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[#] Mon Nov 21 2016 12:52:27 EST from Ari Yanover

Subject: This grandma’s reaction to getting a Wayne Simmonds jersey is the best

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We can only aspire to be as cool as this lady.

It’s late November. That means that, of course, hockey season is in full swing; it also means we’re about a month out from Christmas.

So. What’s the best Christmas present you could ask for?

How about a Wayne Simmonds jersey? That’s exactly what this 90-year-old fan got:

I can only hope to reach the age of 90 and be as cool as this lady. The suspense as she takes her time opening her present is well worth it.

“Simmonds! Woohoo! Best player on the team!” Grandma’s got fantastic taste, too. And she knows what she’s talking about. It’s impossible to not adore Simmonds, just like it’s impossible to watch this without smiling.

The only thing that would make this better? Probably if that jersey got Simmonds’ signature, too. Maybe there’s some hope for that!

(s/t to reader Conor Trahar for bringing this to my attention! It’s so sweet.)

[#] Mon Nov 21 2016 15:17:51 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: NHL trade rumors: Are the Flyers looking to move Shayne Gostisbehere?

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You dummy.

For the love of God, please tell me that you didn’t fall that thing that the stoner kid from junior year of high school posted on Facebook? Because all of these other clowns did:

It was from, for eff’s sake. They can’t even afford a .com domain name, and you think they’re plugged into the front offices of the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens? How the hell does that page have 100k Facebook likes? How did any of those 100k people pass geometry in high school? Good lord.

Stop believing everything you see on Facebook. The Flyers aren’t trading Shayne Gostisbehere to the Canadiens. Or to the Eagles. Or to the Guatamalan national soccer team. I’m going to have an aneurysm.

[#] Tue Nov 22 2016 06:23:09 EST from Collin Mehalick

Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Wouldn’t mind cheering for a team from Florida right about now.

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

* Why are we even talking about this? Why is anybody else talking about this? [BSH]

* The Phantoms just won eight straight, and the organization’s goaltending prospect depth is something that should be catching your eye by now. [BSH]

* CSN Philly’s got a “Future Flyer” update of their own. [CSN Philly]

* Jake Jr. is here! [Sons of Penn]

* One of the Flyers’ Metropolitan Division rivals looks a heck of a lot better than anybody anticipated, and that has the chance to affect Philadelphia’s chances at a second-straight playoff appearance. [Yahoo! Sports]

* Our old buddy Frank Seravalli put out an interesting piece on the upcoming expansion draft and protection lists. Expect a bunch of articles like this in the future. [TSN Sports]

[#] Tue Nov 22 2016 09:10:54 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: BSH Radio #85: It's Thanksgiving and the out of town guests have arrived

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It’s been a crazy week for the Flyers, and we talked about it.

Before this past Monday, the last episode of BSH Radio was recorded on Wednesday the 16th. Since then, the Flyers have played two games, scratched their best defenseman, and have generally had a pretty eventful few days.

So we’re here to talk about it!

Travis and I were lucky enough to be in town to join usual podcasters Bill, Steph, and Charlie on Monday night (pour one out for Kelly, who was recovering from an extended fight with a blizzard), and we discussed a whole host of Flyers-related topics. Such as:

  • The Flyers are a .500 team so far. Is that a disappointment?
  • What was the motivation behind Dave Hakstol’s scratching of Shayne Gostisbehere? Is he getting traded to Montreal to play with Former Flyer Shea Weber? (No!) More importantly, what may all of this tell us about Hakstol’s coaching of this team?
  • The top-six will be changed up a bit for tonight’s game in Florida. Can that get Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux going a bit more at 5-on-5?
  • The power play is on its coldest stretch of the season so far. How concerned should we be?
  • Ivan Provorov’s looked much better lately! That’s cool!
  • Does Dale Weise deserve to have his name pronounced correctly until he scores his first goal with the Flyers? Also, how has he played?
  • The NHL changed its All Star rules to try and prevent John Scott-types from making the All Star Game. It will probably not work!
  • And, most importantly, why is Matilda such a jerk?

You can listen below, but the show is also available on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, and we'll be coming soon to the (free!) Liberty Podcasts app on your smartphone. Enjoy!

[#] Tue Nov 22 2016 10:27:09 EST from Ari Yanover

Subject: Brayden Schenn just talks about how much he loves food for like three minutes

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This is the best Stall Talk yet.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Michael Del Zotto and the Philadelphia Flyers knew what would be the perfect subject for the next edition of Stall Talk: food.

Apparently, Brayden Schenn is the team’s foodie. And you know what? I absolutely believe nobody on the Flyers loves food as much as Schenn does. Definitely not after watching this.

I think this is my new favorite Stall Talk? Schenn just lights up and gets right into it. He’s so excited to be there and talk about food!

You knew it was going to be good, right from the get go:

Del Zotto: “What’s your favorite type of food, if you had one choice?”

Schenn: “... How long’s this segment? I could go on forever.”

Schenn is a big fan of both ribs and desserts, so you know he’s got good taste. I actually forgot that Del Zotto is pretty really into cooking, too, but Schenn trying to invite himself over for good is an expert move.

Another sign that Schenn is an expert? When he says, “You always gotta plan ahead in the day what you’re going to eat next.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Probably the best quip of them all, though? That they had to “trade one of the Schenns” because nobody else was getting enough dessert with two of them around.

Brayden Schenn, like food, is the best.

[#] Tue Nov 22 2016 13:45:24 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Flyers vs. Panthers preview: I guess we’re doing this again

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Another day, another questionable roster decision.

Here we go again.

First it was Michael Raffl. Then Shayne Gostisbhere. Now, it’s Michael Del Zotto who will sit as a healthy scratch when the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Florida Panthers this evening in South Florida.

Coach Dave Hakstol is likely hoping to light a spark under Del Zotto here, as MDZ has been pretty brutal of late. This doesn’t rise to the level of outrage we experienced with the Ghost scratch last week. That said, the same threads are here: even with the way he’s playing of late, MDZ is a significantly better player than Andrew MacDonald, so it’s frustrating that the Flyers are willfully putting a less-than-ideal lineup on the ice against the Panthers.

The Panthers come into the evening two points ahead of the Flyers in the standings, sitting at 10-8-1 through 20 games. They’re led offensively so far this season by Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Marchessault and Aleksander Barkov -- their only three forwards with more than 10 points thus far. Jaromir Jagr is still a Panther, by the way.

Roberto Luongo will be in net for Florida -- he has a .923 save percentage on the year thus far.

Steve Mason will again get the start for the Flyers, who are also expected to shake up their forward lines. Brayden Schenn -- in an attempt to wake him up from his early-season slumber, will hit the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Full lineup changes are below. Tonight’s game can be seen locally on CSN Philly and heard on 97.5 The Fanatic. will live stream the game anywhere in the world for those who subscribe to the TV network through their cable/satellite provider. Fox Sports Florida has the broadcast in the Sunshine State, and or NHL Center Ice has you covered everywhere else.

Philadelphia lineup

  1. Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
  2. Travis Konecny - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds
  3. Michael Raffl - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Meat Read
  4. Chris VandeVelde - Nick Cousins - Dale Weise
  1. Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere
  2. Ivan Provorov - Mark Streit
  3. Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas
  1. Steve Mason
  2. Anthony Stolarz

Scratches: Roman Lyubimov, Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto

Injured: Boyd Gordon, Michal Neuvirth

Florida lineup

  1. Jussi Jokinen - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
  2. Jonathan Marchessault - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith
  3. Nick Bjugstad - Denis Malgin - Colton Sceviour
  4. Greg McKegg - Derek MacKenzie - Kyle Rau
  1. Keith Yandle - Jason Demers
  2. Jakub Kindl - Aaron Ekblad
  3. Mark Pysyk - Michael Matheson


  1. Roberto Luongo
  2. James Reimer

[#] Tue Nov 22 2016 18:04:39 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Flyers vs. Panthers: Lineups, game time, live stream, TV coverage and discussion thread

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Michael Del Zotto is a healthy scratch.

Tonight’s game can be seen locally on CSN Philly and heard on 97.5 The Fanatic. will live stream the game anywhere in the world for those who subscribe to the TV network through their cable/satellite provider. Fox Sports Florida has the broadcast in the Sunshine State, and or NHL Center Ice has you covered everywhere else.

Philadelphia lineup

  1. Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
  2. Travis Konecny - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds
  3. Michael Raffl - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Meat Read
  4. Chris VandeVelde - Nick Cousins - Dale Weise
  1. Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere
  2. Ivan Provorov - Mark Streit
  3. Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas
  1. Steve Mason
  2. Anthony Stolarz

Scratches: Roman Lyubimov, Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto

Injured: Boyd Gordon, Michal Neuvirth

Florida lineup

  1. Jussi Jokinen - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
  2. Jonathan Marchessault - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith
  3. Nick Bjugstad - Denis Malgin - Colton Sceviour
  4. Greg McKegg - Derek MacKenzie - Kyle Rau
  1. Keith Yandle - Jason Demers
  2. Jakub Kindl - Aaron Ekblad
  3. Mark Pysyk - Michael Matheson


  1. Roberto Luongo
  2. James Reimer

[#] Wed Nov 23 2016 06:18:05 EST from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Ready your elastic-waist pants.

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...


*And we're right back at it tonight against the Lightning, because back-to-back games are what this team DOES. Puck drops at 730.

