Subject: Philadelphia International Airport with a special shoutout for the Flyers’ 50th celebrations
Now that’s a major flash to the past.
If you’re going to play in the NHL, chances are pretty good you’re going to have to fly. A lot.
That much hasn’t changed since the Philadelphia Flyers entered the league back in 1967. If anything, with the league further expanding, travel has increased.
While there are various ways to celebrate the Flyers’ 50th anniversary - special jerseys probably being one of the most obvious - the Philadelphia International Airport had quite a unique method to contribute to the festivities.
That’s a major flash from the past! Look at everyone’s hair, it’s beyond incredible. Teams don’t quite look like that anymore. Happy 50 years!
Subject: Flyers at Bruins: Preview, lineups, TV coverage, live stream and discussion
The final back-to-back before the bye week starts today as the Flyers head to Boston in what may already be a crucial game in the standings.
Last year’s schedule was — and I cannot actually confirm this, but it feels like it in my head — a bit of a rarity for the Flyers, as none of their three games against the Boston Bruins were Saturday afternoon outings that inevitably ended in Flyers losses. Those seem to have been a staple of Flyers schedules of the recent past, and sure enough, they’re back this year, as the Flyers head to Boston this afternoon for the first time this season. (Surely enough, their other game in Boston this season will be at 1:00 on Saturday, March 11. Eff off, schedulers.)
So as the Flyers get set to take on their last two games before their five-day bye week begins, they’ll square off with the Bruins in a game that is fairly important for a January game between two teams that aren’t even in the same division.
Big-picture, the Flyers and Bruins may seem far away enough on these standings that you’d think this game wouldn’t be that important. But! Just one point separates the Flyers and Bruins right now, and with Atlantic Division opponents Ottawa and Toronto both having five games in hand on the Bruins despite being one and three points back of Boston, respectively, it would not be surprising to see the Bruins fall into the wild card picture before too long.
And that’s where they’ll find the Flyers. We saw Philadelphia leapfrog this same Boston team into the playoffs on the final weekend of the season last year. Every game counts.
But a win today will certainly be tough. Putting aside the Flyers’ Bad Saturday Afternoon Game In Boston Mojo, there’s a good case to be made that this Boston team is better than you’d think at first glance. Their 5-on-5 score-adjusted shot attempt numbers are actually the best in the entire NHL so far this season, and most other shot-quality-based metrics have loved their play this year as well. And Tuukka Rask has been his standard excellent self so far, with a save percentage of .926 on the season.
Yet they’ve still tallied more losses than wins this season (though just barely), because hockey is weird. In any case, they’re a team to watch out for in this second half of the season, and picking up a win today in their building will not be easy.
For the Flyers, lineup-wise, we know three things for today’s game. For one, Matt Read will miss today’s game and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There was no official word on an injury from Read in Thursday night’s win over Vancouver,
and we don’t believe he left the bench for any extended period of time, but given the fact that he played a team-low 8:43 in the game, it’s likely he was dealing with something then and there. but apparently he missed part of the first and second period of said game with an injury before returning, so whatever was ailing him then is likely what’s holding him out today.
With Read being injured and Boyd Gordon being on waivers (assuming he is either claimed or sent to Lehigh Valley, allowing the Flyers to activate Mark Streit from LTIR) the Flyers only have 12 healthy forwards available, meaning Roman Lyubimov will be back in the lineup after sitting on Thursday.
The second change is the likely return of Streit, who said yesterday that he has been cleared to play and should draw right back into the lineup. Where he lands and who sits for him — and whether Radko Gudas will find his way back into the lineup or not, after being an allegedly healthy scratch on Thursday — is anyone’s guess.
Finally, Michal Neuvirth will start today, after a strong relief appearance against Vancouver. With the Flyers facing the Capitals tomorrow, it wouldn’t at all be surprising if a good game from Neuvirth today led Hakstol to start him in both of this weekend’s games. Hopefully that’s a decision the coach will be forced to make. We shall see.
For Boston, your starter in net is likely Rask, who had a scary moment the other night when he was hit in the throat with a puck but is apparently fine and good to go today.
Game’s at 1:00 p.m. ET on CSN Philly, 97.5 The Fanatic, and (we think?) the CSNPhilly.com live stream. Elsewhere, your options today are NHL Network in the US and Sportsnet in Canada. No NHLTV or Center Ice due to it being a national game.
Lines and (especially) pairings below, due to the expected changes, are a guess. Go Flyers.
Flyers lineup (via)
- Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Travis Konecny
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Jake Voracek
- Dale Weise - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Michael Del Zotto - Mark Streit
- Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Michal Neuvirth
- Steve Mason
Boston lineup (via)
- Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
- Frank Vatrano - David Krejci - David Backes
- Tim Schaller - Ryan Spooner - Riley Nash
- Austin Czarnik - Dominic Moore - Anton Blidh
- Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
- Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
- John-Michael Liles - Kevan Miller
- Tuukka Rask
- Anton Khudobin
Subject: Here’s a list of good reasons why the Flyers are scratching Shayne Gostisbehere this afternoon
Shayne Gostisbehere will be a healthy scratch in Boston on Saturday, for the second time this season. Here’s a list of reasons why this is actually a good thing.
Subject: Flyers at Bruins recap: Ghost-less Flyers play very poor defensive hockey in tough road loss
A very poor defensive effort from the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, saw them lose in Boston in Saturday’s matinee contest.
The Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, lost what feels like their 56th consecutive weekend matinee against Boston on Saturday, suffering a 6-3 defeat to the Bruins. They are now 3-7-3 since the end of their 10-game win streak, still sitting in the final wild card position for the time being (though every team just behind them now has games in hand on the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team.
The game actually started out well for the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team. A nice netfront deflection of an Ivan Provorov shot by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (!) led to his second goal in as many games (!!), allowing the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, to draw first blood just over two minutes in.
Unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there. Despite the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, getting the better of the overall shot clock in the first period, leading in shot attempts 21-15 overall and 20-8 at 5-on-5, the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, were just porous in the defensive zone for most of the period, getting bailed out by their own goalpost a couple of times and by Michal Neuvirth a couple others.
Yet it was a shorthanded breakaway by Brad Marchand — one that started with an ill-advised pass by Sean Couturier and ended with a brutal whiff of a poke-check attempt by Neuvirth, all on a shot that Marchand himself barely got anything on — that would give the home team a tie that the Bruins and the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, would eventually take into the locker room.
But after holding on in the first period despite that questionable defensive zone play, the dam finally broke for the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, in the second period. Boston pulled in a failed Wayne Simmonds clear on the penalty kill, and a David Krejci snapper would give Boston the lead just seconds later. An odd-man rush against the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, allowed Boston to double that lead six minutes into the second period.
After Brayden Schenn scored his NHL-leading 11th power play goal of the season to pull the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, back within a goal, Boston would shortly after get a five-minute power play after Jakub Voracek was deemed to have boarded Boston’s Kevan Miller, despite Voracek actually turning away from Miller in an obvious attempt to avoid boarding him as the two headed towards the boards. It was a ridiculous call at a time when the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, really could not afford to be on the bad end of a ridiculous call.
The Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, did a great job for most of that five-minute penalty kill, until Patrice Bergeron fired a shot that deflected right off of Andrew MacDonald’s stick and past Neuvirth for a goal, allowing Boston to double their lead yet again. Truly a deflection that would’ve made Wayne Simmonds proud.
A beauty of a cross-ice pass by David Pastrnak to Zdeno Chara saw that lead grow futher, and Simmonds would shortly thereafter get the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, back within two on the power play thanks to a very pretty pass along the goal line by Jakub Voracek. But the remainder of the second period, and all of the third, would largely go without incident (or scoring) until an empty-net goal by Brad Marchand in the game’s final minute. With that, the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, would take their 10th loss in 13 games.
For the game, the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, were outshot 39-24. This seems like an area in which having the best defenseman on the team available may help matters, but I digress. The orange and black were also tallied with 11 giveaways, which strikes me as exceedingly generous scorekeeping by the fine folks in the TD Garden.
- The Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, scratched Shayne Gostisbehere for ... some reason. (Did I mention that yet?) We do not know what this reason is. If the argument has to do with Gostisbehere’s play in the defensive zone, today’s horrendous defensive play by the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team, was not exactly a performance you would like him to be taking notes from. We’ll see what the coach’s justification is here, or if this continues to be the case tomorrow in Washington or beyond. (It should not.)
- I will say one positive thing here, I suppose. I know that they gave up two power play goals, so the raw numbers won’t show it, but I did actually think that the penalty kill was a bright spot for the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team. They were tasked with killing five-minute majors and 5-on-3s during the game, and for the most part put up a pretty admirable effort in doing so. Big test for them tomorrow against Washington, though.
- There are no other notes on this game. For f*ck’s sake, the Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team. Take something from this.
Washington tomorrow afternoon. Five days off after that. Go Flyers, who scratched the best defenseman on the team. Here are your highlights.
Bellemare! Bellemare! Bellemare!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 14, 2017
1-0 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/JMfCENsTNW
Boston scores on the power-play.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 14, 2017
Wait! You're telling me this was actually a Flyers PP?
That is hilarious pic.twitter.com/t5KfvruDGs
Congrats to David Krejčí for point number 500— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 14, 2017
500 being the number of times I will throw my remote into the tv if the Flyers lose this game pic.twitter.com/olbcFnNmmx
Imagine what it would be like to actually think sports, specifically the Flyers.. were good? pic.twitter.com/DbNTXqTECe— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 14, 2017
A superb goal from Schenn! pic.twitter.com/CqMpZNaoJ7— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 14, 2017
The Train has left the station— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 14, 2017
Wayne scores his team leading 18th goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/KHNFJnF0kI
Subject: Flyers vs. Penguins alumni game: Lineups, how to watch, and discussion thread
The celebration of 50th seasons continues as the cross-state rivals will play their alumni game tonight in Philadelphia.
Since we’re all a bit bummed out about the current-date Flyers at this moment, let’s take the time tonight to enjoy some people playing hockey while wearing Flyers sweaters. The Flyers and Penguins alumni will face off tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tonight’s game is at 7:00 p.m. ET in South Philadelphia. You can watch it on TCN or on the CSNPhilly.com stream.
We do not as of yet know the exact lines, but the rosters for each team can be seen below, listed alphabetically.
Forwards: Bill Barber, Daniel Briere, Dave Brown, Bobby Clarke, Murray Craven, Todd Fedoruk, Simon Gagne, Bob Kelly, Tim Kerr, Orest Kindrachuk, Reggie Leach, John LeClair, Eric Lindros, Dave Poulin, Brian Propp, Mikael Renberg
Defensemen: Terry Carkner, Eric Desjardins, Mark Howe, Brad Marsh, Luke Richardson, Kjell Samuelsson, Jim Watson, Joe Watson
Goalies: Brian Boucher, Neil Little
Forwards: Colby Armstrong, Phil Bourque, Mike Bullard, John Chabot, David Hannan, Mark Kachowski, Tyler Kennedy, Mitch Lamoureux, Jamie Leach, Troy Loney, Greg Malone, Ryan Malone, Ted Nolan, Bryan Trottier
Defensemen: Doug Bodger, Jeff Chychrun, Kimbel Clackson, Grant Jennings, Francois Leroux, Dennis Owchar, Gordie Roberts
Goalies: Jean-Sebastian Aubin, Jocelyn Thibault
Use this thread for discussion. Go Flyers.
Subject: Flyers at Capitals: Lineups, TV coverage, live stream and discussion
The Flyers’ final game before their bye week comes against the hottest team in the NHL. Of course!
Last game before the bye week today, as the Flyers will take on the Washington Capitals in Washington for the first time this season. The Capitals have won eight games in a row and are taking on a Flyers team that was clobbered yesterday. This will be fun! (Let’s hope.)
Lineup-wise, the only change we know of right now is that Shayne Gostisbehere will return to the lineup after being healthy scratched on Saturday in Boston. He’ll slot in for Brandon Manning.
Today’s game can be seen on CSN Philly and on CSNPhilly.com in market. The game will be on CSN Mid-Atlantic in DC and NBC everywhere else in the US. Go Flyers.
Flyers lineup (via)
- Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Travis Konecny
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Jake Voracek
- Dale Weise - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Michael Del Zotto - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Mark Streit - Radko Gudas
- Steve Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
Washington lineup (via)
- Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Timothy Leif Oshie
- Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
- Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
- Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson
- Karl Alzner - John Carlson
- Dmitri Orlov - Matt Niskanen
- Brooks Orpik - Nate Schmidt
- Philipp Grubauer
- Braden Holtby
Subject: Bruins 6, Flyers 3: 10 things we learned from a defensive disaster
The Flyers repeated their defensive issues from Thursday, except this time, it came against a far better team.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Defensive issues didn’t disappear despite Ghost scratch
Even though the Flyers won on Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks, some lineup changes were inevitable, for a few reasons. To start, Mark Streit was finally ready to return from injury, which would require one defenseman to sit in his place. In addition, Radko Gudas had missed Thursday due to a “healthy” scratch and watched the defense be especially mistake-prone in his absence, so he was almost certainly coming back in. There were a number of candidates for scratching (in addition to Nick Schultz, who is clearly #8 on the depth chart and was definitely sitting), as one could make a case for basically every single player on the defense following Thursday’s sloppy affair. However, the news that Shayne Gostisbehere would be the choice still came as a bit of a shock, even if Ghost certainly struggled in his own zone versus Vancouver.
Gostisbehere wasn’t the only one who performed poorly, though. Michael Del Zotto took two penalties that created 5-on-3s. Brandon Manning also was penalty-prone. Ivan Provorov delivered his worst game in months. And of course, there’s Andrew MacDonald, whose overall play-driving metrics at 5v5 remain the worst on the team. Instead, Gostisbehere was the one who took a seat, likely due to recent inconsistent defensive play accompanied by no tangible point production to offset it.
