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[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 10:47:27 EST from Al K.

Subject: Oh no, Marcus Hayes wrote about the Flyers again

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Marcus Hayes again turned some otherwise fine newsprint into the perfect lining for your birdcage

IT WAS early April, 2015.

It’s five hours before the trade deadline and you’re talking about 2015????

Oh, wait. I get it. You wrote about this two years ago and doubling down on the insanity now. Cool, let’s do this.

The course of action seemed so obvious; so logical; but, ultimately, too repellant for Ron Hextall.

I don’t think it was obvious, and it definitely wasn’t logical. But you’re damn right it’s repellant.

The Flyers had just missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Hextall, in his first full season as general manager, was preparing to fire coach Craig Berube. The time was ripe. It was time to remake the miscast roster. Time to chop from the top, to reap young talent in what was becoming an ever- younger NHL. That summer was the time to harvest talent for rookie coach Dave Hakstol,

Yes, it was time to harvest talent. Of course, that is unless you already have talent on the roster.

which he then could mold in his image.

It was time to trade Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.

It was time to give the "C" to Wayne Simmonds.

What is it about petulant children with megaphones that makes them harp on this meaningless idea?

It was time to sell Giroux's genius at its peak;

See the thing about peaks is that you don’t know they are peaks until they are over. Which is why trading Giroux at his peak would have been an idiotic idea, but carry on.

time to maximize Voracek's value as an emerged All-Star facing free agency a year later.

What good GM doesn’t see an All-Star and realize it’s time to trade him? Good going, Ron.

It would have hurt, but it was time to sell.

They did not.

Now, they cannot.

Actually they probably can and you never get around to proving this, but whatever dude I guess expecting you to prove a point was kind of silly of me.

The trade deadline arrives at 3 p.m. Wednesday. A poll of 4,331 voters Tuesday showed that Giroux is the Flyer most voters want to see traded; 28.7 percent, in fact.

(Breaking news: roughly 1,200 Philly sports fans are dumb.)

It’s always good to cite statistics when you’re making a point. Unless citing that statistic proves that you don’t know how statistics work.

Too bad.

Too bad I’m spending my morning reading this shit.

Unless some team sees 11th-hour hidden value in one or the other,

I can think of no fewer than 29 other NHL teams who would find value in Voracek and Giroux.

both "G" and Jake will remain the two-headed face of a franchise that seems resigned to miss the playoffs for the third time in five seasons; a franchise with no playoff series wins since 2012.

Giroux and Voracek will remain as well-paid reminders that rebuilding seldom happens in an eyeblink.

So you’re saying that sometimes it takes a few years and maybe you shouldn’t throw the baby out with the damn bath water? Hmm, good point there.

This is not an outrage; just bad planning.

What’s an outrage is your use of a semicolon in this sentence.

Hextall has sold patience and organic growth since his promotion from assistant GM in 2014. His co-tenants at the Wells Fargo Center know that the queasy, seasick sensation of what "patience" feels like. Really, they're kind of the same thing: waiting for Embiid and Noel and Simmonds to play; and, hoping against hope for the futures of Rubtsov and Vorobyov, Sandstrom and Sanheim, Myers and Morin.

Imagine thinking that the NBA and NHL are even a little bit alike. Like, really imagine what it must be like for your brain to think those thoughts. Got it? Now follow your natural instincts and repeatedly smash your head into your keyboard.

They will arrive one day. Will Captain Claude and the Happy Czech

This is literally the dumbest nickname I’ve ever heard.

still be skating?

The seas are choppy now, but rebuilding is rough.

I’ve read this five times and I still don’t know what he means.

The presence of Giroux and Voracek just make the waves seem rougher. They raise expectations; foolish expectations.

This isn’t how you use a semicolon, but OK.

With a little more courage and a lot more foresight Hextall could have traded one, or both, for a significant haul of more economic youth (Giroux surely would have waived his no-trade clause).

There is zero way to know whether or not Claude Giroux would waive his no-trade, unless you routinely have beers with Claude Giroux and are his best friend. (Guessing not, Marcus.)

Also, simple common sense will tell you attempting to trade players with no-movement clauses has a cooling effect on the return you’ll get for them. Convenient to leave that out of the story here.

Such a purge so soon after the exit of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter might have enraged the fan base, but the atmosphere was right.

It definitely sends a good message to future players when your franchise trades away Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux all within a four-and-a-half-year period.

It was the Demolition Era in Philadelphia. Hexy, a returning hero, had more local equity than Chip Kelly or Andy MacPhail.

Yes, I’m sure that Hextall being a former player for the Flyers would have made a dumbass decision seem less insane.

Sam Hinkie?

Sixers have nobody but Hinkie to blame,” by Marcus Hayes, Daily News Columnist, February 10, 2015.

He'd have traded "G," Jake and Lauren Hart.

