Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia is poised for a bounce back season in 2017
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 2/15/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
The Four NFL Teams That Will Bounce Back in 2017 - The Ringer
The Eagles ended the season in last place of the NFC East with a 7–9 record, but finished with a whopping plus-36 point differential. That was not only better than two teams that finished ahead of them in the division (the 8–7–1 Redskins at plus-13, and 11–5 Giants at plus-26), but outpaced the 12–4 Raiders (plus-31), the 10–6 Dolphins (minus-17), the 9–7 Titans (plus-3), the 9–7 Lions (minus-12), and the 9–7 Bucs (minus-15). This meant that Philly ended the year 2.21 Pythagorean wins below expectation — despite being dealt the second-toughest schedule in the NFL, per DVOA.
13 players the Eagles can get rid of to save cap space - BGN
The Eagles can save at least $20 million.
Facebook Live Chat With BLG & JB - BGNRadio.com
Check out the new updates at BGN Radio’s site!
Thoughts on 12 'other' free agent wide receivers and their fit with the Eagles - PhillyVoice
Quick was still recovering heading into the 2015 season, as he had to wear a yellow beanie over his helmet for training camp so his teammates knew they were not allowed to hit him hard. He did not play until October, and had just 10 catches for 102 yards with no TDs on the season. In 2016, Quick bounced back to some degree with 41 catches for 564 yards and 3 TDs, all of which were career highs in a God-awful offense. Doug Pederson has noted his preference for bigger receivers, and Quick could be a low-cost No. 2 target in free agency, as in a second guy they sign after a legitimate difference-maker.
Some RB Talk - Iggles Blitz
Lacy is talented. He is a big, power runner who would be interesting to pair with Sproles and Smallwood. Lacy is very physical and that’s something Mathews brought to the offense last year. It would be good to have a physical presence in the run game. This would be a complete roll of the dice. Lacy might not work out at all. But you only try this on a cheap, one-year deal. You see if you can catch lightning in a bottle.
Previewing the Eagles' offseason: Running backs - Philly.com
Wendell Smallwood could become the primary ball carrier, or he could just share duties with Sproles and whomever. I don’t think we saw enough from the rookie to rule out that possibility. My sense is that he projects more as a No. 2, but the Eagles might have higher expectations for their 2016 fifth-round draft pick. Smallwood rushed 77 times for 312 yards (4.1 avg.) and one touchdown last year. We didn’t see much of him as a receiver (six catches for 55 yards) even though he was effective in the passing game in college. Smallwood needs to improve his blocking, though, if he wants to be on the field consistently on third downs. Sproles was well ahead of him in that regard.
Five moves each NFC East team should make this offseason - ESPN
Sign DeSean Jackson. It's a good story, of course, but it just makes sense for the Eagles to bring back Jackson, their former star wideout, given their offensive needs. Carson Wentz ranked 26th in passer rating on "deep" passes of 16-plus yards downfield, and while coach Doug Pederson installed a relatively conservative scheme for his rookie quarterback, the Eagles desperately need some speed to scare teams off pressing the line of scrimmage while providing Wentz with a big-play weapon downfield.
4 under the radar WR prospects for the Eagles - EaglesWire
Williams is one of the most consistent wideouts when it comes to catching the football. He has a special feel for when to attack the ball on contested catches. His reliable catching ability would be a plus for Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense. Despite his size, Williams is a legitimate threat on the outside. He works at the line to get a release without being jammed and runs precise, smooth routes. Williams is able to generate yards after the catch and plays with an edge, finishing plays like a running back at times.
A look through 10 possible free-agent WR targets for Eagles - CSN Philly
At 28, Britt is coming off his first 1,000-yard season in 2016 just in time to hit the market as a free agent. Britt had some off-the-field troubles early in his career but seems to have moved past that. He posted highs in receptions and receiving yards last season and is a pretty good deep threat. For the Eagles: Sure, Britt should be on their radar. He can stretch the field some and is somewhat of a proven commodity, although they shouldn't expect the type of season he had in 2016 again.
Could Eagles' Chase Daniel solve Jets' never-ending QB dilemma? - NJ.com
So maybe it's time for Maccagnan to think outside the box. Could the Eagles' Chase Daniel be the perfect guy? Maybe. From a talent perspective, Daniel is about average. He's accurate with an OK arm. He won't ever wow you, but doesn't make the back-breaking mistake to cost a game. He has been in the NFL eight years, but attempted just 78 passes. He's a journeyman backup who wants a chance to start. He's tailor-made for new coordinator John Morton's (expected) offense.
Quarterbacks And Coaching Win In NFL - PE.com
Quarterbacks and coaching. The NFL proved once again on Sunday night in Super Bowl LI that the winning formula includes a high level of performance by the quarterback, in this came the incomparable Tom Brady, and the ability of the coaching staff to maximize talent and make the correct in-game adjustments ...
Which NFL players are getting the franchise tag in 2017? - SB Nation
Yet the Washington brass still seems indecisive about whether to lock up Cousins, which would cause his cap number for the upcoming season to take off even more, and with three of the most lethal weapons in Cousins’ arsenal (DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Vernon Davis) hitting free agency, Scot McCloughan and company need to make a decision sooner rather than later. But again, if the two sides can’t get a deal done, the franchise tag will certainly be an option again for Washington, which used it last season on Cousins.
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Subject: Flyers at Flames recap: Flyers score early goal, fall asleep around 11:00 like the rest of us wanted to, lose game
The Flyers got off to a strong start in Calgary, only to watch things slowly unfold for the worse en route to a tough loss to open up their Western Canada road trip.
So it’s late, and most of you aren’t awake to read this recap right now anyways. My guess is that most of you didn’t even stay up to watch it. Luckily, I’m here to do that for you! Below is my live, beat-by-beat reaction to the Flyers’ 3-1 loss in Calgary on Wednesday night. Follow me as we relive the magic of a largely unexciting Wednesday night hockey game in western Canada.
9:00 p.m.: Radko Gudas knows he is going to be up past his normal bedtime tonight, too.
9:20 p.m.: Toronto, the Flyers’ closest opposition in the wild card race at the moment, is losing 4-2 in Columbus right now in the third period. With a Flyers win and Leafs loss, the two teams would be tied up for the final playoff spot in the East, though Toronto will have played one fewer game.
9:28 p.m.: So are the Flames good? I would be lying if I said I pay a ton of attention to the Pacific Division, but it seems like there’s not an easy answer here. They’re just below the playoff cut-off line in the West but it seems like Not All Is Well in Calgary. First-year head coach Glen Gulutzan is currently listed as the third- or fourth-most likely coach to be fired per betting odds, which is never really a good sign, y’know? (Also, Dave Hakstol is showing up in eighth on that same list. We reading anything into that, folks?)
9:30 p.m.: The CSN (actually, it’s TCN tonight!) broadcast just reminded us that this is the first of three straight games out west for the Flyers lmao who needs sleep.
9:32 p.m.: Cripes, they just said the Flyers haven’t won a game in Western Canada in two years? How? These teams (Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver) have all been terrible for a while. Though now that you mention it, Jim Jackson, I do remember this road trip in November of last year in which the Flyers were routinely playing terrible hockey. Right before Ghost got called up, if I remember correctly.
9:34 p.m.: I promise I won’t complain here every time the broadcast goes out of its way to praise Andrew MacDonald’s play of late. I will mention it here, now, and not again. Maybe. No guarantees, actually.
9:36 p.m.: Yeah, that last thing I said was a lie. I am probably going to do this again. I apologize in advance.
9:39 p.m.: Flyers After Dark is underway. Let’s roll.
9:40 p.m.: These Flames jerseys are coooooooool. Good jersey matchup tonight.
9:41 p.m.: HEY A GOAL!
9:42 p.m.: That’s an incredible shift by Matt Read to win a battle along the boards, then win another one right in front of the net to draw multiple Flames — including Brian Elliott — out from the netfront before finding Nick Cousins for the slam dunk in front. Outstanding start in the offensive zone for the orange and black.
9:42 p.m.: Also, woof, Dennis Wideman.
9:43 p.m.: Who does Glen Gulutzan look like? This is going to bug me.
9:46 p.m.: Michal Neuvirth was just forced to wake up from his pre-game nap and make a save for the first time in the game. That’s a shame.
9:47 p.m.: Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re tied. Matthew Tkachuk in front. Basically every guy wearing orange got lost there.
9:49 p.m.: Radko Gudas appears to have taken a hit into the boards (off-screen) and is struggling his way off the ice. This is fine.
9:51 p.m.: Never mind! Gudas is back on the ice. Pretty sure we just got a CSN Fearless Play Of The Game nominee right there. (I will vent about this later in the game, don’t you worry folks.)
9:52 p.m.: I mean, I think it’s really great when broadcasts tell you that a penalty has been called but then go to commercial break before they tell us what it is. I think that’s a thing that makes a lot of sense to do.
9:53 p.m.: Whoaaaaaaa. Five and a game to Alex Chiasson for spearing Nick Cousins. I’m all for power plays but that seems like a bit much for this:
In today's edition of "The NHL rules are basically Calvinball", this got an ejection three days after Nyquist got a double minor. pic.twitter.com/BI8Lr5GFYD— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 16, 2017
Will take it, though!
9:56 p.m.: This is some remarkably bad power play-ing by the Flyers right now. Two minutes in and they’ve barely been in the offensive zone at all. I think the PP has gotten too much crap this year but this is absolutely the worst attempt at a power play I’ve watched all year.
9:57 p.m.: Well then! Sean Monahan just threw the puck over the glass from all the way down the ice. Two minutes of 5-on-3...
10:00 p.m.: ...which also goes nowhere. And then the best chance of the opportunity for the Flyers comes a few seconds after it expires, as Elliott gets over to rob Cousins from getting his second goal of the period. Saying that the Flyers wasted that power play is doing an injustice to anyone who has ever wasted anything in their lives, frankly. No shorties, though. Positives!
10:03 p.m.: Flyers are still outshooting the Flames 12-2 in the game so far, though, so maybe I’m complaining too much?
10:04 p.m.: No, idiot. You’re not. Flyers called for too much man.
10:06 p.m.: Very solid first minute of the penalty kill for the Flyers! Very solid second minute of the penalty kill for Michal Neuvirth. Turned away two or three solid Flames chances to keep us tied up.
10:11 p.m.: Sam Bennett hits Cousins into the bench for some reason. They seem to really not like him. Flyers back on the power play.
Nick Cousins doesn't have time for your bullshit pic.twitter.com/zaCybpZQtW— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 16, 2017
10:14 p.m.: You can guess how that power play ended.
10:17 p.m.: First period is done at 1-1. Flyers outshot the Flames 15-7 and were probably the better team for most of this period but seven minutes of power play time going by the wayside is not what you are hoping to see here.
10:20 p.m.: As always, Charlie is able to take what I’m thinking and say it more eloquently and concisely.
The Flyers dominated every single statistical category in that period, but it still totally feels like they lost it.— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) February 16, 2017
10:34 p.m.: So, like, do any people actually watch NHL Network during the day? I only ask because there’s a commercial for it on NHL.TV right now and I feel like any time I go there when there’s not a game on they’re just showing some old replay of a game. NHL Network should be better than it is, right? I feel like some of the other North American leagues that have set up their own
10:35 p.m.: Oh man that’s a depressing stat from Jim Jackson just now. Across their last four games, the Flyers have outshot their opponents 56-22 in the first period. They also have not led after the first period in any of those games. Tough to find a more Flyers stat than that one.
Also, the Leafs lost to Columbus. Flyers will, sort of, be in a playoff spot with a win tonight.
10:37 p.m.: Second period begins almost the same way the first one did: with a really good shift from that Weal-Couturier-Voracek line. They’ve probably been the best all-around line for the Flyers so far in this one; would be nice to see them rewarded for it.
10:45 p.m.: In the last two stoppages, the Flames have played Booyah, the Flyers’ 2014-15 goal song, and then the Mups song from Fall Out Boy, the Flyers’ 2013-14 goal song. Holding out hope we hear Bro Hymn tonight.
10:46 p.m.: Giroux line (with Schenn and Simmonds) looking a lot more active this period. Making concerted efforts to get the puck in the slot, and—hang on I have to rant about something.
10:48 p.m.: Hey, so remember 57 minutes ago when I said that Radko Gudas getting thrown into the boards, leaving the ice, and then coming back into the game was going to be the CSN Fearless Play Of The Game? Guess what! That’s exactly what happened! I’m going to take a second here and complain incessantly about what is routinely my least favorite part of Flyers broadcasts, which is the CSN Fearless Play Of The Game. It’s not even something they do every game, but it’s something that happens every time a player takes a big hit or does something that leads to him getting injured, hobbles off the ice, and then comes back into the game. What exactly does this have to do with being fearless? “Wow, this guy may have been injured but it turns out he wasn’t. What fearlessness!” Hockey players are really, really tough human beings. We all know that. Glorifying potential injuries seems like a stupid way to attempt to teach us something that we already knew and this segment is really dumb and it should go away.
10:54 p.m.: Jordan Weal, who’s had two good chances on this power play, has probably been the best non-Nick-Cousins player on the Flyers tonight. Still not sure what the Flyers have in him, but this is as good a chance as any to find out, and he seems to realize that and is playing like it.
10:55 p.m.: We’re past the halfway mark of this game and the broadcast team still hasn’t mentioned where Johnny Gaudreau is from. Does anyone know where Johnny Gaudreau is from? I think he may be from South Jersey. Not sure, though.
10:56 p.m.: Speaking of, Johnny Gaudreau, wherever he’s from, he just forced Michal Neuvirth to the splits. Neuvy hasn’t been asked to do a ton so far, but he’s been good when called upon.
10:59 p.m.: Of course, Neuvirth can’t stop shots he can’t see. T.J. Brodie scores from the slot. Good screen from Sam Bennett. Flames lead, 2-1.
11:02 p.m.: And the home team nearly gets another one on a scramble in front. Flyers are on their heels here.
11:06 p.m.: What the — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Micheal Ferland, who can’t even spell his first name right, got in a fight while we were all in commercial break. This is some reeeeeeeeeeal Flyers After Dark shit, right here. It appears Calgary took exception to a hit Bellemare threw just before the break, which prompted the ensuing pugilism.
11:16 p.m.: Yeah that’s about right!
If you like hockey filled with icings, offsides, and bobbled passes, you are gonna love this Flyers/Flames game.— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) February 16, 2017
11:17 p.m.: One last fire drill of a defensive zone shift comes and goes without a Calgary goal and the Flyers will head to the locker room down 2-1. It’s not too hard to see a comeback happening here, because even with their miscues the Flyers have been the better team for much of this game, but that will require the Flyers keeping themselves awake throughout this third period, and I can attest first-hand here that that may not be the easiest thing to do.
11:24 p.m.: Remember earlier in the season, where every time the Flyers trailed early in a game you basically knew they were going to come back and tie things up at least once? It’d be nice to still have the confidence that that will happen now, in February.
11:39 p.m.: The Flyers’ broadcast crew is currently fretting over Johnny Gaudreau’s plus-minus this season. I agree, this is a big concern and the Flames should look to trade him ASAP, presumably to Philadelphia.
11:41 p.m.: Simmonds just pulled a classic Hartnell in front of the net at the end of a solid shift for that line. (He fell down.)
11:43 p.m.: Near miss there for the Flyers off of a Brandon Manning point shot. Save that one for tomorrow night in Edmonton, buddy. It’ll feel better then.
11:51 p.m.: That...was a really nice offensive shift by Andrew MacDonald. Multiple keeps along the blue line to extend a Flyers pressure long enough for everyone else to change. We’ve reached peak Flyers After Dark, guys.
11:57 p.m.: The Flyers have doubled up the Flames in shots on goal so far in this one and are on pace to lose. Turns out that the groundhog woke up and sent us all back to November.
11:58 p.m.: Oh for f...Michal Neuvirth called for playing the puck in the restricted area with 7:23 left. Incredible.
12:01 a.m.: Penalty kill has been good tonight, at least!
12:08 a.m.: Woof, nice catch-up there by Provorov with Michael Frolik to snuff out a potential last-minute breakaway and somehow avoid getting a penalty called on him.
12:10 a.m.: the puck is pinned along the boards below the other team’s goal line WHY AREN’T YOU PULLING THE GOALIE
12:11 a.m.: Welp. The 190-foot clear from Mark Giordano beats Ghost to the Flyers’ empty net. Flames will win this one by a 3-1 score.
12:12 a.m.: The Flyers just took a timeout, down 2 goals with 38 seconds left, for...some reason. They don’t score.
12:13 a.m.: With the Flyers losing at 12:13 a.m. today and starting on Thursday at 9:00 p.m., we could very well be looking at the possibility of the Flyers losing twice in one calendar day. History stands in front of us.
Thanks for reading. If you didn’t watch, congrats on that. Back at it tomorrow against the fighting McDavids. Here’s to Brandon Manning pissing some people off. Go Flyers.
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: West coast road trips are trash poop.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Hey the Flyers played a game last night and it was possibly good and possibly bad, who knows I was sleeping! Go team!
*Is Dave Hakstol's insistence on focusing on defense hurting his team? Signs point to yes. [Daily News]
*Our midterm ranking of the kids under the age of 25 continues with numbers 15 through 11. [BSH]
*For some reason, a group of Flyers' alumni are doing a goodwill tour through Russia. Please don't end up in prison, guys. [Inquirer]
*The Flyers are raising ticket prices on their season ticket holders, as you do when your product is complete trash 4 nights out of 5. [Inquirer]
*Get ready for a lot of these-guys-might-move lists heading into Deadline Day. Here's 30 that could be on the block. [ProHockeyTalk]
*It's possible that the best pre-deadline move doesn't even involve players. It's the Habs getting Claude Julien. If it works out that could be a fun bandwagon to hop on to come playoff time. [Habs Eyes On The Prize]
*If the NHL salary cap stays flat next season, some teams will be affected more than others. [Spectors Hockey]
*And finally, DGB on why defensemen never win the Hart Trophy. [The Hockey News]
Subject: Flames 3, Flyers 1: 10 things we learned from more drab, uninspiring hockey
The Flyers are a team. It’s questionable whether they have played a sport called hockey recently, though.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Why can’t the Flyers score?
All of the Flyers’ current issues stem from this one, simple question. Since January 15th, Philadelphia has scored 16 goals in 12 games, on 354 shots. That’s a 4.52% shooting percentage in all situations, and a 3.46% rate at 5-on-5. Call those statistics any number of unflattering adjectives — horrific, embarrassing, pathetic — and you wouldn’t be wrong. An NHL team seemingly has to actively try to have this poor of a scoring stretch.
There’s three possible explanations for this run. The first is that it’s simply a case of incredibly bad luck. The Flyers do have players with scoring talent on this roster -- Simmonds has a career SH% of 13.4%, Schenn is at 12.2%, even Raffl is at 12.0% — and it’s unlikely all of their true shooting talent levels fell off a cliff at the same time. Maybe this is just a case of absolutely zero of the bounces breaking their way over a month-long stretch. Possibility #2 is that the system and tactics are dragging down everything. Philadelphia does employ a heavy dose of low-to-high passing to create their offensive zone shots, and they are inherently lower-percentage opportunities. And then there’s option #3, which holds that it is totally on the players, and that we need to re-calibrate our expectations of the squad’s long-term shooting talent.
My personal belief is that it’s a combination of #1 and #2. I’m wholly unconvinced that the entire team has forgotten, all at the same time, how to create the circumstances that allow goals to be scored. These are still talented forwards, most of whom are not out of their age-related primes. My guess is that we’re now seeing what happens when you combine a low-percentage shot creation style with a totally snakebitten roster. Every team goes through goal-scoring slumps, but for clubs that don’t take as many point shots as the Flyers often do, they tend to last a week or two at most. Philadelphia is now coming up on Week 5 of this. Poor fortune is clearly playing a role here, but a team has to make its own luck to a degree as well. In too many games during this run, the Flyers have simply not done that.
#2: Last night they did create chances though
All too often, the Flyers have resorted to that low-to-high style to generate a high percentage of their shot attempts. Last night, however, it would be unfair to blame their one goal performance on an unwillingness or inability to get into the slot and netfront areas. Philadelphia actually led in regular scoring chances (at 5v5) by a 32-20 margin, and in high-danger chances 13-6. The result was a 69.68% Expected Goals For percentage, which even exceeded their score-adjusted Corsi of 60.83%. Not only did the Flyers win the raw shots battle, they actually improved upon their edge after adjusting for quality. Look at all of that blue (showing high density shot areas) around the net and the low slot in this heatmap from Natural Stat Trick.
When a team racks up 34 shots on goal, 70 total attempts, and 3.63 expected goals in a game, there’s no reason to believe that they won’t score at least a few actual tallies. Instead, the Flyers could only pot one, despite the process appearing relatively sound. They now have a score-adjusted Corsi at 5v5 of 55.4% in their last four contests, yet have a 1-3-0 record in those games. The stats say that better results are on the horizon, but they’ve been saying that for quite a while now. It’s tough to blame fans if they just don’t buy it anymore.
#3: Strong first periods haven’t mattered
As previously mentioned, the Flyers have carried play over the past four games with little to show for their efforts. A big reason for both of those facts — the play-driving and the poor results — has been the team’s first periods over that stretch. Since last Monday, the Flyers have dominated each of the opening stanzas, but somehow were unable to hit the first intermission with a lead in any of those games. That’s despite winning the shot attempts battle (at 5v5) 89-42 over that the timespan, and the shots on goal battle (all situations) 56-21. The territorial advantage is great, but without earning a tangible lead as a result, it’s little more than a curiosity for now.
#4: Power play in first period wasted all goodwill
Minutes after Matthew Tkachuk tied the game, the Flyers were then given a golden opportunity not just to regain the lead, but to take full control of the contest. Alex Chiasson foolishly decided to spear Nick Cousins at the end of a play, and while a five-minute major seemed harsh for relatively minimal contact, the call was made and Philadelphia would get to spend a quarter of the period with the man advantage. From the start, however, the Flyers were a mess. On their first few entry attempts, it almost looked like they were playing it safe because they knew they had five full minutes, attempting dump-ins rather than being creative through the neutral zone. Then, as they tried to “get serious,” the execution was a disaster, with missed passes and not enough movement from players without the puck.
Calgary then gifted the Flyers a two-man advantage over the final two minutes of the major, as Sean Monahan somehow managed to shoot the puck into the safety netting behind the Flyers net on a clearing attempt. But the highlight of that opportunity was Ivan Provorov and Mark Streit passing the puck between themselves for ten seconds while the rest of the second unit just stood in place. I’ve defended the Flyers’ PP all season, because even when they’re not scoring, they generally create shots and chances at an elite level. But last night, they seemingly forgot everything — controlled entries, reliance on Giroux’s passing, hard work on the boards in puck battles — that makes them so great.
#5: Cousins had a monster first period
It’s obvious by now what role Nick Cousins is going to try and fill during his NHL career — that of the middle-six pest. Matt Cooke is the classic example, or maybe Alexandre Burrows during the seasons when he wasn’t playing alongside the Sedins. Cousins will never be an offensive gamebreaker, but his goal is to hold his own in terms of two-way play while constantly yapping on the ice and attempting to draw penalties. The first period against Calgary last night saw him fill that role perfectly.
Cousins did open the scoring with his sixth goal of the season, but most of the hard work was done by Matt Read on the forecheck to get him the puck staring at a wide-open net. It was Cousins’ ability to draw seven minutes worth of penalties that really stood out, first by getting Alex Chiasson to spear him and be kicked out of the game, and then later inspiring both Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to attack him along the boards, drawing a roughing minor. Sure, the Flyers were unable to score on any of those power plays, but that shouldn’t take away from the ability to draw them in the first place.
#6: Couturier line with second straight dominant play-driving game
In Saturday’s victory over the San Jose Sharks, the new second line of Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Jordan Weal was the standout trio, scoring the team’s only 5v5 goal of the contest and driving play to the tune of an 85+ percent Corsi. Last night, they weren’t quite as strong, but again led the way in comparison to the other three lines, as all of Couturier, Voracek and Weal finished with score-adjusted Corsi percentages over 65%. It wasn’t just empty shot generation, either. The Flyers created 12 regular and six high-danger scoring chances with Couturier on the ice, with Weal and Couturier posting on-ice Expected Goal percentages in the 80s.
Of course, because they play for the Flyers, all three finished with minuses on their records for the game, as they happened to be on the ice when T.J. Brodie’s seeing-eye gamewinner slipped past a screen and by Michal Neuvirth. It was one of only five shot attempts at 5v5 that occurred with Weal or Couturier on the ice. I’d hope that Hakstol looks past the -1 and keeps this trio together for today’s game, because they’re spending a lot of time in the offensive zone, and if anyone is going to finally break through with a goal deluge, it’s probably going to be them.
#7: Top line stuck along the boards
The team’s “top” line of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn was less successful by the advanced metrics. Giroux and Schenn brought up the rear in score-adjusted Corsi on the night (45.87% and 45.73%), and Simmonds was barely over 50%. They also blew the post-faceoff coverage on Matthew Tkachuk’s first period game-tying goal, which put a screeching halt on Philadelphia’s stellar start to the contest.
However, in watching the game, it felt like the trio had the puck for quite a long time, especially in the offensive zone. They were getting there, even retrieving dump-ins and creating possession time, but little was coming of it. On too many shifts, they appeared to be stuck along the boards, furiously grinding in puck battles just to end up creating a weak point shot that would be blocked anyway. You’d think that the line would be able to execute on a simple formula — one of Simmonds/Schenn gets to the front of the net, and Giroux tries to find them — but whether it’s the wingers’ inability to get to the high-danger areas or Giroux’s inability to thread the needle there, it’s not working.
#8: Weal sure looks like he belongs
Aside from Nick Cousins’ penalty-drawing abilities, Jordan Weal’s play throughout the game was was of the few undeniable positives. For the second straight contest, the recent callup has been one of the Philadelphia’s most effective forwards, and what’s been most noticeable has been his improvement in two specific areas. Last season, in his limited stint with the Flyers, Weal lost far too many puck battles along the boards, getting lost among the bigger NHL bodies. This time around, he’s holding his own -- maybe not winning every one, but at least tying up the puck long enough for a teammate to jump in and help him out.
Second, Weal looks faster this time around, which is helping his neutral zone immensely. In fact, on one of his few poor plays on the night, he was skating so rapidly through the middle of the ice that he actually lost control of the puck, which is obviously not ideal, but at least he was moving fast enough that it was even a possible outcome. Last season, Weal looked like a skilled forward, but one who maybe was too small and not quite fast enough to make up for it. Through two games this season, however, it’s been a different story.
#9: Flyers aren’t even facing top goalies
Especially frightening about the 12-game stretch of offensive futility is that the Flyers have often faced backup level goalie talent and still can’t seem to score. Since January 15th, Philadelphia has faced seven goalies that would not rank #1 on their teams’ ideal depth chart, and five starters. That may even be giving them too much credit, since one of those “starters” was Cam Ward (who beat Philadelphia that night, of course). During this run, Philadelphia has lost to such goaltending luminaries as Philipp Grubauer, Keith Kinkaid, Carter Hutton, and now Brian Elliott, who is having a truly horrific season. Maybe the goalies are just performing well above their established talent levels versus the Flyers (or in Elliott’s case, finally regressing to his), but they sure don’t look too threatening on paper.
#10: They lost to a team with one good defensive pairing
Calgary certainly has its fair share of dynamic young forward talent, but their primary weakness is a lack of depth on the back end. Essentially, they have three above-average defensemen (Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie) and then a lot of nothing. Rather than ask each of them to carry one of Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland and Brett Kulak, the Flames have chosen to stack their top pair with Giordano and Hamilton, while hoping that the other two pairings can survive.
Last night, the outcome was predictable, even if Brodie did sneak in a second period goal. Giordano-Hamilton both finished in the black from a Corsi standpoint (59.39% score-adjusted Corsi), while the other two pairs got killed territorially. All four other Calgary blueliners finished below 28%. Somehow, the Flyers still lost to a team with that major weakness on the back end.
Subject: BSH Radio hosts Steph Driver & Bill Matz join in on Valentine's Day fun with The 700 Level Show
Broad Street Hockey Radio hosts Steph Driver & Bill Matz made a lovely appearance on CSN Philly’s The 700 Level Show. Steph and Bill play along with Marc Farzetta as they respond to Flyers based questions using candy hearts.
Be sure to check out the full show, as it airs at 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. tonight on The Comcast Network! While you’re at it, make sure to check out this week’s episode of BSH Radio, featuring your favorite dynamic duo, Steph & Bill (and Charlie and Kelly).
Subject: Flyers Midterm 25 Under 25 Update: Nos. 10 to 6
Two fast risers, two Phantoms, and a Flyers bottom-six forward show up as we reach the top 10 in our countdown.
Onward we trek with our Midterm 25 Under 25 series, which reaches its fourth part today. If you missed any of the earlier parts:
And now, we move to the top 10.
No. 10: Nick Cousins - F, Philadelphia, NHL
It’s timely that Cousins shows up on our countdown today, after he played what was possibly his best game of the season last night in Calgary. Cousins scored the Flyers’ only goal of the night, had the best 5-on-5 shot differential of any Flyers skater, and drew two penalties including a major for spearing, all while clearly be throwing Flames skaters off their game and out of their composure at multiple points in the contest. The strong possession numbers are hit-or-miss for Cousins, and the scoring is more of a bonus, but Cousins’ calling card in the NHL is going to be that of a pest who drives his opponents nuts and goads them into stupid penalties — per minute, he’s currently the most effective Flyer at drawing penalties, an important skill to have for a team that’s so reliant on its power play.
Where does Cousins stand with the team long-term, though? It’s unclear exactly how much Dave Hakstol likes him, or where the team sees him in the lineup. Cousins played a role in the Flyers’ massive bottom-6 improvement in the second half of last season, only to see the coach scratch him in a crucial game in the final week of the season against Toronto. This season, after signing his one-year tender offer last summer, Cousins has spent time just about everywhere, from the center to the wing, and from the second line to the press box. (He also seems to be a preferred choice of Dave Hakstol in shootouts, but after going 2-for-4 in the skills competition last season, he’s cooled off this year to the tune of 0-for-6.)
Still, despite the uncertainty, Cousins does seem to fit the profile of a useful bottom-6 player, even in today’s NHL. He’s not a drag possession-wise (he’s been slightly positive relative to his teammates this year), he can score at least a little bit, and he’s got a skill that makes him useful outside of lighting the lamp (penalty drawing). The kind of guy who’s probably a fourth-liner on a great team, but isn’t exactly out of place on a third line. If the uncertainty we’ve seen in the Flyers’ handling of him this year is real, Cousins could be someone that Las Vegas looks to take in the expansion draft this summer. But if it’s not and the team protects him, he figures to have the inside track on a spot in the bottom-6 for the next couple of years, even with the competition that may be coming from a number of guys we’ve already talked about in this series. Just ... cool it with the shootouts, Hak.
— Kurt R.
No. 9: Samuel Morin - D, Lehigh Valley, AHL
Our speaking about Morin today is also timely, as he was suspended by the AHL for two games earlier today for cross-checking an opponent into the boards on Tuesday. It’s an unfortunate yet not-totally-unexpected development for the big young defenseman, who’s long played with a physical streak and was famously referred to as a “tough”, “mean” Flyer when he was drafted back in 2013. But let’s put the suspension aside and look big-picture here.
While you would maybe like to see a few more points from Morin in his second AHL season, the expectation for him was never that he was going to be scoring like a Shayne Gostisbehere. In a league that is getting faster at the expense of size, Morin has plenty of both of those attributes, and those along with what are, by all accounts, an excellent work ethic and improving on-ice awareness are what he’ll need as he tries to fit the mold of a modern-day stay-at-home defenseman. Morin is already one of the Phantoms’ top penalty-killing defensemen, which is a good sign for his development.
The question for Morin and his fit in today’s game has always been this: how’s his play with the puck on his stick? You can be a good puck-moving defenseman without scoring much, but there’s almost a baseline for how good a defenseman is on the puck for them to be successful nowadays. Highland Park Hockey’s Tim Riday said earlier this year that Morin’s been improving on this front, which is good to hear. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Morin’s the kind of guy who works best with more of a puck-controlling type of defenseman, the way he has been for much of the season in Lehigh Valley with Travis Sanheim. That would free up Morin to do the things he does best — play a strong physical game, cover in the defensive zone, snuff out rushes and deny players from getting speed going in the neutral zone — but with a skillset that hopefully has him much more prepared to take on the speedy lineups he’ll face in the NHL than your typical stay-at-home type.
— Kurt R.
No. 8: Philippe Myers - D, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL
Philippe Myers burst onto the scene as an undrafted free agent signing right before the 2015-16 season. To back up a little bit, he was undrafted in 2015 probably because he only put up 8 points in 60 games the previous season. He wasn’t as highly rated either, garnering rankings in the mid 100’s by ISS Hockey and NHL Central Scouting. Myers came into training camp on an amateur tryout and signed an entry level deal before going back to juniors. We all know the story from here as he blew scouts and fans away with a monster 15/16 season where he put up 45 points (17 G, 28 A) in 63 games with a +52 rating. There was no doubt had the Flyers not signed Myers, he would have been a slam dunk 1st round pick in 2016. What makes Myers so special? At 6’5, 210 lbs, he is already a gifted skater and has the offensive acumen to boot. He sees the ice well and can use his big body to make plays at both ends of the ice. Oh, he is also right-handed and those guys are pretty coveted.
Myers’ 2016-17 has not gone as planned. When he’s been on the ice, Myers has dazzled us with plays like this and this, but those have been far and few between. Myers has had not one, but two concussions in 2016. He missed 6 games in October/November from a brutal hit during a 10/22 against Saint John Sea Dogs. The next came during the U20 World Junior Championship in December where he took another monster hit from Team USA Captain Luke Kunin (who was ejected from the game). Myers was getting top pairing minutes during the tournament and finished with 3 assists in 4 games. Myers last game with Rouyn-Noranda was on 12/9 up until last night’s triumphant return to the lineup! He finished with two assists in the game to bring his point total for the season to 20 (8 G, 12 A) in 20 games.
At this point you just need to cross your fingers that Myers can make it through the rest of the season injury-free (or mostly just concussion-free). He opened a lot of eyes with an impressive training camp and preseason back in September. It isn’t completely out of the question that Myers could force the issue this September and make the jump directly to the NHL next season.
— Jay Polinsky
No. 7: Anthony Stolarz - G, Lehigh Valley, AHL
For all the ink spilled (digitally and in real life) about the massive steps forward the Flyers have taken in terms of their pool of defensive prospects in the past five years or so, you could easily say that they’ve done just as much, if not more, to replenish their supply of quality young goaltending talent. We’ve already profiled three other goalies in this series, and three others in various leagues around the world that didn’t make the cut have some promise as well. But right now the head of the class is still Anthony Stolarz, whose third year with the Phantoms has also seen him make his NHL debut.
The Flyers were clearly reticent to put Stolarz on NHL ice in 2015-16 — he was called up on several occasions due to various injuries to Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, but never actually played in a game during his time in Philadelphia. But this year, Stolarz made two starts and another backup appearance in his time with the Flyers, and even though it would’ve been nice to see him get a couple more chances to play, Stolarz held his own and then some, even posting a shutout in a start in Detroit. While Alex Lyon has actually gotten the majority of the starts in Lehigh Valley this year, due largely to that time spent in Philadelphia by Stolarz, there’s little doubt that the 23-year old New Jersey native is the guy that the Flyers see as closest to NHL-ready in their system, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Ron Hextall and company are mentally penciling him in to a backup role with the Flyers next year.
So with that, I think it’s fair to ask: exactly how good is Stolarz, anyways? The highlight of his pro career so far was the first half of his 2015-16 campaign, which was objectively great. Stolarz posted a .928 save percentage in October through December of 2015, keeping the Phantoms in a lot of games that they probably shouldn’t have been in. But he slowed down in the second half of last year, and in this season — his third AHL season — he’s posted a save percentage of .911, a fairly average if unspectacular mark that also represents a slight step back from his performance last season. In fact, as of this writing, he’s got almost the save percentage as Lyon, who is a year older than Stolarz but is also in his first year in the AHL.
With a slightly better season than the one he’s having now, Stolarz would probably be all but locked in to a role with the Flyers next year — and given their uncertainty and potential cap situation, he’s probably still the clubhouse favorite to emerge from camp next year with the NHL team. But it’s fair to say things have stagnated a bit, and you wonder if the organization was maybe hoping for him to take a bigger step forward and show that what he did in the first half of 2015-16 is who he can be long-term. Despite that, Stolarz is still the most NHL-ready young goalie they have available, and is probably going to get a crack at proving he can be the team’s next long-term answer at goalie within the next couple of years unless things take a turn for the worse. But there are never any locks when it comes to goalies or young player development, and Stolarz’s path shows the uncertainty in trying to project both.
— Kurt R.
No. 6: Oskar Lindblom - F, Brynas, SHL
Since the turn of the century, the Philadelphia Flyers have received positive contributions from all of one player who was drafted in the fifth round or later — Roman Cechmanek, way back in 2000. Sure, the team did draft Dennis Seidenberg (6th round, 2001) and Patrick Maroon (6th, 2007), but neither was able to stick with the Flyers as other teams benefited from the fruits of their labor. About the closest thing Philadelphia had to a “late-round contributor” was Zac Rinaldo, but there’s a very strong case to be made that he actually provided negative on-ice value to the club over his 237-game Flyers career. The back end of the draft has essentially been a desolate wasteland for Philadelphia in the recent past, littered with Michael Duponts and Josh Beaulieus. That’s why Oskar Lindblom’s recent rise has been especially satisfying — finally, the Flyers look like they will get a true NHL contributor from a late-round pick.
Lindblom wasn’t some unknown “diamond in the rough” prospect back in 2014, though. In fact, in the year preceding the draft, Lindblom was viewed as a potential first round pick. However, concerns regarding his skating ability especially drove him down draft boards, to the point where Philadelphia was able to scoop him up in the fifth round. For the next two years, he stayed somewhat under-the-radar despite performances that probably deserved more attention. In many ways, Lindblom suffered from unfair comparisons between production in Canadian junior hockey leagues and in a European league filled with grown men. 40 points in 85 games over two seasons doesn’t seem all that impressive at first glance, especially since many of Lindblom’s peers were posting point per game seasons in the OHL and WHL at the same time. But earning a full-time role in the SHL at ages 18 & 19, scoring at a decent clip, and standing out in every age-appropriate international tournament during that span isn’t that far off statistically from an impressive post-draft run in juniors — it just feels like it is because the raw numbers don’t jump off the page.
Lindblom finally started to turn heads late last season, when he came over to North America on a tryout basis to spend the final weeks of the AHL season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. In eight games, he scored at nearly a point-per-game clip (two goals, five assists) and generally looked like one of the best forwards on the ice at all times. He followed that up with a standout development camp, where his skating issues (obvious in previous camps) seemed a thing of the past. But the real reason why Lindblom has skyrocketed up these rankings has been his stellar play in the SHL as a 20-year old. In 42 games, he has 38 points, easily leading his club and good for third in the entire league. Don’t forget that this isn’t a junior hockey league — it’s a professional league filled with grown men that Lindblom is dominating. The two players currently ahead of Lindblom in the scoring race are 28 and 33 respectively, and not one currently in the top-10 is younger than 24. For reference, the last time a player 21 or younger finished in the top-three in SHL scoring was back in 2011-12, when Jakub Silfverberg finished second. It doesn’t happen often, and when it does, that guy is usually going places.
Sure, one can note that the truly elite Swedish prospects usually come over to North America earlier than age-20, taking them out of the SHL pool. And it’s fair to have some reservations regarding Lindblom’s overall skillset, which while complete, isn’t exactly dynamic. But at some point, the raw production cannot be denied, in tandem with his clear skating improvements and development in all-around talent. Lindblom is comfortable creating chances in traffic, showcases soft hands around the net, and flashes plus hockey sense in all three zones. And while NHL Equivalency charts are far from perfect, it’s notable that per the most recent translation factors, Lindblom would be projected to score about 44 points in the NHL, which is easily top-six winger territory. He has little left to prove in the SHL, so the best guess is that Lindblom will finally sign an entry-level contract at the end of the season and cross the ocean permanently. Whether his 2017-18 season begins in Lehigh Valley or Philadelphia will be entirely up to his performance in camp, but you certainly can’t rule out the possibility that Oskar Lindblom is skating in the Flyers’ top-nine come October. Not bad for a fifth round pick.
— Charlie O’Connor
Subject: Steve Mason’s Stadium Series mask has arrived
It’s really sharp, and it matches the jersey and rest of his gear perfectly.
The Philadelphia Flyers have an outdoor game to play in Pittsburgh on Feb. 25. Because outdoor games always involve a lot of pageantry - what’s the point otherwise, honestly? - they’ll be looking very different.
Mostly black, sharp orange.
Which describes Steve Mason’s new gear for the game.
And now we know it describes his new mask, too.
That’s sharp. That’s really, really sharp. Minimal goalie masks are really under-appreciated nowadays, especially ones that avoid airbrushing all together. Black, orange, Flyers logo, what else is really needed?
It’s the perfect look to go with those jerseys - and seeing Mason in his full getup is sure to be a treat.
Subject: Flyers at Oilers: Lineups, broadcast info, game time, and discussion thread
The Flyers head to the Oilers’ new arena for the first time as we prepare to hear about Brandon Manning for two and a half hours.
Tonight’s game begins at 9:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on TV on CSN Philly or by streaming via CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app. Radio is on 97.5 The Fanatic. Western Canada gets this one via SN West, and NHL.TV and Center Ice have you covered elsewhere.
Michal Neuvirth is in net again, and it sounds like there will be lineup changes of some sort, though we don’t know if they’re jumbling players or changing players. We’ll find out closer to game time. For now, we’ll assume the same lines as yesterday, but will update when we hear more.
Philadelphia lineup (via)
- Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
- Jordan Weal - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
- Michael Raffl - Nick Cousins - Meat Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Mark Streit - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas
- Michal Neuvirth
- Steve Mason
Scratches: Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz, Travis Konecny (inj), Dale Weise
Edmonton lineup (via)
- Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle
- Milan Lucic - Leon Draisaitl - Anton Slepyshev
- Drake Caggiula - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Zack Kassian
- Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Iiro Pakarinen
- Andrej Sekera - Matt Benning
- Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
- Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba
- Cam Talbot
- Laurent Brossoit
Subject: Flyers at Oilers recap: Can we not?
Well, that game sure was a real hockey stick to the midsection.
As we did last night, tonight we’ll walk you through an uninspiring Flyers loss — this one a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Brandon Manning Haters, also known in some circles as the Edmonton Oilers — that you hopefully did not stay up late to watch by way of our minute-by-minute reactions. Enjoy.
8:30 p.m.: I think we get a goal from Ghost tonight. Call it a hunch.
8:43 p.m.: Also it would be fun if we got something cool from Jordan Weal. Guy had more shots on goal yesterday than he did in the first 15 games of his NHL career combined. Gonna have to get on the scoresheet soon if he wants to make his presence here a bit more pronounced, but the performance has been solid even without them.
9:01 p.m.: Hey guys Brandon Manning and Connor McDavid apparently got in a fight or something did you know that? You’d think more people would talk about that.
9:08 p.m.: We are underway! Also, the Flyers are dressing seven defensemen? I don’t quite understand but hey not like anything else is working. MDZ in the lineup, Lyubimov out.
9:10 p.m.: Pat Maroon has a chance snuffed out in front by Manning, his former Phantoms teammate. Did we ever figure out what on earth happened with Pat Maroon with the Flyers? Like, whose Cheerios did he take a shit in?
9:13 p.m.: Well that’s nice. Great up-ice pass from Iiro Pakarinen leads to a 2-on-1 for the Oilers and Matt Hendricks fires a low shot that Michal Neuvirth absolutely has to stop (but doesn’t). 1-0 Oilers, just 2:14 into the game. Good start!
Noted sniper Matt Hendricks scores on something that resembles "defense" pic.twitter.com/oVjdhsRCp8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 17, 2017
9:14 p.m.: Hang on. Flyers challenge for offsides. Doubt it gets overturned though? It’s close though? Question mark?
9:16 p.m.: Goal stands. Timeouts are overrated anyways.
9:17 p.m.: Is the coach’s challenge good? I feel like it’s not good. Taking this much time out of the game to overturn goals that may have been eight millimeters offsides seems like an inefficient way to do this.
9:19 p.m.: On that note, what if we just got rid of offsides? I’ve seen smart people propose this idea and I think I like it? Would be a kinda fun way to increase offense. I don’t know. Maybe I’m nuts.
9:26 p.m.: Manning actually controls the puck for the first time in the game and is promptly booed by the fans. Do you think any player in NHL history that’s less noteworthy than Brandon Manning has had that happen to them in a game?
9:28 p.m.: CSN broadcast just showed us an angle we didn’t actually get on the coach’s challenge, which...I don’t think told us anything new. Pretty sure the call was right.
9:36 p.m.: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Flyers are leading the Oilers in shots so far, but precisely none of them have been from what you’d call a “high-percentage” area. (In fairness, the Oilers also have mostly been kept out of the high-danger zones, but, sometimes, goaltending doesn’t quite do what you’re expecting it to.)
9:38 p.m.: I still can’t believe the Oilers traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. Absurd.
9:41 p.m.: Flyers will get a power play as Milan Lucic has hit ... who else! Brandon Manning. Who apparently is down on the ice, to the delight of a cheering Edmonton crowd. (Only in Philly, they say...) I don’t know what happened yet they didn’t show us a replay and we’re on commercial.
9:44 p.m.: Oh so that’s how we’re playing things tonight. Milan Lucic, noted spearer of players in the testicles (this is a thing he does) (it’s happened on multiple occasions) (three other times, according to Lucic himself) (wait he said that in 2014 turns out he did it again last year), speared Brandon Manning in the testicles ... and Manning was then called for embellishment, to go along with a “slashing” penalty on Lucic. To 4-on-4 we go. That’s nice. That’s really great.
Manning gets speared, called for embellishment— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 17, 2017
Yep. Its one of those nights pic.twitter.com/wYtffaCeWI
9:46 p.m.: And then Draisaitl scores in the 4-on-4. Off an icing faceoff, Couturier’s stick breaks, he goes and the young German gets open in front to redirect a Nugent-Hopkins shot. Sports are bad.
9:48 p.m.: Folks I am not happy.
9:53 p.m.: Aaaaaand the best chance of the night for the Flyers comes and goes without even getting a shot off as Voracek can’t handle a quick pass in front. And then Edmonton turns around the other way and gets three decent chances on Neuvirth and the Flyers’ net, but nothing comes of it and they’ll have to settle for a 2-0 lead going into the locker room.
9:54 p.m.: Scuffles taking place near the tunnels as the teams head to the locker room. Someone got into it with Simmonds. I’m sure that’ll go well for that guy. Just give me this, hockey gods. Not like anything else good is happening tonight.
10:04 p.m.: Here’s something nice, in the event anyone here needs a (retrospective) intermission pick-me-up.
Few 6-3 defenders can make rushes like Travis Sanheim-PHI pic.twitter.com/sTWxRLBVuo— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) February 16, 2017
10:12 p.m.: I’m just now noticing this, but cripes, what is Todd McLellan’s suit?
10:13 p.m.: Alright fine let’s get this go—HOCKEY GOAL FLYERS SCORED ONE
10:14 p.m.: Shades of 2015-16 Sean Couturier there, as he powered his way across the blue line with control and passed from the boards to the netfront, and that’s Radko Gudas of all people in front to knock the puck in (off his skate). Take ‘em how you get ‘em.
10:19 p.m.: Jordan Weal hasn’t been on the bench all period. Flyers have 10 healthy forwards currently in the lineup. May as well just start playing Del Zotto as a forward, right?
10:21 p.m.: Jake Voracek has a chance to tie it on the breakaway but doesn’t get much of a shot off and Talbot closes the pads on him. Jake’s looked good this period, as he has for the last two games.
10:25 p.m.: Aaaaand that will come back to haunt them. Just a brutal defensive shift sees McDavid and co. dance around the netfront, culminating in a Jordan Eberle roof-shot to widen the margin back to two. Quite the unfortunate turn of events here.
10:27 p.m.: And then a point shot bounces off of Brandon Manning’s leg and then off of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ leg and past Neuvirth. 4-1. Sure. This is fine.
10:33 p.m.: And there’s the Brandon Manning fight that we all knew would happen at some point. Spirited bout with Maroon, who grabs Manning right of the faceoff and ultimately gets the better of the scrap there. Can we just fast-forward to the end of the game now?
10:37 p.m.: Oh hey something new! Flyers get their first power play of the game and come out with Gostisbehere and Provorov both up at the points on the top PP and Voracek out with the second unit. Not sure it’s the way I’d go here, but after the egg that the power play laid last night, I guess I get it.
10:39 p.m.: It didn’t lead to any goals.
10:44 p.m.: I will not have a temper tantrum about the CSN Fearless Play Of The Game.
10:46 p.m.: it’s 5-1 now who cares
10:50 p.m.: Flyers just had a power play I think? Arguably? Like, it said “power play” on the TV but it didn’t really look different from 5-on-5 play?
10:51 p.m.: Oh hey a goal! Even in terrible games like this, Wayne Simmonds knows how to make me happy, even despite the muted response from the Train.
*Sad train sounds*— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 17, 2017
Wayne still scored tho pic.twitter.com/IU0ljiWMu4
11:04 p.m.: Jordan Weal is out for the rest of the game. Lucky him, he doesn’t have to watch the rest of this game! (In all seriousness, this is a bummer and hopefully it’s not too serious.)
11:20 p.m.: There’s been one shot on goal, total, in the first six minutes of this period. Congrats for showing up, everybody.
11:23 p.m.: Back on the power play. Voracek back on PP1. Probably for the best; that group’s been cold before and is now but usually they break through eventually. May as well let them try and work it out.
11:24 p.m.: It worked out! Schenn tips home a cross-ice pass from Voracek and the Flyers have scored three regulation-time goals for the first time in a month. Still not exactly getting my hopes up for a comeback here, but this is now, in theory, a hockey game.
We within' two folks pic.twitter.com/X4s5k7TD5W— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 17, 2017
11:40 p.m.: McDavid scores off a neutral zone turnover. He is good at sports, it turns out. Not that a comeback was ever particularly likely but we can pretty much put this one away.
11:49 p.m.: The Flyers have lost eight straight games in Western Canada. Just looking at this season, they’ve scored three or fewer goals in 14 straight games, they’re about to be caught in the standings by Buffalo. Everything is pain.
11:50 p.m.: And my “Ghost scores a goal” prediction didn’t even come true. I’m going to bed.
Off until Sunday night in Vancouver. One last post-8:00 p.m. start time this season. We can make it. The struggle is real, but we can make it. Go Flyers.
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: If no one watches the hockey, did the hockey even happen?
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*The Flyers played hockey last night! Was it good? You tell us, folks.
*Speaking of, Charlie continues to impress by finding ten things to write about in these boring, disappointing games. [BSH]
*Know who isn't boring and disappointing? Philippe Myers. Gonna be fun to watch this kid when he makes the team. [Sons of Penn]
*The midterm 25 Under 25 continues with numbers 10 through 6. [BSH]
*On Robert Hagg, the oft-forgotten defensive prospect. [Courier-Post]
*Have some extra cash lying around? Some pretty cool hockey stuff is going up for auction. [Inquirer]
*Eric Lindros has some stuff to say about his items being auctioned. [Puck Daddy]
*Big E also has a fun little story about his old, unworn Nordiques jersey. [Sportsnet]
*DGB on 10 picks that were traded and ended up as NHL superstars. [Sportsnet]
*And finally, check out our own Steph Driver and Bill Matz absolutely crushing it on television! They're wonderful. [BSH]
Subject: Oilers 6, Flyers 3: 10 things we learned from a season falling apart
Things are bad for the Flyers, and they show no immediate signs of letting up.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
The raw shot metrics may look favorably upon the Flyers’ play last night (52.85% score-adjusted Corsi), but in this one, not all shots were created equal. It was clear on almost every shift that Philadelphia was forced to muck-and-grind their way for every chance, while Edmonton was almost effortlessly generating shots in front of the net or on dangerous speed rushes. Having Connor McDavid helps, to be sure, but it wasn’t just the league’s newest superstar who was racking up chances. Players like Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle also operating on a level far beyond anything the Flyers could muster on this night. There’s a reason why Edmonton led in high-danger chances 14-9 despite Philadelphia having in edge in overall shot volume (66-51 in all-situation attempts), and it wasn’t just bad luck that allowed the Oilers to rack up six goals to the Flyers’ three. Edmonton just executed on far more high-difficulty plays.
#2: How much more of this can the team take?
Throughout this recent slump, there have only been rare occasions (the third period of the Washington loss, and the stretch following Gudas and his “penalty” against the Devils) where the Flyers seemed to let up in terms of effort. The results obviously haven’t been there over the past month, but you can see that the team is still backchecking furiously and desperately trying to win puck battles in the offensive zone. That’s why the shot totals remain strong, and a big reason why (prior to last night) the defense had tightened up their goal suppression. However, I’m starting to wonder if this team has a breaking point.
There’s only so many games that you can lose in tedious fashion while technically outshooting your opponent before you begin questioning the validity of the directives sent your way. That’s not a character issue — it’s human nature. I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that the team’s shooting percentage was due for some degree of positive regression, but if it all comes in games like this when six goals are allowed, that regression won’t matter in the standings at all. This is a pivotal point in the tenure of Dave Hakstol, in terms of how he is viewed by the team. The awful run has gone on long enough to convince many fans that this is the new normal for Philadelphia — I just wonder what the players are thinking.
#3: Playoffs looking like a pipe dream at this point
Due to this recent swoon, Philadelphia now sits sixth in the Metropolitan Division and fourth in the wild card race in the Eastern Conference, with the Florida Panthers nipping at their heels. The result has been a collapse in the team’s playoff odds, with Moneypuck.com and Dom Luszczyszyn of THN both dropping the Flyers to around the 10% mark, easily out of legitimate contention. That’s not to say that the team can’t rebound with a strong closing kick, as they did so last season and found a way to sneak into the postseason. But the odds are certainly against them, and it shouldn’t be viewed as especially likely.
#4: Brandon Manning saga maybe over now
The Brandon Manning vs. Connor McDavid saga always fell somewhere between amusing and stupid. Not only was the initial hit and injury clearly unintentional, this year’s escalation seemed like nothing more than harmless on-ice trash talk that McDavid allowed to get in his head. However, even if the controversy was dumb, it was entertaining to watch a team (and really, an entire city) lose their collective minds over a true-talent third-pair NHL defenseman like Manning. It was clear from the pre-game skate that the Oilers had revenge on their minds last night, and they certainly got their licks in.
Milan Lucic speared Manning in groin early (somehow, Manning got a diving penalty on the play, implying that the officials don’t understand basic anatomy) and then Patrick Maroon decisioned the Flyers’ defenseman later on. It’s disappointing that the Flyers were so ineffective in terms of imposing their will on the game, because the Oilers spent far too much time trying to “pay back” an ultimately unimportant player on the ice. Philadelphia just couldn’t not take advantage of that distraction, however.
#5: Neuvirth over Mason?
It certainly wasn’t one of Michal Neuvirth’s best games — the first goal he allowed to Matt Hendricks was especially weak — so obviously the chatter after the game was that Steve Mason should have started in his place. It’s not a ridiculous assertion, as this was the second game of a road-and-road back-to-back, and there’s an expectation of some degree of dropoff from a goalie who plays both games. In addition, it’s not like Neuvirth’s 0.909 save percentage versus the Flames was anything special. Eric Tulsky looked at this back in 2013 and found that starting goalies on a back-to-back had a major negative impact on their performance in Game 2, but recent research has implied the effect may not be as large as previously thought. Still, Neuvirth didn’t exactly do anything amazing to warrant the start last night, even if his recent performance on the whole has been better than that of Mason. In any case, I doubt the Flyers were winning this game regardless of the poor guy in net.
#6: Weal was the best forward and then got hurt
During the first period, the only Flyers forward to really stand out in a positive way was Jordan Weal, who had a few especially strong shifts along the boards and was on the ice for two scoring chances in six minutes of 5v5 ice time. Surely, that number wouldn’t have been so low had Weal not been forced to exit the game before the end of the opening stanza, the victim of a hard (but clean) hit along the boards. This was one of the concerns with Weal — could he stand up to the pounding of the NHL considering his relatively slight frame? — but he had done such a good job early in this stint of addressing his past limitations that it was easy to forget this.
Losing Weal hurt last night because he has played so well this past week. However, the fact that a 24-year old who has spent the previous four months in the AHL has been one of Philadelphia’s best players recently is illuminating enough, specifically for what it says about the rest of the team’s play. Philadelphia really should be able to survive a Jordan Weal injury, even if it proves to be serious. The fact that it’s not insane to worry that this injury could really hurt the Flyers just showcases the sad state of affairs.
#7: Some brief changes to PP1
It took the Flyers over half the game to get a power play opportunity, and immediately they flashed a different look than usual. Ivan Provorov essentially replaced Jakub Voracek on the top unit, who moved down to the PP2. In addition to the new 3F/2D setup, the top unit also seemed to be utilizing a “two men at the point” style rather than the 1-3-1 that has been their staple. However, the adjustment didn’t last long. After a few fruitless power plays with the new look, Hakstol and Joey Mullen went back to Voracek on the top unit in the third period, and he responded with a beautiful cross-ice pass to set up Schenn for the team’s third goal of the night. Personally, I think that should close the book on major changes to PP1 — yes, they looked awful on Wednesday, but generally speaking, they’ve been an elite shot generation unit and are probably just going through a bit of a slump. There are at least ten more changes to this lineup that I’d make before messing with the top power play unit.
#8: They got some goals at least
A three-goal game doesn’t seem like anything special at first glance, but if you’re looking for one positive to come out of this game, it’s that it was still a dramatic improvement over most of their offensive performances since the turn of the calendar year. In fact, the 8.3% shooting percentage on the night was actually their fifth-highest rate in 2017, and their best since February 2nd. The Simmonds goal was a bit fluky, and the Schenn power play goal was nothing we haven’t seen from this team in the past, but it was Gudas’ tally that provided the most optimism. Sean Couturier created the goal by leading an end-to-end, controlled exit to controlled entry rush, before passing the puck into the slot towards a net crashing teammate. Those are three actions (controlled entries, direct passes into the slot and crashing the net) that have been in short supply recently for the Flyers.
#9: Hakstol’s status in question?
In terms of evaluating Dave Hakstol and the likelihood that his tenure could be nearing an end, I still fall on the side of “Hextall won’t fire his guy this soon.” Yes, he chose to move on from Craig Berube, but that was not a coach that he handpicked. Hakstol is different — he’s Hextall’s guy, and it would take a massive reversal in opinion from the general manager to give up on him just two seasons into a five year contract.
I see the rest of this season playing out in one of two ways. The first scenario is that the Flyers’ decent underlying metrics hold steady for the rest of the way, and the shooting percentages return to semi-normal rates. That might not be enough to get Philadelphia into the playoffs at this point, but it should keep them in the race. In this scenario (the most likely one, in my opinion), Hakstol’s job remains safe this offseason, though he’ll certainly be on a hotter seat next year. Scenario two is the doomsday one. Rather than the shooting percentages creeping up to match the decent play-driving metrics, it’s always possible that a frustrated Flyers team begins struggling to drive play at 5v5, and any gains from an improving SH% are washed away by losing the territorial battle. If that happens, the rest of the season could look pretty similar to the past month, and I’m not sure Hakstol survives that.
#10: Seven defensemen an odd decision
Rather than go with the same lineup from Wednesday, Dave Hakstol made a surprising tweak, dressing seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Michael Del Zotto was just cleared to play this week, and he rejoined the lineup as both Roman Lyubimov and Dale Weise took a seat. It’s difficult to know exactly what his reasoning was behind the shift — maybe he felt the defense could be gassed in the second game of a back-to-back, maybe he’s looking to showcase Del Zotto to possible trade suitors, or maybe he just felt it was time to get the player who was the team’s #1 defenseman for most of last season back into the lineup.
The minutes were split pretty evenly, as MDZ received about 12 and no defenseman was over 18. But the decision did burn them a bit when Jordan Weal went down due to injury, forcing the team to roll 10 forwards for the final two periods. Still, that’s the risk you take when you dress one less forward, and just like the goalie decision, I don’t think it played a major role in the team’s loss last night.
Subject: Flyers Midterm 25 Under 25 Update: Nos. 5 to 1
The top five names in our countdown shouldn’t come as much of a surprise — but who’s in what place at the top of the list?
Our week-long look at the top young talent in the Flyers’ organization ends today, as we complete our five-part mid-season update to the Flyers Top 25 Under 25. If you missed or want to go back through any of the first four parts, here’s your chance:
And with that, we move on to the final five.
No. 5: Travis Sanheim - D, Lehigh Valley, AHL
Travis Sanheim has been a staple on the Lehigh Vally Phantoms blue line all season, playing alongside 2013 first-round selection Samuel Morin. It is very possible that we see the pairing playing together in the NHL as early as next season. (Did you know: if the pairing of Sanheim/Morin was stacked on top of each other, they would combine to be over 13 feet? The Flyers severely lack size, and it does seem that that matters in the NHL.)
Sanheim was known as an offensive force in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen, putting up 65 and 68 points in his last two seasons respectively. However his offensive firepower has not fully translated to the American Hockey League just yet. This is not a bad thing, though, as Sanheim has developed his game very well in other areas. The Flyers also do not need Sanheim to become an offensive powerhouse on the blue line a la Shayne Gostisbehere, but he will easily make a reliable player for the second power-play unit.
When Sanheim was selected with the 17th selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, it was a large risk taken by the Flyers. He seemingly came out of nowhere, and at the start of 2013-14 season he was ranked 167th amongst North American skaters. Mid-season rankings saw him shoot up to the 53rd spot in the Central Scouting rankings. With the Flyers selecting Sanheim so early, they took a flyer (jokes!) on a player who could continue to grow into a competent NHLer or a player that might have been a flash in the pan. There is still plenty of time for Sanheim to grow, and if Ron Hextall has preached one thing in his tenure as Flyers GM, it is patience.
The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and if the Flyers continue their downward spiral they could very well look to move defensemen who are not in future plans such as Michael Del Zotto, Mark Streit and Nick Schultz. If they are sellers, and Hextall does move out these older players, look for Sanheim to be a possible call up to the NHL squad, and if he does not play on the team this season the possibility of him making the team out of camp next year is very high.
— Joe Pergola
No. 4: Travis Konecny - F, Philadelphia, NHL
Travis Konecny having made the NHL seemed like an early Christmas gift to fans back in October, who were both simply looking for something new in the team’s forward ranks and were hoping to see the team’s youth movement really get underway. And when the 19-year old forward burst out of the gate with seven points in his first eight NHL games, the hype train was absolutely rolling at full speed ahead. Since we’re talking about the 2016-17 Flyers here, though, things have predictably gotten worse for him since then. Konecny went about seven weeks without a goal from mid-November until New Year’s Day, he was even healthy scratched a few times, and is currently injured with what is likely a foot/ankle problem that will have him out of the lineup until some time in March. So did we get ahead of ourselves with the hype for Konecny? Should we be worried?
The short answers to those two questions, respectively: sort of, and not really. We talked about this back in October. Expectations for young first-round draft picks are always really high, probably too high, and when we see someone like Konecny get out to the start he did, we tend to forget that he’ll cool down eventually because the NHL is really hard to score goals in, for everyone, let alone 19-year-olds. The respondents to our admittedly unscientific survey from last fall expected Travis Konecny to be around 0.65 points per game this season, and as we talked about in that October piece, that was always a very, very lofty goal to set. The average player who plays his rookie season in his draft + 2 year, coming into this season, scored around 0.37 points per game. In that sense, Travis Konecny is slightly ahead of the pack with his current clip of 0.43 points per game. Does this guarantee that he’s going to be amazing for years to come? Of course not. But if you were excited about Konecny in October, what you’ve seen so far definitely shouldn’t have you unexcited.
Are there valid concerns about the young forward? Sure. His play defensively so far has left a lot to be desired, and was the main reason he (still unjustifiably, in my opinion) sat for four straight games in the past month. And his current injury, while possibly just a one-off, does open up the question: can a guy of Konecny’s stature and aggressive playing style make it through 82-game seasons regularly without suffering serious injury? There will likely still be a little bit of room for Konecny to add some strength, particularly if he adds some inches to his 5’10” frame, but how much more weight can you put on a player like that before you risk losing some of his explosiveness? These are questions the Flyers will have to work with as Konecny really hits his prime in a few years.
But there’s a pretty good case to be made that Travis Konecny has the kind of creativity offensively that not many (...any?) other players on this roster currently have. One look at what the Flyers have done since the All-Star Break — a series of time in which Konecny has missed a lot of games, for aforementioned reasons — shows just how valuable that is, and just what this team may look like without it. This is a learning year for Travis Konecny, one that we can and should expect him to build upon and improve on next season, and he’s still already one of the most dynamic players on the Flyers’ roster. Don’t worry too much about the question marks — we’re going to have fun watching him for a long time.
— Kurt R.
No. 3: Shayne Gostisbehere - D, Philadelphia, NHL
The concern with Shayne Gostisbehere’s second season in the NHL isn’t the fact that his scoring numbers have dropped precipitously from last year. Most of us knew that his run from last year, while truly breathtaking, was probably not 100 percent sustainable based on the percentages, and this year those have swung all the damn way in the other direction. Shit happens. The concern with this year also isn’t that he’s been scratched multiple times. I mean, that does concern me, but more from the perspective of coaching, not from what Ghost is doing. Heck, I’m not even that concerned about his apparent struggles defensively. Sure, he hasn’t been very good in the defensive zone, but we were never exactly expecting Ghost to be a defensive maven. Shayne Gostisbehere’s job, at its core, is to push play up ice and help the Flyers score more goals than the other team. Yes, his problems in the defensive zone hinder him from being able to achieve that goal, and yes, his on-ice goal numbers this year have been ghastly. But I’m very much of the opinion that, long-run, the whole package of things he does well vs. things he does not do well will break positively for the Flyers. What I have seen from Ghost through 52 games this year does not change that, not yet at least.
No, the real question is this: will Ghost continue to be the player we know he can be despite the on-ice adversity he’s faced this season? You and I can sit here and talk all we want about how much of Ghost’s bad year has just been a product of bad luck and factors out of his control. Personally, I think it’s a lot. But when you go from the rookie season that Ghost had last year, in which it seemed like everything he touched turned to gold for four straight months, to this year, in which the guy couldn’t buy a break if he signed a new contract tomorrow, that can provide a bit of a shock no matter how much of it isn’t really up to him. When you have doubts about what you’re doing on the ice, that affects your play. Sometimes I think the notion of “is that guy playing with enough confidence?” is overblown, but it very well applies to a player like Ghost, who needs to be confident in his high-end abilities if he wants to be successful. Do the benchings and goals against start forcing him to play differently? I would hope that’s not the case.
For example, Ghost’s aggressive play in the neutral zone was a highlight of his 2015-16 season that didn’t get much attention, and it’s a way he can be successful defensively without having to be great in his own third of the ice (somewhere we know he will probably never be great). Getting burned by that aggressiveness repeatedly can cause some players to rethink how they play the game, and I want to believe that the struggles he’s had this year won’t stop him from playing a style with which he’s already proven to be an effective player.
That’s not to say Ghost shouldn’t be working on improving his coverage and awareness in the defensive zone, which has been a problem and is something that he should do everything he can to improve himself in, and is something that any coach, not just Dave Hakstol, isn’t going to like to see. But at some point, you have to let Ghost be Ghost. In this space last time around, I said that getting too bogged down in what Shayne Gostisbehere isn’t forces you to forget about the great things that Shayne Gostisbehere is. Yes, it’s easy to forget about the great things that Shayne Gostisbehere is when the Flyers are scoring on an absurdly low 4.63 percent of their 5-on-5 shots with him on the ice. But just like he wasn’t going to continue scoring at the clip he was last year, he is not going to continue scoring at the low rates he has been this year. For all of our sakes, I hope the Shayne Gostisbehere we saw last year is the same one we’ll be seeing for the next several.
— Kurt R.
No. T-1: Sean Couturier - F, Philadelphia, NHL
[Ed. note: Yep! We’ve got a tie in the top spot. Couturier and Ivan Provorov both had five first place votes, four second-place votes, and one third-place vote. Rather than try and break that tie somehow, we’re just going to award them both the number 1 spot and get on with it.]
It can be hard to believe that Sean Couturier is still, towards the end of his sixth NHL season, just 24 years old. (And he doesn’t turn 25 until December, so he’s still got one more go-round in the 25 Under 25 next summer!) And despite his never quite taking that step towards being a high-end top-6 center that fans were hoping they’d get when the Flyers drafted him, you could argue that every year since his rookie year has at least been a slight step forward for Couturier. And with the season Couturier had last season — injury-plagued, but remarkably efficient as a scorer at even-strength and as a play-driver despite tough minutes — the optimism was there that Couturier was on the verge of becoming a two-way center in the mold of a Patrice Bergeron, or at least one on the level of a Jordan Staal-type. Of course, the progress Couturier showed last year only leads to heightened expectations, which makes this season — Couturier’s first real step back in his six-season NHL career — all the more disheartening.
If you wanted to take the glass-half-full approach, you’d point out that in terms of on-ice shot attempt numbers, Couturier’s still right around where he was last season. With Couturier on the ice last year, the Flyers got about 4.1 percent more of the share of on-ice shot attempts than they did with him off. This year, that same number is around 3.3 percent — less, but not so much that it raises any eyebrows, and still very valuable. And he’s actually shooting the puck slightly more than he was last year. But most never doubted that Couturier was a solid defensive player and play-driver. No, what excited most last season was his jump in scoring. Couturier’s 2.07 points per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time led the Flyers, and his overall scoring pace would have had him at 50 points in an 82-game season — very solid second-line center territory, at worst. Unfortunately, Couturier’s scoring rates have plummeted. At 5-on-5, Coots is only at 1.25 points per 60 (through Wednesday’s games), not much more than half of the mark he posted last season. And his overall per-game pace (.38 points per game, or 31 points per 82 games) is more reflective of his early NHL career — and this time around, that lack of production can’t be explained away by poor linemates; his most common partner on the ice this year has been Jakub Voracek.
So as always, the question we’re asking about the four-time-reigning-BSH-25-Under-25 champion is this: how good is he, really? It’s important to note that even if the Couturier we’re looking at this year is the real Couturier, that’s still an objectively useful NHL player. A guy who can push play forward while logging big minutes at even strength, kill penalties, and score a little bit is a very good third-line center in today’s NHL. But we don’t want Sean Couturier to just be a very good third-line center, because if the guy who’s been considered by many to be the Flyers’ top young talent for years only has that kind of a ceiling, frankly, it does not say great things about where this team is going. We saw, last year, a version of Sean Couturier that was a high-end second-line center, and arguably even better. The fact that fans may have to re-calibrate their expectations for Couturier again after a disappointing season is disheartening.
For the first four seasons of his NHL career, it was easy to make excuses for Sean Couturier, and it was easy to see the potential that he had. The Flyers, who gave Couturier a six-year contract extension in the summer of 2015, clearly saw it as well. Last year, we actually saw that potential play out on the ice, and it excited fans that the guy the Flyers thought they had in Sean Couturier had finally arrived. And it’s not out of the question that that guy could show up again in the future — offensive numbers are down across the board for the Flyers this year. But right now, the task in front of Sean Couturier isn’t to show that he can be more than a good third-line center. He’s already done that. The task in front of him now is to show that he is more than a good third-line center, that the step forward he took last year was real, and that this current season — and not last season — is an anomaly. He’s under contract for five more years, so whatever he may be, we’ll have plenty more time to find out.
— Kurt R.
No. T-1: Ivan Provorov - D, Philadelphia, NHL
In a season that can be charitably called a disappointment for Flyers fans, there has been one universally-accepted positive development — the emergence of Ivan Provorov. Just six months ago, it was far from a sure thing that Provorov would even make the Flyers out of training camp, and now he’s receiving the most ice time out of any Philadelphia defenseman. It took only about 20 games for Provorov to earn that distinction from head coach Dave Hakstol, and the gap has only widened since. In terms of usage, the Flyers have a 20-year old #1 defenseman, and no one who has watched the team on a nightly basis seems to feel like that’s anything less than the logical decision by the coaching staff.
Provorov has passed the eye test with flying colors. Just like in the WHL, he looks like a defenseman with all of the tools. He can pass accurately (even under pressure), he’s strong on the puck, his lateral skating might be the best on the team already, and he rarely hesitates to challenge opposing forwards when on defense. Corey Sznajder’s manually-tracked data backs up those impressions — with 31 of Philadelphia’s 58 games tracked, Provorov leads the defense in Controlled Exit Percentage, and is second in both Controlled Entry creation percentage (38.33%) and in Controlled Entry denial percentage (56.06%). Microstats paint a picture of a player with no obvious weaknesses in his game, and this is Provorov as a 20-year old. In addition, Provorov’s 5v5 scoring has been top tier for defensemen, as he ranks 30th in the NHL among all blueliners in Points/60 with a 1.05 rate, and fares even better (7th in the NHL) in Primary Points per 60.
There remains one concern, however. Provorov’s play-driving metrics have actually been slightly underwater in his rookie year, which does not match up with the general perception of his play. His score-adjusted Corsi is a mediocre 49.54%, which is -1.59% relative to his teammates. The similar Corsi For% RelTM metric from stats.hockeyanalysis.com tells a similar tale, with Provorov posting a -1.4% rate there as well. Considering Provorov’s obvious skillset, it’s surprising at first glance that the metrics don’t match up with the eye test, until a key piece of context is added to the analysis: Andrew MacDonald. Provorov has spent over half of his 5-on-5 minutes paired with MacDonald, and has posted a 46.66% score-adjusted Corsi alongside him. Away from MacDonald, however, that rate surges to 52.77 percent, providing an easy explanation for Provorov’s underwhelming play-driving metrics.
Still, while it’s likely that MacDonald is the cause of the one chink in Provorov’s armor, it’s impossible to tell for sure, especially because defensemen are very difficult to accurately evaluate. After all, ask most Buffalo fans and they would swear up and down that Rasmus Ristolainen is a first-pair talent, even as he posts play-driving metrics among the league’s worst. Ducks fans (and apparently the coaches, too) likely evaluate Cam Fowler similarly, even though the numbers over a long period of time imply that he’s more of a decent second-pair option. So even considering the circumstances, it’s reasonable to hold off on anointing Provorov as a high-end #1 defenseman until his resume is spotless. But he sure looks like one. Provorov won’t be paired with Andrew MacDonald forever (right?), so eventually we’ll get to see how he performs alongside a true complementary option. And when that happens, I have all the confidence in the world that he’ll flourish.
Subject: Eagles News: ESPN suggests an under-the-radar wide receiver for Philadelphia
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 2/18/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Picking one free agent every team should sign this offseason - ESPN
Thielen, who finished with 69 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns while dropping only three passes, had a breakout season in 2016 with Minnesota. He was a reliable target for Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, and that same short and intermediate reliability is a must for the Eagles' offense and QB Carson Wentz. Thielen, who's a restricted free agent, doesn't solve all Philadelphia's issues at the skill positions, but he can play the much-needed role of possession receiver as Wentz continues to develop as the Eagles' franchise quarterback.
The league’s best receivers for each type of route - PFF
Thielen’s double moves were lethal. He caught 3 of 4 targets for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 46.33 yards per catch, 16.33 yards after the catch, with a WR rating of 156.3. Thielen caught 32 of 41 targets, which like Meredith, forced defenders to play his routes, giving Thielen the opportunity to take advantage of the defenders.
Carson Wentz worked out with two 2017 NFL Draft wide receiver prospects - BGN
In case you missed it from late last night.
BGN Radio #223: Is The Kenny Britt Train Rolling In? - BGNRadio.com
Listen to the latest episode of BGN Radio.
Here are a few options if the Eagles add a legitimate fullback this offseason - PhillyVoice
Kyle Juszczyk, Ravens (6'1, 240): Juszczyk is a quality run blocker and an effective receiver out of the backfield. Over the last two seasons, Juszczyk has 78 catches for 587 yards and 4 TDs. He made the Pro Bowl this year and is in the conversation for the best fullback in the NFL. As we know, vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, who Howie Roseman hired away from the Ravens, will be setting the Eagles' free agent board, so there's a connection.
Previewing the Eagles' offseason: Tight ends - Philly.com
Don’t expect Burton to go anywhere. The Eagles value him for both his growing role in the offense and ongoing role as one of the team’s best special-teams players. He has developed a close bond with quarterback Carson Wentz. And as a restricted free agent, the Eagles have the option to keep him. They’ll give Burton a tender, and unless a team pays Burton big money that the Eagles cannot match, he’ll likely play on that tender and be a restricted free agent next offseason. The Eagles also could give Burton a long-team deal if they see him as a potential core player.
NFC East rookie grades: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott led Dallas - NFL.com
Despite a bit of a rocky ride during his rookie season, Carson Wentz showed the football world that he has the goods to be a franchise quarterback for the Eagles. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound passer not only can make every throw in the book, but he is also athletic enough to create big plays with his legs. With a better supporting cast, he could be the guy who gets the Eagles back into the mix as a perennial contender. Wendell Smallwood flashed as a change-of-pace back/return specialist in limited action. He scratched out 312 rushing yards on 77 carries and displayed the kinds of traits (quickness, balance and body control) that could make him a difference-maker in a more prominent role. Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai cracked the lineup for a few starts, which will help the Eagles immensely going forward. GRADE: B-
Eagles Offseason Chatter (PST Show #197) - Philadelphia Sports Table
We’re getting into the Eagles offseason with free agency and the draft just around the corner. The Eagles will most certainly be cutting players and picking up new talent along the way. We brought Brandon Lee Gowton – BLG – Managing Editor at BleedingGreenNation.com and BGN Radio on the show this week to talk about this Eagles offseason.
A Schedule Of What's Ahead For Eagles - PE.com
Crunch time is coming. In a matter of a few weeks we’re going to see the Eagles’ free agency plan unfold – they have their plan in place, says executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman – and then all attention turns to the draft ...
Morning Sesh: Reunited And It Feels So Good - Philly Football Talk
Is it possible? Is it at all realistic to think that both DeSean and LeSean could be returning to Philly? Could the Eagles really be getting the band back together? In short, despite all of today’s scuttlebutt (yup I went there), the answer is a resounding no. Brandon Lee Gowton does a terrific job of breaking down how unlikely this scenario is – totally worth your time – but it’s also really fun to think about. We didn’t expect to lose those guys when we did. It hurt. And it hurt even more after Chip finished off his masterpiece of destruction – leaving us yearning for the playmakers he jettisoned out the door.
Who would be on the Eagles' ideal 2017 roster? - NJ.com
KENNY STILLS - This one can only happen if the Eagles get some breaks in cap space, as mentioned above. Stills is expected to demand at least $10 million annually, which is why it is possible he hits free agency and doesn't re-sign with the Dolphins. If he does hit the free agency market, however, Stills is the perfect compliment to Williams, and would be ideal for the Eagles. At just 24 years old, Stills averaged 17.3 yards-per-catch last season, and would be the down-the-field threat the Eagles need.
T.O. suggests he won’t attend his Hall of Fame enshrinement - PFT
If Owens has, as it appears, put his mind to not showing up for his gold jacket and bronze bust, maybe he won’t. The next question is whether that will influence the voters. It shouldn’t. But keep in mind that Hall of Fame voter Dan Fouts already has said that Owens isn’t helping his case by ripping the process. Which confirms that the members of the committee aren’t above human nature. Which invites speculation as to whether the voters will use T.O.’s apparent refusal to show up for the party as justification for the lingering refusal to invite him.
Chris Long ripped into people criticizing him for not going to the White House - SB Nation
Patriots defensive end Chris Long is one of the six New England players who have said they’ll skip a visit to the White House if President Donald Trump decides to invite the Super Bowl champions to Washington. Apparently not everyone on the internet has been cool with Long’s decision (shocking!), and he’s been taking heat for it ever since the news broke.
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Subject: Carson Wentz worked out with two 2017 NFL Draft wide receiver prospects
Carson Wentz: Franchise QB and amateur scout.
Carson Wentz’s offseason training has begun. After taking a month off to rest his arm, the Eagles’ franchise quarterback spent Friday afternoon throwing to two wide receiver prospects from the 2017 NFL Draft: Cooper Kupp and Chad Hansen. ESPN was first to report Wentz’s workout session.
Kupp is one of the more popular wide receivers in this year’s draft class. The Eastern Washington pass catcher reportedly had a really nice week at the Senior Bowl. BGN draft writer Ben Natan profiled Kupp recently.
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.
Interestingly enough, Kupp was seen wearing Wentz’s “AO1” shirt while down at the Senior Bowl. The two players had never met before this week, but it seems a relationship has now formed there since they share the same agent. Their bond will continue if the Eagles decide to draft Kupp in April. He’s currently projected as a second round selection. Check out Kupp’s game film at Draft Breakdown and watch his highlights in the video below.
The other receiver, Hansen, played for Cal. Hansen measures in at 6-1, 185 pounds. The 22-year-old finished his college football career with 111 receptions for 1,498 yards and 12 touchdowns. CBS Sports ranks him as a third round pick. One NFL draft analyst pegs Hansen as a top-five receiver prospect in this year’s draft.
Hansen’s individual game film is available at Draft Breakdown and his highlights can be found in the video below.
Last month, Eagles executive Howie Roseman told SportsRadio 94WIP that Wentz will have some input into the Eagles’ offseason additions.
“At this point in time it’s so early in the process, the way the league rules are, you’d love to be able to bring him down and have him throw to these guys,’ Roseman said about Wentz. “It just doesn’t work that way. But I think from our perspective, we want to make sure he’s on board with some of these things. Probably more free-agency than the draft because it’s hard for him to get caught up on the draft prospects.”
The Eagles can’t bring prospects to Philadelphia for Wentz to throw to, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it out on his own. And perhaps he’ll be a little more involved in the draft than expected if he’s able to work out with prospects the way he did with Kupp and Hansen.
Surrounding Wentz with weapons needs to be a top priority for the Eagles this offseason. Philadelphia badly needs help at receiver.
Wentz’s workout with Kupp and Hansen is just the beginning of his offseason training. The 24-year-old quarterback will soon work with quarterback guru Adam Dedeaux. There’s also been talk of Wentz getting together with his Eagles pass catchers (Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz) some time this offseason to train together.
Wentz’s development this offseason will be critical to the team’s long-term success moving forward. Players typically make their biggest leap from Year 1 to Year 2. It seems like Wentz is more than willing to put the work in, which is a great start.
Subject: 2017 NFL Offseason Schedule: Draft, Free Agency, Combine, and other important dates
Start counting down the days.
The NFL calendar is in a lull right now following the Super Bowl but it won’t be long before the action kicks back up again. Here's a full schedule of remaining 2017 offseason dates including key events such as the 2017 NFL Draft, free agency, the NFL Combine, and much more. Feel free to bookmark this page.
Key Dates Overview
February 28 - March 6: 2017 NFL Combine
March 9: 2017 NFL agency starts at 4:00 PM ET
April: 2017 NFL Schedule Release
April 27-29: 2017 NFL Draft
Late July or early August: Training camp begins
2017 NFL Offseason Schedule
NFL Regional Combines, Methodist Training Center, Houston, Texas.
NFL Regional Combines, Inova Sports Performance Center, Washington, D.C.(*Kicker/Punter Combine)
February 26 - March 6
NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Eagles fans: Note the coin toss to decide whether the Eagles will pick at No. 14 or No. 15 in the 2017 NFL Draft will take place at the Combine.)
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
NFL Regional Combines, Minnesota Vikings Practice Facility, Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2016 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2017 on all players who have option clauses in their 2016 contracts.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit. Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2017 salary cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time. All 2016 player contracts expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The 2016 league year and free agency period begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The first day of the 2017 league year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9. Trading period for 2017 begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2016 contracts.
NFL Regional Combines, New Orleans Saints Training Facility, Metairie, Louisiana.
Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona.
Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2016 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
2017 NFL Draft, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
After the final selection in the Draft has been made, clubs may begin signing Undrafted Free Agents who were eligible for the 2017 Draft.
Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
Deadline for Prior Club to send “May 9 Tender” to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a Player Contract with a club by July 22 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a Player Contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, at 4:00 p.m., New York time, only with his Prior Club.
Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
NFL Spring League Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Deadline for prior club to send "June 1 Tender" to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a qualifying offer for a Right of First Refusal Only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA’s "June 15 Tender" provision.
For any player removed from the club’s roster or whose contract is assigned via waivers or trade on or after June 2, any unamortized signing bonus amounts for future years will be included fully in Team Salary at the start of the 2018 League Year.
Deadline for club to withdraw qualifying offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting "June 15 Tender" of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
Late June (Date TBD)
Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies.
At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2017 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.
Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
Veteran players (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or “injured players” (as defined in CBA Article 21, Section 6) may report to a club’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players.
A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a club’s roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who join the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
Signing Period ends for unrestricted Free Agents to whom a “May 9 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
*or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later.
Signing Period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
Hall of Fame Game, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio.
Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio.
Subject: NFL Free Agency Rumors: Eagles wide receiver targets, making fun of Cowboys and Redskins, and more
The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #223). In this episode, we talk about NFL free agency rumors, the potential of a LeSean McCoy/DeSean Jackson, answer all of your Eagles questions, and more!
Subject: NFL cuts are giving the Eagles more options in the Jason Peters situation
Left tackle is important. The Eagles should make sure they get it right.
In a 36-hour span between Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon, three starting left tackles were released by their respective teams, as the Eagles and Jason Peters are presumably still embroiled in a conversation about the veteran left tackle’s future with the team.
News of the Jets’ decision not to pick up Ryan Clady’s option, and the Jaguars’ decision not to pick up Kelvin Beachum’s option, came rapid-fire on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, the Dolphins reportedly considered releasing two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, before reneging on their intentions because of a possible trade with the Jaguars.
Last week, the Eagles reportedly asked their starting left tackle, Peters, about taking a pay cut or restructuring his deal to create more cap space for free agency moves. The resolution of that conversation has yet to be realized.
While I wrote just yesterday that the Eagles should just pay Jason Peters for one more year and keep him happy, and still feel that way, this recent spate of moves by other teams certainly gives the Eagles more options and flexibility in negotiations.
Before this week, Peters had almost all the leverage. He is still an elite left tackle when healthy, and while the cap savings would help the team, releasing him would do more harm than good in the short term. And when you’re developing a young quarterback, the short term is equal parts of the big picture.
With the market filling up with younger, decidedly cheaper options for the Eagles, the team can point to the alternative solution of signing a guy like Beachum, who is 28, in their discussions with Peters.
In reality, it’s unlikely either side will budge in any drastic direction.
The Eagles don’t want to get rid of Peters, they just want him to be more affordable.
Peters, 34, doesn’t want to go anywhere. He just wants to be paid what he was promised to be paid.
But the Eagles shouldn’t rush into any decisions, and should consider all their options, before Peters responds, and especially before free agency begins.
The left tackle position is one of the most crucial in the game of football. It protects the quarterback’s blind left side, particularly on the roll-out throws the Eagles like to run with Carson Wentz.
To make a mistake in finding a solution at left tackle would be to short-circuit Wentz’s development, and the team’s march back to perennial contender status.
Just look at the way stability at the left tackle position has worked out for the best team in the league since 2000.
Tom Brady has effectively had two left tackles in the last decade and a half. In 2001, when Brady took over and ultimately supplanted an injured Drew Bledsoe, the team found its left tackle of the next decade in Matt Light.
Light made three Pro Bowls in his 11 seasons with the Patriots before he retired after the 2011 campaign with three Super Bowl rings in tow. Then Nate Solder took over at left tackle, where he’s remained for five years and two more Patriots Super Bowl victories.
That’s not to say left tackle stability is the only reason Tom Brady is the best quarterback in history. But it sure as hell doesn’t hurt that the Patriots hit on solid contributors twice.
The Eagles did a very similar thing when they signed Jon Runyan in 2000, the first full season of the Donovan McNabb era. Runyan played nine seasons for the Eagles, and came within spitting distance of the Eagles’ first Super Bowl win ever, turned away only by Matt Light and the Patriots.
It seems Jason Peters is the answer at left tackle this season, and Lane Johnson is the long-term answer. Johnson played like a Pro Bowl-level tackle last year, when he wasn’t suspended, but he has yet to start a full season at left tackle in the NFL.
Should the Eagles make an unexpected move at left tackle? I don’t think so. Their plan seems sound, and diverting now would bring up more questions than answers.
But it’s worth double-checking everything at such an important position in the game. When you pick your next left tackle, you want him to be around for quite a while.
Subject: Isaiah Ford and the benefits of ball skills
Eagles need someone who can catch the damn football.
Before Isaiah Ford, not a single wide receiver in Virginia Tech history eclipsed one thousand receiving yards in a season.
Isaiah Ford did it twice.
The 6-2, 190 pound pass catcher was an impact player from day one, but really came on in his last two seasons for the Hokies; catching over 150 passes, 2200 yards and 18 touchdowns. So Ford is not only a playmaker, but a historically good one for the Hokies. It's no mystery how Ford had a 1,000 yard season with two different quarterbacks, because what quarterback wouldn't love a guy who does this?
This play really sums up who Isaiah Ford was in Virginia Tech. Quarterbacks knew he could go up and get the ball, so he received a lot of low percentage passes. Luckily, he's really good with them...
Everything with Ford is incredibly smooth when he is in the air. He seamlessly transitions from runner to pass catcher and his eyes and hands work in congress to find the football. His body control allows him to make these tough timing plays and sideline catches as well. He did this to Pitt way too many times.
Of all the receivers in this class, Ford has some of the most consistent focus and his ball skills are among the best.
While you want to see a receiver high point a pass like this instead of waiting to let it fall into the basket, Ford's timing on these contested passes is incredibly impressive. You will notice that Ford does not get a lot of separation on these routes and while he does not have great long speed, a lot of it comes down to Virginia Tech trying to force these timed pitch and catch situations that Ford does so well. In terms of separation, even on vertical routes, Ford has shown he has the route running ability to compensate for his lack of long speed.
Ford is such an effortless, polished athlete. While he may not be a dynamic speed demon, everything about his movement looks effortless. Both of these passes would have been long gains if not for really poor throws or interferences, but they exhibit how Ford can get open on the outside. While Ford was primarily used as a vertical receiver on the perimeter, he has the physicality, dependability and toughness to work in the slot as well.
Not a difficult route by any means as Ford just runs up the seam, but grabbing that pass in traffic like it ain't no thing is something a lot of teams would gladly take on their offense. Ford also was used quite a bit on screen passes, especially during his sophomore campaign, and he showed he has the burst and vision to create big plays after the catch.
Virginia Tech took advantage of a full house blitz here, but it is encouraging to see that initial acceleration from Ford. Once again, he is not a burner, but he is certainly not slow.
Virginia Tech's usage of him as their contested catch guy yielded a lot of spectacular results, but a high volume of those catches means that Ford dropped a few, mostly due to losing the battle with the cornerback. This is bound to happen considering the "workload" he saw as a wide receiver used in these low percentage situations (there is a reason they are called low percentage), but it is worth noting. Ford is not the best athlete, but he is still incredibly young. Ford turned 21 a bit over a week ago and the level of college productivity he experienced at such a young age (19-20) is a historically good indicator of NFL success.
NFL Comparison: Isaiah Ford's polished game and outstanding ball skills are similar to Michael Thomas coming out of Ohio State last season. Thomas was not the fastest in a straight line, but he could win at the catch point, was a good route runner and could make plays after the catch. Thomas' pro-ready game translated to a 1,000 yard rookie season with the New Orleans Saints, showing that sometimes banking on savvy over ceiling is the right way to go.
Ford's versatility fits in any NFL offense. His great hands, physicality and ability to run after the catch makes him a great candidate to be a high end slot receiver, but he could absolutely play on the outside as well. It would benefit the teams and Ford to move him around and let quarterbacks take advantage of his ball skills. Any team gets better by sticking Ford in their starting lineup and that is something not a lot of prospects can say. Ford is probably going to be there in the second round of the draft possibly due to lack of pure speed and being a bit skinnier. However, Ford immediately becomes a great value on the second day of the draft and any team, especially the Eagles, should look to add him.
Subject: 2017 NFL mock draft round up: Eagles need a cornerback, so give them one
Safety outside the numbers
Another week, another round of mock drafts. It’s getting to repetitive in that everyone gives the Eagles a wide receiver, which they need, or a cornerback, which they also need, and occasionally a running back, which again is also a need. That means you can almost take it to the bank that they draft a completely different position. Case in point, this time last year LaQuon Treadwell was being mocked to the Eagles, and before that people were expecting the Eagles to trade up for Marcus Mariota. (Sorry for the memories.) So take these with some salt. Garlic salt, on popcorn.
Although the Eagles have a big receiver in Dorial Green-Beckham, they don’t have a consistent, all-around receiving threat to team with Jordan Matthews. Second year quarterback Carson Wentz got contributions from Zach Ertz late in the season, but Williams gives the Eagles’ passing game a completely different dimension.
He has the 3rd pick in the draft being Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes. You read that right, third pick, not third round.
Erik Galko, Sporting News - CB Teez Tabor, Florida
Cornerback and receiver are the two most likely early-round considerations for the Eagles in this draft. After already investing a first-rounder in Nelson Agholor and a second in Jordan Matthews, it’s far more likely they aim for a cornerback in Round 1.
He calls him Jalen. Come on man, it’s Teez. Teez nuts. BOFA Teez. The memes will be great.
1st - RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
The Eagles don’t need a running back as badly as they need a receiver, but Cook would be a steal in mid-Round 1. He does not require much room to be able to take on the distance.
2nd - CB Desmond King, Iowa
3rd - WR Zay Jones, East Carolina
The Eagles don’t need a RB as badly as they need a WR, and with Mike Williams on the board here Burke’s justification doesn’t really add up, especially with the depth at RB in this class. King might be a safety in the NFL. Which is a really good reason for the Eagles to not draft him. They need a bonafide outside corner, not a hybrid safety/slot corner. It doesn’t really matter, this is a February mock draft, it’s automatically wrong.
1st - WR Mike Williams, Clemson
The Eagles need a cornerback and they need wide receivers. This is the best wide receiver in the class. They can snag a strong CB later.
2nd - S Desmond King, Iowa
Another versatile defensive back, the Eagles’ secondary will appreciate the ability to play multiple positions.
3rd - RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson
No, again, the Eagles don’t need guys who can play corner and safety. They guys who can play corner. Maybe Desmond King can, but taking him because he can also play safety when the next two picks are Tre’Davious White and Cordea Tankersley is silly reasoning. The Eagles aren’t in a position where they can take a guy who might be X but might be Y and either one is fine. They need a firm solution at corner.
1st - WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
2nd - CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
3rd - DE Tarrell Basham, Ohio
4th - DT Nazir Jones, North Carolina
Other than Davis this might not excite anyone, but it fills a bunch of draft needs. So this is a rational, though out mock, which means it won’t get much traction.
Pete Prisco, CBS - CB Sidney Jones, Washington
The Eagles corners had a rough go of it last season. They can plug and play this kid right away. They could also go receiver here.
“They could also go receiver here.” Thanks Pete.
Subject: Eagles News: Kenny Britt makes sense for Philadelphia
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 2/17/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
With Kenny Britt and Eagles, a connection to consider - ESPN
The Philadelphia Eagles have two things Kenny Britt values: a potential franchise quarterback and receivers coach Mike Groh. That should make Philly a desirable landing spot should the stars align come March. Every receiver wants a quality quarterback for obvious reasons, but that desire can be heightened when stability at QB has proved elusive. Since being drafted in the first round by the Tennessee Titans back in 2009, Britt has been teamed with Vince Young, Kerry Collins (in his late 30s), Rusty Smith, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Jared Goff.
Give Me Kenny Britt or Give Me Death - Philly Football Talk
Britt’s name doesn’t exactly light up the skyline of Philadelphia. There won’t be any billboards lining 95 saying, “Welcome, Kenny!” But signing Kenny Britt is something the Eagles should absolutely do and signing with the Eagles is something Kenny Britt should absolutely do. Why? You might ask, because these two need each other, that’s why. Most of Britt’s career have been flashes of potential. He has all the physical features you look for in a receiver and especially a #1 receiver. He’s got the size (6’3, 223 lbs) and the speed (4.47 at the combine) that made him a first round pick and up until last year, Britt looked like a bust and be honest, reading this post, you thought the same thing.
Eagles mailbag: What are the odds of Bennie Logan re-signing in Philly? - PhillyVoice
The one thing working in the Eagles' favor is that it's a very strong free agent defensive tackle class that includes Kawann Short, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Johnathan Hankins, Dontari Poe, Chris Baker, and Sylvester Williams, among others. With a potentially higher supply than demand, maybe Logan and France won't get the lofty offer they're seeking, thus improving the chances Logan will return to Philly. Still, gun to my head, if I had to predict it, I'd say it's more likely that he walks in free agency than he returns to the team.
Something Special - Iggles Blitz
Fipp is a very good coach and the organization uses resources to build up STs. They traded for Darren Sproles. They signed Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman. They added Kamu Grugier-Hill last summer because they thought he could be a stud on STs. I’m interested to see what happens this offseason. Braman is a UFA. Will the Eagles bring him back or will they try to find a 4-3 LB to fill his role? Braman played a little defense this year as a DE, but was almost exclusively a STer. Sproles has said this is his final year. Will the Eagles try to add someone to learn for a year or will they wait until next offseason and just fully replace him at that time? Could Byron Marshall and/or Kenjon Barner be his replacment(s)?
Previewing the Eagles' offseason: Offensive line - Inquirer
Kelce carries a $6.2 million salary-cap number. If the Eagles were to release or trade him, they would save $3.8 million and eat $2.4 million in dead money. That isn’t exactly a no-brainer contract to abolish. Kelce started slow last season, and he will probably always struggle against big 3-4 nose tackles, but he finished strong and remains one of the more athletic centers in the NFL. He is a dependable leader and has one year with Carson Wentz under his belt. But Kelce will turn 30 in November and the Eagles have Isaac Seumalo waiting in the wings. From my reading of the situation, the decision to cut ties with Kelce would have more to do with Seumalo – and Wentz -- than anything else. The team projects Seumalo to be its starting center for the next span of years. Is he ready to step into Kelce's shoes? Probably not. But center was the position he played most in college, and he’s smart. If the plan is for Wentz-Seumalo to be the quarterback-center combo for the foreseeable future, why not start now while the Eagles are still building?
Check out their 2017 free agents: Eagles could release the Seahawks next big free agent signing - Field Gulls
Barwin checks the “Seahawks Boxes” in a lot of ways at the SAM linebacker position. He’s 6’4, 255 pounds, had a crazy 40.5” vertical jump at the combine, 10’8 broad jump, 4.66 40-yard dash, 21 reps on the bench, and even played tight end in college before a late switch to defensive end. After four up-and-down seasons with the Houston Texans, Barwin signed with the Eagles and blew up for 14.5 sacks in 2014. He’s simply not a fit for Jim Schwartz’s defense and he had just five sacks last season, but Barwin could be the bargain at OLB that Seattle needs. He’s almost certain to be traded or released and I think the Seahawks will be first in line to inquire on what it would take. He’s said he’d take a paycut to stay in Philly, but would he take one to play for a perennial playoff team with a clear road to a division title next season? I started eyeing Barwin for the Hawks back in December and as time goes on, it only makes more and more sense. Yes, he’s 30 ... making him younger than Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Seattle didn’t move on from Chris Clemons until after he turned 32. They’re only looking for two seasons out of Barwin, anything else would be a bonus. This might be their splash play of the offseason: Acquiring Barwin. I’m all for it.
On the bubble: NFC players who could be released - NFL.com
Get ready for Howie Roseman Season. Barwin and Mathews are near-certain goners, clearing the deck for some big-ticket signings. Cutting them both would save nearly $12 million in cap room. Barwin said he is willing to take a pay cut to stay, but he doesn't fit Jim Schwartz's defense. Kelce would be tougher to release, but he's due $5 million and coach Doug Pederson said last season he wouldn't hesitate to play 2016 third-round draft pick Isaac Seumalo at center. General manager Howie Roseman was noncommittal when asked about Kelce's future in January.
Eagles Mailbag: A wide receiver splash, trade returns, Jeff Lurie - CSN Philly
I'm tempted to say the Eagles won't splash this year either, but I know better. I'm not sure Roseman knows how not to splash. So here's what I'll say: Anything is on the table and I believe the Eagles really understand the importance of getting Carson Wentz some weapons. Now, will that mean Brandin Cooks? That would be tricky. He's just entering his prime and was a first-rounder in 2014. But don't rule out any trade from Roseman, who has consistently made more trades than most GMs in the league. He's at least going to explore every option. And if he doesn't trade for one, I'd be absolutely shocked if the Eagles don't sign a receiver the average fan has at least heard of. Even if they do, I still wouldn't rule out drafting a receiver with a high pick.
Eagle Eye: Brian Westbrook On Eagles Backfield - PE.com
Former Eagles star Brian Westbrook pops in to talk with Fran Duffy on this week's Eagle Eye In The Sky Podcast as the two discuss the Eagles backfield, Doug Pederson's scheme, and what traits make a successful NFL running back in B-West's eyes.
Vince Young’s agent says there have been “discussions” with CFL team - PFT
A day after agent Leigh Steinberg announced that Vince Young has “a dream” of playing football again, Steinberg tweeted that he’s been in contact with a Canadian Football League team. Steinberg wrote that he has “opened discussions” with the Saskatchewan Roughriders about the possibility of Young playing in Saskatchewan.
What’s next for Adrian Peterson? - SB Nation
Minnesota finished dead last in rushing yards and yards per attempt, but keeping Peterson around isn’t the solution. The team’s poor offensive line also kept Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata bottled up to 3.4 yards and 3.3 per attempt, respectively. Fixing that problem will be tough for the Vikings after the team traded away a first-round pick for Sam Bradford who is due to count $18 million against Minnesota’s salary cap in 2017. The Vikings aren’t exactly strapped for cash, but the team is near the bottom of the NFL in cap space and can very much use the extra room that would come with parting ways with Peterson.
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