The problem with that justification, however, is that Gostisbehere isn’t alone in struggling defensively. The whole team is flailing in that area, and that continued yesterday. It was most apparent on the Krug and Chara goals; the former an example of blown rush coverage by Streit and Weise, and the latter terrible cycle coverage allowing a clean pass through the slot. Turnovers were also an issue, specifically early, as both Brandon Manning and Brayden Schenn coughed the puck up on separate plays in the first period only to be bailed out by the post. The Flyers allowed 22 regular scoring chances at 5v5 and 10 of them were high-danger, which are surely far more than Dave Hakstol wants to see his team permit. Considering the recent team-wide defensive struggles, I see how it’s tempting to think to bench a player who has a reputation for poor coverage. But benching Ghost yesterday did nothing to solve Philadelphia’s recent woes without the puck, and it made the team far less dangerous with it.
#2: Is it time to panic?
Following their ten-game winning streak, the Flyers have posted a 3-7-3 record, and have nearly given back all of their gains from that mid-December run. Yes, Philadelphia still technically holds the final wild card position in the East, but that’s only because they have games in hand over their closest competition. By Points Percentage (how many standings points earned out of all possible points), the Flyers are behind both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. Regardless of whether they can take down the Capitals today, there’s a very good chance that Philadelphia will be officially out of a playoff spot by the end of their bye week.
There are some positive signs, however. The Flyers’ power play remains fantastic (scored twice yesterday), the penalty kill has legitimately improved to the point where it’s at least in the top-half of the NHL, and the return of players like Couturier and Read has Philadelphia with a 51.16% score-adjusted 5v5 Corsi over their last ten games. They’ve even been a positive xG team over that stretch (50.63%), a stat where they’ve performed poorly all year. Three problems remain. First, the goaltending has not done the team any favors. Second, the team defense — defensemen and forwards — has been prone to egregious coverage breakdowns. Third, the lineup is still not fully optimized. The good news on the third point is that it’s getting closer, as the only major issue left is the continued presence of Andrew MacDonald as a top-four defenseman and partner for Ivan Provorov. I do believe that solving #3 will go a long way towards addressing #2, but #1 will remain a problem until one of Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth regains his 2015-16 form. That, to me, is the biggest concern moving forward for the Flyers.
#3: How to evaluate Hakstol?
Dave Hakstol’s rookie season as a head coach at the NHL level was nothing short of a smashing success. Working with a well below-average defense corps, he overhauled the Flyers’ tactics and turned them into a more aggressive, more effective club that used a late-season surge to make the playoffs. Young players like Shayne Gostisbehere, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn flourished in the Hakstol system, and it was that developmental success that seemed to bode so well for the team’s future.
Year two has been a different story entirely. Cracks are starting to show in the tactics — too many perimeter shots in the offensive zone, too many coverage breakdowns defensively — but most concerning has been the lineup decisions. The issues have ranged from annoying but ultimately of little consequence (3v3 overtime player usage, shootout decisions) to truly damaging (MacDonald placed in roles well above his talent level despite awful play-driving metrics). Yesterday, it was the decision to scratch Shayne Gostisbehere that had fans in an uproar. Ghost, of course, was already scratched once this season in a “message sending” move, but a coach can only go to that well so often. This felt like Hakstol believing that the team was more likely to beat Boston with MacDonald, Brandon Manning and Michael Del Zotto in the lineup over Gostisbehere. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of fans on social media disagreed.
For the record, the stats do not support Hakstol’s decision to bench Ghost, if it truly was due to a belief that he has been the defense’s worst player recently. Gostisbehere leads the defense in score-adjusted Corsi, Corsi relative to his teammates, and Expected Goals For percentage. His usage (lots of offensive zone starts and shifts against bottom-six forwards) likely inflates those metrics a bit, but in any case, the Flyers largely have controlled play with Gostisbehere on the ice at 5v5 this season. For some, this was a “last straw” decision, and many fans seem to be losing faith in their team’s coach.
Don’t for a second believe that the Flyers’ organization is anywhere near that point. Not only did Ron Hextall sign Hakstol to a lucrative five-year contract, the coach’s overall track record is perfectly adequate. Yes, the team is struggling right now, but they remain in a playoff spot (however tenuous their hold on it is) and the season is far from over. By my estimation, the Flyers are at best the fourth or fifth most talented team in the East, so it’s not like the team is dramatically underachieving on the whole, and they probably overachieved last season. However, that doesn’t mean he should be immune to criticism. Most of the “bad” lineup and usage decisions have a small impact on win probability in isolation, but in aggregate, they’ve probably cost the Flyers a couple wins so far. That’s a legitimate problem. I’ll put it this way — Ron Hextall rightfully expects this team to make the playoffs this year, and if they miss out, he’ll surely take a long, hard look at whether Hakstol is the right guy for this team. But he’s not going to do anything rash, no matter the outcry from fans.
#4: Odd first period for Flyers
The Boston Bruins are actually the best team in the NHL when it comes to driving play at 5v5, so that’s why the Flyers’ start to yesterday’s game was so surprising. They got the jump on the Bruins, blasting 20 shot attempts in the direction of Tuukka Rask and allowing just eight during 5-on-5. But somehow, despite finishing the period with a 71.43% Corsi, Philadelphia was actually lucky to hit the first intermission with the game tied at one goal apiece. Boston hit two posts, both a direct result of a brainless defensive zone turnover (one from Manning and one from Schenn). Twice, the shooter cleanly beat Neuvirth only to be stymied by the iron. That’s why the deluge of chances (15 for Boston) in the middle stanza was no shock. Philadelphia’s defensive zone play was a mess from the jump, and once the forecheck began to lose its effectiveness, Boston easily took this game over.
#5: Best game in weeks for the Bellemare line
A big reason for Philadelphia’s territorial dominance in the first period was the play of the team’s fourth line, consisting of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov. Recently relegated to a minimal role at 5v5, Dave Hakstol had no choice but to increase the minutes of the line a little bit, simply because no trio was more effective in the early going. They put the Flyers on the board early, as Bellemare deflected an Ivan Provorov point shot past Rask for his second goal in as many games. They kept up the pressure, and actually finished as the only three Flyers above a 59% score-adjusted Corsi.
It wasn’t a perfect game for the line, however, as it was their poor defensive zone coverage that allowed for Zdeno Chara’s second period goal. But aside from that one bad shift, they played about as well as was realistically possible. Even in their strongest game in a long time, Hakstol could only find seven minutes of 5v5 ice time for them. Part of that is because Philadelphia spent lots of time on the PK and two members of the line get heavy minutes in that situation, but it’s also driven by their place on the depth chart. This is truly the Flyers’ fourth line for the foreseeable future.
#6: Schenn’s line starting to struggle
When the line of Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Dale Weise was put together last week, it appeared to be one of those “so crazy it just might work” type of ideas. Each player seemed like an ill fit for the role at first glance -- Schenn at center, Simmonds on line three, Weise on a “scoring” line. But in their first three games together, the unit drove play, especially dominating on the cycle in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, their suprisingly-strong performance appears to be tailing off.
For the second straight game, the Schenn line was heavily outshot and also outscored. Against the Canucks, Schenn posted a 22.73% Corsi For percentage, and yesterday it was at 27.78%. All that volume is also turning into tangible goals against, as they’ve been on the ice for four opponents’ tallies in the past three games. A performance like this usually results in a lineup shakeup, so my guess is that the line might be broken up as soon as today. If so, it’s not an unjustified decision.
#7: Couturier struggled mightily
Sean Couturier was rightfully praised by his coach after Thursday’s game for “leading the way” and generally looking like the best player on the ice against the Canucks. That’s why it was so disappointing to see the Flyers’ second line center deliver such a poor performance just two days later. His 42.79% score-adjusted Corsi was the worst by a forward not on the Schenn line, and just as Couturier was the primary driver of his unit’s success on Thursday, he was the main reason his line struggled yesterday.
His linemates put Couturier in positions to score on multiple occasions, but he simply could not take advantage. Either Couturier would hesitate with the puck in a dangerous position just long enough to allow for Rask to get set, or he would just miss the net entirely, as he did on a breakaway opportunity. Couturier is justly defended by those open to advanced statistics, because he does drive play and scores at a better rate at 5v5 than most realize. But he’s simply not an impact offensive player on a nightly basis at this point in his career, and yesterday was another reminder of that fact.
#8: Streit looked like a guy who missed a month
The Flyers were right to want Mark Streit back in the lineup once healthy. He certainly has his detractors, but the 39-year old is still a useful NHL defenseman who is not a liability from a play-driving standpoint and can chip in offensively. In fact, considering Del Zotto’s poor defensive play this season, there’s a strong case to be made that even an aging Streit is the fourth-best defenseman on the roster, after Provorov, Gudas and Gostisbehere. However, some rust was inevitable, and Streit definitely delivered an uneven performance.
His raw on-ice shot attempt differential doesn’t show signs of weakness, as Streit posted a solid 50.82% score-adjusted Corsi. But his mistake-prone game does show up in the scoring chance totals. With Streit on the ice, the Flyers allowed seven chances to the Bruins, while creating only two of their own. Turnovers were the biggest issue, though Streit wasn’t exactly sharp in coverage, either. The Flyers are still better off with the veteran back in the lineup instead of MacDonald or Del Zotto (this year’s version), but it wasn’t exactly an amazing return to the lineup.
#9: Secondary PK units most effective
So far this season, Hakstol has selected the forward duo of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde to be his top penalty kill unit. Ivan Provorov, Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas have received similar responsibilities on the back end. However, it’s been the players further down the rotation that have been the most effective in terms of shot suppression. Sean Couturier (unsurprising), Wayne Simmonds (more surprising) and Brandon Manning (especially surprising) grade out very well in this area.
Some of the discrepancy between the stats and the roles can be explained due to usage — the top PK guys get more defensive zone faceoffs, and also face top units more often — but the secondary guys have been far more efficient in preventing power plays from getting set up in formation and firing away. That was the case again yesterday, as Couturier, Lyubimov, Del Zotto, Simmonds and Manning all finished with Corsi Against per 60 rates below 90, while the top duos were above 130. I’ve long advocated for Couturier to be used as the top penalty killer in terms of ice time, and the stats continue to back that up.
#10: Provorov-MacDonald back to top pair duties
Around the turn of the calendar year, Hakstol slowly began shifting top pair responsibilities away from the Ivan Provorov/Andrew MacDonald duo and towards the 2015-16 season’s preferred combination of Michael Del Zotto and Radko Gudas. However, the past two games have shook up everything, with Gudas being scratched on Thursday and then being paired with Streit in his return to the lineup today. As a result, Hakstol seems to be falling back on his trust in the 9-47 pair. Both received over 16 minutes of 5v5 ice time, and no duo faced the Bergeron line more. To the pair’s credit, they held their own at even strength, finishing slightly above 50% in Corsi and slightly below in xG. Still, the past month has shown that this duo cannot drive play in a top pair role, so I hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Subject: Flyers at Capitals recap: Hockey team tumbles into bye week
Four goals in five minutes in the third period leave fans stunned as the Flyers find new ways to lose.
24 hours ago the Philadelphia Flyers played a game they would most likely want to never think about again. Today, the Flyers made some changes from their lineup in Boston. Shayne Gostisbehere made his return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch yesterday afternoon. Brandon Manning found himself watching the game from above as he was the scratch of the day. Steve Mason also returned between the pipes after backing up Michal Neuvirth in Boston
None of this would matter, though, as Washington would beat the Flyers by a score of 5-0.
Today’s game in Washington is the Flyers sixth game in the last nine days, and also is their last before entering the NHL mandated bye week.
Shots came early and often for the Flyers, however they could not find the back of the net. At the end of the first period, the Flyers had almost tripled the Capitals in shots, leading there 13-5. Shayne Gostisbehere played very well and led the team in ice time in the period. The Flyers had a couple of power plays during the period but did not convert, despite generating some solid chances with the advantage.
At around the nine-minute mark of the second period Michael Del Zotto had an absolutely laughable attempt at clearing a puck. Instead of clearing it, he gave turned it over to Andre Burakovsky directly in front of the net! He would score. It was laughable. But hey, it was only one goal? They can come back from that. This team has looked solid so far, no worries.
The second period came to a close. The Capitals lead 1-0, both teams were tied in shots during the period. This is anybody’s game ... right?
WELL OH BOY LEMME TELL YOU ABOUT THE THIRD PERIOD. Please, strap in your seat belt for this fun, fun, fun adventure. It will take around five minutes.
Because that — five minutes — is how long it took Washington to score four goals.
More enjoyment could be had watching 40 minutes of Mites On Ice, or even watching cats and dogs attempt to play Jai alai. It would be more fun to sit there and rewinding VHS tapes for eight hours. Maybe while we’re at it, why not just pour a pot of boiling water all over your face. This period does not even deserved to be recapped, there are no words to be said. The Flyers have left us speechless. So, fan who may or may not have fire shooting out of their ears reading this. We leave you with this.
Before you go, we’ve constructed a playlist of only the finest music to listen to after a Flyers game. Please leave any recommendations in the comments below.
Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: Hockey is actually very bad.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*The Flyers participated in two hockey matches this weekend, though they did not actually play any of the hockey. First up was Saturday's huge embarrassing failure against the Bruins. If you hate yourself, please enjoy this recap of all of the wonderful action.
*Charlie, because he is a goddamned professional, came up with ten things we should learn from that game. [BSH]
*SHayne Gostisbehere was scratched Saturday, because lol whatever Dave Hakstol, but here are a few reasons it may have been a good thing. [BSH]
*So Sam Morin is definitely into destroying people. That's something. [Sons of Penn]
*And finally, because the NHL is literally incapable of making the right choice in any situation, the All-Star breakaway challenge is dead. Why even watch at this point? [Puck Daddy]
Subject: Capitals 5, Flyers 0: 10 things we learned from an ugly intro to the bye week
The Flyers will have five days off, just as they’ve reached their lowest point of the season.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Total collapse in the third period
Considering the Flyers’ recent quality of play, it’s understandable if a fan who missed Sunday afternoon’s game against the Washington Capitals would simply assume that it was more of the same — Philadelphia getting blasted from start-to-finish by a superior foe. But the truth is a bit more complicated. In fact, the Flyers got off to a fantastic start in this one, outshooting the Caps 13-5 over the opening 20 minutes, and carrying play at 5v5 to the tune of a 68.09% Corsi.
They even avoided the the defensive miscues that plagued them in the opening period against Boston (when they also won the territorial battle), leading in 5v5 scoring chances 8-1. The second period wasn’t as impressive, but they again held Washington to just five shots on goal, and gave up just one high-danger chance over the game’s first 40 minutes. Yes, they were down 1-0 due to an ugly turnover by Michael Del Zotto, but this felt like a very winnable game as long as the Flyers replicated their process from the first two periods.
Spoiler alert: they didn’t. Everything that Philadelphia did right over the first forty minutes went up in smoke during a five-minute span that saw them allow four goals and turn a tight contest into a total blowout. There were coverage breakdowns (Cousins and Streit on Williams’ first), awful turnovers (Provorov on Niskanen’s first), leaky goals (Mason on Niskanen’s second), and then just plain lack of effort (everyone on Williams’ second). It’s impossible to know for sure what caused the collapse — maybe it was fatigue coming in the second game of a back-to-back, maybe the first goal of the period put the team in panic mode and then total despondency — but what can be said with certainty is that a team with designs on the playoffs shouldn’t be falling apart like that.
#2: Bad luck? Good team playing poorly? Bad team playing as they should?
The Flyers will hit their bye week with a 22-18-6 record, technically above 0.500 but actually having lost two more games than they have won. Unless the Carolina Hurricanes go into a swoon this week, it’s almost certain that they’ll pass Philadelphia for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference before the Flyers take the ice again next Saturday. It’s undeniable that Philadelphia is posting its worst results of the season, but in order to turn things around, it’s necessary to diagnose what has actually gone wrong. Unfortunately, the answers aren’t clear cut.
It does feel like the shooters are snakebitten right now and the goaltenders are playing especially poor (especially at 5v5) and the numbers back that up. Since December 19th — the first game after the streak ended — Philadelphia has scored on only 4.71% of their shots on goal during 5-on-5 situations. During the same stretch, their goaltenders have stopped just 89.58% of the shots they’ve faced. That’s a PDO of 94.29, which is comically low. Since 2007-08, the worst full-season PDO for a team is 96.06 by the 2013-14 Florida Panthers, so the Flyers’ recent rates simply aren’t going to stay this poor. There absolutely is an element of bad luck to this run.
But that’s obviously not the whole story. It doesn’t take a hockey expert to see that the Flyers are blowing coverages in the defensive zone regularly, and that the goalies are simply not making enough tough saves when the mistakes occur. That’s not “luck,” that’s poor play by the skaters getting amplified by poor play from the netminders. And this is where evaluations get difficult. No, Philadelphia won’t continue to shoot at sub-5% rates and allow more than 10% of the shots to go in the net; history tells us that. However, is it plausible that Steve Mason never turns things around, because really poor goaltending years do happen, and it’s not like Mason has never been bad before. Also, the Flyers’ propensity for shots from the perimeter could continue to deflate their overall shooting percentage (it won’t stay this low, but could still fall below league average), and it’s not like they’ve dominated enough in terms of raw volume to make up for that. If either of those trends hold, we’re not talking about very good overall results the rest of the way.
#3: Bye week good thing or bad thing?
On the verge of losing their foothold on a playoff spot, Philadelphia will now be granted a five-day break, courtesy of the “bye week” that every team has been given this season. This isn’t just time off from games; the Flyers will also receive four days off from practices and meetings at the team facilities as well. Under normal circumstances, the bye week would be viewed as an obvious positive, a time for banged up players to recuperate and for all to let off some steam. However, these aren’t normal circumstances. Not only have the Flyers struggled to win games since returning from the Christmas break, they’re coming off maybe their worst weekend of the season, and now they’ll have to wait five days to regroup.
It’s easy to play amateur psychologist and theorize that this bye week is poorly-timed because the squad needs practice time, or has to work through their issues on the ice. But you could also make a case that a mental reset might help the club, since they actually have driven play fairly well during this skid and are being buried by big mistakes. In the end, we don’t have a clue how the team will react to this week off. I can say with certainty that the players will tell you that they’d like to redeem themselves as quickly as possible, so in that regard, this will be a frustrating week. But maybe this club needs to stew on this, helping them break this malaise. One legitimate positive for the Flyers is that next weekend gives them two games against weak teams — the Devils and the Islanders — so they will be able to ease back into the schedule to a degree. If they can’t get it done against the two worst clubs in the division, then it truly does become time to panic.
#4: Power play simply didn’t get it done
I’ve made the case on multiple occasions that it’s not fair to be too critical of the power play in games that see them rack up lots of shots and chances but fail to score. Sure, it’s disappointing in the moment, but sometimes opposing goaltenders just make the saves, regardless of the PP’s effort. Still, that philosophy is context-dependent. In a game like yesterday, with the Flyers making a conscious attempt through 40 minutes to tighten things up defensively at 5v5 and sacrificing offense in the process, the performance of the power play becomes especially important. The opportunities were there — four of them in the first two periods — but Philadelphia simply could not capitalize.
The early power plays showed the most promise, as the top unit in particular peppered shots at Washington netminder Philipp Grubauer. But Grubauer stood tall, making a number of tough saves on Brayden Schenn in particular. Then, Washington’s penalty kill found its game, and squeezed the life out of the Flyers the rest of the way. It was especially frustrating because Philadelphia’s style on the day seemed geared towards the PP providing the firepower, as they finished with just 0.86 xG over 45 minutes of 5-on-5 play. Instead, the power play couldn’t convert, the offense at 5v5 was toothless, and a poor five-minute stretch in the third period nullified all of their early shutdown play.
#5: Better backchecking through 40 minutes
It seemed obvious that Dave Hakstol must have placed a major emphasis upon increased defensive effort on the part of the forwards after the Saturday loss and prior to yesterday’s game. From the start, skill players were killing themselves trying to get back on transition rushes. In the first period, both Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn broke up possible high-danger chances through high-effort backchecks, and that doesn’t go unnoticed by the coach or the players further down the roster.
The good news is that tells me that the players haven’t tuned out the coach. Hakstol identified an issue, communicated it to his team, and then watched them immediately improve in the area despite a 24-hour turnaround. The bad news, of course, is that the emphasis went out the window in the third period once things started to go bad. And unfortunately, it was captain Claude Giroux who was the most glaring offender, falling behind Matt Niskanen on the rush that ended in Washington’s third goal, despite both players starting from the same spot in the Washington zone. Giroux isn’t usually one to loaf, but that was tough to watch.
#6: Hilariously, the advanced metrics weren’t awful
While the Flyers did collapse early in the third period, their play over the first 40 minutes of the game was perfectly adequate (if toothless offensively), and then the final ten minutes saw the Capitals obviously take their foot off the gas pedal. As a result, the advanced metrics in this game may be a bit deceiving, especially considering the final score. Still, it’s fair to note that the Flyers weren’t taken to the cleaners in terms of the underlying numbers. Their score-adjusted Corsi at 5v5 was 47.31% and their xG was 44.58% — neither great, but also not 5-0 bad. In addition, they actually led in both categories when looking at all situations. The numbers seem to buy the narrative of an inability to finish on the PP combined with poor goaltending as the reasons for the loss, and while I’d certainly add defensive breakdowns, there’s some degree of truth there.
#7: Only line that worked was Schenn line
Hakstol made one shift to the line combinations prior to yesterday’s game, moving Wayne Simmonds up to the top line with Giroux and Michael Raffl and dropping Travis Konecny to line three alongside Brayden Schenn and Dale Weise. Just like the Weise-Schenn-Simmonds trio, this was a line that seemed odd at first glance, considering the fact that Konecny struggled with Schenn as his center in December and that he was down on line three while Nick Cousins stayed at wing with Couturier and Voracek on the second line.
But just like the first few games of 22-10-17, the line actually clicked. They nearly scored on their very first 5-on-5 shift together, and continued to drive play throughout. In fact, the line was the only unit that proved immune to the five-minute collapse, and was not on the ice for one goal against. All three finished with Corsi For percentages over 60%, and were strongly positive in on-ice scoring chance differential as well. Schenn and Weise actually did not allow even one unblocked shot from the Capitals in their 5v5 ice time. I still don’t love Konecny down with them, but I can’t deny that the line was Philadelphia’s most effective yesterday, by a large margin.
#8: New first line was a disaster
On the other hand, the new-look top line of Giroux, Raffl and Simmonds was a mess from the opening faceoff. Obviously, they ended up on the ice for multiple goals against during the debacle of a third period, but their inability to create an offense whatsoever was even more alarming. In fact, Claude Giroux was not on the ice for even one shot on goal at 5v5 in the entire game, while his linemates could only manage to appear for one each. I actually liked the look of the unit prior to puck drop — Simmonds has performed like a top-six forward for the past few years, and Raffl + Giroux really should provide the necessary play-driving support for him. But yesterday, the line was simply ineffective in every way.
#9: Del Zotto’s disappointing year continues
Entering this season, Michael Del Zotto was not merely a part of the Flyers’ organization and their future plans, the biggest concern was seemingly that the team wouldn’t be able to meet his justified contract demands. What a difference just a few months can make. Today, it feels like a near certainty that Philadelphia will not be re-signing Del Zotto, who has went from top-pair defenseman last year to consistent liability in his own zone. It’s been a total regression back to his final days in New York, shown by his sub-50% Corsi and occasional scratchings.
Yesterday, it was a mistake on the penalty kill that was the most glaring error, as he mishandled a loose puck in front of his own net and allowed Andre Burakovsky to storm in all alone on Mason and give the Caps their first goal of the game. His play at even strength was little better, as he brought up the rear on the blueline from a Corsi standpoint at 37.50%. Del Zotto surely can play better than this, but we’ve seen that player all too seldom this season. He’s back to scoring at a decent rate, but this defensive inconsistency was what got him exiled from both New York and Nashville, and surely isn’t going unnoticed by GMs.
#10: Not many obvious changes to make
One of the questions posed to Dave Hakstol, Ron Hextall, and even the players themselves over the past week has been whether there will be any major changes made to the roster as a whole as a result of this poor stretch. This is mostly a question for the GM, though one would expect that the head coach would play a role in any major decisions. The problem is that there aren’t many obvious moves to make aside from sitting Andrew MacDonald, which doesn’t appear to be a priority at this point. The best forwards are playing, and the lines look good on paper. Maybe Michal Neuvirth could temporarily jump Mason on the depth chart, but it’s not like he’s been great this year either.
Could the Flyers make a big trade including key pieces? Sure, it’s always possible, even if it doesn’t fit with Hextall’s midseason track record. Colorado is apparently selling their top forwards, but they’re looking for high-end young defensemen, and I imagine that Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere are untouchable. As for a jolt coming from a call-up, Travis Sanheim is playing stellar hockey for the Phantoms right now and very well could be NHL-ready. The problem is that the Flyers already have eight defensemen with the team, so they’d need to jettison at least one to give Sanheim a spot, and Hextall can’t make a trade without a taker. The fans’ frustration is both palpable and understandable, but my guess is that there’s no big move coming. It’s up to the current players to figure this out, not nebulous reinforcements.
Subject: What part of their game can the Flyers count on down the stretch?
What’s the one area of the game that the Flyers know that they can lean on as they chase a playoff spot?
What a difference a month can make. And, also, another month.
You know the roller coaster that this season has been. You remember on Black Friday, when the Flyers fell under .500 and sat at 14th in the East in points percentage, staring a lost season dead in the face. But you also remember mid-December, and the 10-game winning streak, where we saw what looked like this team really starting to turn a corner. And you’re here, now, as the Flyers have responded to that long winning streak by playing some of their worst hockey of the season.
In a season of ups and downs, the Flyers are not as good as a team you’d expect to reel off 10 straight wins and not as bad as a team that should lose 11 out of 14 games, the way they have in their last 14. Their true talent level, of course, is somewhere between those two extremes.
But you know that. Even if you, or I, or anybody else, doesn’t quite know where their talent level really is. Reasonable minds can and do agree on the ability and capability of every single player on this roster, and the end result is a team that realistically is probably somewhere between, say, the 5th and 12th best team in the East, depending on how you feel about each of those payers. The biggest optimists among us see a team that should clearly be a playoff team; the strongest pessimists see a team that, while not terrible, isn’t really that close.
Whatever you think the Flyers can and should be able to do, though, they are a team on the playoff bubble as we speak. But as their five-day bye week begins today, they are also a team currently in the bottom half of the East by points percentage, and barring something unforeseen, they will find themselves out of an actual playoff spot in the standings by the time they get back on the ice this upcoming Saturday. Meaning, they have some work to do in their final 36 games.
Now, uphill climbs aren't new to this group of players. They were dead in the water in mid-February last year before rallying to a playoff spot in the final third of the season. No matter what happens this week, they won't be out of the picture any time soon.
Yet here is the question that causes me to wonder if this team will have what it takes to once again make the late-season climb back into a playoff spot: through 46 games, what is the one thing that this team can really hang its hat on? In other words, what area of the game does this team know it will be able to rely on to be excellent, night in and night out?
Teams and athletes are, in a lot of ways, inconsistent. So many aspects of the game go into making a team play well (or poorly), in any sport, and it’s rare that every part of your team is clicking at the same time. That’s especially the case in hockey, and that’s particularly true of a team with a middling roster, such as the one the Flyers have. In most of the games they play the rest of this season, the Flyers will likely have some aspect of their game that isn’t playing up to its potential for most if not all of the contest.
So what can they do to counteract the inevitable inconsistencies that they’ll see by nature of being a decent-but-flawed team? Have a steadying presence. A foundation. A stabilizer. Something that you know you can count on to be good in just about every single game you play, maybe with rare exception. An aspect of your game that you can plan the rest of the night around, knowing that if a couple of other things fall into place you know you’ve got a good chance to come away with a W. The one thing for which you can say, “well, as long as __________ is working, they’re going to have a chance.”
Think back to that run last year in the final third of the season. Steve Mason, thanks to a Michal Neuvirth injury, started almost every single game down the stretch, and was up to the task, posting an outstanding .924 save percentage in March and April. Outstanding 5-on-5 play-driving became a theme for the Flyers post-All Star Break, thanks to a relentless forecheck and improved defensive zone play. These were the kinds of things the Flyers could count on, because they were happening almost every night and when things like those happen you’ve got a good chance to win every hockey game.
The problem is, right now, the Flyers don’t have anything like that.
The closest thing the Flyers have to a “sure thing” right now is their power play, which ranks fifth in the NHL at a very impressive conversion rate of 22.6 percent. Coupled with the fact that the Flyers draw penalties at an impressive rate — through Sunday, only one team has had more power play opportunities than the orange and black — and you’ve got a legitimate weapon there. For sure.
But putting aside the inherent paradox in “counting on” a unit that only scores 22.6 percent of the time it goes on the ice — a rate about four percentage points better than that of an average power play, for the record — power plays are so notoriously streaky, both in opportunity and actual success rate, that it’s hard to really plan your success around them. Just look at Sunday’s game against Washington, in which the Flyers had five power plays, four of which took place at a time where a goal would have given the Flyers a tie or a lead. They failed to convert on any of them, getting progressively worse with the man-advantage as the game went on en route to a loss. The Flyers have gone without a power play goal in 21 of their 46 games this season — hardly something that you would think you can plan your success around.
And yet, when you look around, what else can this team count on to consistently be good or better? The goaltending is, by save percentage, the worst in the entire NHL. Tough to count on that. And at 5-on-5, there’s no one line, one pairing you can point at and say “well, we know they’re going to just win their battle tonight, because that’s what they do”. The team is 22nd in the league in 5-on-5 goals per 60 ... and 29th in the league in 5-on-5 goals against per 60. The Flyers’ team-level shot-attempt numbers, which started the year strong, have dipped as the season’s gone on — and even though those are still respectable, they say nothing about the fact that the Flyers are (a) clearly a below-average team in the defensive zone, whether due to scheme or personnel (or both), and (b) take more lower-percentage shots than the average NHL team.
Who’s to blame here is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the coach, for not optimizing his lineup or giving lines and pairings the right amount of time to show that they can work or getting this team to play up to its potential with what, on paper, looks like a better roster than last year’s. Maybe it’s the guys at the top of the lineup, for not quite being where we know they can be despite all (except the goalies) having pretty good seasons. Maybe it’s the guys at the bottom of the lineup, for just not quite being good enough at the NHL level. Maybe it’s the front office, either for not making the right moves to get better players in the system or for not having the best players currently available to them on the roster.
Or maybe it’s a little bit on everyone. Take your pick.
If the Flyers want to put on a late-season run again and avoid what would be a very disappointing playoffs-less spring, they’re going to need to find a foundation again, whether that starts with Claude Giroux, Steve Mason, Dave Hakstol, or whoever else it may be. We know the power play is above-average. But at this point there’s precious little else we can count on to show up and play well almost every night. For a team with the Flyers’ current limitations, that lack of a foundation could be the difference between a second straight playoff trip and an early vacation.
Subject: The best photos from the 50th Anniversary Alumni Game
January 14, 2017: Philadelphia Flyers alumni vs. Pittsburgh Penguins alumni featured gallery
Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly Bye weeks are stupid.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*There will be no hockey to speak of this week, because the NHL is rife with bad ideas like "bye weeks", so let's take one last look back at this past weekend's crapfest with Charlie's 10 things about the Caps game. [BSH]
*In that vein, with so many things going wrong, what can the Flyers count on to go right in the second half of the season? [BSH]
*Enough of this trash poop hockey team, let's remember when the Flyers were fun and good! Here are the absolute best photos from this weekend's alumni game. [BSH]
*And the ten best moments from the celebration. [Flyers]
*And finally, a top-to-bottom look at the NHL standings at the season's halfway point. [NHL Numbers]
Subject: BSH Radio #93: We’re mad about sports. Goodbye.
It’s been a rough week and the gang turns the reigns over to the fans to do a little yelling about sports.
Hoooooooo boy it is not a fun time to be a Flyers fan, eh? Charlie, Steph, Bill, & Kelly were joined this week by fellow BSHer Joe Pergola to air their grievances about the state of this hockey team as we head into a much-needed bye week. The gang took some calls from the listeners to get an outside perspective and it turns out we’re all in agreement: sports are bad.
Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio so you don’t miss out on giving us a call the next time we open up the phone lines.
Subject: BSH’s Charlie O’Connor talks Flyers bye week on Breakfast On Broad
Flyers talk on Breakfast On Broad with Charlie O'Connor
Our own Charlie O'Connor joined Breakfast On Broad this morning to talk Flyers as we hit the bye week.Posted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Ya boy Charlie O’Connor went on Comcast’s Breakfast On Broad this morning to talk about the Flyers as they hit the bye week. You can watch him with Sarah Baicker and Rob Ellis above.
Personally, my favorite part of the interview is when Sarah asks Charlie about underlying stats in hockey and says “you can use this information to dispel some popular narratives on Twitter.” And then she slaps her hand on a sheet of paper and says “and you made us a list.” Damn right he brought a list.
Go listen to Charlie talk about his list and the Flyers as they enter the bye week.
Subject: Let’s check in with the Philadelphia Flyers on vacation
Wayne Simmonds has the BEST news!
We’re still a couple of days away from more Philadelphia Flyers hockey, as the team is presently on their bye week.
And okay - things could have been going much better leading up to it. But hopefully the rest and relaxation will do them some good, right?
What better place to rest and relax than the beach? It looks like Claude Giroux, Nick Schultz, and Shayne Gostisbehere have really decided to get away, heading off to Turks and Caicos:
A photo posted by Ryanne Breton (@ryannehaileyb) on
In which Giroux is, like, irresistibly adorable??
Look at him. Truly incredible.
Wayne Simmonds, meanwhile, has apparently decided to do the opposite. He’s not enjoying the beach; no, he’s up in the mountains...
A photo posted by Wayne Simmonds (@wayne17simmonds) on
... getting engaged. What an All-Star.
Congrats to Mr. and the future Mrs. Simmonds! There’s no better way to spend a vacation, definitely.
Here’s to the Flyers coming back well-rested and ready to go again - in the meantime, it looks like things are going really well for all of them.
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Bored yet?
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Lots and lots of reevaluating going on this week, what with all the time off. Dave Hakstol thinks the Flyers need to get back to basics. Basics, like icing the best version of your lineup. [Inquirer]
*If the Flyers were going to make a desperation move, now would be the logical time. But Ron Hextall doesn't seem like that kind of GM. [CSN Philly]
*We must remember that despite this current steaming heap of trash poop, the Flyers are on their way up. [CSN Philly]
*Speaking of the prospects, they're all back to regular life after the World Juniors. [Sons of Penn]
*EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND WATCH OUR OWN CHARLIE O'CONNOR ON THE TELEVISION!!! [BSH]
*Seeing Brian Propp on the ice playing in the alumni game last weekend so soon after a stroke was wonderful, no? Hockey was a big part of his recovery. [ESPN]
*There's an uh...interesting name on this list of potential trade deadline targets. [TSN]
*Still very, very angry about the NHL getting rid of the All-Star breakaway challenge. WHY DID YOU DO THIS?! [Vice Sports]
*We are without Flyers hockey but there is some good hockey being played right now. You see that Caps-Pens game? hoo boy. [Sportsnet]
*And finally, fill that Flyers-shaped hole in your life with BSH Radio! It's extra good this week. [BSH]
Subject: The Eagles signed a guard named Dallas who used to play in Miami
Dallas Thomas played for the Dolphins since 2013.
The Eagles signed former Miami Dolphins guard Dallas Thomas to a reserve/future contract.
Thomas, 27, was a third-round pick of the Dolphins in 2013. He played college football at Tennessee.
He appeared in 37 games in his four years with the Dolphins, including starting all 16 games in 2015 after starting a combined nine in the previous two seasons.
Thomas played in just one game in 2016, a loss to the Tennessee Titans. You probably don’t remember that game, but you might remember the aftermath: the Dolphins, disgruntled, released two starters, one of whom was Thomas. Thomas was only a spot starter, in the lineup because of two other injuries, but his performance was apparently so porous that the Dolphins let him go to make a statement.
The Dolphins beat the Steelers the next week and finished the season on a blistering run, going 9-2 after releasing Thomas.
Now, he’s a Philadelphia Eagle.
What a world.
Subject: Senior Bowl rosters are out now, featuring Desmond King
The Eagles love Senior Bowl players.
The 2017 Senior Bowl is just 10 days away, and the official rosters are finally out for our perusal.
Players will arrive by January 23, and they’ll begin practices the next day. The game itself, the 68th Senior Bowl, is scheduled for January 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Al. Kickoff is set for 2:30 ET.
One highlight player? Iowa cornerback Desmond King, who could be an Eagles target in the first two rounds if he’s on the board.
The Eagles have historically loved scouting players at the Senior Bowl, including just last year, when they fell hard for Carson Wentz, who had a stellar week in Mobile. They would eventually execute two separate trades to move up to No. 2 and pick Wentz as their franchise quarterback of the future.
So it would probably behoove you to look over these rosters, mark a few names down, and keep your eyes peeled during practices and the game itself.
Our draft guru Ben Natan will have a Senior Bowl preview, as well as reports on everything going on in Mobile, in the coming weeks, which is very exciting because it means we’re sliding further away from the offseason doldrums and closer to actual things happening!
Subject: Seven potential trade partners for Jason Kelce
Eagles center could be on the move
Yesterday it was reported that the Eagles may move on from Jason Kelce this offseason. Moving on from Kelce this season is probably their only chance to get anything in return for him, it’s hard to see a team in 2018 offering anything for a 30 year old who will be released if a trade can’t be worked out. But in 2017, there might be a buyer.
Working against the Eagles, Kelce is 29 and is coming off a season showing signs of decline. In the Eagles favor, there is no big name free agent at the position, so if a team wants a veteran upgrade, Kelce could be their best bet. It won’t be a seller’s market though. Here’s seven teams we see as potential trade partners for the Eagles.
Why they would be interested: After a disappointing 2016 season and all but locked in with contracts to Carson Palmer ($10.9M in dead money) and Larry Fitzgerald ($6.2M), the Cardinals are pretty much forced to go playoffs or bust this year. Incumbent center AQ Shipley is a free agent, and right guard Evan Mathis retired, so they have two holes to plug on offensive line. Trading for a starter would take care of one of them, and GM Steve Keim isn’t opposed to trading late round picks for players.
Why they wouldn’t: They have 2016 4th rounder Evan Boehm waiting in the wings.
Why they would be interested: The Bengals are another veteran team looking to make it back to the playoffs in need of an upgrade. Starter Russell Bodine struggled all year, so center is an easy upgrade for them.
Why they wouldn’t: Trading for players isn’t in the Bengals’ M.O.
Why they would be interested: Cameron Erving has been a bust so far. He struggled at left and right guard in 2015, and in 2016 he was a disappointment at center, by the end of the season he was practicing at right tackle. The current Browns front office and coaching staff didn’t draft him, so time may be running out for him. If they draft a QB to start, a veteran center makes sense.
Why they wouldn’t: Cleveland is taking the long road to rebuilding and may be patient to see if year three for Erving could change his standing with the team. And trading for a player of Kelce’s age runs counter to everything they did in 2016.
Why they would be interested: The Jaguars need interior line help, and with Tom Coughlin now seemingly running the ship and bringing in guys he’s familiar with on staff, that might expand to players as well. Kelce fits the bill. And if they hire Chip Kelly as their offensive coordinator, the reasons become obvious. Additionally, starting center Brandon Linder is better suited to guard.
Why they wouldn’t: Linder is coming off a solid season, they may find it easier to upgrade at guard.
Why they would be interested: The Vikings offensive line was a disaster in 2016. It was mostly because of injuries to their tackles, but center Joe Berger will be 35 when the season starts. With Pat Shurmur being elevated to full time offensive coordinator, he may want a younger player he has experience with.
Why they wouldn’t: It’s not saying much, but Berger was the best lineman on the Vikings this year. It’s not a high priority need for them.
Why they would be interested: The 49ers need help everywhere, have enormous cap space available, and if they hire Kyle Shanahan as they are expected to and draft a QB, adding a veteran center who excels at zone blocking makes a lot of sense.
Why they wouldn’t: Rebuilding teams don’t usually trade for 29 year olds.
Why they would be interested: The emerging Bucs need upgrades if they’re to make the playoffs in 2017. Their offensive line is need of improvement, and incumbent center Joe Hawley will be a free agent, so they have to make a decision on what to do there.
Why they wouldn’t: The Bucs may not want to replace an undersized center with another one. And the team sees right guard Ali Marpet as an option at center.