Philadelphia had won three straight games and seemed to have righted the ship. Clearly, last night’s loss throws a wrench into that theory. But it also doesn’t erase their solid play prior to the break, either. If the Flyers repeat this performance (or even struggle to a lesser degree) on Thursday and Saturday, then it’s fair to start worrying. But right now, this is just a bad game by an otherwise-okay team.
#5: The officials missed some key calls
Let’s be very clear — the Flyers were not going to win this game even if every single call by the officiating crew went Philadelphia’s way. From the start, the Flyers didn’t even deserve to be in the same arena as a just-okay Carolina Hurricanes team, so it’s impossible to say that Philadelphia deserved a victory. However, there were two key calls (after the Flyers were already down 2-0) that went against the team, and they should be addressed.
First, there was Lee Stempniak’s hit on Andrew MacDonald. On the play, Stempniak stared down MacDonald before making primary, principal contact with MacDonald’s head, driving it into the boards. Stempniak was whistled on the play, but for boarding, not for an illegal check to the head, which it clearly was. The latter penalty can only be deemed a five-minute major, which seemed to be the fairest result in this case. Instead, Stempniak got off with a two-minute minor, which was a big break for the Hurricanes. Then, on Carolina’s third goal, Jeff Skinner crosschecked Brandon Manning in the face after burning him on a rush, knocking him bleeding to the ice. Seconds later, a wide-open Skinner put Carolina up 3-0, essentially placing the game out of reach. Again, the Flyers almost certainly weren’t going to win this game anyway. But those two calls were such obvious mistakes that it’s easy to understand why the team was so incensed.
#6: However, Giroux lost his cool
I’m always amused when I hear fans complain that Claude Giroux isn’t a good leader, or that the team doesn’t “try hard enough” with him as captain. It’s obvious (to me at least) that Giroux’s flaw is more the opposite — he’s so emotionally invested in the game that he can become frustrated and distracted on the ice to the detriment of his (and his team’s) play. In my opinion, it can cause him to sag at times when the luck is seemingly against the team, or lash out when the calls aren’t going their way. The latter happened last night, and Giroux responded in kind, blasting Hurricane Derek Ryan behind the net and then throwing a few punches at him while he was down. This was in the wake of the Manning non-call, which surely had Giroux livid. But putting his team right back on the penalty kill wasn’t the right move, and the end result was a fourth Carolina goal that truly made their lead unassailable.
#7: Are the Flyers truly bad after breaks?
After the game, there was a great deal of talk that this Flyers team may just not respond well to long layoffs. They’ve now played three games after receiving at least four days of rest, and they’ve lost all three by a combined score of 15-5. I’m not quite sure I’d jump to the conclusion that the rest is the primary cause of those losses, however.
Obviously the Flyers played poorly on the whole last night, but they came out strong against the Devils following their bye week and only fell apart following an awful penalty call on Radko Gudas. As for the third loss (post-Christmas versus the Blues), that was more similar to the Devils’ loss than the crushing defeat against Carolina, as the Flyers took an early third period lead and basically breaking even through 40 minutes before totally collapsing. I’m not saying that the “Philadelphia struggles after breaks” couldn’t be a possible explanation — I just think that if it was truly a bulletproof theory, the team would have gotten off to slow starts as well. In their other two “post-break” games, that didn’t happen.
#8: Rubtsov scored so that’s cool
Since no Flyers fan really wants to re-live that loss any more than necessary, I’ll pivot to the junior ranks, where German Rubtsov scored a goal, his ninth point in six games. Rubtsov, the Flyers’ first round pick in last year’s draft, was having a miserable time seeing the ice for his KHL squad, and he was finally able to relocate to the QMJHL following the World Juniors tournament in order to get that much-needed ice time. Since joining the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, Rubtsov has immediately been granted big minutes, and he’s scoring more than enough to justify them.
Obviously it’s early, but his current 1.5 point per game rate isn’t that far off from Travis Konecny’s rate of 1.68 from his Draft +1 season last year. There’s no guarantee Rubtsov keeps up this pace, and obviously, don’t start dreaming that the Russian has much of a chance of jumping to the NHL next year after just nine strong games in the Q. However, it’s fair to be excited that Rubtsov appears to be concluding a frustrating year in positive fashion, and is back to being a truly intriguing prospect.
#9: Brayden Schenn’s weird season continues
After last night’s goal, Schenn now has 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) on the season, and is currently on pace for 56 points, which would be the second-best total of his NHL career. Hilariously, only ten of those points so far have come at 5v5, which means that if his pace holds, Schenn will score 40 of his 56 points during situations (5v4, 6v5, 3v3) that make up a dramatically lower portion of an average hockey game. Production is production, so I can’t fault Schenn so long as he continues racking up the points. It just remains such a bizarre season to watch.
#10: Will lineup changes be made after this loss?
It was no surprise to see Hakstol keep his lines and pairings stagnant coming out of the break, especially after the team rattled off three straight wins. Now, things are a little different. There are definitely options for the coach if he wants to shake things up a bit — Michael Del Zotto is apparently healthy, and Dale Weise hasn’t played since January 15th. Neither has been especially impressive this year, as Del Zotto has scored but not driven positive on-ice results, while Weise has been the opposite. But both remain competent NHL players, and could easily check back in.
The bigger question is who would come out to accommodate them. There are obvious choices based on (what seems to be) the current depth chart, such as Del Zotto coming in for Manning, or Weise replacing Cousins. But Hakstol has also shown the willingness to deliver surprise scratches, and there were no shortage of poor individual performances from key players in this one. Frankly, Hakstol could use the game tape just justify scratching pretty much anyone on the roster, if he wants. It will be interesting to see if he does actually go to that well again.
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Allons-y the Flyers!
*The Habs are in town tonight, and good news: there is literally no way the Flyers can possibly be as bad as they were on Tuesday. Positivity woo! Puck drops at 7 which is also good go Flyers.
*Speaking of that Tuesday "game", Charlie takes one for the team and somehow comes up with ten things to learn from an absolute tire fire of a sports match. [BSH]
*Oh good we're scratching Ghost again, that'll fix it. [Courier-Post]
*Let's take a look at the Metro as a whole, which is still too damn good to do the Flyers any favors. [Canes Country]
*It's not all bad, the kids are still all right. German Rubtsov has a point streak going that's fun. [Sons of Penn]
*Elliotte Friedman dropped his latest 30 Thoughts, which are always a great read. [Sportsnet]
*DGB on the five best team/position combos in NHL history. Random thing to rank but it's good anyway to click away. [The Hockey News]