*We'll see if Hakstol is going to continue mixing up his lines the way he did last night. Just looking to be a bit better, folks. That's all. [CSN Philly]

*We'll probably see Anthony Stolarz at some point during this holiday week. [ProHockeyTalk]

*Michael Del Zotto was scratched last night, and we're probably going to have to deal with some weird defensive lineup decisions for the foreseeable. [Courier-Post]

*A lot of NHL teams are getting rid of the morning skate. Wonder if the Flyers will follow suit... [CSN Philly]

*The Lehigh Valley Phantoms special teams are absolutely crushing the AHL right now. [The AHL]

*Also crushing it? Phantoms goalie Carter Hart, who has taken on the workload left by Stolarz's call-up. [Sons of Penn]

*Did you miss this week's BSH Radio? WELL LISTEN NOW. [BSH]

*The Golden Knights it is! That's...that's a name, folks. [SB Nation]

*And now the expansion draft speculation can REALLY begin! [TSN]

*Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts. [Sportsnet]

*The NHL has adopted new All-Star Game rules because they hate fun. [The Hockey News]

*John Scott is cool with them, though. [Puck Daddy]

*Before you spend tomorrow pigging out, watch two people try to do an NHL conditioning workout and then think about how out of shape you already are. [National Post]

*DGB hands out his quarter-season awards. [Sportsnet]

*And finally, ahead of tomorrow's most wonderful feast, here's Brayden Schenn waxing poetic about how great food is. The Fly By will be taking a break for the rest of the week; Happy Thanksgiving, Flyers fans!!

[#] Wed Nov 23 2016 09:36:21 EST from Charlie O'Connor

Subject: Flyers 3, Panthers 1: 10 things we learned from a solid road win

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After exiting a spotty first period with a one-goal edge, the Flyers settled down over the final 40 minutes and earned a big road win.

Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.

#1: Solid even strength performance after poor first period

The Flyers hit the locker room at the first intermission with a one-goal lead, but it was built like a flimsy house of cards. Florida had outshot Philadelphia 14-9 in the period, and had an even larger advantage by advanced metrics — 63.66% score-adjusted Corsi, 8-1 lead in scoring chances, and 4-1 in high-danger chances. It was only a fantastic singular effort by Wayne Simmonds on a two-on-one rush and the heroics of Steve Mason that allowed the Flyers to exit the first period with a lead. This didn’t seem like a sustainable formula for success, even in just one game.

To their credit, Philadelphia didn’t spend the next forty minutes sitting back and hoping that Mason would steal them a victory. Had they done that, it’s likely we wouldn’t be talking about two points in the standings for the Flyers this morning. Instead, they stormed out of the gate to start the second, generating the first seven shot attempts of the period.

And while their two remaining goals on the night came via the power play, Philadelphia basically broke even at 5v5 despite protecting a lead for the final two periods. Florida won the shot attempts battle by a tight 22-20 margin, giving the Flyers a solid edge (55.21%) after accounting for score adjustment. In addition, they held the Panthers to just two more high-danger chances the remainder of the game. The Flyers may have finished slightly behind Florida in all of the game-long shot metrics, but don’t be fooled — they earned this win with their play in the final two stanzas.

#2: Couturier injury is a big-time blow

Of course, because this remains Philadelphia, fans could not be allowed to fully enjoy a road victory against tough competition in which the goaltender was the team’s best player without tossing some sort of heartbreak on the table to counterbalance the good. Last night, it came in the form of Sean Couturier’s knee, which was twisted in an awkward collision with Vincent Trocheck in the second period. Couturier was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he left the ice, and unsurprisingly did not return. Early reports indicated that it was looking like an MCL sprain, which still allows for a wide variety of outcomes — Couturier could miss just a few games if lucky, or many months if it’s the worst variety of the injury.

Regardless of the length of absence, it’s a huge blow to the Flyers. Couturier has been one of the team’s best play-drivers at even strength this year, and center on their most consistently dangerous line. Sure, he hasn’t scored as much as some had hoped he would, but his overall positive impact on the team is undeniable by both the numbers (+3.25% Corsi Relative) and a trained eye test. And while Couturier hasn’t been perfect in his own zone this year, it’s surely not a good thing for a team that is already struggling defensively to lose their best defensive forward.

So what happens to the lineup now? Hakstol has a number of options — move Schenn back to center on the second line, bump Bellemare or Cousins up to 2C, recall Jordan Weal or Scott Laughton and plug one of them right in — but none are particularly enticing. I’d personally advocate a slightly more outside-the-box option: try out Michael Raffl at 2C. He’s been the best play-driving forward on the team this year, has played center in the NHL briefly before, and seems most likely to replicate Couturier’s “do the little things” style that allowed players like Voracek and Konecny to focus on offense this year. Raffl doesn’t have the puck handling skills of Couturier so he isn’t an ideal fit at center, but I’m not certain the other options are either (except maybe Cousins). I’m iffy on Schenn in the middle, even though he looked okay in limited time there this season, and I’m even more iffy on promoting Bellemare, considering his struggles as even just a 3C this year. Again, there really isn’t a great option here, which is to be expected when you’re trying to replace an important player like Couturier. Report & Highlights | Corsica.Hockey Game Recap Page | Recap | NaturalStatTrick Recap | | BSH Recap | Meltzer’s Musings

#3: Mason seems to be figuring things out

It hasn’t been a perfect past two weeks for Steve Mason. Since November 8th, he’s delivered one outright bad performance (against Toronto), a poor one (versus Tampa Bay) and one with a bad late goal allowed that cost his team an extra point (Ottawa). So it’s not as if Mason is playing his best, by any means. But on the whole, he does seem to be turning the corner when you look at his overall performance over the past two weeks.

In his seven appearances since the debacle against Pittsburgh, Mason has a 0.912 all-situations save percentage — not great, but far from the trainwreck that both he and Michal Neuvirth delivered in October. Last night was yet another step in the right direction, as Mason kept his team above water in the first period while they were flailing at 5v5, and then held strong for the remainder of the game, stopping 38 of 39 shots. What was especially impressive was his rebound control and puck tracking. Rarely was Mason allowing juicy second-chance opportunities, and on the rare occasions that the puck eluded him, he always seemed to locate it quicker than Florida could. He was the team’s best player last night, and that seems to be happening more and more often. I’m not sure where his end-of-season stats will end up, but I am confident that the sub-0.900 save percentage goalie from October is long gone at this point.

#4: Simmonds with a monster game

Aside from Mason, Wayne Simmonds was Philadelphia’s most effective player in all three phases of the game. The highlight reel play was obviously his first period tally, which saw him blast down the ice on a two-on-one and then do what it feels like few Flyers forwards ever do on those rushes — neglect a possible pass to a teammate and instead just rip one past the opposing goaltender.

But Simmonds wasn’t finished. He later would set up Nick Cousins for the Flyers’ third goal of the game via a slick pass to spring his teammate on a shorthanded rush, and also finished with a solid +11.50% score-adjusted Corsi relative to his teammates. When Simmonds was on the ice, good things happened, and not just in terms of goal scoring. His physicality was present all game long, whether it was in puck battles or scrums around the net. His performance last night was the classic game that passed both the eye test and the numbers with flying colors.

#5: Brayden Schenn wasn’t bad either

He’s rightfully received criticism so far this year for delivering fairly underwhelming performances at 5-on-5, but Brayden Schenn was back to his old effective self in this one. Not only did he add two secondary assists, Schenn actually led the entire team with a strong 68.26% score-adjusted Corsi, a whopping +31.17 percent relative to his teammates. To my eyes, he did it primarily by bringing back his plus forechecking ability.

Schenn’s always played a crash-and-bang style, racking up at least 180 recorded hits in four straight years. It’s a tendency that bodes well for his ability to create havoc on the forecheck, but so far this season, he had been strangely absent in that regard, at least at even strength. Last night the Schenn from the second half of the 2015-16 season was back, pressuring opposing breakouts and keeping cycles alive. So far this year, Schenn has been a drag on the team’s overall metrics at 5v5, so getting him back going has to be a top priority of Dave Hakstol in the coming weeks. They simply can’t afford to bury Schenn on the third or fourth line, and not just because of the big contract that he signed in the offseason. The team is simply counting on him for too much offense, especially now that Couturier will miss at least some time. A return to center could even be in the cards, which would truly push the limits of his skillset.

#6: Top line showed flashes but struggled at times to extract value from entries

One of the big stories heading into this game was the reunion of the Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek pair on the Philadelphia top line. Likely intended to help spark the captain, who has struggled to score at 5v5 this year, Voracek replaced Wayne Simmonds as right wing on the Flyers’ top trio, giving Giroux his former partner-in-crime back.

It wasn’t a dominant performance — Giroux finished around break-even relative to teammates (-1.64%) in score-adjusted play-driving, while Voracek fared worse (-9.30%). But it did seem like the trio was moving through the neutral zone with effectiveness. Instead, the problem seemed to be extracting shot attempts from their zone entries. Too often a clean entry would be broken up before even one shot could be taken, or extended cycles would prove fruitless. My guess is this is just a matter of former linemates getting their timing back. I’d expect a better statistical performance tonight against the Lightning.

#7: Flyers power play embarrassed a very aggressive penalty kill

Florida has a reputation of utilizing abnormally aggressive tactics while shorthanded, a choice that helped to push them to the top of the PK efficiency charts to begin the 2016-17 season. However, as often is the case in the NHL, opposing coaches because to exploit the Panthers’ weaknesses, to the point where the Panthers have dropped to a (still okay) 10th place in the goal-based rankings. The unit remained elite in terms of shot suppression, however, ranking fourth in the league in Corsi Against per 60 heading into last night’s game. Florida’s goal is to prevent teams from ever getting set up, but in their attempt to achieve that goal, quality chances can come easier to the opposition.

That’s basically what happened last night. In the lead-up to both Flyers goals, Florida tried to create some attack time for themselves on the PK, only to watch Philadelphia blast back the other way. Weise’s goal was originally sparked by a strong neutral zone play by Shayne Gostisbehere, while Cousins’ tally came about because the Panthers tried to execute a three-on-two while being shorthanded, something you almost never see an NHL team attempt. When it failed, Simmonds and Cousins had an opportunity for a counterattacking rush (another thing you can almost never say on about a PP) and they took full advantage.

Philadelphia had been racking up good shot totals in recent games on the power play, but had simply not been able to light the lamp. Perhaps it’s appropriate that in this one, they went 2-for-2 despite not much in the way of extended zone time. They simply pounced on Florida mistakes, and made them pay for them.

#8: Weise finally on the board

The Flyers clearly had high expectations for Dale Weise when they locked him up to a four-year contract, making him their “big acquisition” of the offseason. Luckily for Weise, the fanbase has been distracted this season by the debuts of Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny with the big club, neither of which were assured when Weise signed. However, it’s undeniable that Weise has been a disappointment in the eyes of the fans. In his first 15 regular season games with the Flyers, Weise managed just two points — both assists — and was generally invisible on the attack. That finally changed on Tuesday night, as Weise was able to score his first goal with his new team.

It’s not that Weise has been awful in all phases of the game. His raw play-driving metrics at 5v5 have been solid, and as a puck-carrier, he’s actually been solidly above-average, holding a strong 60% Controlled Entry rate entering last night’s game, second-best on the Flyers after Voracek. But his offensive zone play was leaving much to be desired, which was why it was so nice to see him break his goalless drought with a very Dale Weise-style goal — collecting a rebound due to driving the net on a rush.

At intermission and after the game, Weise expressed his frustration and dissatisfaction with his start to the year, and the emotions were apparent in the immediate aftermath of the goal, as he looked skyward and merely let out a sigh of relief. The hope is that maybe Weise was trapped in his own head a bit over the early weeks of this season, and this goal helps him to settle down while on the attack and make the simple plays that help facilitate goals, whether by him or his linemates.

#9: Flyers are so much better at protecting leads now

It seems like such a long time ago, but just last season one of the big points of frustration from Flyers fans was the team’s inability to hold onto leads in the closing minutes of third periods. The team seemed to always collapse into hockey’s version of a prevent defense — a nonexistent forecheck in the offensive zone combined with “keep ‘em to the outside” defensive zone coverage tactics. My prevailing theory last season was the the lack of forechecking was the biggest problem, as Hakstol was leaning on aggressive offensive zone tactics to “hide” his weak defense through most of the game. Absent that constant pressure, Philadelphia just simply could not disrupt enough plays in the neutral zone to stem the tide.

It does appear that the Flyers forecheck more in the late stages of games, and all of the players have expressed their goal of continuing to pressure even with leads. But it’s been the team’s neutral zone play that has allowed them to turn third periods from nailbiting affairs to fairly calm closeouts. Part of that is likely increased familiarity with Hakstol’s preferred neutral zone tactics, as when to attack or switch assignments against rushes has become second nature to most of the players on the team. But it’s also the players themselves.

Last night, they dressed five above-average neutral zone defensemen in Gostisbehere, Streit, Provorov, Manning and Gudas. Only Andrew MacDonald remains passive in that area, and he was merely a fill-in for Michael Del Zotto as Hakstol employed another of his message-sending benchings. In any case, the defense being full of players adept at both forcing dump-ins and nullifying rushes before they begin is a big help in squeezing the life out of a trailing opponent. It’s far effective than allowing the opponent easy entry into the offensive zone and then playing the “block shots and pray” game, like they did so often last year.

#10: Provorov - Streit pairing got butchered

After a number of strong games (the Winnipeg game aside), Ivan Provorov struggled a bit in terms of overall results last night. To be fair, however, he wasn’t helped much by his partner Mark Streit. In score-adjusted Corsi relative to teammates, the pair finished at the bottom of the charts, as Provorov posted a -34.75% and Streit checked in at -23.87%. It wasn’t exactly a banner night for the pair.

There weren’t a ton of obvious mistakes from either defenseman, just lots of extended defensive zone shifts and failures to win puck battles that could have ended them just a bit earlier. They ended up being on the ice for Florida’s late goal, and it was a rare earned minus — not because it was a particularly awful shift for either defenseman (though Reilly Smith probably shouldn’t get that wide open in front) but more because the Panthers spent so much time on the attack with Provorov and Streit on the ice last night. Hopefully they improve in the second half of the this pre-Thanksgiving back-to-back.

[#] Wed Nov 23 2016 12:24:05 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Sean Couturier out at least a week with knee injury; Scott Laughton recalled

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We don’t really know the severity of Couturier’s injury just yet.

Sean Couturier suffered a knee injury in the second period of Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers, and the Flyers have now placed him on injured reserve.

The Flyers have recalled Scott Laughton from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to replace Couturier in the lineup. Coach Dave Hakstol could opt to place Roman Lyubimov into the lineup instead, but it wouldn’t make much sense to fly Laughton down to Florida just to have him sit in the press box. The Flyers will return to Philadelphia after the game this evening in Tampa.

If he gets into the lineup tonight, it’ll be Laughton’s first NHL action of the season after going down with an injury in training camp and subsequently joining the Phantoms following a conditioning loan. He played 71 games with the Flyers a year ago.

This was to be expected after we heard from Ron Hextall post-game, when he informed us that Couturier was going to head back to Philadelphia for further evaluation.

Being placed on injured reserve means he’ll be out for at least a week, so expect Couturier to miss at least four games — tonight against Tampa Bay, Friday against the Rangers, Sunday against Calgary and Tuesday against Boston. Of course, it could be worse than that too -- we don’t really know just yet.

[#] Wed Nov 23 2016 16:43:21 EST from Ari Yanover

Subject: Wayne Simmonds: the Flyers’ top goal scorer

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How many do you think he’ll score this year?

Wayne Simmonds now has 10 goals on the season. It took him 20 games to get there, and we knew it was going to happen, because Simmonds is a goal scorer.

He has the most for the Philadelphia Flyers, after all. Next in line is Jakub Voracek with seven.

But of course, this isn’t anything new. For the past three seasons. Simmonds has been the Flyers’ goal-scoring leader. When he wasn’t the leader, he was at least in second place. He’s been scoring ever since he became a Flyer.

This is the fastest he’s hit 10 goals in a season, though. Via the Elias Sports Bureau:

Simmonds is the Flyers' team leader with 10 goals this season and he reached double-figures in his 20th game, quicker than in any of his eight other seasons in the NHL. (His previous best was 21 games in 2012-13). This is the third time that Simmonds has been the first Flyers player to score 10 goals in his six seasons with the club. He also had that distinction in 2012-13 and 2014-15.

How many can we expect from Simmonds this year? He’s currently on pace for 41, which would be a career high by nine goals. He is shooting at 19.2%, however - a rate noticeably higher than his 13.3% career average.

Let’s assume he maintains his shot rate - 2.6 per game, which is actually less than the season before - but falls back to his career average shooting percentage. That puts him at 28 goals this season: a number he’s hit a couple of times with the Flyers, but still four shy of his career high of 32.

But a quick start certainly doesn’t hurt - and it’s easy to see him scoring at least another 20 over the next 62 games or so, isn’t it?

[#] Wed Nov 23 2016 19:00:36 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Flyers at Lightning: Lineups, game time, live stream, TV coverage and discussion thread

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Steve Mason will go back-to-back as the Flyers begin a several-week stretch where they’ll be without Sean Couturier.

game 21

Tonight’s game can be seen locally on The Comcast Network (TCN) and heard on 97.5 The Fanatic. NBC Sports Network will carry the game everywhere else, as will the NBC Sports App and

For the Tampa perspective, check out Raw Charge.

Thanks to Couturier’s injury and the Scott Laughton call-up, we have no idea what the lines are going to be tonight, other than that — via the Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi — Nick Cousins will be the team’s second-line center and Scott Laughton will make his NHL season debut, somewhere, playing center (our guess is into Cousins’ spot on the fourth line, but what do we know). We also don’t know if Michael Del Zotto’s trip to the press box was a one-night jawn or an extended stay.

Basically, the below lines are a bit of a guess. Take from them what you wish. (We DO, however, know that Steve Mason is starting, one night after stopping 38 of 39 Florida Panthers shots.)

Philadelphia lineup

  1. Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
  2. Travis Konecny - Nick Cousins - Wayne Simmonds
  3. Michael Raffl - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Meat Read
  4. Chris VandeVelde - Scott Laughton - Dale Weise
  1. Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere
  2. Ivan Provorov - Mark Streit
  3. Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas
  1. Steve Mason
  2. Anthony Stolarz

Scratches: Roman Lyubimov, Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto maybe?

Injured: Boyd Gordon, Michal Neuvirth, Sean Couturier :(

Tampa lineup (via)

  1. Alex Killorn - Vlad Namestnikov - Nikita Kucherov
  2. Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson - Ryan Callahan
  3. Ondrej Palat - Valtteri Filppula - Jonathan Drouin
  4. Erik Condra - Cedric Paquette - J.T. Brown
  1. Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr
  2. Nikita Nesterov - Braydon Coburn
  3. Jason Garrison - Slater Koekkoek


  1. Andrei Vasilevskiy
  2. Ben Bishop

[#] Wed Nov 23 2016 23:05:36 EST from goldomatic

Subject: Flyers at Lightning recap: Flyers set table, but can’t finish

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The Flyers completed their Florida two-step, losing a 4-2 decision despite Ivan Provorov's first NHL goal.

The Flyers played their final game before Thanksgiving, ending with a 4-2 loss to Tampa. Ivan Provorov scored his first goal in the effort, but the Flyers couldn’t hold a third-period lead as Tampa scored thrice in the final stanza to win.

The Flyers came into tonight’s game hoping to finish a trip to the Sunshine State by sweeping the Florida teams on the road before coming home for their annual Black Friday home game. Standing in their way was the same Lightning team that had just beaten them last week, with Andrei Vaslevskiy, who shut the Flyers out in that game, returning to the net hoping to build on his red-hot start to the year (1.43 GAA, .953 save percentage. These numbers are pretty good — you could even say he was on a roll).

Tampa was playing without injured star Steven Stamkos, although there is still plenty of firepower remaining, with Nikita Kucherov being among the leaders in stuffing his point totals in the NHL coming into the contest. The Flyers had some injury concerns of their own, having just lost Sean Couturier for about a month or so, which allowed Scott Laughton to make his season debut. Steve Mason returned to the net, hot off last night’s successful start. Because of reasons, Micheal Del Zotto remained a healthy scratch in favor of Andrew MacDonald. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

At the start of this game, it looked like the Flyers had tryptophan going through their system. Tampa collected eight of the first nine shots of the game, with the Tampa forecheck snuffing out any rushes or sustained pressure the Flyers could muster. The Flyers were able to catch the Lightning being a little too aggressive and Travis Konecny was able to spring Dale Weise on a breakaway, but Vasilevskiy was able to prevent the goal. The rest of the period was more of the same, and the third power play for the Lightning yielded the first goal of the game on a Victor Hedman point shot, which got passed a screened Mason with just three seconds remaining in the period. The Flyers played like a bunch of hams in the first, with Tampa holding a massive 12-2 shot advantage in the period.

After a better start to the second, the Flyers were finally able to figure out Vaslevskiy after four-plus periods of frustration against him, going back to last Saturday. On a seemingly normal rush by the Flyers, Weise was able to find a hole in the brick wall that has been the Tampa netminder of late, beating him on a non-descript shot from the right faceoff circle on his glove side. It’s probably one that Vaslevskiy would want back, especially given his play of late.

That caption is corny, which means it’s awesome. Good job with that.

After pacing most of the play for the remainder of the period, the Flyers worked a pre-set offensive draw play to gain the lead. A faceoff win by Bellemare got the puck to Matt Read who fed Mark Streit who fed Read, who fed Ivan Provorov who was able to wire one past Vaslevskiy, scoring his first career NHL goal in the process. I can’t confirm for sure, but it looked like Provorov had a cornucopia of weights lifted off his back when that puck went in. All that cranberry saucy passing was a thing to behold, and the Flyers executed it to perfection.

The goal happened at 19:05 in the period and gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead going into the third. After coming out with a lackluster effort in the first, the Flyers got 22 shots to the Lightning’s 9 in the second period.

The third period had three penalties put the Flyers on the penalty kill for six of the period’s first 12 minutes, and as a result the Lightning were able to get some momentum. The Flyers were able to kill both penalties, the fifth and sixth penalty kills of the night, but even at even strength, the Bolts were spending a lot of time in the Flyer end of the ice. Although they were able to kill off the penalties, their luck had to run out, and sure enough the Bolts scored two goals in a 12 second span to give them a 3-2 lead. Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan got the goals, which made me want to mash potatoes out of sheer anger. The Flyers got a powerplay of their own with five minutes left, but all they did was break their sticks from the point and the game continued on. With the game winding down, the Lightning got a gravy goal with 1:15 remaining, with Kucherov finishing a pretty passing play to make the final score 4-2. Final shot tally was 31-29 Flyers.

Other game notes:

  • The Weise goal broke a Vaslevskiy shutout streak of almost 178 minutes, which is just shy of the Lightning team record.
  • Usually when you register a season-low in shots on goal in the first period of a game, you don’t expect a season-high the very next period. That’s exactly what happened with the Flyers this night.
  • Really don’t like playing in Tampa, where the Lightning have won 8 of the last 10 against Philadelphia.
  • Key to the game was Tampa’s penalty kill, which didn’t allow a goal in four chances.
  • Every time a Flyer goes to the ice, it’s cause for concern. While killing a penalty, Provorov took a hard shot off the knee and collapsed in a heap. Thankfully, he would return shortly thereafter.
  • You could make a case for Dale Weise to be the most improved forward on this team. Given his slow start, that’s not saying much, but the last few games may have given a glimpse as to why he was signed. In addition to scoring the opening goal, he almost scored on a Scott Laughton feed early in the third, but the net was well off its moorings before any goal could be scored.

This was a frustrating one, no two ways about it. After punting the first period, they came back with one of their better periods of the season in the second, only to lose it all in the third. These are the types of game you look back on at the end of the season and think “if only they won that one” if they are in contention for the playoffs. Given Hakstol’s wont of late, expect more lineup juggling, and scratches that seemingly make little sense in the next couple of games.

The Flyers next game is their annual Black Friday game, a 1 p.m. game at home against the Rangers on NBC. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

[#] Thu Nov 24 2016 12:49:31 EST from Charlie O'Connor

Subject: Lightning 4, Flyers 2: 10 things we learned from a blown third period lead

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A strong second period put the Flyers in position to sweep their short Florida road trip. Then, in just 12 seconds of game time, a victory went up in smoke.

Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.

#1: Maybe didn’t “deserve” to win but way they lost was painful

It’s not quite fair to say that the Philadelphia Flyers deserved to win last night’s game against the Lightning. While they played Tampa pretty tight at 5-on-5, it’s tough to argue a team that allowed seven power play opportunities to their opponent and lost the all-situations xG battle 2.99 - 2.17 “deserved” to win anything. However, what makes this one especially tough to swallow was that they had already overcome their biggest roadblocks to a victory — a poor first period and the aforementioned undisciplined play — before finding a new way to cough up a lead.

In fact, they found a way to kill off three straight Tampa power plays in the third period while nursing a one-goal edge, a Herculean effort. They also were able to make up for their disastrous first period (only two shots on goal) with a stellar middle stanza (22 shots). But then, a combination of bad bounces and awful breakdowns served to waste all of the effort they had expended to overcome their previous mistakes. The game-tying goal occurred due to a freak carom off the back boards that ended up right on the stick of Alex Killorn, a play that was no one’s fault but damaged the Flyers’ chances all the same. Just twelve seconds later, Mark Streit fell down in defensive zone coverage, forcing Ivan Provorov to cover for him, which then left Ryan Callahan wide open to give the Lightning the lead. Minutes later, Brandon Manning added his own mistake to the fun, losing inside position on a 2-on-2 coverage switch and giving Nikita Kucherov a clear lane towards the net. Game over.

They may not have dominated or even outplayed Tampa Bay, but when the team does so many things right in storming back and then holding a lead through power play after power play, it really hurts to not see them close it out. Due to their mediocre start, the Flyers don’t have the benefit of lots of banked standings points to fall back on, so they really need wins any way they can get them. Last night was two points for the taking, and they had earned their way into that position. Then, they let it slip away.

#2: For the second straight night, Flyers rebounded from poor first period

Against the Panthers, Philadelphia was bulldozed at 5-on-5 to the tune of 18 shot attempts against to just nine from the Flyers, and they also allowed four high-danger scoring chances while only creating one. Somehow, they exited the period with a 1-0 lead anyway, an edge that was never going to hold up if they continued their poor territorial play. But the Flyers rebounded to win the score-adjusted 5v5 battle over the game’s final 40 minutes, truly earning the win.

Last night, they weren’t so lucky in that the first period ended with the team down 1-0, but yet again they did not put their best foot forward. The Lightning finished with a 9-4 edge in 5v5 shot attempts (62.78% score-adjusted Corsi) and led in high-danger chances 3-0. With the Flyers only able to muster two shots on goal in the entire period, they were lucky to down just one goal.

The second period was an entirely different animal. Dale Weise tied the game just minutes in with a shortside snipe that eluded Andrei Vasilevskiy, but Philadelphia didn’t truly begin to turn the tide territorially until around the period’s midpoint. Beginning with a delayed penalty against Erik Condra, the Flyers racked up 20 shot attempts in all situations and permitted Tampa Bay just five. That ten-minute stretch erased the impact of their poor first period almost entirely, and gave them their first lead of the game. A key change was increased activation of the defensemen in the offensive zone, which seemed to flummox the Lightning. Rather than lie in wait at the points, players like Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov started to creep lower in the zone, making themselves available for passes from the forwards down low. That’s how Provorov earned his first NHL goal, and how the Flyers were able to essentially erase their poor first period. Report & Highlights | Corsica.Hockey Game Recap Page | Recap | NaturalStatTrick Recap | | BSH Recap | Meltzer’s Musings

#3: Weakness at 5-on-5 was due to struggles in offensive and defensive zones

The Flyers weren’t dominated in the raw shot attempt metrics — 47.72% in score-adjusted Corsi and 48.88% in Fenwick — but for a team that has tried to make up for its issues in scoring chance suppression by overwhelming teams with pure volume, it’s never a good thing to see them below 50 percent in those categories. The biggest issue last night (to my eyes) wasn’t their neutral zone play, as they seemed to be limiting the Lightning’s potent speed through the middle of the ice quite well. Instead, the Flyers were struggling in two equally important areas — shot creation in the offensive zone and shot suppression in their own end.

CSNPhilly highlighted a perfect example of the former during the first intermission. Due to fantastic forechecking by the Bellemare line, the Flyers spent a good 30 seconds in the Tampa zone, winning puck battles and preventing zone exits. However, all that zone time could only generate one shot from the point (which was blocked). Aside from the aforementioned ten-minute stretch in the second period, the Flyers’ game was marked by repeated, fruitless zone entries. On the other side, Tampa seemed to create shots at will once they set up on the attack. Particularly against the MacDonald-Gostisbehere pairing, the Lightning turned the Flyers’ end into their own private property, possessing the puck and constantly firing away at Mason. The neutral zone is undeniably important, and Philadelphia’s tactics there have actually frustrated Tampa repeatedly over the past year. But they can’t forget the other two zones if they want to carry play against such a talented squad.

#4: Numbers don’t tell the story for Mason

A quick glance at the stats would lead one to believe that Steve Mason struggled last night. After all, he finished with a save percentage of 0.862, and faced 2.99 Expected Goals (per Corsica), allowing four total. However, this was a game where the numbers failed to capture his true level of play. Mason held down the fort admirably over the game’s first 30 minutes, making save after save as Tampa Bay dominated in the offensive zone. He was even better during the deluge of power plays in the third period, keeping the Flyers in front even as they simply could not stay out of the box.

The three goals that he allowed in the third period really weren’t on him. Killorn’s tally was due to a bizarre, unpredictable bounce off the back boards and more of just a fluky play than anything to pin on Mason. Callahan’s goal was on a redirection right in front that would have required an unreal stop to prevent. Kucherov closed things out with yet another redirect of a perfect Tampa pass into the low slot, in a play that was more caused by a defensive breakdown on the part of Brandon Manning and less at Mason’s feet. It’s unfortunate that the goaltender’s numbers — basic and advanced — will suffer as a result of this game, because Mason gave his team every chance to win it.

#5: Andrew MacDonald is dragging everyone down with him

Rather than insert Michael Del Zotto back into the Flyers’ lineup after just one game as a healthy scratch (like he did for Shayne Gostisbehere and Michael Raffl), Dave Hakstol chose to keep the defenseman in the press box for last night’s game against the Lightning. It was a move with some merit — Del Zotto has legitimately struggled in coverage this year and the Flyers did play well in his absence on Tuesday — except for one problem: Andrew MacDonald remained in the lineup in his place.

MacDonald receives an endless stream of criticism from the fanbase, which often goes over the top in demonizing the player rather than solely focusing on his play. In addition, it’s hard to deny that the six-year, $30 million contract that remains tied to MacDonald serves to increase the level of vitriol that he faces. Still, the hard truth is this — Andrew MacDonald has not merely been bad in 2016-17, he has not even played at an NHL-caliber level.

The numbers are so poor, it’s painful. With MacDonald on the ice, the Flyers have posted a 44.94% score-adjusted Corsi, worse than the 30th-ranked Arizona Coyotes (who sit at 45.03%). With him on the bench, they’ve delivered a 53.69% rate, comparable to the third-ranked Los Angeles Kings (who are at 53.76%). Essentially, the Flyers look like the worst play-driving team in the league with MacDonald on the ice, and then mirror the best play-driving team of the decade with him on the bench. That is unfathomably bad.

Even worse has been his impact on Shayne Gostisbehere, MacDonald’s primary partner when he plays. Gostisbehere sits at 44.99% while playing alongside the veteran (they were a an atrocious 28.57% last night together) and a whopping 58.76% away from MacDonald. We’re talking fourteen percentage points here — that’s the difference between the performance of the Cup winning Blackhawks team in 2014-15 and the final Randy Carlyle-coached Maple Leafs squad that same year. Part of this is because the pairing doesn’t work — MacDonald allows too many clean entries into the defensive zone, Gostisbehere struggles there — but most of it is simply because MacDonald has just not played at an NHL level this year. This would be happening with anyone. It’s tough to say this about a guy who clearly worked very hard last season in the minors and was the good soldier throughout, but Andrew MacDonald should be playing in the AHL right now. The numbers present an air-tight case, and I can’t think of one eye test that he’s passed this year. It’s time.

#6: Flyers need more from top line

Though Hakstol was forced to shuffle the lines in the wake of Sean Couturier’s injury, he chose to keep the new line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn together as the top unit at 5v5. Unfortunately, the trio did not justify the coach’s faith, generating just five shot attempts and finishing at a 35.71% Corsi For percentage. Like the rest of the team, their issues were not in the neutral zone, where they seemed to control play fairly well. Instead, they were impotent on the attack, fumbling away pucks and wasting possessions due to poor passing and general giveaways.

It’s tough to pin their struggles on one person. The stats point to Schenn as the weak link, and he was a big offender last night, especially in terms of turnovers in the offensive zone. But Giroux was invisible as well, aside from a brief period after his third period penalty when he was clearly amped up and angry. Giroux remains a stellar offensive zone player, even if his neutral zone performance might be in decline, so it’s tough to see his unit fumble the puck constantly while there. Maybe this is simply a chemistry issue, and the trio will figure things out with more time together. But if you’re going to stack a line with Giroux and Voracek, they simply need to create chances and drive play. If they can’t do it with Schenn, then he needs to be demoted to the bottom-six immediately. And if they can’t do it period, then the Flyers have bigger problems.

#7: Ivan Provorov a huge bright spot

Even if the Flyers cannot right the ship and make a serious run at a playoff spot, this season will be worthwhile viewing if only to watch the continued development of rookies Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. Last night, it was Provorov’s turn in the spotlight, as he finally scored his first NHL goal and drove play to the tune of a 62.70% score-adjusted Corsi, +22.35% relative to his teammates. Provorov was an all-three-situations monster, looking poised on the power play, relentless on the PK, and a perfect balance of offensive instincts and defensive soundness at 5v5. It was a virtuoso performance.

There was something for everyone to like from Provorov in this one. A new-school “take more risks” fan? You had to love Provorov activating deep into the offensive zone on his goal, showcasing ideal instincts to drop into the open area in the left faceoff circle before ripping a shot past Vasilevskiy. And if you’re an old-school “rub some dirt on it” fan, you must have swooned when Provorov sacrificed his knee to block a massive shot on a third period PK, crawled back to his position, and then on his very next shift, got in the way of another Lightning power play shot before successfully clearing the zone. Last night, we got a glimpse of “future first-pair defenseman Ivan Provorov,” and it was glorious.

#8: Gudas adding the meanness back into his game, still effective

Radko Gudas stormed out of the gate from a play-driving standpoint following his start-of-season suspension, but it was noticeable that he had dialed back the physical play a bit. It’s not that Gudas wasn’t hitting, but he wasn’t in “destroy mode” like he was so often last year. In many ways, that was a good thing — the Flyers could ill-afford to lose Gudas to another suspension. But it’s undeniable that watching the burly defenseman deliver vicious (but still clean!) hits was a blast for Flyers fans last season. Over the past few weeks, however, Gudas has been bringing that element back into his game without stepping over the edge in terms of legality. Last night was no exception.

Gudas racked up five hits last night, including two devastating ones on a single shift. For some players, a high hit total means that they’ve spent most of their shifts chasing the play, but that wasn’t the case for Gudas, who finished with a strong 64.94% score-adjusted Corsi despite throwing his weight around constantly. And Gudas isn’t just avoiding suspension-worthy hits so far this year — he’s avoiding penalties, period. In 15 games, Gudas has earned just two minor penalties after being guilty of 33 last year (ninth-most in the NHL). That’s such a dramatic improvement that it’s tough to believe it’s not an intentional focus of Gudas in 2016-17. So far, he’s been able to strike that perfect balance between toughness and discipline, and he deserves a ton of credit for doing so.

#9: Penalty kill came through in goal prevention

Six-for-seven isn’t a perfect night for a penalty kill, but it’s tough to fault them for their performance on the whole yesterday. In fact, the Flyers shorthanded units held the potent Tampa Bay power play to just 54.93 unblocked shot attempts per 60, a rate that would rank Philadelphia second in the NHL in shot prevention behind the Los Angeles Kings. The Lightning had their shots, but the Flyers did a fantastic job keeping them to the outside and blocking many of their blasts.

For years, Tampa tried to get by on their ridiculous shooting talent rather than actually put together strong structure on their PP, and the result was a unit totally dependent upon shooting percentage surges to be successful. That isn’t the case this year, as the Lightning rank in the top-10 in all of the shot creation categories. This was a tough assignment for the Flyers, and they performed admirably. Unfortunately, their even strength play in the last ten minutes of the game let them down.

#10: Forward role players stepped up

With the top line struggling and the second unit adjusting to the Sean Couturier-less life, it was up to the bottom-six to provide necessary spark at even strength last night. Three players in particular stood out in a positive way — Dale Weise, Scott Laughton, and Matt Read. Weise obviously scored his second goal in two nights (even if Vasilevskiy probably should have stopped it) but he also drove play better than any other Flyers player, finishing with a strong 65.40% score-adjusted Corsi. Laughton may not have gotten on the scoresheet, but he was solid through, showcasing his plus speed and looking very much like an NHL forward.

Read was the only member of the trio to finish in the red from a Corsi standpoint (48.38%) but he set up Provorov’s tally with a beautiful cross-ice pass, recognizing that the rookie would know to jump into the play and taking full advantage. You’re starting to see the makings of a useful bottom-six coming together here, filled with play-drivers and forwards with defined roles. Adding the forechecking prowess of Roman Lyubimov back into the lineup could be the final piece.

[#] Thu Nov 24 2016 16:02:19 EST from Ari Yanover

Subject: Kimmo Timonen wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving

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Also, here’s the turkey he’s cooking.

Happy Thanksgiving! That’s what Kimmo Timonen wants you to have - while showing off tonight’s dinner, apparently.

Sandals and hot oil? Oh boy. That’s a choice to make. So far so good, though, and that’s probably going to be a really good bird for tonight.

Even though Timonen is in his second season of retirement now, there’s a lot to be thankful for regarding him. He gave a lot to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it was really, really great to see him go out on top - even if it was while wearing another team’s jersey.

Plus he actually chimes in on social media every now and then, so we get to know what he’s still up to! I’m thankful for him in general, but in this post-Timonen-playing-hockey world, for that especially.

[#] Fri Nov 25 2016 12:30:52 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Flyers vs. Rangers: Lineups, game time, live stream, TV coverage and discussion thread

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The Flyers’ annual Black Friday game is also their first game of the year against their division rivals from up I-95.

game 22

Today’s game can be seen, locally and nationally, on NBC, and can be streamed via and the NBC Sports App. Locally, you can also catch the game on radio via 97.5 The Fanatic.

For the Rangers perspective, check out Blueshirt Banter.

No word on lineups as of now (afternoon games lead to mystery), so please take the lineups below with a grain of salt.

Philadelphia lineup

  1. Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
  2. Travis Konecny - Nick Cousins - Wayne Simmonds
  3. Michael Raffl - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Meat Read
  4. Chris VandeVelde - Scott Laughton - Dale Weise
  1. Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere
  2. Ivan Provorov - Mark Streit
  3. Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas
  1. Steve Mason
  2. Anthony Stolarz

Scratches: Roman Lyubimov, Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto

Injured: Boyd Gordon, Michal Neuvirth, Sean Couturier

New York lineup (via)

  1. Chris Kreider - Kevin Hayes - Mats Zuccarello
  2. Michael Grabner - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
  3. Jimmy Vesey - Brandon Pirri - J.T. Miller
  4. Matt Puempel - Josh Jooris - Jesper Fast
  1. Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
  2. Marc Staal - Nick Holden
  3. Brady Skjei - Kevin Klein


  1. Henrik Lundqvist
  2. Antti Raanta

[#] Fri Nov 25 2016 17:05:21 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Flyers vs. Rangers recap: A familiar script revisited

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The Flyers controlled large portions of the game but saw every mistake end up in the back of their net en route to a loss against a good team. This is not a recording.

It’s hard to ask for patience sometimes.

The Flyers lost their first game of the season against their division rival, the New York Rangers, by a score of 3-2 this afternoon. In and of itself, this is not terribly surprising. The Rangers entered today second in the NHL in standings points and first in goal differential, they have four lines with players who can score, and they have one of the two or three best goalies in hockey. They’ve won more than twice as many games as they’ve lost this year, and are now 10 standings points ahead of the Flyers.

But in a lot of ways, the 3-2 score that the Flyers lost by isn’t close to indicative of how this game went. The Flyers controlled large portions of the contest, taking advantage of a suspect Rangers defense that can’t really move the puck. They were stymied a number of times by Lundqvist, who of course is very good at his job. And through the first two periods of the game, due to a combination of poor defensive-zone puckhandling and a lack of saves from Steve Mason, it seemed like every occasional mistake by a guy in orange and black was ending up in the back of the net. The Flyers outshot the Rangers 42-23 on the day, and that advantage was befitting of how the Flyers played today.

Basically, it was a game the Flyers could have won on a different day.

But isn’t that what we’ve been saying for a month and a half now? Look at the recap of last week’s game against Tampa, swap out a couple of names here and there, and you’ve basically got a recap for today. The Flyers have probably lost half a dozen games like this one so far this year, and as easy as it is for us to say “things are going to get better” (which I’m still pretty sure they are; call me an optimist, I guess), a game like this forces you to ask yourself exactly when the hell that’ll happen.

To their credit, I suppose (maybe not everyone has to be happy about this), the players aren’t getting overly frustrated. Everyone who talked in the locker room postgame seemed to believe this was a game they easily could have, if not should have, won, and I’m not so sure they’re wrong. Dave Hakstol called it a good three-period performance, and again, he’s not exactly mistaken there. There are things to like about how this game went — such as the fact that the Flyers tallied 42 shots despite not once having a power play, or that the bottom-6 was pretty excellent save for one bad first-period turnover, or that the top line got going in the third period once Michael Raffl was moved up there. Or that the team as a whole turned on the jets in the third period to almost rally all the way back from a 3-0 hole, despite playing the final period in a 3-games-in-4-days ordeal.

(Also, Travis Konecny punched a guy a bunch of times. That was cool.)

But none of that matters when two defensive zone turnovers and a bad pinch-turned-odd-man break the other way all end up in the back of your net. Maybe this is a team that isn’t talented enough to get out of its own way, or maybe it’s a team that’s seeing mistakes show up on the scoreboard at a rate that can’t possibly continue to be this high. We’ve got 60 games to find out, so whichever you think it is, we’ll find out soon enough, and I’m not going to tell you which one it is because I’ve asked you to stay patient too many damn times already this season.

Whatever the case, the Flyers are slipping their way down the standings. While they’re only two points out of the final playoff spot, they’ve played more games than any team in the conference, and as much time as there is left in this season, it’s tough to dig your way out of a hole even this early in the season.

So we’re left waiting to hope that eventually we stop having to write recaps that can be summarized as “there was a lot to like, but...”, and that these kinds of losses start swinging the other way. So it goes.

Calgary on Sunday. Observations for this one in the morning. Go Flyers. Here are your highlights.

[#] Sat Nov 26 2016 09:43:13 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Rangers 3, Flyers 2: 10 things we learned from a Black Friday rally cut just short

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The Flyers are going to win these kinds of games eventually. Seriously, it’ll happen. We think.

#1: Yes, you’ve watched this game before

It’s tough to find a new way to summarize a Flyers game like yesterday’s, since it’s one that we’ve seen unfold numerous times this year, whether against Tampa or Montreal or Pittsburgh or Arizona. The Flyers seemed to be in control of the flow of the game for a healthy majority of the day on Friday. Dave Hakstol went as far as to say that he thought the team played “three good periods”, something you rarely see coaches say about wins, let alone losses. The Flyers doubled up the Rangers in shot attempts 78-39 despite not having a single power play in the game, and their 5-on-5 score-adjusted Corsi-For percentage in this one (61.81 percent, via Natural Stat Trick) was their best single-game mark of the season to date. And they even won the shot quality battle, routing the Rangers in overall scoring chances (27-13) and getting the better of them, albeit by a smaller margin, in high-danger chances (8-6). Basically, the Flyers won everywhere except the scoreboard, which of course is the only thing that really matters here.

Now, one could point out that the Rangers are a team that’s made a habit of winning games like this in this decade, partly due to the fact that Henrik Lundqvist is their goaltender and partly due to the fact that their overall lack of talent on defense has almost necessitated their playing a counter-attacking type of style. And they wouldn’t be wrong. But this isn’t the first time this year where it seemed like the Flyers were cycling around the offensive zone with regularity and generating steady chances, only to see every mistake of their own end up in the back of their own net. The odds suggest that the process is there and that eventually games like these are going to become less frequent. But when we’ve already watched this exact game four or five times this year, and as the Flyers slowly start to lose ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race, it’s hard to expect people to be comforted by the idea that things may get better. These games need to become wins pretty soon.

#2: Generated offense entirely at 5-on-5 for a change, thanks to strong offensive zone play

The Flyers have been fairly reliant on their strong power play to score goals this year, and while it’s got them sitting in the top-5 in goals per game in the NHL, it can have the Flyers in tough to produce when there’s a game where the power play either goes cold or doesn’t get its chances. Friday’s game was the latter, as the power play didn’t get any chances; for the first time all year, the Flyers didn’t go on the power play even once (their only potential power play of the day being wiped out by a Travis Konecny instigator penalty). As such, you’d be forgiven for not expecting the Flyers to match their season-best mark of 42 shots on goal. Yet that’s exactly what they did on Friday, peppering Henrik Lundqvist with pucks throughout the contest, including 21 in the third period while trying (and nearly succeeding) to put together a comeback.

While the Flyers have been at their best in the neutral zone this year, Friday was a game where their cycle play in the offensive zone really seemed to come to the forefront. Some of this is a matter of facing off with a Rangers defense group that is really not very good, and some more of it was a matter of the Rangers being willing to block shots (27 of them on the day, to be exact) rather than really contest the guys with the puck, and a little more of it was a matter of that counter-attacking style that the Rangers find themselves playing a lot and the fact that that style will by default grant the other team some chances. Still, despite the favorable circumstances, this was the kind of offensive zone play Dave Hakstol would like to see from this team night-in and night-out. Report & Highlights | Corsica.Hockey Game Recap Page | Recap | NaturalStatTrick Recap | | BSH Recap | Meltzer’s Musings

#3: Once again: not Mason’s best, but tough to blame him

The refrain you’d hear after a game like this was how every mistake would end up in the back of the Flyers’ net, which is potentially an exaggeration but a reasonable commentary on how frequently the Flyers’ gaffes are coming back to bite them. Still, you’ve got goalies in place to cover up mistakes, and on Friday it did seem like all of the biggest mistakes would end up on the other side of the Flyers’ goal line. And when you’re saying things like that following a loss in which you outshoot the other team 42-23, it’s easy to point the finger at the goalie. Mason was fine — good, even — when he had a chance to get set and see the play really develop in front of him, but all three of the Rangers’ goals were ones where things kind of turned to shit quickly and he just couldn’t get over in time to make a huge save.

With that said, I thought Mason played better than that narrative — and the numbers — would indicate. The Rangers’ first and third goals were both ones that would’ve taken superhuman efforts to stop, and while the goalie can obviously stop a breakaway like the one Matt Puempel scored on in the first period, just as much blame goes to the guys who made that breakaway possible. While it’s true that one more save would’ve helped the Flyers on Friday, it’s tough to point to any of the saves Mason didn’t make and say “yeah, that’s the one he’s gotta have”. It’s tough to ask any goalie to play three times in four days, with the final game being an afternoon game, and for that reason I’d say Anthony Stolarz should make his NHL debut on Sunday against Calgary. But if the past couple of weeks have led you to think Mason is heading in the right direction after a tough first month of the season, Friday’s game shouldn’t change your mind.

#4: Bottom-six passed one of its toughest tests yet, and with flying colors

As much as anything that isn’t named Lundqvist, the biggest reason for the Rangers’ success this year is their impressive forward depth. The Blueshirts have 11 forwards this year with 10 or more points, and even with injury problems they’ve got the ability — and, to Alain Vigneault’s credit, have shown the willingness — to roll four skilled forward lines in a way that maybe no other team in the NHL can. This figured to be a tough test for the Flyers, who have what you could reasonably call a more “traditional” NHL bottom-6.

Instead, not only did the Flyers’ third and fourth lines rise to the challenge, they put together outstanding performances. The Michael Raffl - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Matt Read trio was unquestionably the Flyers’ best line through the first two periods of the game, as each member of that group was aggressive in the offensive zone to generate chances on Lundqvist. And the Flyers’ only 5-on-5 (non-extra-attacker) goal of the day was scored by the much-maligned Chris VandeVelde, whose line (he alongside Dale Weise and Scott Laughton) also had a pretty good day in terms of creating offense. All six of the players mentioned in this paragraph were at least +10 in raw 5-on-5 shot attempts while on-ice, and much of the Flyers’ territorial dominance of the day can be credited to their work.

#5: Similarly, top line came to life when Raffl jumped up to it

Despite the fact that neither of them scored, at first glance you may look at the box score lines for Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, who had a combined 13 shot attempts on Friday, and think that they had a pretty active game. Yet, up until the third period, the Flyers faithful had barely heard much at all from their two redheaded star forwards — in fact, five of Voracek’s eight shot attempts, and four of Giroux’s five, came in the final frame. So what changed? The personnel. In particular, Michael Raffl mostly switched spots with Brayden Schenn on that top-line left wing, and whether as a simple spark to the lineup or as a personnel fit, it’s hard to say the move didn’t work.

I asked Hakstol after the game if there was anything in particular to the decision to move Raffl up to the line, and he simply chalked it up to a matter of wanting to shake things up a bit when down 3-0 heading into the third period. But while that could be true, it’s not too hard to draw a line here to Schenn, who hasn’t been particularly strong at 5-on-5 this year despite spending much of the season alongside Giroux. Despite deflecting in the Flyers’ second goal late in the game, Schenn was the only Flyer to finish in the negatives in shot attempts yesterday, a tough feat to pull when your team outshoots the other team by 37. Of course, some credit here should be given to Raffl, who has played well on Giroux’s wing before and did again on Friday. If Hakstol decides Raffl should get a longer look on that top-line wing spot, it suddenly becomes tough to say where Schenn should go. But getting that top line going is a priority, and more play like what we saw in the third period — with Michael Raffl on the ice — would go a long way there.

#6: Mixed performance from MacDonald probably keeps him in the lineup

Charlie got right to the point with Andrew MacDonald following Wednesday’s game, expressing an opinion that you’ll see in a lot of Flyers fan circles nowadays: that MacDonald’s play this year has been more worthy of the AHL than the NHL. Frankly, I would agree with said assertion. But the fact is that right now the Flyers see Andrew MacDonald as someone who’s one of the six guys on their defense who’s best-suited to help them win games, and it’s going to take a bad performance for that to change, the same way it did for Michael Del Zotto to find his way into the press box (where he’s been for three games now).

And if you’re a MacDonald detractor, the Rangers’ second goal was ammunition enough for you, as MacDonald pinched down into the offensive zone only to make a weak attempt at the puck and then find himself just far enough out of position that he couldn’t catch up with Matt Puempel, who broke the other way and buried a perfect pass from Jimmy Vesey to double the Rangers’ lead. (I saw some on social media argue that it was more a forward’s responsibility to cover for MacDonald up top once they see him come down, but which forward should be expected to do that in that case? Only Matt Read is in position to get back there in time, and he was in a better position to make a play on the puck deep in the zone than MacDonald was. Not to mention, MacDonald did have a chance to get back, only to outright lose a footrace to Puempel.)

Still, if Hakstol was OK with MacDonald in the lineup going into Friday, the game as a whole isn’t likely to change his mind. For one, MacDonald had one of his best offensive shifts in a Flyers uniform in the third period, when he carried the puck in around three or four Rangers, chipped the puck around them and won a race to it near the boards, and then tapped the puck in front of the net for Chris VandeVelde to tap it into the goal. And in addition, the goal against was the MacDonald/Gostisbehere pair’s only real glowing error on the day, as they both posted strong possession numbers on the game, even relative to the team. While I think that was more a product of Gostisbehere’s work than MacDonald’s, I don’t think Hakstol is going to see enough here to make a change in the lineup for Sunday.

#7: Laughton mistake on first goal highlights progress to make at center

Scott Laughton’s 2015-16 season was largely viewed as a disappointment by many fans and observers, but while his point totals weren’t quite where fans maybe wanted them to be, the thing that was even more disappointing was his work defensively. Laughton’s defensive zone performance was among the worst for all Flyers forwards, which was likely a key reason why the team mostly gave him minutes on the wing at the NHL level last year. Yet during his conditioning stint this year with the Phantoms, Laughton was used primarily as a center, and the results were positive enough that the Flyers have had him as their fourth-line center in the two games since his call-up.

Yet, despite the aforementioned good work by the fourth line offensively, the Rangers’ first goal showed that Laughton still has work to do when it comes to his own third of the ice. Under no immediate pressure, Laughton attempted to make a pass along the end boards, only to see it swallowed up immediately by J.T. Miller. Miller would then find Derek Stepan in front to open the scoring. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but Laughton had the time to make a safer and higher-upside play than the one he made there, and in this system the Flyers need their centers to be able to make those kinds of plays rather than the one that was made. Laughton’s shown some offensive promise in his time back with the Flyers, and they appear ready to give him a chance to prove himself on that front. But they also need to find out pretty soon what his position is going to be.

#8: Streit with a rough game

Brandon Manning didn’t play in the final 10 minutes of Friday’s game, and Ron Hextall said they’d have an update on his status today, which may mean that the team won’t even find itself in position to make any performance-based scratchings among its defensemen for Sunday’s game. But in a team that’s talked a lot about “accountability” and being in the business of winning hockey games, that doesn’t mean minutes can’t be moved around from/to players who deserve it, and Mark Streit was the guy who appeared to struggle his way through Sunday’s game more than any of the team’s other defensemen. His egregious turnover seconds before New York’s third goal looms largest here, as he tried to clear the puck to no one in particular only to set up the Rangers for a deflection in front. But he also had a few particularly brutal shifts in the third period, and the fact that he led the Flyers in giveaways on the day is something that no one who watched the game would find hard to believe.

On the whole, it would take a number of performances like this one before I’d advocate scratching Streit for either MacDonald or Nick Schultz with any sort of regularity. But if Gostisbehere can be healthy scratched, then Streit shouldn’t be 100 percent safe from facing the same fate, even if only for a game. And among the guys who seem to be locks to stay in the lineup, Streit is the one whose play may be most befitting of third-pair minutes at this point, which is a reasonable thing to say about a guy who turns 39 next month. Streit’s still an asset on the power play and in the offensive zone, but you may need to limit his overall exposure in some areas.

#9: Provorov was excellent yet again

Of course, if you want to limit Streit’s exposure, you’re going to need to change up the defensive pairings a bit, because right now one could somewhat easily make the case that the Flyers’ best defenseman is his defensive partner, Ivan Provorov. In a game played almost exclusively at 5-on-5, Provorov led the Flyers in ice time, and that’s a totally reasonable decision by Dave Hakstol since right now there’s not much Provorov doesn’t do well. Challenge in the neutral zone and make plays at the blue line to try and create entries? Check. Find lanes to get shots in on Lundqvist? That, too. Cover the dangerous areas in the defensive zone? That’s also working. From a raw numbers standpoint, Provorov had the best on-ice scoring chance differential of any Flyers player in this one, and it seems likely his role is only going to increase in the near future.

#10: Cousins at 2C experiment not working in the offensive zone

Nick Cousins was the player who was given the first crack at replacing Sean Couturier in the Flyers’ second-line center position, and he’s spent two games in that role alongside Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny, two of the Flyers’ best forwards this year. While that trio managed to be the only Flyers forward line that wasn’t on the ice for a goal against on Friday, the group was very quiet offensively, moreso than any of the team’s other lines. In fact, Konecny and Simmonds were also the Flyers’ only two forwards who weren’t on the ice for a single high-danger chance for, which shouldn’t happen in any game given Konecny’s speed and playmaking ability and Simmonds’ ability in front of the net. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Konecny missed 17 minutes in the middle of the game due to penalties, but things didn’t improve much once he returned to the ice.

This was also the case in Wednesday’s loss to Tampa, and through two games the Flyers’ new second line has been just-OK in overall possession and hasn’t been able to generate much actual offense. Cousins has been a passable bottom-six center, but his first look in the top-six hasn’t been anything to write home about. (He’s also been wrecked in faceoffs, losing 80% of them in the past two games, and while I think faceoffs are overrated, the Flyers definitely care about them.) At the same time, the Flyers may not have an obvious 2C replacement in the short-term while they wait for Couturier to heal. If the Flyers want to reward Raffl for his aforementioned strong play without keeping him on the top line, he could get a shot to center the second line, also giving Cousins a chance to drop back to the bottom-6.

[#] Sat Nov 26 2016 13:49:29 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Andrew MacDonald’s expansion draft status, explained

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Many people seem to think the Flyers are keeping Andrew MacDonald in the lineup because they have to for expansion draft purposes. Let’s take a look at that claim.

Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who is in the third year of a six-year, $30 million contract, has not had a particularly good 2016-17 season to date. We can argue about how not-good it has been, or what the causes of it are, but we'll save that discussion for another time (for instance, almost any of our Morning Observations posts of late).

No, here we're going to talk about a reason why he's still in the lineup. Or, more specifically, not a reason why he's still in the lineup.

Many fans have watched Dave Hakstol place MacDonald in the lineup many nights despite him, in their view, not being one of the team's six best defensemen. This has forced fans to try and come up with a number of possible explanations. Today, we'll focus on one of them.

In particular, this one, which is captured in just this one tweet but is one you’ll see pop up on social media fairly often:

Yes, the idea here is that Andrew MacDonald must play in 40 games this year in order to be eligible to be exposed in the Vegas expansion draft that will take place this June. It is a point that has been brought up a lot this year by fans and occasionally writers who are looking to explain why he has been in the lineup so much.

Let's discuss this, in question and answer format.

Is Andrew MacDonald, as of now, eligible to be chosen in the expansion draft next June?

He is! No qualifiers necessary. He is available to be chosen by the Vegas Golden Knights. In fact, so is every NHL player who is not automatically exempt from the draft (which is to say, all players with more than two years of professional experience under their belts by the end of this season) and is not protected by his team.

Even if he doesn't play 40 NHL games this season?

Correct. He could be shut down for the rest of the season tomorrow and still be eligible to be poached in the expansion draft.

So why do people keep saying he needs to play in at least 40 games?

Because of an expansion draft rule that requires each team to expose at least one defenseman who (a) is under contract for the 2017-18 season and (b) has either played in 40 NHL games in the 2016-17 season or 70 games between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons combined.

The rule is designed to give Vegas a healthy selection of defensemen with NHL experience to choose from, as teams may otherwise look to protect all of those players and it's theoretically important that an expansion team has some veteran presence on its team.

Can Andrew MacDonald be that defenseman for the Flyers?

He could. MacDonald played in 28 NHL games last season, which means that in order to be the Flyers' designated veteran defenseman eligible to be drafted, he has to play in 40 games this year.

And that's where the confusion comes in for some who seem to think he must play 40 games to be eligible. Andrew MacDonald doesn't have to play 40 games to be eligible, he has to play 40 games to make it such that the Flyers don't have to expose any other veteran defensemen with term remaining.

So since you're insisting it doesn't need to happen, what's the situation for the Flyers if it doesn't, and MacDonald plays in 39 or fewer games this year?

Then they would have to expose another veteran defenseman with term remaining who's played in NHL games this year. Right now, that could be any one of Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, or Brandon Manning. If the team were to re-sign Michael Del Zotto prior to the expansion draft, it could also be him as well. (Same goes for Nick Schultz or Mark Streit, but at this point either of those players getting an extension seems unlikely. Ivan Provorov, meanwhile, is exempt from the expansion draft.)

However, Gostisbehere is obviously not going to be exposed in the draft, and unless Gudas' play goes totally off the rails as this season goes on, he won’t be exposed either. And Del Zotto, whose current contract expires this summer, is not eligible to be fulfill said role unless he gets an extension, and if he does then you'd have to think the Flyers wouldn't plan on immediately exposing him in the draft.

So really, the question of "do the Flyers need Andrew MacDonald to play 40 games?" comes down to "do the Flyers want to protect Brandon Manning in the expansion draft?". If they don't, then the Flyers have already filled this role. If they do, then the Flyers need a new player to fill it.

So what if they do want to protect Manning? Then what?

Then yes, the easiest way to get a veteran defenseman to expose in the draft is to have MacDonald play 40 games. But it's worth noting that while that's the simplest way for the team to fill that expansion draft role, it's not the only way they can do it. They could extend a one-year contract to Schultz or Streit with the understanding that they'd be used as an expansion draft chip, unlikely to be taken in the draft itself. They could trade for another defenseman with some term left and expose him. They could bring up a different defenseman like Mark Alt (if he gets healthy) and have him play in 40 games to make him eligible to fill that role, or they could give someone like T.J. Brennan 40 NHL games and a new contract to make him eligible. The point is, if the Flyers wanted to find a way to fill this role without having MacDonald play more, they could do it.

But the easiest, path-of-least-resistance way to get there is to have MacDonald play 40 games?

Almost certainly, yes. And that’s why people allude to MacDonald’s expansion draft status as a reason why he continues to play in games.

So how likely is it that they want to protect Manning?

Truthfully, no one knows the answer to this question but Ron Hextall and the Flyers' front office. But here's what I do know:

  • Manning is a third-pair defenseman who has been healthy-scratched at times both last season and this season. While he got off to a very strong start this year, he has in recent weeks fallen back to the level that we’ve more or less come to expect from him: passable, but fitting of a bottom-pair player.
  • At best, Manning probably tops out as a lower-end second-pair defenseman in the NHL. Based on how expansion works (most teams will choose to protect seven forwards and just three defensemen, and all of them are subject to this same 40/70 Rule that the Flyers are trying to figure out now), there are going to be a lot of low-end second-pair defensemen available to be chosen in the expansion draft, and a number of them will likely have more impressive career resumes than Manning. Ron Hextall and his team will know this. From here, knowing what we know now, the odds seem low that Manning will be chosen.
  • And while it’s true that Ron Hextall probably doesn’t want to lose Manning for nothing, the fact of the matter is he’s about to lose someone for nothing, end of story. And the Flyers have at least two young defensemen (Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim) who seem on the precipice of the NHL, who very well may be ready for at least third-pair minutes by this time next year. If the options are to lose Manning or to lose a guy like Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Dale Weise, Nick Cousins, or Scott Laughton, all of whom are at least competent bottom-six players who don’t yet have particularly obvious replacements waiting in the wings, I think the Flyers will be willing to take their chances and expose Manning.

Can you in brief sum up what you just spent 1300 words annoyingly telling us?


  • The Flyers don’t need Andrew MacDonald to play 40 games this year to have him in the expansion draft. He will be eligible to be taken by Vegas, no matter what, unless the team protects him.
  • If the Flyers plan to expose Brandon Manning in the expansion draft, then they will have fulfilled their obligation to expose a defenseman with recent NHL experience, and as such do not need Andrew MacDonald to play 40 games in order to fill that role.
  • If the Flyers plan to protect Brandon Manning in the expansion draft, then the easiest way to fulfill their expansion draft obligations is to have Andrew MacDonald play 40 games. But there are other feasible ways for them to have a defenseman that could fulfill those obligations without playing MacDonald. However, I find it unlikely that the Flyers will prioritize protecting Brandon Manning over winning hockey games in the here-and-now.

Got it. One more question. Is it possible that fans who dislike MacDonald just really want to believe that the team feels the same way about MacDonald’s ability as they do, and as such are looking for some sort of ulterior motive that would rationalize his presence in the lineup because it’s easier for them to accept that than it is for them to believe that the Flyers’ coaching and front office may not be perfect in its ability to evaluate player personnel?

That’s an oddly specific question, isn’t it, mysterious question-asker?

But in all seriousness: the reason the Flyers are playing Andrew MacDonald is almost certainly because they think that, of all of the defensemen currently available to them, he is one of the six that will most help them win hockey games. It’s the simplest explanation, and it’s the only one that requires no question to be asked other than “do the Flyers think that doing this will help them win?”.

Is it possible that the Flyers want MacDonald to get to 40 games just in case, and as soon as he gets 26 more under his belt (he has played in 14 games, as of this writing) the Flyers will quietly send him to the press box or Lehigh Valley for a more permanent stay? Sure. But it’s just so hard to believe that the Flyers would do something that they believe actively worsens their chances to win 40 different hockey games this year in order to be able to protect a third-pairing defenseman in an expansion draft.

Because right now the Flyers are 14th in the Eastern Conference in points percentage, and some things are going to have to change pretty quickly if the Flyers don’t want to follow up their surprise playoff berth with a surprise playoff miss. And in a season in which the roster appears to be better than it was the year before (thanks to the presence of talented young players like Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny), missing the playoffs would fall squarely on the coaching staff and front office. They want to win games, and the impact of missing out on a playoff spot this year is probably worth more to them than the ramifications of an expansion draft. The team is trying to win games. They just happen to think the best way of doing that is different from what some of their fanbase, including us, may think.

[#] Sun Nov 27 2016 09:16:28 EST from Dave Mangels

Subject: The Eagles are on the edge of a November realignment

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Thy are who we thought they were, and that’s okay

Just a few weeks ago we were riding high, we thought we knew what path we were on and that we could relax. We were wrong.

No, I’m not talking about the election. I’m talking about the last five weeks of Eagles football.

After their blowout of the Steelers, many people, myself included, thought it was time to change the expectations for the Eagles and consider them favorites for the NFC East. Carson Wentz looked like another hit-the-ground-running rookie, the WRs didn’t look so bad, Doug Pederson could do no wrong, the defense was going to lead the league in scoring and make every game easy for the offense. Then 1-4 happened, and the Eagles are in last place in the division.

So we need to adjust our expectations again. Reset them really, back to the eve of the season. This year has always been about the development of Carson Wentz. So far it’s been pretty good and there is little cause for concern. If the Eagles should lose to the Falcons to fall to 4-5, they’re probably out of the playoff picture and should focus even more on player development.

That means playing Isaac Semualo, though not starting two rookies on offensive line to protect Wentz is a defensible option. As an undersized UDFA, Bryce Treggs probably won’t amount to much beyond a 4th/5th WR deep threat, and may not even be that, but with the total lack of a downfield threat, he should see consistent playing time to attempt to open up the offense a little. I’m not saying he needs 50 snaps a game, but there’s a place for him to get 20-30. If Ryan Mathews is going to spend most of the game on the bench, then the coaching staff needs to see if Wendell Smallwood is capable of being the every down back they have said they feel he is rather than lean on Darren Sproles, as good as Sproles has been. For the offense, the future has been now since Week 1. Embrace it.

So of course, watch them win on Sunday and the rest of the division lose, leapfrogging them into 2nd and a wild card spot. I’ll take it.

Four Downs

1 This seems like a trap game for the Falcons

The Falcons blew out the Bucs on Thursday Night Football last week, giving them extra rest. On one hand, that’s unfair to the Eagles, who just played three games in a row against teams coming off their bye. But there’s the makings of a trap game for Atlanta. They just came off a divisional blow out win, and teams can experience big swings after that. The extra rest might add to an overconfidence the team could have against a team on a losing streak. And they’re on the road (again), while the Eagles have played their best at home. The Falcons defense isn’t good, and it’s particularly not good on the road, where they’ve given up passing TDs on 163 attempts compared to 11 on 220 attempts at home, and they’ll be missing Desmond Trufant. The Eagles defense has been lights out at home, allowing just two—two touchdowns in three home games. That’ll change on Sunday, but will it be enough? It might not be.

2 Doug Pederson’s sheilding of his players is a little much

Pederson laid the “father figure” on a little thick after Josh Huff’s arrest when a boilerplate statement about reviewing all the facts and not rushing to judgement immediately after his arrest, yada yada. He looked bad when they released him the next day. This week, he coddled Dorial Green-Beckham, who is deservedly facing the same criticism he got in Tennessee for playing lazy. There’s a not so fine line between not criticizing your players through the media and coddling, and Pederson has been on the wrong side of it with his worst producing unit.

3 Keep being aggressive Doug

Whenever a team fails to convert a fourth down in field goal territory (not counting a late game 4+ point deficit), we lament that they should have kicked the field goal. But I’m reminded of a Saints game where Sean Payton sent the field goal unit out down 24-3 with 5 seconds left in the first half. But then the Dolphins called a time out to try ice the kicker. During the timeout, Payton changed his mind and went for it. The Saints scored, cut the lead to 14, and the Saints went on to win 46-34. The aggressive mindset that Payton turned to came in handy later that year in a play you might remember: the onsides kick in the Super Bowl.

4 NFL has it all wrong with their officials

Roger Goodell said that he thinks having full time officials won’t solve anything, and to help him on the PR trail he got his minion Peter King to say the same. This is the NFL saying they would rather not try anything and find out they were doing it wrong. Of course full time officials would help. They wouldn’t make it perfect, because humans make mistakes and the NFL can’t do things like clarify what a catch is, but rather than go back to their day jobs, officials would be so much better if they spent the week training. There is no downside to better prepared, better educated officials.

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