You can’t trade anthem singers. People forget that.

It was clear to some, if not to Hextall, that, given the Flyers' composition in 2015 and their planned reconstruction, they had no chance to win big.

If by “some” you mean “Marcus Hayes and internet commenters,” I guess you’re right.

Sure, they might float around the fringes of NHL's postseason group but, frankly, they weren't going to win a playoff series for at least two years, maybe three. As such, you simply cannot allot $33 million to two players for two seasons.

This seems like a dumb rule that I’m sure winning teams break all the time.

Clearly, though, Hextall disagreed.

Oh, well. That ship has sailed.

So why the hell are you writing this, dude?

At this point, considering their salaries, age and production, neither Giroux nor Voracek would bring much return.

Jake Voracek is the same age that Claude Giroux was two years ago. Two years ago is when you insisted the Flyers trade Claude Giroux. Hm.

Hextall & Co. can only hope that they experience a renaissance. That, too, seems unlikely.

Giroux is a 5-11 (no he's not),

What? And who gives a shit?

185-pound, 29-year-old finesse center in his ninth grueling season, undersized and is diminishing by the day.

He averaged 1.02 points per game from 2010-2015 and went to three All-Star games. He has averaged 0.79 points per game the past two seasons and spent the last two All-Star breaks resting.

John Scott was an All-Star a year that Claude Giroux was not. What’s your point?

Teams have leaned on him, and they have stopped him. He averaged 0.30 goals per game from 2010-2016. He is averaging 0.19 this season, and is a minus-18.

I’m not taking the bait.

You could see this coming; it arrived with a thud last spring in the first-round loss to the Capitals. Giroux had 61 points in his first 57 career playoff games but the Caps stifled him: one assist in six games.

It’s almost like you can just pick a stretch of six games where a player (and his entire goddamn team) goes cold and use it to fit your shitty narrative, but what do I know?

The Flyers won two games. They were shut out twice, scored a total of six goals and never scored more than two in a game. It was Fool's Gold.

Like Giroux, Voracek had one point in the series against the Capitals. Like Giroux, Voracek's production has dwindled, too; from 0.89 points per game from 2012-15 to 0.78 since.


Voracek is a minus-20 this season.

There are mitigating circumstances. Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl and Dale Weise underperformed this season.

It’s almost like Marcus got really close to understanding what is really going on, but instead decided to jam a railroad spike into his frontal lobe and write this article instead.

That, too, lies at Hextall's feet.

Hextall's youth infusion fizzled, too. After a fine rookie season defenseman Shayne "Ghost" Gostisbehere has, in fact, played like an undefined, shimmering apparition.

Hey, this isn’t a vocabulary test.

Rookie forward Travis Konecny is undersized and underwhelming.

He’s also a teenager that has played less than a full season. Is it time to trade him too?

The defense was porous; the goaltending, inconsistent and the coach, a year removed from college, unequipped to manufacture change.

Again, Marcus, you are so so close to understanding what’s going on, but I guess at this point you had already written 500+ words on how Giroux and Voracek stink, so may as well stick to the narrative.

None of these mitigating circumstances completely excuse the play of Giroux and Voracek. None has has much to do with the fact that they weren't traded two years ago, when trading them made sense.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 11:33:12 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Ilya Bryzgalov is part of Sportsnet’s NHL trade deadline coverage

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Bryz is on your television and it’s wonderful.

I don’t have anything to add to these. I just want to share them with you because I love you and I want you to be happy. It’s Ilya Bryzgalov on Sportsnet’s trade deadline coverage today. You can see more of it on NHL Network throughout the afternoon.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 13:19:57 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Flyers sign Michal Neuvirth to 2-year contract extension, for some reason

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The Flyers’ eagerness to re-sign their Czech netminder opens up a lot of questions regarding their plans for next season.

Last night, word broke that the Flyers had been negotiating with Michal Neuvirth on a potential contract extension, as they approached this afternoon’s trade deadline.

And just before 1 p.m. today, the team made it official: they’ve not only signed Neuvirth to an extension, but it’s a multi-year extension. Pierre LeBrun reports that it’s a two-year deal worth $2.5 million per year, a raise of roughly $900,000 from his current salary of $1.625 million.

So let’s talk about this a bit more. As Travis posited last night, there are a few possible reasons for a Neuvirth extension that make varying degrees of sense:

* They like Neuvirth and legitimately want him to be the starting goaltender next season. (This would be weird since uhhhhh, Neuvy has been #bad this year. No offense or anything, bro.)

* They are trying to sign Neuvirth so that they can protect Anthony Stolarz and leave Neuvirth up for grabs in the expansion draft.

* They are leaking to the media that they want to sign Neuvirth to give the illusion that they value him so that — maybe, just maybe — they can move him for something of value on Wednesday. (As we’ve discussed, that seems unlikely.)

* The idea of breaking up a family is just too much for Ron Hextall to handle.

Much hand-wringing has occurred via social media this morning over the fact that the Flyers were looking to re-sign Neuvirth despite what has been, objectively, a bad year for him. This is fair, and it’s fair to ask why the Flyers seem so eager to retain him that they’d make it a priority in advance of the trade deadline.

But it’s fair to at least guess that Neuvirth isn’t going to be this bad again next year, just like it was reasonable to believe that he wasn’t going to replicate the .924 save percentage season he had last year. Neuvirth’s career resume is that of a respectable platoon goalie, and unless you think he’s really fallen off the aging curve this year at 28, it’s reasonable to think he’ll be back around that level when he’s on the ice next year, with the possibility existing that he ends up playing well below or above that level.

The problem is that “respectable platoon goalie” is basically all Neuvirth’s shown he really is in the NHL. By a combination of injury-proneness, inconsistency, and being on rosters with guys who are outplaying him, Neuvirth hasn’t played more than 32 games in an NHL regular season since 2011-12, when he was with the Washington Capitals and was eventually overtaken by Braden Holtby. He’s played more than 40 games in a season just once, in 2010-11. Even before he reached the NHL, Neuvirth never played more than 41 games in any of the four seasons prior to that 2010-11 season, dating back to his time in the OHL and AHL.

By signing Neuvirth now, you’re essentially locking him in to one of your two NHL-level goalie spots for next year, despite the fact that we neither have evidence that he can handle a starter’s workload nor any obvious alternative to handle a starter’s workload. Meaning that, if Michal Neuvirth returns to the Flyers, it means that they’re essentially banking on one of the following three things to happen:

  1. Neuvirth is able to buck the trends of his career history and play both well and often, enough that he can be considered a respectable starter (think 45+ games at an NHL-average level, something he has done once before, seven years ago). In that case, you find a backup and roll with them.
  2. One of the Flyers’ many goalie prospects turns out to not only be NHL-ready but ready to handle a starter’s workload by next fall. Anthony Stolarz is by far the guy most likely to fit that bill, but it’s worth noting that not only is he in the middle of a pretty average AHL season, but he too has limited experience playing a lot, having only played more than 35 games in a year once since his draft season (that being last year, when he played 47 games for the Phantoms). And while yes, Stolarz looked good in his limited NHL time this year, a) we’re talking about two starts and four games here, and b) what does it tell us about his NHL-readiness that the Flyers started Steve Mason — a guy who they have lately been keeping off the ice like he’s allergic to it — in all but two games during the six or so weeks that Stolarz was with the Flyers? It seems like a stretch that the team would suddenly find him ready to play more than half of the Flyers’ games next year, but if Neuvirth’s around and not that guy, then it almost has to be Stolarz.
  3. The Flyers think they’ll be able to find someone worth handling a starter’s workload via other means, whether that be free agency or trade. Here’s the list of unrestricted free agent goalies next summer. Who really catches your eye on that list? The only obvious starter there is Ben Bishop, and who knows what kind of contract he’ll command. Otherwise, you’ve got a combination of old guys, potential reclamation projects, and good backups who may be ready for bigger roles but who — stop me if you’ve heard this before — haven’t really proven they can handle a bigger workload. That’s not to say that none of those could work out! Some of them probably will! But most of them probably won’t, and trying to guess which one will is a risky proposition for the Flyers.

Now, to be very clear: the problems above would mostly still be in place if the Flyers weren’t re-signing Neuvirth. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the Flyers’ goalie situation, there has been dating back to last summer, and it’s only been exacerbated by the crappy years that Neuvirth and Steve Mason have both had. At this point, we have no clue who the Flyers’ starting goaltender is going to be next year.

But the issue at hand now is that re-signing Michal Neuvirth doesn’t get us much closer to answering that question of who the Flyers’ starter will be next year. And unless Neuvirth’s signing a contract that would make it easy for the Flyers to bury him in the minors — in which case, why would the Flyers be so eager to do that now, and why would Neuvirth even sign it? — then they’ve only got one more spot on the roster to try and get that guy, with no obvious path there in mind.

All of this proactiveness for a guy who, quite literally, has maybe been the worst semi-regular goalie in the NHL this season. I’d understand if the Flyers waited a bit to see if any prospects or big deals would pan out, and then if neither did, then you go back to Neuvirth in July, bring him back for a year, and have him compete with someone (probably Stolarz), all risks acknowledged. Locking yourself into a multi-year commitment right now, though — especially when you consider that this exact same deal could probably be reached in June, when you’ve got more information on the goalie picture and can still sign Neuvirth for the sake of protecting Stolarz in the expansion draft — seems wholly unnecessary.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 13:19:57 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is coming back to the Flyers on a two-year deal

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And a raise.

When the Planet Earth is in its death throes and mass devastation greets all who remain, we will traverse the fire-bombed great plains of North America to find Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde, skating in orange jerseys, on the last frozen pond the planet will ever see. They are never leaving us. This is our fate.

The Flyers have signed Bellemare a to wo-year deal worth $1.45 million per year, according Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. For those counting at home, that’s roughly double what Bellemare makes per year on his current deal of $712,500 per year. Uhhh, OK?

As Charlie pointed out in January, Bellemare one of the worst scoring forward at even strength in the NHL over the last three seasons. And he just got 100 percent raise from the Flyers.

A $1.45 million per year fourth liner? That’s a lot of money for a good fourth liner, let alone one with the complete lack of scoring ability or play driving ability that Bellemare’s shown.

I suppose there’s also

A big contract could theoretically help Bellemare get taken in the expansion draft since Vegas is going to need to hit a minimum salary number, but you’re still putting the ball in another team’s court here.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 14:51:27 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Flyers trade Mark Streit to Tampa Bay Lightning for Valtteri Filppula, picks

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They’re sellers.

The Flyers are officially sellers. Mark Streit, the team’s assistant captain on a contract that expires in June, has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Forward Valtteri Filppula is coming back to Philadelphia. The Flyers also get Tampa’s fourth round pick in 2017 and a conditional seventh round pick in this draft. The Flyers have made the deal official. Frank Seravalli of TSN reports that the Flyers are eating a portion of Streit’s salary, which doesn’t really matter since it’s done in 20 games.

Filppula has one year left on his deal at $5 million against the cap, and Tampa has been trying to move him for other cap reasons.

One major potential implication here is that since Filppula has a no-movement clause in his contract, the Flyers will presumably have to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft. That could take a spot away from another player, leaving more value up for grabs for the Vegas Golden Knights. We’ll have to double check to see if his NMC carries over to Philadelphia, however. Sometimes they do not.

Filppula signed his big five-year, $25 million deal with the Lightning back in 2013, and he lived up to it in Year 1 with a 25 goal, 33 assist season. He’s come nowhere close to those numbers since, putting up 12 goals and 36 assists the following season, eight goals in 2015-16 and just seven goals this year.

In other words, his production has fallen off a cliff. Here’s what one advanced stats analyst says about his game:

The Flyers have certainly made their fair share of trades with Steve Yzerman’s Lightning over the years, and here’s another one to add to the list.

We will update this post with more information.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 16:38:13 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: NHL trade deadline 2017: Recapping the Flyers moves

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One trade, two signings.

Recapping the 2017 Flyers trade deadline

Recapping the 2017 Flyers NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Let's recap the Flyers moves!

Posted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Flyers made three moves on NHL trade deadline day here today, and we’re here to recap them all with you.

They started off the day with two contract signings, giving both Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Michal Neuvirth two-year extensions with big raises.

Here’s our take on the Neuvirth extension:

But the issue at hand now is that re-signing Michal Neuvirth doesn’t get us much closer to answering that question of who the Flyers’ starter will be next year. And unless Neuvirth’s signing a contract that would make it easy for the Flyers to bury him in the minors — in which case, why would the Flyers be so eager to do that now, and why would Neuvirth even sign it? — then they’ve only got one more spot on the roster to try and get that guy, with no obvious path there in mind.

Here’s our take on the Bellemare extension:

A $1.45 million per year fourth liner? That’s a lot of money for a good fourth liner, let alone one with the complete lack of scoring ability or play driving ability that Bellemare’s shown.

And the big deal of the day: Mark Streit was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Valtteri Filppula, their fourth round pick in 2017 and a conditional seventh round pick in 2017. Tampa then flipped Streit to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth.

Here’s our take on that:

Forward Valtteri Filppula is coming back to Philadelphia. The Flyers also get Tampa’s fourth round pick in 2017 and a conditional seventh round pick in 2017. Frank Seravalli of TSN reports that the Flyers are eating a portion of Streit’s salary, which doesn’t really matter since it’s done in 20 games.

Filppula has one year left on his deal at $5 million against the cap, and Tampa has been trying to move him for other cap reasons.

We’ll have much more on the deadline going forward today, including a special edition of BSH Radio later tonight. Thanks for reading along with us.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 17:08:42 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Michael Raffl is probably out for the season

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On top of all the other trade deadline news, we learn that Michael Raffl’s out for the foreseeable future.

The hits just keep on coming. Just as Travis Konecny is ready to come back from injury — he skated in regular practice today! hooray! — we have news that Michael Raffl will be out for 6 to 8 weeks with an injury suffered in Tuesday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

This puts Raffl out for the year, unless you somehow hold pipe dreams of the playoffs. (In which case he might miss an entire round, too.)

And if you do hold onto that playoff dreamin’, well ... losing Raffl hurts that goal. He’s not been the most productive player, but he’s a key play driver on the top line (or whatever other line Dave Hakstol decides to put him, for that matter) and he’s one of those under the radar guys who creates space for the team’s scorers.

We talk a lot about the Flyers lack of scoring, and while Raffl might not be picking up too many points of his own this season, he’s still been a key element in whatever minimal success the team has had this year.

Losing him hurts, especially if you think the team can make up ground and get into the playoffs.

Recapping the 2017 Flyers trade deadline

Recapping the 2017 Flyers NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Let's recap the Flyers moves!

Опубліковано Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans 1 березень 2017 р.

[#] Wed Mar 01 2017 17:23:57 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: What does Valtteri Filppula bring to the Flyers?

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A quick scouting report from Tampa Bay.

The Flyers lone acquisition at the 2017 NHL trade deadline, at least as far as actual living, breathing human beings are concerned, is forward Valtteri Filppula, acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Filppula has an expensive contract, worth $5 million against the salary cap, with one more year left on it. He’s probably not worth that deal at this stage, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a helpful player for Philadelphia, assuming he’s here until the end of the contract.

What are we getting in this guy? We reached out to George FitzGerald from SB Nation’s Lightning site, Raw Charge, who provided this scouting report:

Filppula is a defensively capable, second line center. If he's your third line center, all the better. He is a playmaker that will likely make you scream shoot as he doesn't use his wrist shot enough to keep teams honest. Also, don't let him take one-timers. He seriously sucks at them.

He was signed by the Lightning to fill in the hole left when Vincent Lecavalier was bought out after the lockout. Flyers fan should know how Lecavalier turned out and why that was a good idea. Filppula did well in the first couple years, but got displaced in the line up by Tyler Johnson.

He's still more than capable as a defensive center that can go up against the likes of Crosby, Toews and Ovechkin in the playoffs and hold them in check. He'll kill penalties effectively and win faceoffs at a decent enough clip. He's still got something left in the tank and has had a better offensive season than he did last season.

The problem for him in Tampa was simply that his offense didn't keep up with his price tag and the Lightning ended up having a lot of center depth come around that made him expendable as well as a hindrance to the salary cap next season.

Filppula is also a competitor and a winner. The last time he wasn't in the playoffs was 2003-04 when he was still in Finland playing for Jokerit. He's also sported an A for the Lightning off and on during his tenure when Cooper has rotated the alternates around.

[#] Thu Mar 02 2017 06:28:17 EST from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Ladies and gentlemen, your Philadelphia Flyers

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

*Well, the deadline has come and gone, so for better or worse, this team is your team. And you get to watch them play tonight as Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers roll into town for a 7PM start. Go team!

*Before tonight's game, let's look back at the last one, a rare win. We learned some things. Ten of them. [BSH]

*So what did the Flyers do yesterday? Well, the gave an extension and 100% raise to one of their worst forwards. [BSH]

They also gave a two year deal and a nice fat raise to their underperforming backup goaltender who has never stayed healthy for a full season in his entire career. That's the good stuff. [BSH]

*And we bid adieu to Mark Streit, for an overpaid forward and some picks. [BSH]

*Let's meet Valtteri Filppula, the guy for whom we traded Mark Streit for. [BSH]

*Welp, we've lost Michael Raffl for a while. [ProHockeyTalk]

*Okay let's forget about that though and have a hearty laugh at Marcus Hayes, who is bad and should really never write about hockey ever. [BSH]

*Jordan Weal scored his first NHL goal the other night and that's pretty cool. It'd be nice if he stuck around. [Inquirer]

*The Phantoms are in a bit of a slump right now but there's no need to worry. Yet. [The Morning Call]

*And finally, because why not, here are the best deadline day trades made by every team in the league. [ESPN]

[#] Thu Mar 02 2017 09:16:03 EST from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: It’s the BSH Radio 2017 Trade Deadline Extravaganza!

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The gang is back for a special show dedicated to the moves Ron Hextall made at the trade deadline and what they mean for this team going forward.

Mark Streit is gone! Valtteri Filppula is here! Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is still an untouchable! Michal Neuvirth got a raise for being the worst goalie in the NHL! It was an eventful trade deadline for the hockey team, the Flyers, and the BSH gang breaks down the day's happenings on this special edition of Broad Street Hockey Radio, featuring voicemails from fans and our one-of-a-kind outrageous analysis.

You can listen below or on your mobile device thanks to iTunes, Google Play, and Soundcloud.

Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio for deadline day excitement!

[#] Thu Mar 02 2017 12:19:02 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is your new Flyers alternate captain

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Or assistant captain. Whatever you wanna call it.

The Flyers signed Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a questionable two-year contract extension yesterday, which was a meaningful thing that shows how the Flyers overvalue this particular fourth-line player.

Here’s a less-meaningful thing that also shows how much the Flyers overvalue Bellemare:

(Since when is “assistant” captain a thing? I’ve always called it “alternate” captain? Is this a debate we need to have?)

Bellemare seems like a wonderful dude and a great guy in the locker room, and ultimately the ‘A’ on a sweater doesn’t really mean a darn thing. Bellemare is already part of the team’s “leadership” group so this really isn’t a huge deal on its own.

I do worry, however, about both the contract that the Flyers gave to Bellemare yesterday and what this ‘A’ means longer-term. Bellemare is a fourth-line player, and as his position on the fringe of the NHL roster dictates, he could theoretically be replaced by a young kid or could be a healthy scratch at any point. When warranted of course, but sometimes those moves are warranted.

Bellemare is already one of the worst-scoring forwards in hockey, and while scoring isn’t necessarily his role ... I don’t know, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a world in which we’d rather have a skilled young player from Lehigh Valley on the fourth line over him, right? I’m not crazy for seeing that as a possibility in the next two seasons?

But how often do you hear about teams scratching a player with a letter on his chest? Or sending that player to the AHL? Or ... I don’t know, leaving them unprotected in an expansion draft.

That’s the biggest thing I keep coming back to: with an ‘A’ on his sweater and a new two-year contract in his back pocket, can you imagine Bellemare being left unprotected in the expansion draft? The Flyers will almost certainly protect Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and (as required by his no-movement clause) Valtteri Filppula. That leaves one more spot for a forward to be protected with Michael Raffl, Dale Weise, Nick Cousins, Mat Read, Scott Laughton and Bellemare.

Could this mean they are about to use that final spot on Bellemare? I’m just thinking out loud here, but I think it’s worth the thought.

[#] Thu Mar 02 2017 14:05:48 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: German Rubtsov signs his entry-level contract with the Flyers

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He’s lighting up the QMJHL so far.

The Philadelphia Flyers 2016 first round draft pick is officially a member of the organization. The team announced on Thursday afternoon that they’ve signed German Rubtsov to his three-year entry-level contract.

We don’t know the full terms, but it’s definitely three-years and probably worth $925,000 per year.

Rubtsov recently came over to North America after getting out of his KHL contract, something that had been a rumored possibility since the draft. Since joining the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Rubtsov had eight goals and 12 assists in just 14 games. That’s .... pretty good for his first 14 games in North America.

Should Chicoutimi’s season end before the Phantoms’ season, Rubtsov could join the AHL for the playoff run. His status as a draftee from Europe means he can join the AHL early, unlike players who are drafted out of North America. We’ll see if that happens, or if the Flyers decide to simply keep him in the QMJHL without the pressures of pro hockey so soon in his North American career.

Here are some of his recent highlights:

[#] Thu Mar 02 2017 16:23:02 EST from Travis Hughes

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

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The trade deadline is over and ... oh, wait? There’s hockey left? Ok, then.

Tonight’s game is on CSN Philly locally, as well as 97.5 The Fanatic. has your live stream, and also has this as the free game of the night if you are outside the Philly or South Florida market. FS Florida has coverage in Pantherland.

Philadelphia lineup


  1. Jordan Weal - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
  2. Brayden Schenn - Valtteri Filppula - Jakub Voracek
  3. Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Dale Weise
  4. Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Matt Read


  1. Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
  2. Shayne Gostisbehere - Nick Schultz
  3. Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas


  1. Steve Mason
  2. Michal Neuvirth

Florida lineup

  1. Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
  2. Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith
  3. Thomas Vanek - Nick Bjugstad - Jonathan Marchessault
  4. Shawn Thornton - Derek MacKenzie - Colton Sceviour


  1. Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
  2. Mark Pysyk - Alex Petrovic
  3. Michael Matheson - Jason Demers


  1. @strombone1
  2. James Reimer

[#] Thu Mar 02 2017 22:44:17 EST from Kurt R.

Subject: Flyers vs. Panthers recap: New guy and the old guy team up to give the Flyers a shootout victory

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A goal from the Flyers’ newest acquisition and superb goaltending helped the Flyers fight through another otherwise-frustrating game to pick up two huge points.

The Flyers picked up their second straight win tonight, beating the Florida Panthers by a score of 2-1 in a shootout. Let’s talk about it!


  • No one scored in the first period. There were a lot of power plays! And chances! Good ones! For both teams! But no goals.
  • Then in the second period the Flyers had a power play and there was a goal but the other team got it. The entire power play sequence that led up to this Aaron Ekblad bomb was pretty horrendous, but in particular, Claude Giroux will probably not put these few seconds here on his video résumé.
  • At this point you probably could feel pretty resigned to the Flyers losing this game, burying their more-or-less-already-dead playoff chances. But about halfway through the third period, the Flyers got some help from none other than their newest player to tie this game up. A superb effort by Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn before him gave Valtteri Filppula a chance to crash the net in front and tap home a Schenn pass to give him his first point in orange and black and to give the Flyers a tie game.
  • The Flyers would nearly take the lead a couple more times in the third period, but it was Florida who’d get the last great chance of regulation-time as Aleksander Barkov swooped in to the high slot and fired a shot to the top-right corner. Luckily, the top-right corner is where Steve Mason’s right hand spends a lot of its spare time.
  • 3-on-3 was fun! It would come and go without any goals scored, but the Flyers tended to get the better of the action, as the Giroux/Voracek combo as well as the Schenn/Filppula combo both put together some near-misses.
  • Then the shootout happened, in which, naturally ... good things happened? We won’t narrate this one, just enjoy for yourself as the Flyers picked up their franchise-record sixth shootout win of the season.

(This is going to be the thing that endears the fanbase to Jordan Weal, isn’t it? Not the overall-solid play of late, the one shootout goal.)

(Hey, game respect game.)


  • For the most part, this game looked ready to unfold the way that probably about a dozen other Flyers games have unfolded this year. The team got out to a very strong start in this game, and were pretty clearly the superior team for the first half or so of the game, probably deserving a better fate than they received on the scoreboard. Then a bad break went their way, the other team would take a lead, and the Flyers would sag for a while en route to what would almost inevitably be a demoralizing loss. The best kind of wins are the ones you’re conditioned to not expect, I say.
  • And the thing that made that all-too-familiar script that much more painful tonight (up until Filppula’s goal) was that it wasn’t just that the Flyers were tallying shots and just-OK chances! They were moving around the offensive zone with the kind of creativity we just don’t see from them much nowadays. Roberto Luongo snuffed out multiple near-misses in the first period. The power play (prior to its awful shift on Florida’s lone goal) came out absolutely blazing in the first period, doing everything but providing the finish. And much of the same took place in the third at evens, well after James Reimer had to come in to follow an injured Luongo. The Flyers ended the night with 49 shots on goal, their second-highest mark of the season, and rest assured that that number is actually a pretty accurate depiction of what they were up to offensively tonight.
  • The other big story from the evening will be Steve Mason, who as you may have heard did not get a contract extension yesterday. While the Flyers were busy putting up a shooting gallery on the Panthers’ netminders, Florida made sure Mason had to earn his way to a victory tonight as well. Which he did, and then some, giving up only that one goal on the Ekblad shorthanded snipe and turning aside every one of Florida’s other 38 attempts (plus two out of three in the shootout). Mason was moving and tracking the puck well, and while he also got bailed out a couple of times by Panthers who just missed open nets, that shouldn’t take away from what was Mason’s second straight excellent outing after basically getting some extended PTO during the month of February. Juuuuuuuust something to watch out for as the season winds down.


Arguably moreso than the actual outcome of the game, the big focus heading into tonight for the Flyers was how their newest acquisition would fare. And of course, Valtteri Filppula managed to make himself one of the stories of the game anyways, as he’d score the Flyers’ only pre-shootout goal of the contest. But all in all there was a lot to like from the Finnish vet in his first game with the Flyers. With Schenn and Voracek at his wings, Filppula centered what was probably the Flyers’ best line of the evening, even beyond the goal itself. The trio attacked with control of the puck regularly, and the Flyers (via were plus-7 in on-ice shot attempts when the three of them were out on the ice together. One game does obviously not a successful trade make, but if Ron Hextall liked Filppula yesterday, he’ll certainly like what he saw today.


I like to think he was remembered. But no, not really.


With this loss, the Flyers allowed the Panthers to collect two points that (for the time being) put them in the East’s final wild card spot, five points ahead of where the Flyers stand with the same number of games played. Depending on what other teams do, the Flyers could end up six points out of the last spot by the time tonight is over, and will need to jump four teams to do it.

Dream big, I guess.

(I wrote that early in the third when I was convinced the Flyers were going to lose. Gotta love this season. Anywho!)

As of this very moment — approximately 10:29 p.m. ET on Thursday night — the Flyers sit two points out of a playoff spot. That number could grow to three or four depending on what the Maple Leafs and Islanders (the latter of whom have one extra game in hand) do before the night is up, as both are playing right now. There are still three teams (Toronto, Florida, and the Islanders) that would need to be jumped for the Flyers to reach the East’s final spot, not to mention Tampa is just a point behind them with another game in hand. We’re still talking about a long shot. But that long shot would have basically disintegrated tonight with a regulation loss to one of the teams they’re chasing, so hey, we’ll take it.


Back at it Saturday in Washington. What could go wrong? Go Flyers.

[#] Fri Mar 03 2017 06:22:22 EST from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Weekends are good.

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

*Anyone else get mad at Del Zotto for hitting Jaromir Jagr? No, just me? Cool. RECAP!

*Big news yesterday in Flyersville was Pierre-Edouard Bellemare being named Alternate Captain. [BSH]

*The Flyers have signed German Rubtsov to his entry level deal, which is awesome, because he's been awesome. [Flyers]

*If you ask Flyers fans, the team did...not great on deadline day. Not a lot of ringing endorsements. [CSN Philly]

*Nick Schultz was back last night. Always fun to watch him on the ice, isn't it? [Inquirer]

*Ron Hextall wants us all to believe that there is a possibility that he will try to sign Steve Mason before he hits the market. [ProHockeyTalk]

*Jakub Voracek is having a little fun and doing a little good with the fact that he "stole" Wayne Simmonds' hat trick the other night. [CSN Philly]

*One cool thing is it's super easy to rank deadline day deals because there are so few of them. [Puck Daddy]

*Four former NHLers discuss the fun that is the Penguins-Flyers rivalry. [Pensburgh]

*Ilya Bryzgalov was part of Sportsnet's Deadline Day coverage, and he was predictably wonderful. [Sportsnet]

*This little dancing goaltender is going to make your day better, I assure you. [Puck Daddy]

*And finally, in case you missed it, the special Deadline Day wrapup episode of BSH Radio for your enjoyment. [BSH]

[#] Fri Mar 03 2017 09:55:51 EST from katefrese

Subject: The best photos from the Flyers shootout win against the Panthers

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March 2, 2017: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Florida Panthers featured photo gallery

Scroll through Kate Frese’s best photos from yesterday’s Philadelphia Flyers shootout win against the Florida Panthers above. To see a complete gallery, CLICK HERE.

[#] Fri Mar 03 2017 13:16:08 EST from Charlie O'Connor

Subject: Flyers 2, Panthers 1: 10 things we learned from a post-trade deadline triumph

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It looked like the same old script for the Flyers. But with the help of a new acquisition, they avoided their usual fate.

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

#1: Started strong, faltered, then recovered

Especially over the past two months, the Flyers have often not looked the part of a resilient team. It’s not that they’ve been bad all of the time — in fact, for long stretches of play in most of their losses, Philadelphia has won the territorial battle and made life difficult for their opponents. But all too often, the script seemed predestined — Flyers would fail to score despite all that pressure, give up a quick goal due to a breakdown of some sort, and then fall apart and allow the other team to take control of the pace of play. That’s exactly what happened last night against the Panthers, except in this game, Philadelphia refused to let the narrative end there.

They dominated the first period, winning the 5v5 shot attempts battle 17-7 and earning three power play opportunities, including an extended 5-on-3. But unsurprisingly, they could not score even one goal despite all of that pressure. They came out just as strong in the early portion of the second period, but started to sag a bit around the eight-minute mark. After just three minutes of that, Florida capitalized on the Flyers’ inability to sustain their dominance, and the rest of the period was all Panthers. Considering the fact that the players surely knew they had squandered a major opportunity by not scoring despite generating loads of shots and chances early, it would have been very easy for them to continue their sloppy play into the third period and not come with much of a push.

Instead, they played a classic “down by 1 goal” period, spending most of the session in the Florida end before tying things up midway through the period. They didn’t even let up after evening the score, outshooting Florida in terms of attempts 18-8 over the final nine minutes of regulation. This was something of a gut check game for the Flyers, battling against one of their rivals for that final wild card spot in the East, and to their credit, they came through when it mattered the most.

#2: Team still can’t score

The Flyers may have earned a much-needed two points last night, but the team’s continued inability to put the puck in the net reared its ugly head yet again. Philadelphia racked up 89 shot attempts, 49 shots on goal, and 4.69 Expected Goals on the night, yet could push just one past the Florida goalie tandem of Roberto Luongo (who left with an injury after one period) and James Reimer. It’s easy to scream “shot quality!” but 4.69 xG, 43 regular scoring chances and 20 high-danger ones tells a different tale, as does the shot chart.

The Flyers pretty much shot from everywhere, but the highest concentration is exactly where a coach wants it to be — right in front of the net. But even with shot volume and shot quality, Philadelphia still could score just once. There’s surely a talent element to this, as the team lacks true snipers, but to me, this is mostly just the season from hell. Yes, the Flyers can sometimes overuse low-to-high shooting strategies in the offensive zone that depress their scoring rates, but even on nights when they do generate tons of chances (like this one), the floodgates hold strong. Because I refuse to believe that a forward corps filled with players holding career shooting percentages over 10% simply forgot how to put the puck in the net overnight, I have to conclude that this is just a bizarre, fluky season for the team as a whole. It may not be the most satisfying answer, but sometimes the right answers aren’t. Report & Highlights | Corsica.Hockey Game Recap Page | Recap | NaturalStatTrick Recap | | BSH Recap | