Subject: Steve Mason has new gear for the Flyers’ Stadium Series game
He’s going all-in on the black and orange.
The Philadelphia Flyers play their Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field on Feb. 25, and they’re probably going to look pretty cool out there.
Steve Mason, in particular, appears to be going all-in - at least, if the first look at his special pads are any occasion.
Steve Mason's pads for the upcoming Stadium Series game. pic.twitter.com/ntWG895CFs— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) January 30, 2017
It’s most important, of course, that a goalie is comfortable with his pads and has them broken it; aesthetics take a back seat to that. That said, badass pads are always welcome, and these are going to look great with the Flyers’ black jerseys.
Oh, and it looks like his glove to match is in, too:
A photo posted by Brian's Custom Sports (@goaliesonly) on
Here’s to Mason’s recent uptick in play keeping up through the rest of the season - both for the Flyers’ sake, and also because it would be a real shame to let this awesome gear go to waste.
Subject: Flyers at Hurricanes recap: Worst performance of the season gives Flyers a loss out of the break
Absolutely nothing good happened in this hockey game.
- The Flyers, despite trailing for all but 7:11 of the game, were outshot 28-16 on the night. 16 shots is tied for the fewest shots on goal the Flyers have had in a game this year.
- For Carolina, a guy named Sebastian Aho had a hat trick. I’m not sure that’s a real person, but apparently he scored three goals on the Flyers tonight.
- At 5-on-5 in particular, Carolina more than doubled up the Flyers in shot attempts, by a count of 48-23. This, again, despite the fact that they trailed for the entire game, against a team with a bad goaltender (Cam Ward). These are situations in which you would expect a team to outshoot its opponent, not get doubled up by them.
- Also, the Flyers didn’t have a high-danger scoring chance at 5-on-5 (via) in the second or third period.
- Those numbers might sound bad, but wait! It gets worse! The Flyers had four shots on goal in the first period and two in the second. That second period in particular was a struggle, as the Flyers didn’t tally a shot on goal until the 12:44 mark of the frame.
- You may see that number above and the team’s final shot count of 16 and be thinking “well, at least they put together a solid effort to rally in the third period,” but that didn’t really happen either! In fact, the Flyers played 11:16 of the third period before they finally got a shot on goal in that period, and it was at that point where they would finally get a few power plays and manage to avoid totally embarrassing themselves, sort of, I guess.
- To that end, there was a point in the third period at which the Flyers had one more shot on goal than the Hurricanes had goals. Is that bad? Like, I’m not an expert here, but I think it’s bad.
- Of course, no one needs any numbers to know that the Flyers were bad tonight. But here’s the thing: everyone was bad! Your favorite player? He stunk tonight! Yes, yours. Claude Giroux? Totally whiffed on a clear that led to Carolina’s second goal, and lost his temper in the second period. Travis Konecny? Awful turnover that led to Carolina’s first goal. Shayne Gostisbehere? Blew his coverage on that same goal. Brayden Schenn? Also blew that coverage. The VandeVelde-Bellemare-Lyubimov fourth line, which the broadcast went out of its way to praise for being in the offensive zone a lot tonight? They were on the ice for three 5-on-5 shot attempts, total. Steve Mason? Tough to blame him on most of those, but five goals on 28 shots isn’t a good look for any goalie no matter how tough the saves are. Andrew MacDonald? I don’t know why Andrew MacDonald is your favorite player, but he was bad too. Ivan Provorov? I get why he’s your favorite player, but he, too, is not writing home about this evening. And All-Star MVP Wayne Simmonds? I mean, he didn’t single-handedly cure world hunger tonight, so while sure, I guess we’re holding him to high standards here, it was an off-night for him as well. Seriously, pick your player wearing orange. He is not going to want to remember this game.
- (Except Schenn, I guess. Schenn scored a power play goal, because that is a thing Brayden Schenn does. It was his league-leading 12th power play goal of the season and the 100th goal of his career. It is the only remotely good thing that happened to a player wearing orange and black tonight.)
- And while I’m at it, screw you, the officials. This hit by Lee Stempniak — a hit on which no one could rationally believe Stempniak had any aim but to drive Andrew MacDonald’s head into the glass — received only a two-minute minor.
Lee Stempniak hit to the head on Andrew MacDonald pic.twitter.com/TNeqK9WfHk— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 1, 2017
Awful. Let’s hope Stempniak gets a call from the Department of Player Safety tomorrow.
- AND THEN! Jeff Skinner plainly checks Brandon Manning in the face, uncalled, approximately three seconds before Jeff Skinner (yes, the same one) got open in front of the net to score and put Carolina up 3-0, all while Manning was in a heap over by the boards. It’s not like I wanted to watch the Flyers’ power play very much tonight (oh yeah, that sucked too), but this team very much played poorly enough to lose by four goals without any help from the guys in stripes, so this seemed like overkill.
- Did I mention that this game was about as important in the standings for the Flyers as a game in January can possibly be for a team? Seems like a good time to have a game like this.
- Also, while I’m yelling, you know what? Fuck hurricanes. They’re bad. Like, have you ever seen one? They suck a lot. Who was like “oh, yeah, massive storms that kill people and destroy entire communities, those are cool, we should name a team after those”? Good idea, jerks.
... whew. OK. Needed to get that off my chest. Feeling a little better now, folks.
(In seriousness, the Flyers had been playing solid hockey leading up to the All-Star Break. This is one game and it shouldn’t change how you feel about this team that much. But no, this was not an ideal way to come out of the break.)
Montreal on Thursday. Watch the tape, learn something from it, then burn it and move on. Go Flyers.
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Oh right, hockey is bad.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Man a few days off and you forget that hockey is actually trash and it brings nothing but sorrow to your life. Recap!
*To that end, did anyone even know there was a celebrity hockey game this weekend until AFTER it was over? [Puck Junk]
*Seems like the AHL All-Star game in Allentown was a rousing success, though. Here are some pictures! [The Morning Call]
*The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and you can expect that Ron will do absolutely nothing. [BSH]
*The NHL thinks its arenas need to do better jobs with their ice. [ProHockeyTalk]
*Yesterday we saw DGB's list of Western Conference GMs facing pressure, now he looks at the East. [Sportsnet]
*On NHL goalies and their new pants. [The New York Times]
*And finally, in case you missed it, here's the newest episode of BSH Radio, in which we rank things and yell incoherently about how the NHL is bad at things. [BSH]
Subject: Hurricanes 5, Flyers 1: 10 things we learned from the worst game of the year
It was a game with no redeeming characteristics, aside from the fact that no one ever has to watch it again.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: The worst game of the year
There’s no sugarcoating it — this was the least-watchable, most horrifically-played contest of the season for the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ve had other bad games, to be sure, but there always was something of a viable excuse. Either their underlying metrics weren’t terrible and they were buried by egregious breakdowns, or there was a schedule-related reason (like the Devils loss right before Christmas that Hakstol essentially forgave because he believed the team was spent). This was different; a shellacking with no real excuse.
Despite trailing during almost the entire game, the Flyers were outshot 48-23 in total attempts at 5v5, good for an embarrassing 29.6% score-adjusted Corsi. And there was no uptick in performance as the game progressed and Carolina expanded their lead, either. Aside from a brief burst with less than ten minutes remaining (that died quickly after power play opportunities dried up), Philadelphia was completely impotent offensively. The numbers and the eye test don’t lie — the Flyers were never in this one.
#2: Total team effort
As is usually the case when a team lays a stinker like this one, no players can avoid criticism. Ten of the 18 skaters finished with score-adjusted Corsis below 30% during 5-on-5 situations, with Brandon Manning bringing up the rear with an incredible 6.84 percent mark. But there wasn’t a line or pairing that stood out in a positive way. The Schenn line (which Chris Therien noted early in the game is one that Dave Hakstol “loves,” something I simply don’t understand) was on the ice for two goals against and created just four shot attempts. Bellemare and his linemates had some decent forechecking shifts and were rewarded with a PP opportunity late, but as usual, they created basically nothing offensively.
The Couturier line took two penalties (on one shift!) and couldn’t muster one high-danger chance. Giroux’s trio actually finished in the black from a Corsi standpoint, but broke down completely on Carolina’s second goal, so they can’t fairly be praised. As for the pairs, only the Provorov-MacDonald pairing avoided a goal against, and just Streit-Gudas were in the black in terms of play-driving. This isn’t really a game where you look for positives. You just accept it was an awful performance, and hopefully move on as quickly as possible.
#3: Defensive zone passing buried them early
It’s hard to single out one specific issue for the team in last night’s game, because they were poor in every single area. But the early problems stemmed from a total inability to exit the defensive zone. All too often, the Flyers would attempt to get the puck to the high winger along the boards next to the red line, making it very easy for a Carolina defenseman to pinch down and keep a cycle alive by pressuring the waiting Flyer. However, brainless turnovers truly killed them on the scoreboard in the first period. Travis Konecny attempted to thread a drop pass back to Brayden Schenn in tight traffic, resulting in a clean path to the net for Sebastian Aho. Then, Giroux failed on a tip pass at the blue line to a teammate, not getting the puck out of the zone and allowing for a swift counterrush ending in another goal.
Some of the problem was simply poor execution — accuracy, hesitation — but there also felt like a casual approach to passing as well. Too often, the Flyers assumed that the guy receiving the pass would make the extra effort to win a puck battle or speed up to accept it in stride, and instead no one was doing their job. Peter Laviolette would have been disgusted.
#4: It’s just one bad game, though
There’s no reason to absolve the Flyers for their performance last night. It truly was an unacceptable effort down to the last man, and all of the players admitted exactly that during their postgame media availability sessions. But as bad of a game as this was, it was just one game. The Flyers’ performance last night is almost certainly not a reflection of the team’s true talent level, in the same way that the team’s ten-game winning streak did not mean that the Flyers were going to run the table the rest of the season. Prior to the All-Star break, Philadelphia had won three straight games and seemed to have righted the ship. Clearly, last night’s loss throws a wrench into that theory. But it also doesn’t erase their solid play prior to the break, either. If the Flyers repeat this performance (or even struggle to a lesser degree) on Thursday and Saturday, then it’s fair to start worrying. But right now, this is just a bad game by an otherwise-okay team.
#5: The officials missed some key calls
Let’s be very clear — the Flyers were not going to win this game even if every single call by the officiating crew went Philadelphia’s way. From the start, the Flyers didn’t even deserve to be in the same arena as a just-okay Carolina Hurricanes team, so it’s impossible to say that Philadelphia deserved a victory. However, there were two key calls (after the Flyers were already down 2-0) that went against the team, and they should be addressed.
First, there was Lee Stempniak’s hit on Andrew MacDonald. On the play, Stempniak stared down MacDonald before making primary, principal contact with MacDonald’s head, driving it into the boards. Stempniak was whistled on the play, but for boarding, not for an illegal check to the head, which it clearly was. The latter penalty can only be deemed a five-minute major, which seemed to be the fairest result in this case. Instead, Stempniak got off with a two-minute minor, which was a big break for the Hurricanes. Then, on Carolina’s third goal, Jeff Skinner crosschecked Brandon Manning in the face after burning him on a rush, knocking him bleeding to the ice. Seconds later, a wide-open Skinner put Carolina up 3-0, essentially placing the game out of reach. Again, the Flyers almost certainly weren’t going to win this game anyway. But those two calls were such obvious mistakes that it’s easy to understand why the team was so incensed.
#6: However, Giroux lost his cool
I’m always amused when I hear fans complain that Claude Giroux isn’t a good leader, or that the team doesn’t “try hard enough” with him as captain. It’s obvious (to me at least) that Giroux’s flaw is more the opposite — he’s so emotionally invested in the game that he can become frustrated and distracted on the ice to the detriment of his (and his team’s) play. In my opinion, it can cause him to sag at times when the luck is seemingly against the team, or lash out when the calls aren’t going their way. The latter happened last night, and Giroux responded in kind, blasting Hurricane Derek Ryan behind the net and then throwing a few punches at him while he was down. This was in the wake of the Manning non-call, which surely had Giroux livid. But putting his team right back on the penalty kill wasn’t the right move, and the end result was a fourth Carolina goal that truly made their lead unassailable.
#7: Are the Flyers truly bad after breaks?
After the game, there was a great deal of talk that this Flyers team may just not respond well to long layoffs. They’ve now played three games after receiving at least four days of rest, and they’ve lost all three by a combined score of 15-5. I’m not quite sure I’d jump to the conclusion that the rest is the primary cause of those losses, however.
Obviously the Flyers played poorly on the whole last night, but they came out strong against the Devils following their bye week and only fell apart following an awful penalty call on Radko Gudas. As for the third loss (post-Christmas versus the Blues), that was more similar to the Devils’ loss than the crushing defeat against Carolina, as the Flyers took an early third period lead and basically breaking even through 40 minutes before totally collapsing. I’m not saying that the “Philadelphia struggles after breaks” couldn’t be a possible explanation — I just think that if it was truly a bulletproof theory, the team would have gotten off to slow starts as well. In their other two “post-break” games, that didn’t happen.
#8: Rubtsov scored so that’s cool
Since no Flyers fan really wants to re-live that loss any more than necessary, I’ll pivot to the junior ranks, where German Rubtsov scored a goal, his ninth point in six games. Rubtsov, the Flyers’ first round pick in last year’s draft, was having a miserable time seeing the ice for his KHL squad, and he was finally able to relocate to the QMJHL following the World Juniors tournament in order to get that much-needed ice time. Since joining the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, Rubtsov has immediately been granted big minutes, and he’s scoring more than enough to justify them.
Obviously it’s early, but his current 1.5 point per game rate isn’t that far off from Travis Konecny’s rate of 1.68 from his Draft +1 season last year. There’s no guarantee Rubtsov keeps up this pace, and obviously, don’t start dreaming that the Russian has much of a chance of jumping to the NHL next year after just nine strong games in the Q. However, it’s fair to be excited that Rubtsov appears to be concluding a frustrating year in positive fashion, and is back to being a truly intriguing prospect.
#9: Brayden Schenn’s weird season continues
After last night’s goal, Schenn now has 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) on the season, and is currently on pace for 56 points, which would be the second-best total of his NHL career. Hilariously, only ten of those points so far have come at 5v5, which means that if his pace holds, Schenn will score 40 of his 56 points during situations (5v4, 6v5, 3v3) that make up a dramatically lower portion of an average hockey game. Production is production, so I can’t fault Schenn so long as he continues racking up the points. It just remains such a bizarre season to watch.
#10: Will lineup changes be made after this loss?
It was no surprise to see Hakstol keep his lines and pairings stagnant coming out of the break, especially after the team rattled off three straight wins. Now, things are a little different. There are definitely options for the coach if he wants to shake things up a bit — Michael Del Zotto is apparently healthy, and Dale Weise hasn’t played since January 15th. Neither has been especially impressive this year, as Del Zotto has scored but not driven positive on-ice results, while Weise has been the opposite. But both remain competent NHL players, and could easily check back in.
The bigger question is who would come out to accommodate them. There are obvious choices based on (what seems to be) the current depth chart, such as Del Zotto coming in for Manning, or Weise replacing Cousins. But Hakstol has also shown the willingness to deliver surprise scratches, and there were no shortage of poor individual performances from key players in this one. Frankly, Hakstol could use the game tape just justify scratching pretty much anyone on the roster, if he wants. It will be interesting to see if he does actually go to that well again.
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Allons-y the Flyers!
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*The Habs are in town tonight, and good news: there is literally no way the Flyers can possibly be as bad as they were on Tuesday. Positivity woo! Puck drops at 7 which is also good go Flyers.
*Speaking of that Tuesday "game", Charlie takes one for the team and somehow comes up with ten things to learn from an absolute tire fire of a sports match. [BSH]
*Oh good we're scratching Ghost again, that'll fix it. [Courier-Post]
*Let's take a look at the Metro as a whole, which is still too damn good to do the Flyers any favors. [Canes Country]
*It's not all bad, the kids are still all right. German Rubtsov has a point streak going that's fun. [Sons of Penn]
*Elliotte Friedman dropped his latest 30 Thoughts, which are always a great read. [Sportsnet]
*DGB on the five best team/position combos in NHL history. Random thing to rank but it's good anyway to click away. [The Hockey News]
Subject: The Linc: The Eagles knew Brian Dawkins was special before they drafted him
News and notes for 2/2
The Eagles were so high on Dawkins, they even touted him to cornerback Troy Vincent when they were recruiting Vincent in free agency. And that was nearly two months before they selected him in the draft.
"Emmitt called me and said, 'We think we've identified somebody who can be real special if he learns the game and we can get him under control,'' Vincent said. "They hadn't even drafted him yet.
"Emmitt said, 'We believe that with the three of you all' - me, Dawk and Bobby (Taylor) - exact words - 'we can compete with the Cowboys. We can knock the Cowboys off.' If I recall correctly, he called Brian a juggernaut. A little juggernaut.''
During the three years Thomas coached Dawkins in Philadelphia, he was intentionally frugal with his praise for the little juggernaut. Compliments, at least early on, were few and far between. Thomas saw greatness in him, but used tough love to draw it out.
"Emmitt rode him all the time, pushed him hard,'' said Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who was hired by Rhodes as the Eagles' special teams coach in '98. "He called him Baby Boy. It seemed kind of derogatory, but Emmitt actually meant it as a term of endearment.
"Brian was young and clearly didn't have a vision yet of how good he could be. Emmitt did. He knew he was special.''
By far, the best players are from the "trade up" group, and it's not even close.
"When we look back and we look at our drafts, specifically looking at where we were in the 20's, we've had some good success at 20 and higher," said Howie Roseman, speaking at the Senior Bowl. "I think there is a line where you don't get a difference maker. This is your opportunity, in the first round of the draft, to find a difference-making player. That's our first priority, is bringing in a difference maker to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"By trading back and getting extra picks, but not having somebody who can affect the game... I mean, you're watching these championship games, and you're seeing that there are difference makers making big plays in these games, so we need to make sure that we come out of (the draft) with that."
It feels a lot like the Eagles will be trading up, not back, if at all.
"Yeah, it kind of shocked me a little bit," Carroll said. "We were all learning the defense at the same time. It was all new to us. Learning the new technique that we had and the terminology and what Schwartz expected from us, we knew it was a learning process, he knew it was a learning process as well.
"Yeah, Eric had his ups and his downs but he was still improving. The guy, the thing about it, he was a second-year guy, this was his second year playing corner. Not everything is going to be perfect in your second year. It's one of those things where he had to keep developing and keep growing and that's what I thought he was doing. There were a couple times where he'd make plays and then probably some times where he'd have a lapse or something, but that's how it is for a young player. They're trying to process everything because he came from college to the NFL for his first year playing corner, then the next year the defensive scheme changes so he can't get comfortable with it.
"So you basically have to go back again and reprogram your mind to learn the new [defense] so fast. It did shock me a little bit but in the end, I think it's working out for him. Because you can see, especially when he played in the AFC Championship game, he made a few plays. So he feels comfortable now with where he is. … It looked bad at first for him, but he got used to it, he brushed it off, he thought about getting better and improving and that's what he's done."
Free Agency Preview: Running Backs - Over the Cap
2. Latavius Murray, Raiders
Murray should fall into that good, but not great category of running backs. He’s probably a bit too streaky for some tastes with games in which he looks like a high level player and others where he looks like a replacement level player. The Raiders have never really trusted him to be a workhorse player, and those are rare anyway in the NFL, so teams should view him as a complementary player. Murray probably had more to gain with the Carr injury than anyone but failed to make any impact down the stretch, which is a negative. It’s hard to see a non-contender looking at Murray unless they are just desperate for a name.
Murray should fit in with the CJ Anderson, Gio Bernard, Chris Ivory, and Lamar Miller grouping, with the high end depending on if there is a team that sees enough upside to reach in that $6+ million mark for him. I don’t believe that will happen at this point with him settling into the lower range of a lesser upside player.
Range: 4 years, $4.5-5.5M a year, $7-9M in guarantees, $7-9M guaranteed at signing
3. Eddie Lacy, Packers
If it wasn’t for injury Lacy would be the clear number 2. Despite whatever shortcomings he may have, he is a better player than Murray with far more upside, but he missed 11 games this season with an ankle injury. Lacy started out on fire with back to back 1,100 yard seasons but struggled in 2015 as his weight became a talking point. Lacy claimed he lost 20 pounds in 2016 and was back to looking like a 1,100 yard runner before the injury derailed his season.
In some ways his career arc is not terribly different than Alfred Morris who fell from his position as a star in the making to trying to grab a reasonable contract as a backup. Though Lacy’s last five games were better than Morris’ walk year numbers, I don’t know if five games erases a really bad 2015 campaign. Lacy could probably benefit from signing a 1 year contract and playing well, though at this position there is always a big risk in a 1 year contract. My guess is he’ll go longer term with an incentive laden contract that has more upside than Murray’s contract.
Range: 3 years, $3.5-$4.5M a year, $5-7M in guarantees, $5-7M guaranteed at signing, significant incentives
Subject: Super Bowl 2017: Who put on the best Super Bowl halftime show ever?
Halftime shows are weird, but we care about them a lot.
Lady Gaga is the halftime performer at Super Bowl 51 this Sunday.
She’s got quite an... interesting (?) history in pop culture; for a year-plus in the mid-2000s, she was the pop star dujour, and for good reason. She rattled off a pretty impressive string of hits, and most of them were good. Bad Romance is a perfect pop song. Then she sort of slid off the radar, and released some less-well-received music, and now she’s back with a different look and sound.
I’m hoping we get at least one song of her, singing with just a piano, because that’s when she’s at the peak of her powers. Under the meat dresses and synths, she has a great singing voice.
In anticipation of this weekend’s halftime show, it got me thinking about the truly great performances we’ve witnessed at Super Bowls, and also some of the truly abysmal ones as well.
What was your favorite? Was it Paul McCartney at the Eagles’ most recent Super Bowl appearance? Was it last year’s politically-charged tour de force from Beyoncé? 1998’s homage to Motown? Maybe Prince’s epic?
For me, the best I’ve seen in my 22 years as a football viewer (if you can count Adam at nine months as a football viewer when in 1995 Disney staged an Indiana Jones-themed advertisement, and then Tony Bennett sang some songs) came in 2009, when Bruce Springsteen slid on his knees into a camera, and he yelled about guacamole, and he and the E Street Band started with Tenth Avenue Freeze Out which is just a tremendous song. I love Bruce, and have since I was young, so seeing him on a national stage like that was a truly great moment.
Let me know in the comments which show you enjoyed the most! I’m very young, and have YouTube to search instead of homework to do.
Subject: The Howie Roseman high school all stars
Highly recruited, lightly played players are his specialty
Today is National Signing Day in college football, when high school recruits send Letters of Intent to colleges, accepting their scholarship offers and committing to a program. In the crazy world of college football, it’s a huge deal, with ESPN covering it live, and schools having gone so far as to show a live feed of their fax machine.
For the NFL, Signing Day is just another day of the week, but high school recruiting isn’t, especially for the Eagles. Howie Roseman keeps tabs on the top prospects, and has brought in a few who were once highly promising high school stars that, for various reasons, never got much of a chance to display their talent at the college level.
Bryce Brown was one of the top recruits of 2009. He played sparingly for Tennessee in his freshman year during Lane Kiffin’s one season in Knoxville, then transferred to Kansas State with his brother, which forced him to sit out his sophomore year. He then left the team after three games for personal reasons. Roseman drafted him in the 7th round of the 2012 draft (with the pick received for Asante Samuel), where he spent two seasons as a backup before being flipped for a 4th round pick to the Bills (which was traded to Detroit for a 3rd, which was traded to Cleveland in the Carson Wentz deal).
In 2013, Roseman turned to another top 2009 recruit with limited playing time, signing Russell Shepard as an undrafted free agent. Shepard had committed to LSU with the intention of playing QB, but never played the postion beyond a few snaps as a Wildcat QB in his freshman year, transitioning to running back and then wide reciever. He ended his LSU career with more rushing attempts than receptions and just fourteen starts in four years. As a receiver in the NFL, he made an impression in the preseason but was among final cuts and claimed by Tampa Bay and has been on their roster since.
And last season, he traded for Dorial Green-Beckham, one of the top recruits in 2012. As a true freshman, Green-Beckham had an underwhelming season on the field and missed time with a suspension after being arrested for marijuana possession. He had a breakout season in 2013, but after another arrest for marijuana in the 2014 offseason and after shoving a woman down a flight of stairs, he was kicked off the team. He transferred to Oklahoma, forcing him to sit out the 2015 season, and then declared for the draft, never playing for Oklahoma.
There are a few players in the draft that fit the general mold of Brown, Shepard and Green-Beckham of former top recruits who had limited playing time for non-injury reasons.
Derrick Griffin, WR/TE, Texas Southern
Originally a commit to Miami as one of the top WRs in 2013, Griffin transferred after being ruled academically ineligible for the Hurricanes. At Texas Southern he was a two sport star, being the South Western Athletic Conference’s 2016 Player of the Year in basketball. In football, he led the SWAC in touchdown receptions in 2015. In September of 2016, he was kicked off the team being suspended for tardiness, which was his second suspension.
Max Redfield, S, Notre Dame
The 23rd best prospect of 2013 on the ESPN 300, Redfield certainly has the off the field issues down. He entered the season with a chance to emerge as a mid-round safety prospect in the draft, but never got the chance. He was kicked off Notre Dame in October after being arrested for possession of marijuana and a handgun in August. His plea deal on the charges was then scrapped when he failed a drug test in December. Undrafted free agents are the lowest risk transactions, and the Eagles aren’t afraid to add player with character concerns, but given that his issues closely mirror Josh Huff’s, he would seem to be an unlikely option.
Robbie Rhodes, WR Bowling Green
Rhodes appeared in seven games as a true freshman for Baylor after being the 18th ranked recruit on Scout.com and, 21st by 24/7 Sports, both considering him the #2 WR behind Robert Foster of Alabama. After an arrest on marijuana possession and tampering with evidence, which he was never charged for, he transferred to Bowling Green, forcing him to sit out the 2014 season. He played in just four games, mostly as a kick returner, and then in the summer of 2016 was kicked off the team for unspecified violation of team rules.
It’s not an impressive list, but that’s the nature of it. These are once promising players who didn’t get much stability in college. They’re low risk moves that Howie Roseman has made before, and could make again.
Subject: Cooper Kupp is who he is... but that's okay
Can huge production in college translate to the NFL?
Four hundred and twenty-eight catches. Six THOUSAND and sixty-four yards. Seventy-three touchdowns... Those are absolute video game numbers for a four year career and they belong to Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp.
"But Ben!" You say. "He was playing against lesser teams. Those numbers are not that impressive." Well, what if I told you that in his five games against FBS competition, Kupp averaged nine catches, 157 yards and over two touchdowns a game.... Convinced?
Well what if said he did it like this?
Alright. So now you're on board right?
The offense at Eastern Washington is not very complicated for a receiver in terms of route tree, so Cupp saw a lot of production on pop passes, screens, slants, drags, and go routes. So while Kupp saw a lot "gimme" passes, he kicks ass after the catch.
This is not only a crisp out route from Kupp, his transition to runner from receiver is seamless and his vision with the ball in his hands is excellent. Not only does he have very good speed after the catch, he is a tough runner with the ball in his hands.
He consistently does a great job of finding daylight after he catches the ball and powering through tackles to pick up extra yardage.
He is at his best when Eastern Washington lets him work out of the slot, get open against zone, and find yards after the catch.
Kupp should test very well considering how well he moves on tape for a 6'2", 215-pound receiver. His speed is almost instantaneous after he catches the ball, making him such a viable yards after catch threat.
While he is so dangerous in space, Kupp also shows an ability to catch the ball in close quarters.
These are great ball skills and focus by Kupp to secure the ball with one hand despite the fact the defender was interfering with him. Kupp often does not get these opportunities to show off his skills in traffic because he is usually open, but this is an encouraging sign.
Because of EWU's offense, Kupp also has few opportunities to show route-running savvy beyond some slants and out/in routes, but his efficiency in movement is encouraging.
He has quick feed and uses his eyes well to fake receivers, and considering the reports that he killed people all during Senior Bowl week, there is reason to be encouraged about translating to the pros.
Kupp has a lot of encouraging attributes, but there are questions to his game. First, the most obvious issue is that he has a tendency to drop the ball for no particular reason.
These are focus drops, so it is a fixable issue, but an issue nonetheless.
The biggest issue is the age combined with the questions for Kupp's learning curve. Kupp will be twenty-four before his rookie year even starts, which is significantly older than most rookies coming into the league. His advanced age explains why he was so dominant in college and it suggests he likely will not improve much in the league. Considering there are questions about how he can play in traffic, a limited ceiling can be a concern.
Luckily, Kupp is pretty damn good right now. While there are questions, Kupp is great after the catch and does a very good job getting open from the slot against zone coverage. So he can contribute sooner than later.
Pro Comparison: In terms of strengths and role, Cooper Kupp has a lot of Jordan Matthews to his game. Kupp's ability to get yards after the catch from the slot can be a major asset in an offense and, though he could play on the outside, he is best suited playing in the middle of the field. He is a big bodied, athletic receiver who has focus drops, but can still be a valuable role player on an offense.
Cooper Kupp probably will not be a number one receiver in the NFL. The questions about his ability to play on the outside may limit his production ceiling, but his ability in the slot will make him a very viable NFL player. Assuming his flashes as a route runner become more consistent as he asked to do more in the NFL, he will be an immediate contributor. His age hurts the life of his career, but getting a pro-ready option in an offense on a rookie deal is money well spent. For the Eagles, he does not meet the need for a true number one, but he could be a significant upgrade over at least one of the current starters. Considering his age, taking him on day one would be a mistake; however, he would immediately be of great value on day two of the draft, and would start making a positive impact almost immediately.
Subject: The Linc: DGB and Treggs “prioritized getting acquainted with the Philly nightlife”
News and notes for 2/1
Eagles Must Overhaul WR Corps In Free Agency & The Draft - 4 Philly Sports
Now consider that two of their young, potentially promising receivers -- Green-Beckham and speedster, rookie free agent Bryce Treggs – are far from locks to be on the 53-man roster when the 2017 season begins. Both made sporadic contributions in 2016 as one-dimensional weapons. According to team sources, both prioritized getting acquainted with the Philly nightlife over outworking their teammates, in practice.
Amazingly, not even the advice of franchise icon Brian Dawkins, who’s been involved in player development since being hired last summer, sunk in for these young receivers. Had they shown to be coachable, or more interested in self-improvement, they each could have made a difference this past season playing alongside strong-armed, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
"When I got traded I was kind of surprised," Rowe said on Monday. "But at the same time I was like, 'OK, this is a new shot, a new opportunity.' I was like, 'If Bill sees something in you, shoot, he sees something in you.' So I tried to make the best of it and now five months later I'm in the Super Bowl in my hometown.
"That's just like surreal."
Rowe is still one game away from claiming a championship, but there was certainly a sense of déjà vu during media night. A year ago, it was offensive lineman Evan Mathis who was playing in the Super Bowl after the Eagles had released him. Former coach Chip Kelly was behind that decision, and Howie Roseman was behind this one, but even the Eagles executive recently admitted that maybe he was having second thoughts.
"To say that we don't go back and think about [decisions] and think about if we were right, I mean that's part of it you know?" Roseman said a week ago. "You want to hit as many as you can, but when you're watching games of other players that you had here, that's the hard part about doing it."
Corry believes DeSean Jackson will try to stay in the $8 million per season range, while Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills will try to vault past the deal the Rams gave to Tavon Austin ($10.5 million average, $28.5 million in guarantees) last summer.
"That's a benchmark for any receiver that's not a number one receiver that's a free-agent now," Corry said. "That's one of those deals that I expect teams to try to say, 'That's an anomaly in the marketplace and we don't count that deal.' I'm expecting teams to try and dismiss it, but agents are definitely going to try and use it."
The top available cornerbacks, meanwhile, could demand big bucks.
"You think Byron Maxwell ($10.5 million average, $25 million in guarantees) was a steep price, he's going to seem like a relative bargain compared to what these guys are going to want," Corry said.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has already worked with former Buffalo Bills corners McKelvin and Ron Brooks in Philadelphia, and could be interested in reuniting with Stephon Gilmore as well. Gilmore, though, just played on a fifth-year option worth over $11 million and has hinted that he believes he's worth at least as much as as Josh Norman, who received a five-year, $75 million deal with the Washington Redskins last offseason.
As for A.J. Bouye, the 25-year-old who went from reserve to top-end corner this season, Corry predicts he'll make "at least Janoris Jenkins money -- $12.5 million a year -- at least," despite not having much of a track record before this season.
Subject: Super Bowl 2017: There are some ridiculous prop bets out there
Orange Gatorade all the way.
Every year, folks bet on the Super Bowl. People think the game’s a sure thing, and then they blow money on the wrong team and spend the rest of the night wallowing in their combined lack of sports knowledge AND loss of money! What a day.
There are more things to bet on, however, than the outcome of the game. Thanks to onlinegambling.lv, we’ve got a whole slew of ridiculous prop bets, some of the best parts of the week leading up to Super Sunday.
Here’s just a sampling of the site’s Super Bowl 51 prop bets, starting with some straight up odds:
Odds on what color Gatorade will be poured on the winning coach:
ORANGE, it is my favorite Gatorade flavor and I like to imagine everyone else realizes it’s the best, too.
Odds the game gets delayed (by anything): 19/1
I would not bet the game gets delayed. It doesn’t happen all that often, and with so many people working to keep the game a well-oiled machine, I’m gonna bet it goes off without a hitch.
Odds Lady Gaga gets booed during the halftime show: 9/1
Lady Gaga is wildly underrated, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she came out with a super dramatic staging sequence to start the performance. Still, Lady Gaga the GOAT.
Odds a fan streaks the field: 4/1
Nah, streaking at the Super Bowl seems like asking to get completely wrecked by a huge security guard hopped up on Super Bowl Sunday adrenaline. No thanks.
And here are some over/under prop bets…
O/U on the number of times the phrase “greatest of all-time” is said during the broadcast: 5.5
OVER. They’d better say it about a zillion times, because Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time, YEAH I SAID IT.
O/U on the number of times Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are seen on screen during the broadcast: 4.5
OVER which is rough because ugh Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, but good because we get to marvel at the beautiful beast that is Buck’s beard.
O/U on the length of the broadcast: 215.5 minutes
OVER, this only requires 3:36?! These two teams are going to be throwing a lot and scoring a lot. Incomplete passes stop the game. Scores stop the game. Gimme a four-hour affair!
O/U on the number of times FOX show stars are shown in the crowd during the broadcast: 1.5
OVER, although please don’t ask me who FOX stars are before the game starts, I do not watch cable and am terribly uninformed.
O/U times Robert Kraft and family are shown during the game: 2.5
UNDER, I think it’ll happen just twice, but I don’t know anything about how often this actually happens. Zero would be better.
O/U commercials parodying Donald Trump: 1.5
OVER, he’s literally the only thing we’re talking about these days, there’s no way there aren’t at least five.
O/U commercials featuring Peyton Manning: 1
OVER, I love Peyton Manning commercials. he’s kind of a morally questionable dude, but he’s got very good comedic timing. Super Bowl commercials have been lame lately, and he can fix that.
Subject: 9 defensive players the Eagles met with at the Senior Bowl
A local freak athlete made an impression in Mobile.
The Eagles met with a good number of the players who came to play at last week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Al. They usually talk to more than we ever figure out, but thanks to folks who head down to Alabama in January to watch college football players practice for a week, we know at least a handful of these folks.
Yesterday we looked at eight offensive players they talked to.
Today, we examine nine defensive players:
LB Carroll Phillips, Illinois
CBS OLB No. 12
Walter Football: “Phillips is a sleeper prospect who some NFL teams love and others are lukewarm on. The teams that love Phillips say he is super athletic and twitchy. They feel that his speed and athleticism is very similar to Leonard Floyd. Like Floyd at Georgia, Phillips can struggle some on run downs; however, they feel that he is a gifted, natural pass-rushing talent. The teams that aren't in love with Phillips don't see him as a high pick, as one could expect.”
DE Keionta Davis, Tennessee-Chattanooga
6-foot-3, 274 pounds
CBS DE No. 16
Draft Blaster: “Non-stop motor that can work inside with power and around the edge with speed. Has proven to be effective when facing top end, NFL-caliber talent. Uses a variety of moves, and can confuse blockers. Tireless on the field, should intrigue a team early on day 3 with his productivity and versatility.”
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
6-foot-7, 280 pounds
CBS DE No. 10
CBS Sports: “Fires off the ball, routinely blowing past offensive tackles with his initial burst to the outside. Complements his speed rush with an effective counter back to the inside off of a strong jab step. Strong hands to rip through the reach of tackles, slapping them away. Good flexibility and core strength to fight through contact on his way to the backfield, including through double-teams.”
DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
6-foot-4, 250 pounds
CBS DE No. 11
Bengals.com: “He’s big enough and strong enough that he can play a 4-3 end … More and more you’re seeing in the league 4-3 defensive ends in college and could even be productive but don’t have the size and they’re moved to 3-4 linebacker and it’s hard to learn how to drop into coverage and come out of their breaks. But when you have a guy like Derek who can do both, he’s attractive to every team.”
DE Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
6-foot-3, 255 pounds
CBS DE No. 17
CBS Sports: “He pairs an explosive first step with arc speed to threaten the corner and keep offensive tackles on their toes. Smoot bends well and is able to convert his initial quickness to power, driving blockers backward toward the pocket. He also shows much improved block recognition from his sophomore season, quickly reading and identifying the quickest route to the backfield.”
DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
6-foot-4, 255 pounds
CBS DE No. 9
PFF: “He’s beat up on opposing right tackles, rushing off the left side on 96.8 percent of his rushes, but the production is difficult to ignore. Willis uses strong hands and a variety of moves to rank fifth overall as a pass-rusher at 89.5 while posting the top grade against the run at an identical 89.5. Willis didn’t come completely out of nowhere as he had a strong 2015 season, but he’s taken his game to a new level and even in a deep class, Willis will garner more notice.”
DT Ryan Glasgow, Michigan
6-foot-3, 299 pounds
CBS DT No. 13
PFF: “Glasgow’s consistently defeated one-on one blocks, and opponents haven’t been able to move him off the line of scrimmage on double teams. In addition to his dominant run play, he’s averaging a pressure once every seven pass rushes, an impressive ratio for a nose tackle.”
DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
6-foot-3, 312 pounds
CBS DT No. 8
FOX Sports: “He was able to use his strength to bully opposing offensive linemen, and that trait should carry over to the next level. In the NFL, Tomlinson looks like a nose tackle candidate who has the versatility to play a 3-4 end position. He will not offer a lot of pass rushing skills, but he will provide enough value to stay on the field most downs.”
ILB Ben Boulware, Clemson
6-foot, 235 pounds
CBS LB No. 12
Draft Blaster: “A smart, productive inside linebacker with good enough range and agility, and strong recognition skills. A special teams standout, which will buy him time to develop in the right system. A good fit as a middle linebacker in a cover 2 type defensive scheme.”
Subject: Free agent running back options are uninspiring
Probably best off running away from these guys
The Eagles have a number of needs this offseason, among them a true starting running back. The days of the “bell cow” running back aren’t numbered, but with teams on deep playoff runs in recent years rarely featuring a big workload running back, they aren’t in vogue either.
With that in mind, the Eagles approach of filling lineup holes with at least short term solutions could very well be an option for the Eagles at running back. The draft is considered deep at the position, but that guarantees nothing.
Having traded for Darren Sproles in 2014, Howie Roseman has shown that if the price is right, he’ll bring in a veteran running back. Could the price be right for a free agent this year? As you can probably imagine, it’s not an exciting group of players to chose from.
This will be quick: the Steelers are prepared to give Bell the franchise tag to ensure he doesn’t go anywhere while they work out a long term deal. He’s not going anywhere.
If he hits free agency, a 31 year old player that the Patriots don’t want should be enough to scare off anyone, as should any running back his age coming off a career high in touches.
Jamaal Charles/Knile Davis
We’ll lump these two Chiefs together for the obvious reason, which we’ll cover in a moment.
Charles will almost certainly be a cap casualty. He’s 30, which is already old for a starting running back (of the top 64 running backs by rushing attempts, just seven were in their age 30 season or older), missed 11 games in 2015 with an ACL tear and 13 in 2016 recovering from it, and KC saves over $6 million cutting him. There’s no reason they should bring him back.
Davis is scheduled to be a free agent, re-signed by the Chiefs during the season after they traded him to Green Bay, who then released him, he was then claimed off waivers by the Jets and then cut the next day. He had just 12 carries in five games during his second stint with the Chiefs. They obviously do not have strong feelings about keeping him.
Charles still wants to play, and of course Doug Pederson is extremely familiar with both him and Davis after their time together in Kansas City. But don’t expect Pederson to push for any familiar faces in free agency:
In year two, like I’ve told several coaches down here already who’ve asked me about year one, is we’re going to look at our players this spring. We’re not going to look at Kansas City, or San Diego where Frank Reich was at.
That should also read as a hint that just because someone played for Jim Schwartz before doesn’t mean they will again in 2017.
The Eagles should stay away from Charles for all the obvious wear and tear reasons, and there appears to be no reason to expect them to pursue Davis as a low cost option either.
If you’re looking for an under the radar signing, it might just be Cunningham. His playing time understandably decreased after the Rams drafted Todd Gurley, so despite being 27 when the season starts, he has low tread, with just 264 touches in four seasons. He’s a head-on runner that would give the Eagles a short yardage option they’ll lack without Ryan Mathews. He’s also a solid pass catcher out of the backfield, with 93 career receptions for a very good 8.1 yards per catch (for comparison’s sake, Darren Sproles’ career average is 8.7). And he has added value as a very good kick returner, with a career 27.1 yards per return average on 95 returns.
Starting running back he is not, but Cunningham could cheaply fill some of the void of Ryan Mathews and Kenjon Barner with one roster spot, and let the Eagles enter the draft with the flexibility of not needing a particular type of runner.
Dunbar is similar to Cunningham in that despite being 27, he hasn’t been used much (162 career touches) and saw a decrease in playing time once his team drafted a running back high. He’s been a useful but low usage player during his time in Dallas, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and 10.0 yards per reception from 2012-2014 before a mini-breakout in 2015, when he averaged 80 yards from scrimmage a game in the first five games before suffering a season ending knee injury. The Cowboys have no cap space, so they won’t be able to retain him, he could give the Eagles a low cost pass catching option, but they’d still need someone to fill that short yardage role.
A few years ago Andre Ellington looked like he was ready to break out into a star, but it never materialized. Ellington had a fine rookie season in 2013, gaining 652 yards on a league-best 5.5 yards per carry, and added 39 catches for 9.5 yards per reception. As the Cardinals’ starter in 2014, he regressed heavily as a runner with a paltry 3.3 yards per carry, though he was still an effective pass catcher with 46 catches for 8.6 yards per and played through foot and hip injuries before missing the final three games. He lost his starting job in 2015 when the team signed Chris Johnson and rookie David Johnson emerged as the season progressed. A change of scenery might do him well. He can give the Eagles another pass catcher out of the backfield, but wouldn’t give the team anything in short yardage that they don’t already have.
If he’s not re-signed by the Packers, Lacy would be a big question mark in free agency. He put up back-to-back seasons of over 1400 yards from scrimmage in 2013 and 2014, regressed in 2015 and then bounced back in 2016 before missing 11 games with an ankle injury. With Ty Montgomery ably taking over starting running back duties and the draft heavy at running back, the draft heavy Packers could easily part with Lacy. He’d give the Eagles a tough runner who can catch the ball, but they’d be getting a running back coming off an injury and whose last full season was a disappointment.
The Raiders have a decision to make with Murray, do they retain the starting running back that has coincided with Derek Carr’s ascent, or do they move on from a running back that has been a decent stat compiler with average efficiency? Murray’s 4.0 yards per carry as a starter is middle of the pack, and his 6.7 yards per reception is below average for a starter. He’d give the Eagles a big back they lack, and he has just 7 fumbles on 634 career touches. But he’s likely to get far too much money for what he’s contributed.
Peterson is entering the final year of his contract, and will count for $18 million against the cap. The Vikings have to figure out what they want to do with him. He’ll be 32 when the season starts and is coming off missing 13 games due to injury. If they want to trade him there should be suitors, and if he hits free agency he’ll have his choice of teams who think they’re just a running back away. The Eagles aren’t one of those teams.
Subject: Penguins to dress like giant bottle of mustard at Stadium Series game
Penguins release their full uniforms (helmet, socks) for the Stadium Series game and, oh God, there's so much yellow. pic.twitter.com/UAc6cHQYVk— Post-Gazette Sports (@PGSportsNow) February 2, 2017
Subject: Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny scratched because everything is bad
What’s even the point of watching this team if they aren’t going to play the players who make them fun?
After the other night’s 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, I was really considering just skipping tonight’s game. I mean, the sheer existence of the Montreal Canadiens makes me want to rip my eyes out anyway, so I’d really need a good reason to not sit this one out. Re-runs of Parks and Rec are easily more appealing than this team right now.
And Dave Hakstol is somehow making it worse.
According to various reports in Voorhees this morning, Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny will both sit tonight. Dale Weise will come in for Konecny and Nick Schultz will come in for Ghost. Quick, somebody pull up the Piers Morgan “I want to die” tweet.
I think this sums it up well, actually:
Flyers making us sit through a seven year rebuild at least play the friggin fun exciting players fart crap Vandevelde & MacDonald go screw— Zoo With Roy (@zoowithroy) February 2, 2017
I’m sick of this “message sending to the young kids” crap. If you’re gonna play a rookie like Konecny in the NHL, he’s going to make mistakes. And he isn’t going to learn from those mistakes by sitting in the damn press box, especially when night-in, night-out he makes the team leaps and bounds better than Dale Weise does. Are we not in a playoff race? Does every point not matter here, or am I going crazy?
The same goes for Ghost, who plays a style that’s always going to lead to pucks in the back of his own net. It’s just the reality. But arguing that he’s hurting the team or a major part of the reason they are losing the majority of their games right now is ... whatever, let the smart guy talk:
Gap in evaluation between "Ghost is a mess!" & "Ghost is fine!" crews really comes down to this:— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) February 2, 2017
5v5 On-ice Goals%: 34%
5v5 Corsi%: 53.7%
The tenet driving the latter group is that attempt differential better predicts future goal differential than past goal differential does.— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) February 2, 2017
For the former group, it's simple. He's on the ice for a ton of goals against, & team isn't scoring enough when he plays to make up for it.— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) February 2, 2017
Ghost isn’t bad! He’s not getting the bounces he got last year! That’s really all this is, and to sit him for Nick friggin’ Schultz ... I mean, shit. Let’s just make Brayden Schenn coach:
Schenn: Ghost not playing as badly as people saying. Says he needs one goal to open floodgates.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 2, 2017
It’s pretty easy to lose faith in a coach when he watches the tape from the other night and decides that — in a game where literally everybody played like total crap — Gostisbehere and Konecny are the real problem. And it’d be one thing if this was an isolated incident, but this has happened with Dave Hakstol a ton this season. It’s concerning, and I’m going to pop a blood vessel at any moment.
So, y’all enjoy the game. I’ma go hang out with Leslie Knope.
Subject: Flyers vs. Canadiens lineups, how to watch (if you dare), live stream, discussion thread
idk there’s a hockey game in philly tonight apparently
Tonight’s game is on CSN Philly, streaming on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app. The local radio feed is on 93.3 WMMR tonight. In Canada, the game can be found in English on Sportsnet East. Nationally, NHL.tv has your feed.
- Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
- Dale Weise - Brayden Schenn - MVP Wayne Simmonds
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Meat Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Brandon Manning - Nick Schultz
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Radko Gudas - Mark Streit
- Michal Neuvirth
- Steve Mason
Scratches: Travis Konecny, Shayne Gostisbehere
- Max Pacioretty - Philip Danault - Alex Radulov
- David Desharnais - Alex Galchenyuk - Andrew Shaw
- Artturi Lehkonen - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron
- Jacob De La Rose - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn
- Alexei Emelin - Former Flyer Shea Weber
- Nathan Beaulieu - Jeff Petry
- Andrei Markov - Nikita Nesterov
- Carey Price
- Al Montoya
Subject: ‘Has anybody else jumped to the Fire Hakstol camp?’ Let’s talk about the Flyers coach
The BSH staff got together to talk about Dave Hakstol.
Here at BSH, we have an internal chat room where we talk about the site, fantasy football, happenings around the world, and sometimes hockey, specifically the Flyers. From time to time, we’ll share our chat transcript with you — assuming we actually talk about hockey for more than two minutes at a time without getting distracted.
Today, in the aftermath of Dave Hakstol’s decision to scratch both Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny for tonight’s game against Montreal, we talked about our opinions of the Flyers coach.
This transcript was lightly edited for clarity, and to remove several incredulous interjections about the current state of affairs in Our Nation’s Capital.
Steph Driver [1:16 PM]: has anyone else jumped to the fire hakstol camp?
Kelly Hinkle [1:17 PM]: I kind of want them to but I don't have any idea who would be better that is available
[1:17]: I didnt like Hitch the first time so no thanks
Steph Driver [1:18 PM]: yeah I agree
[1:18]: but this just isn't fucking working
Kelly Hinkle [1:19 PM]: nope
Brent Gold [1:23 PM]: I want Hax gone, esp if the team puts in another clunker or two
[1:24]: I think he earned a stay of execution before the break by winning three straight- had they lost those games he would have been let go over the break
[1:25]: Just my gut
Travis Hughes [1:25 PM]: i’m not done with hakstol per se, but given the amount of coaching talent currently on the market … idk, i’d think about it
Kurt R. [1:25 PM]: he was not going to get let go over the break
Charlie O'Connor [1:25 PM]: brent I really don't think that's the case, he was in no danger
Kelly Hinkle [1:26 PM]: Bill made a lot of really going points on twitter dot com today
[1:26]: I kind of can't wait for radio this week now
[1:26]: good points
Charlie O'Connor [1:26 PM]: if the flyers miss the playoffs this year i still wouldn't put the chances over 50% that he gets fired.
Kurt R. [1:26 PM]: firing him then would have been similar to giving him an extension after the winning streak, which would also have been silly
[1:26]: love too make going points
Kelly Hinkle [1:26 PM]: thx
Kurt R. [1:26 PM]: yw honx
Brent Gold [1:26 PM]: Eh.... I wasn't sold on him during the streak either
Charlie O'Connor [1:27 PM]: there's a lot of talk about "systems" when it comes to Hak, but i wonder how many people actually know what that means
Kelly Hinkle [1:27 PM]: i don't think anyone does honestly
Kurt R. [1:27 PM]: (very few)
Charlie O'Connor [1:27 PM]: hahahaha yea
Kurt R. [1:27 PM]: is the system good? --> is the team winning (y/n)
[1:28]: this was the big thing with laviolette
Brent Gold [1:28 PM]: I take systems to mean style of play
Kurt R. [1:28 PM]: everyone assumed his system got stale in 2012-13 when the team stunk
Jow Pergola [1:28 PM]: But what about play drivers
Charlie O'Connor [1:28 PM]: I mean, my thoughts regarding hak's systems are that I really, really like what he has the flyers do in the neutral zone. they generally win the entry battle because they are super aggressive in challenging opposing entries and cut off lots of passes. it's not a passive style
Kurt R. [1:28 PM]: idk, maybe the problem was that the team replaced jagr jvr and carle with fedotenko knuble and lschenn.
Charlie O'Connor [1:28 PM]: i'm far less convinced that their offensive and defensive zone structures are anything special
Jow Pergola [1:28 PM]: Knuble lmao
[1:29]: He was like 48 at that point
Kurt R. [1:29 PM]: and bruno gervais
[1:29]: (should of kept)
Charlie O'Connor [1:29 PM]: they mostly run an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck, which is good because most of the really good NHL teams do that
Jow Pergola [1:29 PM]: KENT HUSKINS
Charlie O'Connor [1:29 PM]: but once they control the puck, there's way too much low-to-high play and not enough originating from behind the net
Kurt R. [1:29 PM]: bruno gervais, who they signed because he was max talbot's best friend
Brent Gold [1:29 PM]: That ‘13 blue line was an injured mess
[1:30]: I notice that too
Kurt R. [1:30 PM]: remember when oliver lauridsen had like 3 good games and people were all "i think he's a keeper!"
[1:30]: (narrator voice: "he wasn't.")
Jow Pergola [1:30 PM]: Kevin Marshall imo
Brent Gold [1:30 PM]: It's very apparent when watching other teams play
Jow Pergola [1:30 PM]: I saw a Kevin Marshall jersey at the AHL all star game
[1:30]: Like what are you doing with life
Kurt R. [1:30 PM]: severa people are typing
Kelly Hinkle [1:30 PM]: didn't we have a talk about Hakstol's system early on radio?
Charlie O'Connor [1:30 PM]: the defensive zone play is interesting because they actually do a decent job at suppressing shots from the slot. i haven't delved into d-zone coverages yet (summer project!) but it's odd to me that they give up fewer than average scoring chances yet allow so many goals.
Kelly Hinkle [1:31 PM]: I remember stuff about us liking that its an aggressive system that just doesn't yet have the talent to work
[1:31]: but will someday
[1:31]: and then it will be good
[1:31]: I dunno if I believe that anymore
Charlie O'Connor [1:31 PM]: is it just the goalies? or is it that on the relatively infrequent occasions when the team defense screws up, it screws up BAD
Jow Pergola [1:31 PM]: To quote a great philosopher "DAVE HAKSTOL WHAT ARE YOU DOIN"
Kurt R. [1:31 PM]: i saw something today that said steve mason has stopped something like 99% of low-danger shots this year
[1:31]: he must just be really shitting the bed on the high-danger ones
Charlie O'Connor [1:32 PM]: basically my underlying point is the neutral zone play is great. but that's not the whole system
Kelly Hinkle [1:32 PM]: Jow I am actually bad, thanks
Kurt R. [1:32 PM]: the point is that if you can't explain a system beyond "it's not working" or "they're playing poorly", you shouldn't try to
Jow Pergola [1:32 PM]: So once they fall back into the d zone they shit the beach, Charlie?
Charlie O'Connor [1:33 PM]: #shitthebeach
Steph Driver [1:33 PM]: @ me next time Kurt
Charlie O'Connor [1:34 PM]: i do think they leave the defensive zone too soon sometimes on exits. and that's partially because the d-men have the green light to jump into the rush more than the average team
Kurt R. [1:34 PM]: lol did i do that
[1:34]: my bad
Travis Hughes [1:34 PM]: lol steph
Kurt R. [1:34 PM]: also, steve mason has the second-worst high-danger save percentage in the NHL
[1:34]: this season
Charlie O'Connor [1:34 PM]: sounds about right
Kurt R. [1:35 PM]: still doesn't answer the question of "is it mason, or are the bad screwups just particularly egregious"
Charlie O'Connor [1:35 PM]: and that's where the question is -- has mason just been really really bad on high-danger shots? or are most of the high-danger shots legit unstoppable
[1:35]: well not most. but a higher percentage than you'd expect
Kurt R. [1:35 PM]: hes been slightly below average in medium-sv and great in low-sv
Brent Gold [1:36 PM]: Inverse hextall
Charlie O'Connor [1:36 PM]: IIRC mason has always been “just decent” in HD sv%. that's why some people in the stat community have questioned the consensus that Mason is actually great because his 5v5 save percentage has been awesome
[1:36]: because HD sv% is more repeatable year-to-year than other locations
[1:36]: problem is, with goalies, nothing really has particularly high y2y repeatability so /shrug
Kelly Hinkle [1:39 PM]: goalies are weird
Charlie O'Connor [1:39 PM]: basically... i don't think hakstol's system is unassailable. but that doesn't mean it's all bad. there are good parts and parts worthy of legitimate skepticism regarding their effectiveness
[1:39]: so often i see people say "i like his systems but his player management is bad"
[1:39]: ...i don't think the systems are perfect either
Kelly Hinkle [1:40 PM]: Charlie, do you think there's been a marked change in the system since the start of the season?
Charlie O'Connor [1:40 PM]: not really
[1:40]: they pretty much do the same stuff
Kurt R. [1:40 PM]: i think that what happened is people saw last year's team, which on paper was pretty eh, make a late run to the playoffs and decided "this system must be good"
Kelly Hinkle [1:40 PM]: that feels right kurt
Kurt R. [1:40 PM]: "because they couldn't be winning all these games and posting good possession numbers otherwise"
Kelly Hinkle [1:41 PM]: Do we think whatever this system is would be actually good with a more talented team?
Charlie O'Connor [1:41 PM]: i mean it would be better
Kelly Hinkle [1:41 PM]: but not because of the system, because there are better players
Charlie O'Connor [1:41 PM]: yeah
[1:42]: i think as long as the shot selection stays the same, 5v5 goal scoring will always be a bit meh
Kelly Hinkle [1:42 PM]: i guess what I'm wondering is, and this is probably a stupid thought, but like...is there some system that could make this team better and Hak just doesn't run it
[1:42]: or is Hak failing because the team is bad
Charlie O'Connor [1:42 PM]: LA runs a similar o-zone system and usually has one, maybe two players over 2.0 5v5 Points/60 every year
[1:43]: they just prevent goals a lot better than PHI has this year
Charlie O'Connor [1:43 PM]: kelly that's an interesting question
Kurt R. [1:43 PM]: interesting how the flyers traded drew doughty to the kings and now they're good
[1:43]: do you think the flyers system would work if they had never traded doughty???
Charlie O'Connor [1:44 PM]: truthfully i don't know. i'd like to see what they could do with different offensive zone tactics. more direct attacking the slot
Kelly Hinkle [1:44 PM]: I'd also like to see what they'd do with an optimized lineup but shrug
slackbot [1:44 PM]: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Charlie O'Connor [1:44 PM]: at the same time, does hak have them playing primarily low-to-high because that's just what he likes? or because he's determined that the team won't score any other way?
Kurt R. [1:45 PM]: so this is where the conversation about Having A Natural Scorer comes back into play, doesn't it
Charlie O'Connor [1:45 PM]: the funny thing is that it's less a natural scorer
Kelly Hinkle [1:45 PM]: flyers need a Scorer
Charlie O'Connor [1:45 PM]: a team filled with "snipers" would prob take a lot of outside shots
Kurt R. [1:47 PM]: trabs we should post this transcript on the web site
Kelly Hinkle [1:47 PM]: cheap content i like it do it
Travis Hughes [1:47 PM]: yeah i like that
Kelly Hinkle [1:48 PM]: Deep Thoughts With The BSH Gang
Subject: Flyers vs. Canadiens recap: Of course the Flyers won that game
What, did you think they were going to lose after we spent the whole day criticizing the coach’s lineup choices?
The lead-up to tonight’s game amongst Flyers fans was largely one of discontent. The Flyers scratched not one but two of their exciting young players in Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny, making them the proverbial scapegoats from Tuesday’s monstrosity of a game against the Hurricanes. This — coupled with the insertion of other not-exactly-fan-favorites Dale Weise and Nick Schultz into the lineup — made a healthy portion of the fanbase less-than-thrilled, and that includes us here at BSH.
So really, after all of that (still-justified, in my opinion) hand-wringing, was there any doubt that the Flyers were winning this game?
Whatever message Hakstol was trying to send with his lineup choices clearly seemed to have gotten through to the rest of the team, as they put together one of their soundest defensive games of the season and rallied from an early goal against to pick up a 3-1 win over Montreal. The win was their fourth in five games, and it gave them two points to start off this crucial five-game homestand that is now underway.
The game started out pretty poorly for the Flyers, by almost all accounts. Montreal would totally control the game’s first five minutes, getting all five shots on goal that occurred in that time and capping it off with a one-time goal from recently-acquired defenseman Nikita Nesterov. The shot came at the end of a good shift from Montreal, and at that point one could have been forgiven for believing that we, the people, were in for a long night.
But luckily that wasn’t the case! Instead, the Flyers managed to get the better of the play for the rest of the contest. Montreal would only pick up nine shots on goal between the moment where they scored their first goal of the night and the 13-minute mark of the third period, thanks largely in part to a Flyers team that played a very tight game defensively.
Of course, “very tight defensively” often comes at the expense of the team’s offensive capability, and in that sense, this game really was a slog for much of the night. Things were certainly not quite at the level of Tuesday night’s debacle in Raleigh, but offense seemed like it was at a premium for the guys in orange as they played a pretty conservative game. Only the Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek line did much at all in the way of generating quality chances in the first two periods, and all-world goalie Carey Price was there to snuff those chances out when they came around.
But the Flyers would luck out a bit late in the second, as a very stupid and unnecessary Andrew Shaw interference penalty on Nick Cousins would give the orange and black their second power play chance of the game. And it was a shot by Giroux from the top of the right circle that would tie things up, as a Wayne Simmonds screen impeded Price just enough that he’d flub Giroux’s shot and let it through.
That 1-1 tie would stand into the third period, and it was at that point that the Flyers, who had been a one-line team for most of the night, seemed to pick up the urgency a bit across the board. And 3:32 into the third, a 3-on-2 that started with a Nick Schultz pass up the boards from behind his own goal line (I mean, what?) ended with Matt Read launching an absolute rocket past Price and into the top-left corner of the goal, giving Read his first goal since before Halloween and giving the Flyers their first lead of the game.
And for the most part, other than one flurry of shots on Neuvirth with just under seven minutes left, the Flyers actually played well and kept Montreal from mounting much of a comeback! And it wasn’t just from going into a shell, either — a number of rushes and near-chances for the Flyers were turned aside in the offensive zone, which isn’t what you expect from a team and lineup like this up a goal in the third period. Color me surprised. In any case, Sean Couturier iced the game on an empty-netter with 14 seconds left.
This certainly wasn’t the most exciting game the Flyers have played this year, and yeah, you’re allowed to worry a bit that the win might lead to more scratchings of good, fun, young players like Gostisbehere and Konecny. But the Flyers largely controlled play after the game’s first five minutes, and if their goal as a team in this one was to lock things down defensively, it’s tough to argue they didn’t do that:
Habs set a new season low with 16 shots on goal tonight.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) February 3, 2017
(16 shots. Hey, that’s the same number that the Flyers had against the Hurricanes. Sorry in advance if any of your good young players are scratched next game, Habs fans.)
And not only that, they mounted a comeback against a team that’s notoriously difficult to mount a comeback against, what with them having the best goalie in hockey and all. So hey, take the wins as you get ‘em. The Flyers will end tonight still in a playoff spot, and that’s pretty cool.
Home again on Saturday against L.A. Go Flyers. Here are your highlights from tonight.
What happens when the Flyers skate around in their own zone like chickens with their heads cut off? Well yeah you can figure it out. pic.twitter.com/1WIwOZEuhS— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 3, 2017
and then he said "VandeVelde is going to go farther in this league than you, Travis" pic.twitter.com/rQLGmT1RWQ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 3, 2017
TIE GAME— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 3, 2017
GIROUX'S SHOT SNEAKS THROUGH pic.twitter.com/v8hKUfUD1k
Daddy Read snipes it pic.twitter.com/W1yoXdeqrj— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 3, 2017
Coots with the cherry on top pic.twitter.com/6jw5nwddDM— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 3, 2017
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Flyers? Never heard of it.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Oh there was a game last night? Had no idea. Don't know what happened. You can probably find a recap somewhere on this website.
*Why didn't we watch, you ask? Because Dave Hakstol continues to make maddeningly poor choices and I'd rather sleep than be bored and/or angry for two hours. [BSH]
*We spent some time talking about Hakstol in the BSH chat. We have thoughts. [BSH]
*Given that Hakstol keeps subjecting us to the same madness over and over again, this article from DGB about the NHL's never-ending "groundhog day" stories feels appropriate. [Sportsnet]
*Keep looking back at happier times with this photo gallery of the top players in Flyers history. [CSN Philly]
*This year's trade deadline has the potential to be kind of exciting, as a number of big name players are allegedly on the market. Allegedly. So it'll probably be boring again. [NHL.com]
*Speaking of, here are ten under-the-radar trade targets that might put teams that aren't trash (like the Flyers) over the top. [The Hockey News]
Subject: The best photos from the Flyers win against the Canadiens
February 2, 2017: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens featured photo gallery