Subject: Paul Holmgren shares how his brother, Dave, helped him make the NHL
Yet more good work from the Players’ Tribune.
Making the NHL - in any capacity - is an incredible accomplishment.
Player. Coach. General Manager. Or team president, like Paul Holmgren is now. No matter how you do, having made it at all is something to be celebrated. It takes an insane amount of work, effort, and of course, support from those around you.
Like Holmgren’s older brother, Dave, selflessly shelling out the equivalent of $800 today so he could go to a hockey camp at Bemidji State, a tale he relays in the Players’ Tribune.
Perhaps without Dave’s gift, I might still have gone on to play in the NHL — but I doubt it. Everything that I went on to do in hockey (including being a coach and a general manager) I owe to Dave.
Be warned, though: it’s a wonderful piece, but it’s also a serious emotional gut punch. Like, it’s a must read, but there may be a bit of tears to come with it, too. Because Holmgren’s brother went blind due to diabetes, so he never got to see what his little brother learned - and never had the chance to know he’d make the NHL.
It’s heavy, but it comes with some good life advice, too.
My memory of that day has always weighed on me. It’s the reason why I have always wanted to share this story. It’s so important for people to resolve issues, speak their minds and try to clear up misunderstandings. Once it becomes too late to do anything about something — even something minor — the guilt is impossible to shed.
So here’s to Dave Holmgren - with many thanks to Paul for sharing his story.
Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Seriously whose idea was this schedule?
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* Wrapping up Sunday night’s OT triumph with 10 observations: [BSH]
* Paul Holmgren talks about how his brother helped him make his hockey dream come true: [BSH]
* Ron Hextall talked about what he thinks might be ailing Claude Giroux of late: [CSN Philly]
* He also gave some general thoughts on where the Flyers stand following their recent ups and downs: [Philly.com]
* Bob McKenzie asked NHL coaches what’s bugging them, and it turns out that they, too, think the schedules this year are ridiculous: [TSN]
* A lot of talk out there right now about the struggles last season’s two conference runners-up are having. First, here’s a wrap-up of last weekend, focusing in on what’s gone wrong for the Blues: [Sportsnet]
* Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning — those ones! — really might be sellers come deadline time, huh? [Raw Charge]
* A Canucks minor league goalie is wearing glow in the dark pads, because these things happen in the AHL: [Puck Daddy]
* Finally! A new episode of BSH Radio is coming today, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Subject: BSH Radio #94: Ghost caused global warming or something
A new post-bye week podcast! How exciting!
Mikey D. from Orange & Black Pack joins Charlie, Steph, and Bill for a post-bye week edition of BSH Radio.
Exactly what this team is, and whether their issues are system or personnel driven is a topic of debate. Whether or not the organization capitalized on Claude Giroux's prime years, and if the captain and Sean Couturier are a strong enough 1-2 tandem at center moving forward also ignites vigorous discussion.
Finally, Charlie finds hope in the numbers while Bill agrees to disagree with the gang.
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: More like LAMEgers am I right!!!
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* Wanna read a bunch of words about how great Wayne Simmonds is? Well, of course you do. You can find these words in SBN’s NHL All Star Game preview: [SBNation]
* Meanwhile, if you want to hear some yelling about the Flyers, here’s this week’s episode of BSH Radio: [BSH]
* What’s the magic number as far as standings points that the Flyers will need to reach the playoffs this year? [Courier-Post]
* Whatever that number is, they’ll continue their push for that number tonight and tomorrow night, as they get ready to face the Rangers and Leafs: [CSN Philly]
* Elsewhere in the NHL, a trade happened yesterday! An actual trade! It was not one of much significance, as San Jose sent Tommy Wingels to Ottawa for two minor leaguers. [Fear the Fin] [Silver Seven]
* Patrick Marleau had a four-goal game on Monday night. Just how rare is that, anyways? [Puck Daddy]
* Speaking of Marleau, is he a Hall of Famer? [The Hockey News]
* Looking at how various accomplished NHL goal-scorers get their goals: [Sportsnet]
* Good news for fans of Fun Hockey, as Patrik Laine returned to the ice last night after getting injured a couple of weeks ago: [NBCSports]
* Finally, with the All-Star game coming up, DGB asks: what’s the worst roster you could build of players who were named to NHL All-Star teams? [Sportsnet]
Subject: Senior Bowl Preview: Defensive Needs
Despite being their more talented unit, the Eagles still need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball. This week in Mobile, there should be a handful of defensive prospects who the Eagles should have an eye on at the Senior Bowl. In a class loaded with defensive linemen and secondary defenders, here are some names to keep note on for the next few days...
Rasul Douglas, WVU, 6-2, 205: 8 Interceptions, 3.5 TFLs, 8 PBUs, 1 FF
Rasul Douglas was one of the most productive defenders in the country due in part to his great size and ball skills. Douglas has the build and play style that most NFL teams prefer as a big, press man corner, but he has to prove he can play extended time in zone and also show he can be a better tackler. While he may not be an immediate fit for the Eagles, his tools should keep coaches' minds open.
Desmond King, Iowa, 5-10, 195: 3 Interceptions, 3.5 TFLs, 7 PBUs, 1 FF
Desmond King has been a favorite of mine for quite a while. He is not the biggest or the fastest cornerback, but he is incredibly physical, with great ball skills, awareness and tackling ability. There is some talk that his size may make him a better fit at safety in the NFL, the Eagles should be interested in how his ability to play the run and thrive in zone coverage fits at cornerback for them.
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan, 5-10, 185: 2 Interceptions, 3.5 TFLs, 11 PBUs
Jourdan Lewis is another undersized cornerback, but he makes up for it with excellent technique and outstanding ball skills. NFL teams could be turned off of him due to his lack of size, but matching up with top draft prospects this week gives him an opportunity that he can overcome physical shortcomings with his intangibles.
Tre'Davious White, LSU, 5-11, 195: 2 Interceptions, 4 TFLs, 14 PBUs
White's name seems to get lost in an outstanding class of cornerback, but he is no doubt one of the better defensive backs in the class. White is a very gifted athlete who thrives in man coverage and shows willingness as a tackler. The Eagles will no doubt be interested in White given his experience and upside.
Damontae Kazee, SDSU, 5-10, 180: 7 Interceptions, 3 TFLs, 8 PBUs
On the low, Damontae Kazee has been one of the most productive defenders in the country for the last two years. Since last year, Kazee has picked off 15 passes, forced two fumbles, had eight tackles for a loss, 15 pass break ups and two touchdowns. Kazee is a smart, physical player who makes up for his size with quickness and savvy. The Eagles do not have the same requirements for size at the cornerback position that a lot of NFL teams do, so I could see them being particularly taken with Kazee
Jaleel Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Iowa, 6-3, 310: 7.5 Sacks, 10 TFLs, 5 QB Hurries
Jaleel Johnson could be the best defensive tackle in the class and could establish that this week. Johnson has awesome athletic ability to pair with great size. He is a natural pass rusher who can play various interior defensive line positions and contribute as a run defender. The Eagles may not need a defensive tackle immediately in the draft, but they should no doubt have a close eye on Johnson this week.
Carlos Watkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson, 6-2, 305: 10.5 Sacks, 13.5 TFLs, 4 QB Hurries
A big part of Clemson's outstanding defense this year was Carlos Watkins. Watkins has experience all over the defensive line and thrived this year inside at tackle. Watkins is a strong player who has great leverage and a non stop motor. He would be an excellent NFL three technique tackle and putting him in a wide nine with Fletcher Cox would be outstanding.
Tanzel Smart, Defensive Tackle, Tulane, 6-1, 295: 5.5 Sacks, 18.5 TFLs, 2 QB Hurries
Tanzel Smart has flown under the radar due to playing at Tulane, but the quick twitch defender will likely break out this week of practices. Smart is a bit undersized for a defensive tackle, but he is very stout and strong and uses leverage well to get off of blocks. His quickness is a major asset and part of the reason he was so productive. He makes sense as a gap shooting defensive tackle, so teams running primarily single gapping schemes will pay him a lot of attention for the next few days.
Dawuane Smoot, EDGE, Illinois, 6-3, 255: 5 Sacks, 15 TFLs, 10 QB hurries, 2 FFs
With the Eagles needing possibly a new starter at defensive end and definitely looking for depth, Dawuane Smoot should be on their watch list. While Smoot is a bit smaller, he is a good athlete and very strong with a high motor. His ability to defend the run and pass make him an every down defender and with a bit of size he could be a major contributor for an NFL defense.
Daeshon Hall, EDGE, TAMU, 6-5, 265: 4.5 Sacks, 13 TFLs, 12 QB Hurries, 2 FFs
The "Other Aggie Defensive Lineman" Daeshon Hall is quite the prospect in his own right. Hall has a massive frame with long arms and has good bend around the edge as well. He has been a productive complement to Myles Garrett the last few years and his size and ability should be especially attractive to a coordinator like Jim Schwartz who values size at the defensive end position.
Ryan Anderson, EDGE, Alabama, 6-2, 250: 9 Sacks, 19 TFLs, 10 QB Hurries, 4 FFs, 1 Interception
Ryan Anderson may be the most productive defender in Mobile this week. Despite not even being one of the top three defenders on his own team, Anderson is still a stud in his own right. Anderson is not only versatile, but he is incredibly physical and has a non stop motor. His ability to constantly get after it, especially against the run, makes him an exciting defensive prospect. For the Eagles, they might want to see Anderson be a bit bigger, but a strong week of practice could assuage any worries about his build.
Subject: The Linc: The Eagles can fix their cornerback problem in the draft
Grab a DB, Howie. Hell, maybe even grab two.
Eagles news and notes for 1/25
The Eagles have holes to fill at other spots, most prominently at wide receiver, but with cornerback considered by many evaluators to be the position with the most depth in this year's draft, it is likely that the Eagles will have a plethora of corners ranked high among the 2017 class of prospects.
Roseman alluded to as much on Monday.
"As you look at it, there's always positions of strength in the draft," he said, "and a beautiful thing is when they match up with what your needs are."
Douglas, who Roseman said last month would be responsible for crafting the Eagles' draft board, joined his boss at WIP. The former Ravens and Bears scout spent much of the last five months visiting college campuses and watching and talking to players in person.
Asked what he looked for in prospects, Douglas singled out "confidence," "competitive makeup," and "how they persevere through adversity." He noted, however, that getting an accurate gauge on those traits was one of the more difficult aspects of his job. The Senior Bowl offers another opportunity to dig deeper.
"You put in so much time in the fall getting to know these guys, going to the schools, getting the work in, watching these guys practice, and then having them come down to Mobile to compete against each other - it's a great environment," Douglas said. "It's the best players in college football."
MOBILE, Ala. — A couple days ago, Tanoh Kpassagnon received a text message from one of his school’s most famous alumni, Brian Westbrook.
On Tuesday morning, as he readied himself for the week of Senior Bowl practices leading up to Saturday’s game, Kpassagnon kept Westbrook’s message at the forefront of his mind.
“Just embrace the moment,” Kpassagnon said, relaying Westbrook’s message. “Don’t take anything for granted, and I belong here.”
Kpassagnon, 22, has a chance to join an elite group in April. There haven’t been many Villanova football players taken in the NFL draft, especially recently, but the big defensive lineman has a good chance to join the list.
In addition to Westbrook, Kpassagnon has also received some advice to help him through the pre-draft process from Hall of Famer Howie Long, the most famous Wildcat to make it in the NFL.
“It would be really cool to represent my school like that,” Kpassagnon said.
The last Villanova football player to be drafted was OL Ben Ijalana in the second round of the 2011 draft. Ijalana is one of just three Wildcats drafted since the early '80s. Kpassagnon is listed as a third-round prospect by CBS Sports.
My advice: Chill out.
To begin, it would seem that many observers are forgetting that Rowe regressed from 2015 to 2016. At the start of OTAs last year, the Eagles had Rowe near the top of the depth chart. He was a quasi-starter, playing on the outside when the Eagles were in their nickel set.
However, after a downright bad showing in OTAs, minicamps, training camp, and the preseason, Rowe went from second or third on the depth chart at corner to sixth, as Howie Roseman explained while taking a second crack on 94.1 WIP at an explanation on the Rowe trade.
"It’s the first week of the season and we get this offer from the Patriots," Roseman explained. "And we’re not sitting there, thinking, ‘We’re getting over on Bill Belichick,’ maybe the best evaluator of defensive backs in the history of the NFL. What we were thinking about was where he was on our depth chart. At that time the starting three guys were Nolan, Leodis, Ron Brooks; Jalen Mills at that point in camp had beat him out, so he was the fourth guy. And then when we spoke with our coaches they said that Malcolm will be the next guy in the slot.
"So for where we were and for what his role was at the time, we thought it was pretty good value. For them to give up that kind of pick – a fourth that can become a third – we knew they had a role for him. We knew that there was going to be an opportunity. And we gotta do what we think is best for us."
Douglas, 40, a former University of Richmond offensive tackle, was asked how the Ravens operate under general manager Ozzie Newsome. Newsome and Roseman have contrasting backgrounds; Newsome was one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL, whereas Roseman started out as the Eagles' legal counsel.
"Ozzie's one of the most consistent people in the NFL, the way he treats people, just the way he goes about his business," Douglas said. "The biggest thing that he believes in is that if you do the work, if you put the time in on a player, everyone gets their say. So we have a great open forum in draft meetings. It didn't matter what level – personnel executive down to personnel assistant. You did the work, you have a say. He's a Hall of Famer.
"At the end of the day, he does make the final call, but it's such a collaborative effort, not only with the personnel guys but with the coaches . . . Everyone has an opportunity to speak their mind and give their opinion on a player. If there's a tie . . . He breaks the tie, but it rarely comes down to that."
Roseman has always valued Senior Bowl week, the opportunity to see draft prospects practicing and playing with and against other draft prospects, which isn't always the case during college football season. In the Eagles website preview, Douglas said he likes coming to Mobile because in the practices, "you get to see a person's competitive makeup."
"It's great to see how they prepare," Douglas said. "It's great to see how they take coaching. It's great to see them go through just the mundane things in practice. And then the game, to see them put it all together."
There is no magic formula for building a title contender. The Falcons have an elite offense. The Pats have arguably the best coach/QB combo in football history. Denver won with defense last year. We’ve seen great offenses and defenses win over the years.
The key is to look at what you have and what resources are available in free agency and the draft and then build accordingly. There are a lot of good CBs and DEs in this draft. The Eagles need to focus on those positions. They’ll get good value. That doesn’t mean you ignore other positions, but this is all about odds.
If there are 20 good CBs and 10 good WRs, the odds tell me that it is more likely that a good CB will be available when I pick. I’m just throwing numbers out there to make the point. Don’t take this to mean there are 2 good CBs for every WR. The point is that the Eagles should feel reasonably confident they can find some CB help in the draft.
I’m still doing research on the free agent class so I’m not completely sure what I want the team to do there and I’m also not sure what the smartest plan of attack is. Do you go after Alshon Jeffrey and pay him mega-bucks? Do you go get a top CB? Do you go for a talented LG? You can make a case for any of those options.
Subject: A full list of the underclassmen granted eligibility for the 2017 NFL Draft
Youngins on their grind.
A whole bunch of senior football players are gathering in the South this week, and all the NFL’s draft eyes will be focused on the Senior Bowl.
But the top pick in this year’s draft is probably going to be an underclassman. The year deadline for underclassmen to apply for eligibility was last week, and the results are in: 95 early entrants, including 23 — count ‘em, 23! — wide receivers.
The draft, which is in Philly this year, starts on April 27, so you’ve got plenty of time to read up on everyone.
Here’s the full list of underclassmen:
- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
- Budda Baker, S, Washington
- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
- Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State
- KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
- Devin Childress, WR, North Park
- Michael Clark, WR, Marshall
- James Conner, RB, Pitt
- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
- Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
- Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech
- Jeremy Faulk, DT, Garden City CC
- Tarean Folston, RB, Notre Dame
- Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech
- D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
- Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
- Davon Godchaux, DL, LSU
- Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
- Isaiah Golden, DT, McNeese State
- Jermaine Grace, LB, Miami
- Derrick Griffin, WR, Texas Southern
- Chad Hansen, WR, Cal
- Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
- Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
- Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
- Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
- Titus Howard, DB, Slippery Rock
- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
- Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
- Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP
- Josh Jones, S, N.C. State
- Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina
- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
- Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
- Tim Kimbrough, LB, Georgia
- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
- Jerome Lane, WR, Akron
- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
- Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State
- Keevan Lucas, WR, Tulsa
- Marlon Mack, RB, USF
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
- Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
- Damien Mama, OL, USC
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
- Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
- Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia
- Deon-Tay McManus, WR, Marshall
- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
- Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State
- Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
- *Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami
- Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State
- David Njoku, TE, Miami
- Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
- Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana
- Aaron Peak, DB, Butler County CC
- Jabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
- Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
- Elijah Qualls, DL, Washington
- Devine Redding, RB, Indiana
- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
- John Ross, WR, Washington
- Travis Rudolph, WR, FSU
- Curtis Samuel, H-back, Ohio State
- Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M
- Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
- David Sharpe, OL, Florida
- Garrett Sickels, DE, Penn State
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
- ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama
- Damore'ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss
- Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
- Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State
- Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
- Darius Victor, RB, Towson
- Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
- Charles Walker, DL, Oklahoma
- T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin
- Marcus Williams, S, Utah
- Stanley "Boom" Williams, RB, Kentucky
- Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
- Joe Yearby, RB, Miami
- Ishmael Zamora, WR, Baylor
And here are eight players who completed degree requirements early:
- Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida
- Gareon Conley, DB, Ohio State
- Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
- Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
- Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson
- Khari Waithe-Alexander, DE, Southern Illinois
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Subject: Interior linemen prospects that could intrigue the Eagles
Can the Eagles find the right left guard in the draft?
Yesterday we looked at free agent guard options should the Eagles decide to move on from Allen Barbre this offseason. If they don’t, that will greatly increase the chances they draft a replacement for 2018, as Barbre will be a 33 year old free agent a year from now. Today, we’ll look at the interior linemen draft prospects that could go in the first three or four rounds. There’s a few guys who can compete for starting jobs out the gate. Most of them are at the Senior Bowl, which the Eagles value. And like the free agent pool, these draft prospects are primarily right guards.
Dan Feeney, Indiana
A four year starter at right guard, earning All-American honors in his junior and senior season. Indiana credited him with just one sack given up in 2016 and 2014, and none in 2015 and 2012. He received a medical redshirt for 2013 after a Lisfranc injury. Split time between right guard and as an injury replacement at right tackle in 2016. Listed at 6’4”, he has long arms and good mobility. Would have been a top guard a year ago, he has only improved his standing. He could be the top guard drafted, he’s at the Senior Bowl.
Sean Harlow, Oregon State
Another versatile Oregon State offensive lineman, like Isaac Seumalo. Harlow has played left and right tackle, and has practiced at center as well. At 6’4” 284 pounds, he’s a guard in the NFL who needs to add some bulk. Battled back from a possible 2016 medical redshirt after breaking his leg midway through the 2015 season to start the final nine games of the season. His return to the lineup instantly improved Oregon State’s pass blocking, the Beavers gave up 11 sacks in 3 games without him, 14 in 9 games with him, with 6 of those being in his first game back in a blowout by Colorado.
His father Pat Harlow was the 11th overall pick in 1991 and started 94 games for the Patriots and Raiders as a tackle.
Dorian Johnson, Pitt
Three year starter at left guard. Needs to add some weight to his 6’5” 315 pounds frame, and he may have shorter than desired arms, both could hurt him in the draft. Seen as a stronger run blocker than a pass protector and considered a good pulling guard. He too will be at the Senior Bowl.
Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
Lamp has a chance to be the top interior lineman taken in the draft. Guess you could say teams love Lamp. A four year starter at left tackle, he’s viewed as a guard in the NFL due his size (6’4” 300 pounds) and short arms. He impressed against Alabama and any small school concerns can be put to bed with a strong week at the Senior Bowl.
Nico Siragusa, San Diego State
A third-team All-American, which is even more impressive that it sound when you consider that Siragusa and SDSU RB Donnel Pumphrey were the Aztec’s first All-American selections since 1988. A three year starter at left guard, at 6’5” and 330 pounds size isn’t an issue. He’s considered a better run blocker than pass protector, however San Diego State rarely passed, in 2015 they had the 7th fewest passing attempts in FBS, in 2016 the 6th fewest, so there’s a small sample size of him pass blocking. He’s also at the Senior Bowl.
The Eagles see Isaac Seumalo as their long term center, but if there’s a center on the board too good to turn down, maybe they pounce and move Seumalo to guard. That’s unlikely to be the case, but stranger things have happened.
Ethan Pocic, LSU
Listed at 6'7" and 302 pounds, Pocic might be too tall and too lean, but he is seen as a good athlete for his size. He split time at center and right guard in 2014 before moving to center full time in 2015, filling in at right tackle for a game in 2016. He will be at the Senior Bowl as well.
Pat Elflein, Ohio State
Played left and right guard in 2014 before being the full time right guard in 2015 then moved to center full time in 2016 and dominated. He won the Rimington Award and was a consensus All-American as a senior. Had he declared last year, he would have been one of the better guard prospects, after his excellent senior season he’s a top prospect at center and guard.
Late Round Local Guys
There are a bevy of late round guards, and with 93 days until the draft there is plenty of time to dig deep into the position. But there are two projected late round guards at the Senior Bowl with local ties that might be worth keeping an eye on.
Dion Dawkins, Temple
Looking for a literal next Dawkins? The Eagles wouldn’t have to go far, as Dawkins started at left tackle for three years for Temple. He projects as a guard in the NFL. He’ll need some development as he had problems with penalties.
Jordan Morgan, Kutztown
A D-II standout at left tackle, Morgan also projects to guard at the NFL. Already attracting scouts while at Kutztown, if he can hold his own at the Senior Bowl he’ll really improve his stock. He seems to be a good decision maker, preferring Wawa to Sheetz. No word on his favorite cheesesteak location.
Subject: Senior Bowl 2017 Preview: Offensive Skill Players
There's skill for miles in Mobile this year, which is good because the Eagles need all the skill they can grab.
The Senior Bowl practices kick off this week and gives the Eagles staff a great opportunity to look at some of the top senior prospects in the country in a practice situation and in interviews. This draft class is loaded with lots of exciting names at the skill positions, so here are some to keep an eye on throughout this week.
Taywan Taylor, WKU, 6-1, 195: 98 Receptions, 1730 Yards, 17 Touchdowns
I have already waxed poetic on Taywan Taylor being among the best receivers in this year's class. Taylor is not a huge pass catcher, but his create athletic ability and route running make him a very dangerous presence in an offense. The Eagles desperation for a player who can stretch the field could pique their interest in Taylor throughout the week.
Subject: The Linc: Howie Roseman walks back his comments on the Eric Rowe trade
Howie takes a moment to (kind of) admit he might’ve been wrong.
Eagles news and notes for 1/24
So why did the Eagles trade Rowe?
“I think it’s good to just go back to the process,” Roseman said. “So it’s the first week of the season and we get this offer and it’s the Patriots and we’re not sitting there thinking, ‘We’re getting one over on Bill Belichick,’ maybe the best evaluator of defensive backs in the history of the NFL.
“What we were thinking about was where he was on our depth chart. At that time the starting three guys were Nolan (Carroll), Leodis (McKelvin), Ron Brooks. Jalen Mills at that point in camp had beat him out, so he was the fourth guy, and then when we spoke with our coaches, they said that Malcolm (Jenkins) would be the next guy in the slot. So for where we were and what his role was at the time, we thought it was pretty good value.
“For them to give up that kind of pick — a fourth that could be a third — we knew they had a role for him. We knew that there was going to be an opportunity, and we’ve got to do what we think is best for us.”
Roseman on Monday morning didn’t exactly admit the Eagles made a mistake by unloading Rowe at a point when the team was desperate for talented young cornerbacks.
But he came close.
“We probably make 50 decisions a year that are really real decisions that we sit down and make,” he said.
“To say that we don’t go back and think about them and think about whether they were right? That’s part of it, you know? You want to hit as many as you can, but when you’re watching games of other players that you’ve had here, that’s the hard part about doing it.”
The last few years have featured plenty of talk of scheme versus talent with regard to the Eagles, but coaching might be the branch of the tree that matters most.
Consider Sunday's championship game field. While much of the media focus was on the four quarterbacks who took the field – and rightfully so – a lesser common thread uniting three of the four teams was their coaching staffs' proven history of developing talent. Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick who caught 16 passes for 167 yards as a rookie before blossoming into the Steelers latest pass-catching sensation. At left tackle, Pittsburgh features former Eagles training camp fodder Alejandro Villanueva, whose transformation from Army Ranger defensive lineman to blind-side pass protector calls to mind another former Eagles practice squadder Stephen Neal, a collegiate wrestler who eventually latched on with the Patriots and started at guard for seven seasons, including 2004, when the Pats beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
The Packers' organizational development machine needs no rehashing. The 53-man roster they took into Sunday's thrashing by the Falcons included just eight players who hadn't spent their entire career in Green Bay, including two specialists, a back-up fullback, and the No. 7 wide receiver on the depth chart. Who knows what that number would have been if not for the six original Packers on injured reserve.
Maybe the best way to put it is this: How much of the Eagles' failure in the draft has been an inability to identify talent capable of playing in the NFL, and how much of it has been their inability to develop and/or deploy that talent in a manner that lets them succeed? I don't know the answer. But as Eric Rowe and two other cornerbacks developed by the Patriots celebrated a trip to the Super Bowl, it was an interesting question to ponder.
Sunday was one of the most lopsided Conference Championship days in many years, as home teams Atlanta and New England advanced to Super Bowl LI with convincing victories. Within those games, however, are lessons to be learned.
First, and this needs to be digested, home field does matter in the NFL playoffs. Since the league introduced the seeding element to the postseason in 1975, 31 of the 41 Lombardi Trophy champions have been No. 1 or No. 2 seeds. New England (No. 1 seed) and Atlanta (No. 2 seed) obviously fit that profile. Not since Baltimore (No. 4 seed) in the 2012 season has a seed other than No. 1 or No. 2 even reached the Super Bowl.
It's important, then, to win in the regular season, secure the bye week, and have the best possible chance to reach the Super Bowl. Green Bay clearly ran out of gas after beating No. 1 seed Dallas in an emotional, gutsy victory one Sunday earlier. Pittsburgh's pass defense was exposed and the Steelers, without star running back Le'Veon Bell, who sat out much of the game with a groin injury, looked very much like the team the Eagles dismantled in September at Lincoln Financial Field.
Other lessons? There were plenty...
The best quarterback usually wins, right? Both Atlanta's Matt Ryan and New England's Tom Brady were nearly perfect, combining for 776 passing yards and seven touchdown passes. Pure brilliance. It helped that Ryan was not sacked, while Brady was downed only two times among his 44 dropbacks. Offensive line, offensive line, offensive line. For the Eagles, that's good news, because the team feels good about its group up front offensively, with its depth there and a couple of the young prospects developing in the pipeline.
Subject: Jason Kelce and Darren Sproles are headed to the Pro Bowl
Replace a pair of Super Bowl-bound Falcons
Darren Sproles, who was the third alternate, replaces DeVonta Freeman. This is his third and third straight Pro Bowl. He was an original selection as a return specialist in 2014 and 2015, when the league used mixed AFC/NFC rosters. With the format reverting back to AFC vs NFC, he’s been selected as a running back. Sproles been a Pro Bowler every season since joining the Eagles.
They join Fletcher Cox and and Jason Peters, who were named to the original roster.
Subject: The Eagles signed a former Seahawks defensive tackle
Welcome, Justin Hamilton.
The Eagles announced Monday they have signed defensive tackle Justin Hamilton to a reserve/future contract.
Hamilton, 23, is the seventh player the Eagles have signed to a reserve/future contract this offseason.
For the past two seasons, Hamilton was part of the Seahawks’ practice squad after spending time on both the Bills’ and Packers’ rosters in the summer of 2015. He went undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette in the spring of 2015.
Hamilton stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 315 pounds.
It’s not very much. But, hey, it’s news, right?
Subject: How hockey and the Flyers have helped me deal with anxiety and depression
Growing up in Philadelphia or in the suburbs of Philadelphia or even just in the household of a Philadelphia sports fan, something runs through your blood whether you want it to or not.
You are a Philadelphia sports fan. A card carrying member. No fees, no forms. It just appears in your wallet one day, all pristine and plastic. No expiration date, either. You're in this shit for life like the rest of us. Deal with it.
Even if you don't care deeply about sports, even if you think they're useless and vapid, important moments in Philadelphia sports history are burned into your brain.
I was one of those annoying people who think they're special for not caring about sports. That was until I started following the Flyers and became a raging lunatic (in both the literal and metaphorical sense).
I fell into the fandom inelegantly as I limped my way through my final year of college, feeling every bit as broken down as Danny Briere looked in that, his final year wearing a Flyers jersey. (I'm sorry, Danny. I promise that I defended you to the very end, even when people wanted to buy you out.)
Anxiety had always been a part of my life, moving through me as natural as air since I can remember. Depression settled comfortably in my brain during college. It colored everything I did. I would vacillate wildly, from worrying about everything to not caring about anything.
I knew jack shit about hockey before I started watching as a way to forget about all the shit I was worried about. Escapism is real, man. I read about the sport voraciously, watched the sport voraciously, finding new purpose as I poured myself into it. My family made fun of me, actually. It was such a dramatic change of pace for me, so out of character. I’m sure most of them figured I’d leave it behind within a year or two. Boy, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.
Where I had only been able to go between apathy and distress before, hockey gave me passion again. Life was suddenly bearable again. I had a range of emotions again, not just clicking between depressed and tired and anxious and tired.
I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing my first Flyers win live. I walked out of the building surrounded by individuals, both sober and drunk, who were so lighthearted and exuberant that I couldn’t help but revel in it. And it wasn’t just a good mood because our team won. I mean, of course, it was that but it felt like so much more. It felt like electricity running through everyone, a joined moment that I got to experience as part of the whole. That’s something mental illness had taken away from me for a long time, that feeling like I was a part of something.
Even if you don't care deeply about sports, even if you think they're useless and vapid, important moments in Philadelphia sports history are burned into your brain.
I remember my dad moving our television outside so we and the neighbors could watch the Sixers series against the Lakers outside, my arms getting all chewed up by mosquitoes even with the smell of citronella thick in the air. I remember the cafeteria in middle school booming with "Fly Eagles Fly" every afternoon for a week before Super Bowl XXXIX. I remember standing at my kitchen counter, my house bathed in an eerie, peaceful silence, my hands clasped in prayer as I watched the final pitch zip over the plate and name the Phillies champions again.
Proximity is enough. Brad Lidge's history becomes your history. Donovan McNabb's history becomes your history. Allen Iverson's history becomes your history. Some of the biggest, most joyful, most crashing moments of your life are because of sports, and you didn't even feel it happening.
Depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental illnesses and personality disorders seek to isolate. Isolation is the only way they survive. The serrated edges saw at the ties that bind you, cutting you off from the things that make you happy, the things that connect you to other people and the human experience. They’re selfish that way. They demand all of your attention. That’s the dichotomy, at the end of the day. Isolation versus connection.
Hockey, and sports in general, have served to connect me to more people than I thought possible. Hell, the first account I followed on Flyers twitter was the Broad Street Hockey account, quickly followed by Charlie and Kurt. Writing for this site has given me a creative outlet and an opportunity to write some truly fun pieces, sharing my voice with thousands of people I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to reach. Not everyone likes what I write, but some people do. (I’ve always been more of an acquired taste anyway.) The friendships I’ve made through hockey have been life-changing and are constantly heartening, because they remind me that I’m still able to make friends, that people like me enough to tolerate me.
Insidious thoughts (you aren’t good, you aren’t funny, you’re not talented, you’re not beautiful, people are only being nice because they feel bad for you, you’ve faked your way here, you’ve fooled them into thinking you belong, you do not deserve happiness, on and on in your brain like a thumping bass line) can be quieted or at least dulled.
I can’t forget these thoughts. I can’t make them go away for good. What I can do, however, is prove them wrong. What started off as escapism has developed into coping.
Hockey is not some bastion of good feelings where nothing is ever bad and we get to ignore reality. Hockey sucks a lot. Even when you remove the widespread cultural and institutional issues of racism, homophobia, and sexism from the sport, there are still so many problems within. You can’t escape into this world, because it’s not a perfect world. It’s not even close.
I don’t mean to imply that hockey will save you. It won’t.
Sometimes, though, it can help.
If you feel helpless or suicidal, please do remember there is help available to you. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and the online chat is available here. If your mental illness prevents you from speaking to a professional, lean on your support system. If you don’t feel like you have a support system, let me be a part of it. You are very important, and your life matters. Be well.
Subject: Flyers vs. Rangers: Lineups, how to watch, live stream and discussion thread
Ugh, the Rangers.
Tonight’s game is on NBCSN nationally and streaming on NBC Live Extra and the NBC Sports app. The Flyers radio feed can be heard on 93.3 WMMR or SiriusXM.
- Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
- Travis Konecny - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Shayne Gostisbehere - Brandon Manning
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Mark Streit - Radko Gudas
- Steve Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
New York lineup
- Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello
- Rick Nash - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
- Matt Puempel - J.T. Miller - Michael Grabner
- Jimmy Vesey - Oscar Lindberg - Brandon Pirri
- Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
- Nick Holden - Kevin Klein
- Brady Skjei - Adam Clendening
- Henrik Lundqvist
- Magnus Hellberg
Subject: Flyers vs Rangers recap: Flyers somehow win because hockey is weird sometimes
Despite playing like absolute crap for the majority of the game, the Flyers somehow pulled out a win against the Rangers.
Games against the Rangers are always bad. I don’t know why that is the case, but I swear it always has been that way.
To be completely honest, I don’t really hate the Rangers and never have. For some reason, even though they’ve been a pretty decent team for the last decade, they just don’t irk me. Even though they totally cheated in the playoffs a few years ago, I’m not too bothered by them.
And that’s why I hate them.
Seriously, only this team, whom the Flyers have played twice this year as part of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry, could make me not care about an alleged rivalry. I’m supposed to hate Rangers games. I’m supposed to curse their name. But they are too damn boring for me to even care.
Their jerseys are boring. There I said it. They don’t have anyone on their team that is super flashy or worth drooling over. And Madison Square Garden....well...
The Rangers will win by 10 tonight but that doesn't change the fact that Madison Square Garden is made of solidified piss— Scott T. (@NHLFlyera) January 26, 2017
What I’m saying is I hate them because I have no real reason to hate them. Jerks.
Anywayyyyy....the game tonight. Yeah. Remember what I said up there about Rangers games being bad? Well, boy were the Flyers determined to prove me right.
Let’s not mince words: the first period was absolute shit. I won’t go into too much detail because I might lose my mind, but the Flyers looked like absolute garbage. Here’s some stats for you — by the end of the period, the Rangers were up 16-8 in shots and 25-14 in shot attempts. And, to be honest, those stats kind of understate how bad that period was, given that half of the Flyers shot attempts didn’t even come until after the 17 minute mark.
It was just nasty all around. The Rangers had too many odd-man chances for me to count, including a breakaway chance by Michael Grabner. It felt like every time the Flyers got the puck, they were determined to give it back to the Rangers and let them dance around the damn zone with it.
Controlled NYR entry, shots, failed PHI exit due to NYR forecheck, more shots, uncontrolled exit, NYR n-zone recovery, entry. Rinse, repeat.— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) January 26, 2017
At one point, Sean Couturier was able to control the puck in the offensive zone, creating a two on one opportunity with Nick Cousins. I was hoping that Couturier could steal a goal from the Rangers and make me feel at least somewhat happy. Instead, he did absolutely nothing.
The one bright spot of the period was that the Rangers failed to score. That was all because of Steve Mason. Dude looked really good in the first period, bailing out his shitty defense over and over again.
Steve Mason, everybody pic.twitter.com/6ES1V9TWgt— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 26, 2017
So I had that to be happy about going into the second. Oh, and Bob McKenzie talked a bit during the intermission about Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, and Phillipe Myers, which reminded me that eventually Andrew MacDonald will not be playing for the Flyers. That felt nice.
The second period was more or less exactly like the first — a lot of zone pressure from the Rangers, sloppy play by the Flyers, and more Steve Mason saves. The Flyers eventually started to establish some pressure, but then like, the period ended. So whatever.
So, at this point, you probably understand that Steve Mason was playing pretty good in this game — by the end of the second he had stopped 27 shots, some of which were pretty good chances. So did Mason-shit-talker-in-chief Mike Milbury have anything nice to say in the second intermission? Of course not, because he is very bad at his job.
Oh yeah, another funny thing that happened in the second was Doc Emrick’s ... creative ways of pronouncing Ivan Provorov’s name. That was funny.
"Poroveov"— Peter Laviolette (@fakelavy) January 26, 2017
- Doc Emrick
Is Doc calling Provorov "Voroboyov"?— Bill Matz (@BILLadelphia1) January 26, 2017
One thing that the intermission bros talked about was that this game looked like one that the Flyers could maybe steal. And it sounded just stupid enough to make sense.
Well, Wayne Simmonds gave a little credence to those words when he scored a greasy goal on the power play to open the third. When that happened, I let out an audible chuckle, and the following exchange happened:
Mrs. Butt: Why are you laughing?
Me: Because the Flyers scored first.
Mrs. Butt: Oh, and they suck?
Then things got even stupider when Michael Grabner scored a goal ... against Henrik Lundqvist to give the Flyers the two goal lead. But seriously, that goal wouldn’t have happened without some tenacious puck play by Jake Voracek, who was the guy who got credited for the goal.
Jake Voracek is a god among men— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 26, 2017
and could totally kick all our butts in a fight. pic.twitter.com/jF1Rshsuge
So with ten minutes left to play, the Flyers were winning a game in which they were being thoroughly outplayed. Sports!
And it stayed that way! Steve Mason got a shutout! Our team won!
Stupid observation I have to vocalize:
Brady Skjei’s name really bothers me. Not because there is no way I would be able to pronounce that on my own. Not because I dislike it or anything, either.
It’s because every time I hear Doc Emrick say “Skjei,” I look up to the screen expecting to see former Flyer Shea “Skjei” Weber, who Kurt informed me tonight is now former Flyer P.K. Subban. Don’t ask.
Embarrassing Flyers-Rangers memory:
Watching this game reminded me of the last time I saw the Flyers play the Rangers in person. It was a matinee game on some Saturday during the 2010-2011 season. I could probably find the exact date, but I’m a bit too lazy at the moment. I do remember that Nikolay Zherdev (should of kept) scored a breakaway goal, and I believe the Flyers won.
The embarrassing part of this memory is threefold: I went to the game wearing a Martin Biron Flyers jersey (why do I own this?), I snuck in one of those big ass bags of beef jerky to eat for some reason, and worst of all, I had bleached blonde hair.
Hair that I had bleached myself intentionally. I was 23 years old at the time (not 14). It was either 2010 or 2011 (not 1999).
Anyway, the real joke is on my girlfriend at the time, because despite my embarrassing existence, she eventually decided it was a good idea to marry me. What an idiot!
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: We see you, Steve.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* The Flyers won a hockey game last night! Against the Rangers! In New York! Mostly because Steve Mason and Jakub Voracek did good sports things! Recap: [BSH]
* At intermission of said game, Bob McKenzie talked about Flyers prospects and how they’re good and stuff: [Sons of Penn]
* Charlie was on the Hockey PDOcast talking a lot about this strange Flyers season, and also a little bit about Joel Embiid: [Hockey PDOcast]
* Can Nick Cousins hang on what’s become the Flyers’ second line? [Courier-Post]
* The players talk a bit about some of the changes the team’s made on the power play lately: [CSN Philly]
* Good night all around the organization, too: the Phantoms picked up a 7-2 win over Binghamton, highlighted by a Danick Martel hat trick: [Highland Park Hockey]
* At All-Star Weekend, the NHL is releasing a list of the Top 100 NHL Players Of All Time. Who are some current players who are probably going to be right on the bubble? [The Hockey News]
* Speaking of, Evgeni Malkin won’t play in the All-Star Game: [Pensburgh]
* So who should replace him? [Puck Daddy]
* Maybe it’s Snoop Dogg! Or maybe not. But he’ll be performing at the All-Star Game. Also, I thought he went by Snoop Lion now? [NHL.com]
* The NHL isn’t funding any sort of concussion-related research the way that other sports leagues are. Is that a problem? [SBNation]
* Examining this year’s Bruins, who seem like they should be a lot better than their record currently says they are: [FiveThirtyEight]
* On that note, Brad Marchand will have a hearing today for a trip on Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall: [Stanley Cup Of Chowder]
* Finally, yesterday Bell Media had its annual #BellLetsTalk day in which it raised money for mental health research and awareness. Our own Allison wrote a piece about how hockey and sports help us in dealing with the crap our minds occasionally put us through: [BSH]
Subject: Flyers 2, Rangers 0: 10 things we learned from good fortune moving in Philadelphia’s direction
After a number of games this month that saw the Flyers dominate in shots but lose on the scoresheet, they flipped the script last night.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Flyers had a game like this coming
A 3-5-2 month of January certainly doesn’t inspire much optimism regarding the Philadelphia Flyers at first glance. Once solidly in a playoff spot following a 10-game winning streak, the Flyers’ poor results since mid-December have moved them right back onto the bubble, and simultaneously tested the fanbase’s patience. However, it wasn’t all doom & gloom for the team. Despite the poor win/loss record, the Flyers’ performance in terms of advanced metrics was strong — they were driving play at 5v5, racking up tons of shots on the power play, and even were posting middle-of-the-road shot suppression rates on the oft-criticized penalty kill. In a number of contests this month (Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey especially), Philadelphia failed to come away with two points despite thoroughly outplaying their opponent. It seemed like the luck would never turn.
Last night, the bounces finally went the Flyers’ way. Despite being outshot 34-26, losing the score-adjusted Corsi battle at 5v5 handily (42.35%) and not doing much better in all-situations Expected Goals (43.01%), Philadelphia came away with the 2-0 victory over a solid Rangers club. Steve Mason was obviously the main reason for the win, as any goalie who delivers a shutout when his team is outshot usually is. But the Flyers’ goals were not highlight reel snipes or beautiful passing plays. Instead, Philadelphia scored them due to a large helping of good luck. Simmonds’ goal came courtesy of a netfront scrum and a puck that just barely found its way to him, and while Voracek’s tally was more of an own goal on the part of Michael Grabner and the Rangers.
That’s not to say that the plays were entirely luck-driven. Voracek had a fantastic individual puck carrying effort to muscle his way into the slot and create the opportunity for a bouncing puck on his goal, and it was crisp power play puck movement that allowed for the initial shot that caused the traffic in front on goal #1. The Flyers did, in a sense, create their own luck. At the same time, this was a game that Philadelphia probably should have lost, and you couldn’t help but feel that this was some kind of karmic justice for January losses like the ones against Anaheim and New Jersey.
#2: Mason was the hero
It’s no secret that Steve Mason is having a poor season thus far in 2016-17. After three straight above-average years with the Flyers, Mason’s performance this season has been far more reminiscent of his awful years in Columbus than anything the netminder has delivered during his Philadelphia career. Sure, the defense has failed him on a number of occasions. But even accounting for context didn’t excuse Mason’s 0.899 save percentage entering last night, which was ghastly no matter which way you sliced it.
Against the Rangers, however, the Flyers got to see the Steve Mason who helped carry them to a 10-game winning streak in December. New York blasted 34 shots at Mason and generated 3.52 expected goals on the night, yet the Flyers’ netminder stopped every one of them. And this wasn’t a game filled with tons of easy Rangers shots from the outside, either. Mason made more than his fair share of high-difficulty saves, including two huge stops on sniper Rick Nash (one on a two-on-one, another on a mini-breakaway). He also had a strong game on Sunday night against the Islanders (0.947 save percentage), so last night’s performance didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. It’s only two games, but Flyers fans would be forgiven if they start to hope that Mason may be getting on a another hot streak at just the right time.
#3: Flyers did earn it in the third period
Over the game’s first two periods, Philadelphia was absolutely buried in terms of raw shot attempts, but a combination of great goaltending by Steve Mason and solid defensive zone coverage that generally kept the Rangers out of the slot despite loads of possession time kept the contest at a 0-0 deadlock. It’s a cliche, but entering the final period of play, the Flyers had the opportunity to reset and essentially buy into the maxim of “win a period, win a game” despite their poor play thus far. To the team’s credit, they did just that, putting aside their struggles to come out of the second intermission and deliver a solid performance.
It wasn’t merely the two goals that made the third period their best of the night. It was also the only twenty-minute session of the game where Philadelphia wasn’t defeated from a territorial standpoint, even though the Rangers were trailing for the bulk of the period. The Flyers led in 5v5 score-adjusted Corsi with a 52.1% rate in the third, and won the overall high-danger scoring chance battle 5-2. It wasn’t like Philadelphia dominated the period, but they found a way to stop the bleeding of the opening 40 minutes and then benefit from some good fortune to steal a win. They did it by finally exerting their authority in the offensive zone, generating a number of extended cycles and forechecks, which kept the Rangers from taking up residence in the Flyers’ half of the ice due to their very-effective forecheck. Philadelphia still had some rough moments in the third, but their ability to spend entire shifts on the attack slowed the pace of the game, to their benefit.
#4: Rangers’ forecheck buried the Flyers last night
There were a number of reasons why Philadelphia struggled to create much of anything over the first forty minutes, but most of the issues stemmed from a very effective Rangers’ forecheck. During the first two periods, the Flyers simply could not exit their own zone cleanly, which resulted in New York racking up 25 shots on goal and 50 total attempts at 5v5. It was a territorial slaughter.
It’s a good time to note that in a game like this, performance in all three zones is interconnected. The Flyers almost certainly “lost” the neutral zone last night, but it wasn’t because their passing in the middle of the ice (or even their defense there) was especially poor. Because the Rangers’ forecheck was so effective, Philadelphia struggled to exit their zone, usually failing on a few occasions before blindly chipping the puck out in order to earn a line change. That allowed New York to gather the loose puck in the neutral zone, and immediately re-enter on the attack. After a while, the entries start to add up, and one bad shift turns into five. Then, on the rare occasions the Flyers did get in on the attack, their own forecheck was impotent, allowing for the Rangers to easily exit the defensive zone and then re-start the previous cycle. The Flyers were finally able to break it late in the second period by actually sustaining some offensive attack, which let them bypass NYR’s aggressive forecheck entirely. It wasn’t like Philadelphia became miraculously better at passing in the defensive zone under pressure in the third period, though. They just had to do it less often.
#5: Power play was due
Considering the Flyers’ goal-scoring struggles in January, a large portion of the blame had been placed on the power play for not bailing out the team as they did in the early portion of the year. The criticism wasn’t totally fair — going into last night’s game, the PP had a 20% efficiency rate for the month — but the power play certainly hadn’t picked up all of the slack. Their January Goals For per 60 rate of 4.80 ranked the Flyers 19th in the NHL during 5-on-4 situations, which is certainly not an area that the team expects to sit (even for short periods) considering their high-end PP talent.
Luckily, the low goal totals were unlikely to sustain. Despite their middling ranking in GF60, the Flyers had averaged more shot attempts (per 60) at 5v4 than any other NHL team in January, and were second in Expected Goals For per 60 as well. The process was fine, as usual, but the bounces just weren’t going the team’s way. That changed last night, as Wayne Simmonds’ tally proved to be both the gamewinner and the gamechanger, and was more the result of overwhelming volume than a picture-perfect tally. That’s the benefit of having a high-volume power play — when the team isn’t clicking well enough to create highlight reel goals, they can still pick up some garbage tally through sheer quantity.
#6: Couturier line only one to carry play
There was a great deal of criticism thrown Sean Couturier’s way during this game, mostly sparked by a two-on-one break early that saw the center be caught from behind by Kevin Klein despite a big head-start and barely even get off a shot. That reignited the “Couturier can’t score!” and “trade Couturier!” chatter that has become a constant buzz from corners of the fanbase over the past few seasons. And like most split second reactions, there is some truth to the concern. Couturier isn’t a great goal scorer, nor is he especially fast, particularly when his game lacks decisiveness (as it did on that odd-man rush). However, it’s amusing to me that Couturier received so much criticism in a game that saw his line be the only one that wasn’t totally destroyed at 5v5.
The current “second” line of Couturier, Matt Read and Nick Cousins isn’t exactly teeming with high-end offensive talent. Despite that, all three forwards finished with score-adjusted Corsi percentages over 67%, and generated eight high-danger chances together while allowing zero. Of course, this hints at the main issue that many have with Couturier — none of those chances turned into goals (although Couturier was on the ice for Voracek’s tally and earned a primary assist). But I struggle to reconcile the belief that Couturier is terrible offensively with the undeniable truth that over the past three years, only Travis Konecny has been on the ice for more Flyers goals (adjusting for ice time) at 5v5 than Sean Couturier. Sure, he may not score the goals, or even rack up points on an especially high percentage of them. But he’s facilitating offense when he plays hockey at 5v5. Shouldn’t that be enough?
#7: MacDonald’s role is growing, not shrinking
Any hopes that the bye week would give the Philadelphia Flyers time to re-evaluate their usage of the defensemen on the roster and come to the conclusion that the team is drastically outshot when Andrew MacDonald hits the ice at 5v5 have been quickly dashed. In fact, it’s been the opposite. In three games since the bye, MacDonald has ranked second, first, and first again on the defense in 5-on-5 ice time, and has never been below third in overall minutes per game on the blueline. Last night, he received a whopping 19:09 minutes at 5v5, and 23:40 minutes total.
By all of the play-driving metrics, MacDonald is the worst regular defenseman on the team. His 47.5% Corsi For percentage is a defense-low, as is his -5.6% Corsi For% RelTM rating. Last night’s game followed the usual script — a 29.95% score-adjusted Corsi (again, worst on the defense), and some glaring mistakes that were erased by strong play from Steve Mason, including an awful defensive zone turnover with time running down in the first period.
So why is MacDonald seeing his role increase? It’s impossible to know for sure what is driving the trust, but my guess is that it has something to do with his decent on-ice goal rates. His 45.6% Goals For percentage at 5v5 is behind only Provorov among regular Philadelphia defensemen, and no blueliner has been on the ice for fewer goals against per 60 than MacDonald. Compare that to Gostisbehere, who is driving play at a high rate but has a very poor on-ice goals percentage (34.7%) that may help to explain why he’s being used as a third-pair defenseman by Hakstol right now. The interesting part of this is that Hakstol wasn’t fooled by goal-based results last year in his treatment of Michael Del Zotto, who posted a 37% Goals For rate but was still used in a first-pair role up until his injury. Hakstol seemingly recognized that it was mostly bad luck driving down Del Zotto’s goal results, and distributed ice time accordingly. For MacDonald and Gostisbehere, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Call it a blind spot.
#8: Bellemare line got torched
Coming off a solid performance on Sunday night against the Islanders, the Flyers’ fourth line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov were absolutely bulldozed by the Rangers last night. In over seven minutes of 5v5 ice time, the trio was not together for even one Philadelphia attempt, meaning that they couldn’t even muster a weak blocked shot from the point. They basically spent the entire game in the defensive zone, bleeding shots against (15 for Bellemare, 14 for VandeVelde, 10 for Lyubimov) and scoring chances. VandeVelde and Lyubimov actually finished with Corsi For percentages of 0.00%, which even in limited minutes, is pretty hard to pull off.
#9: Penalty kill was quite effective
Considering the fact that the Flyers won in a shutout, it’s not exactly a bold statement to say that the penalty kill performed well in this one. The Rangers had three opportunities and came up empty on each. However, a penalty kill can deliver strong single-game results on the shoulders of a hot goalie, which Steve Mason certainly was last night. He received a ton of help last night from the penalty kill, though. No Flyers penalty killer was on the ice for more than three shot attempts, with Brandon Manning delivering the best results (zero shot attempts against in over two minutes of PK time). In fact, in six overall minutes, Philadelphia permitted just two scoring chances by New York, and even created a high-danger chance of their own on a shorthanded rush. Mason only had to make three stops on the PK, as his teammates made life pretty easy for him.
#10: Flyers seem to be attacking the slot more
I noted last week that the Flyers seemed to be employing a low-to-high strategy as their primary option in the offensive zone, blasting away from the points in an attempt to create deflections and rebounds rather than attacking the slot directly with passes. That changed against the Islanders, as Philadelphia filled up the previously-empty spot in the high slot on the heat map with lots of shots. However, that game was a rush-based contest, unlike the Flyers’ usual style, which usually employs a heavy dose of dump-and-chase hockey combined with aggressive forechecking. It’s easier to attack the slot on the rush because defensemen are backing up, so it was fair to wonder if the Flyers’ newfound willingness to create shots from that area was a one-game anomaly.
If last night was any indication, there may be legitimate tweaks being made to the offensive zone tactics. Despite far less time spent on the attack and rush chances at a minimum, the Flyers continued to attack the middle of the ice with direct passes and shots. In fact, despite trailing 69-48 in 5v5 shot attempts, Philadelphia won the high-danger battle 17-10. That’s surprising on two levels — the Flyers have rarely outperformed their raw attempt metrics from a shot quality standpoint this year, and because the Rangers usually do. Essentially, Philadelphia lost the volume but won the quality battle against a team that usually follows that exact script. We’re still in the “wait and see” stage, but we could be witnessing a true shift in philosophy.
Subject: Flyers vs. Maple Leafs: Preview, lineups, how to watch online and discussion thread
It’s the final game before the All-Star Break.
Tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs can be seen on CSN Philly locally, or streaming on CSNPhilly.com. The radio broadcast can be heard on 97.5 The Fanatic. Nationally, coverage can be found on NHL.tv or NHL Center Ice, and in Canada the game is on Sportsnet Ontario.
- Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
- Travis Konecny - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Shayne Gostisbehere - Brandon Manning
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Mark Streit - Radko Gudas
- Steve Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
- James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
- Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander
- Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown
- Matt Martin - Frederik Gauthier - Nikita Soshnikov
- Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
- Martin Marincin - Nikita Zaitsev
- Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
- Frederik Andersen
- Curtis McElhinney
Subject: Flyers vs Leafs recap: Late goal gives Flyers the edge, 2-1
The Flyers sure did wait a long time to start playing the way they’re able to, turning it on in the third period and taking the game into their own hands to grab their third straight win.
Remember when we used to laugh when the Leafs were in town? Sometimes you yearn for those days.
Toronto has so much young talent working right now that even thinking about the Flyers competing against their speed and skill is enough to give me hives.
My hives died down as the game began because I thought, you know, at the very least, we’ll lose. Who cares, right? Everything is ephemeral anyway. Still, it’s hard to divorce yourself from the Flyers and caring about every single point.
When the game started up, it was a near replica of the start against the Rangers. Truly, it was getting tiresome to report the same things every single game. Wow, the Flyers turned the puck over a lot? Shocking. Slow in the neutral zone? Groundbreaking. Losing puck battles? Revolutionary. I mean, at one point the Leafs had the Flyers pinned in their own zone so effectively that they could execute a line change. They weren’t on a power play, dude. They were just plain better.
As we saw against the Rangers, some dumb luck grease goals and some above-average goaltending can wipe these things away. What tends to exacerbate the issues is being forced to penalty kill, especially against the second ranked power play in the friggin’ league. Could that be the deciding factor?
The Flyers took their first penalty, Ivan Provorov looking to lift the stick of Tyler Bozak and accidentally whacking him in the mouth. Drawing blood meant it was four minutes, and Jesus Christ, it felt like the writing was on the wall. Couldn’t you just see it in your mind’s eye? Auston Matthews scores twice or something ridiculous like that? Neuvirth gets pulled 10 minutes into the game? I don’t know if I’ve just been beaten down into pessimism, but shit, I did not feel great at that point.
Luckily, the penalty kill looked great, with the Flyers able to keep the Leafs to one-and-done style rushes that never amounted to much. That’s about as good as you can hope for against such a great power play.
Not long after time expired on the penalty, Travis Konecny made an exceptional pass to spring Wayne Simmonds on a breakaway. He’s an All Star, so you can guess what he did. (Hint: it had something to do with scoring.) Sometimes I wish he was my actual dad. That’s neither here nor there.
The Flyers killed the majority of their second penalty to the end the period, leaving them with a rarity: a lead going into the second! What sorcery! What fun! I opened a Labatt to celebrate. You have to take advantage of little joys in life. Yes, I know it’s only Thursday and I probably shouldn’t be drinking. What are you, my mom?
I was about three quarters of the way through my beer when the second period started up, which means I had to chug it so I didn’t feel like a massive failure. This is the Flyers best period, so I had to be on my game.
The first half of the period felt tired. It wasn’t especially bad, but the ice definitely felt tilted in Toronto’s favor. Neuvirth made some creative saves and kept the lead for the Flyers. Just about halfway through the period and the game itself, Travis Konecny got held up along the boards and gave the Good Guys their first power play of the game. It didn’t tally, but god, when they’re generating chances like they’re able to, it’s so gotdang fun to watch. Everything but the goal, and we still had a lead. I was cruisin’.
Little did I know, however, that I was actually cruisin’ for a bruisin’. The Flyers got tied up in their own end, Nick Cousins reversing the puck and then skating into teammate Brandon Manning. All hell broke loose. It ended with Nylander picking up the garbage after the silly play, tying the game at one. It was bound to happen, you know? Bad things are bound to happen.
The game was well within reach going into the third period, so I sat back down with my beer slushies after having left them in the freezer for too long, feeling optimistic. It’s tied. All even. We took the lead once, we could theoretically do it again.
It was like they heard me being optimistic, my brain waves traveling the 11.4 miles necessary to seep into their brains. They hounded possession, keeping the Leafs almost entirely in their own end. Why couldn’t they do this earlier in the game? I wondered. It must be me. I must be the deciding factor.
Despite the deluge, minutes started to tick away and it felt as though the Flyers would be sinking into yet another overtime. That’s a bad feeling, of course. Outplaying late in the game and still not being able to score? Ridiculous.
Just as I was about to resign myself to being thankful for a point, Roman Lyubimov potted his fourth of the year, giving the Flyers the late lead with just about two minutes left to go in the game. They managed to hold the Leafs off, even as they pushed late.
Some feelings and emotions based on bias and not fact:
- Auston Matthews is so special and important. I love him so much, it’s almost unbearable. I just had to get that out of the way. USA. USA. USA.
- Sean Couturier is comfortable covering stars, as that’s kind of his bread and butter. Whatever way you feel about Coots, please don’t yell at me, but he kept Matthews off the board. That deserves credit, right? Actually, you will probably tell me it doesn’t. Thank you, I appreciate it. I’ve been enlightened.
- James van Riemsdyk is a Leaf still, and that’s important because we traded him away. You might have forgotten because no one ever mentions it at all. He almost scored, but he didn’t.
- Honestly, like, I love JvR, but thank god he didn’t score. We wouldn’t have heard the end of it. It’s been years, guys. Move the frig on.
- Even level headed people thought the fourth line was great tonight, and they were rewarded with a goal. Good to see. I’m sure that encourages them to keep up the good work.
- Travis Konecny has some kind of special hustle, man. Early in the second, Brandon Manning and he were streaking into the Leafs zone, and Manning took a big shot right after he crossed the blue line. Seemed like a pretty basic play that would die after the save. Not on Teeks’s watch! He flew in, snatched up that rebound so quick. I was shocked. I really didn’t think he’d be able to get there in time. Anyway, I love him and I love the things he does.
- Neuvirth made 27 saves on 28 shots. Pretty good, as far as percentages are concerned.
- The Post pretty much saved the game for us when Connor Brown’s shot redirected and nearly went in with just six and a half minutes left. Thank you, The Post. I love you, The Post.
Hate to take credit for this, but the Flyers are now 2-0 since I told them very publicly that they’re the reason I’m alive. I don’t know for sure that it’s because of me, but I think we can all agree it’s at least 75 percent because of me.
Flyers go into the All Star break with a three game win streak, goals in back to back games for their All Star and my dad, Wayne Simmonds. Money in the bank.
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Three wins in a row. Sports are temporarily good again!
* A late Roman Lyubimov goal pushed the Flyers over the Toronto Maple Leafs, giving them their third straight win and keeping them in a playoff position as they head into the All-Star Break. Here’s a recap! [BSH]
* This on the heels of Wednesday’s somewhat unlikely win over the Rangers, about which you can read 10 observations here: [BSH]
* The team had some nice things to say about Steve Mason following that Rangers game, as did we all: [CSN Philly]
* A look back at the Kris Versteeg-to-Philadelphia trade from way back when. This is mostly written from a Toronto perspective, and you may be wondering why we as Flyers fans are even looking back at this (bad) trade at all. BUT we do get to read about the one good thing that came out of it all for the Flyers: [Sportsnet]
* As the AHL All-Star game heads to Allentown next week, a look at some of the people off the ice who help make it happen: [Highland Park Hockey]
* Elsewhere, Semyon Varlamov will miss the rest of this season, not that the Avs were going very far with him anyways: [Mile High Hockey]
* The ref in last night’s Blue Jackets-Predators game got caught on juuuuust a bit of a hot mic: [SBNation]
* Sean Monahan did an outright disrespectful thing to a hockey puck last night: [Puck Daddy]
* In the midst of what might be the Red Wings’ worst season in a long time, has their long-term timeline changed at all? [Winging It In Motown]
* Brad Marchand was only fined, and not suspended, for tripping Niklas Kronwall the other day, and even Boston fans are surprised: [Stanley Cup Of Chowder]
* The Blackhawks released a very weird Twitter video and SB Nation, being the very serious sports entity that it is, reviewed it like a TV show: [SBNation]
* Finally, let’s get weird: what if the NHL had a 2-goal line? Like basketball’s 3-point line, but in hockey? [In the Corners]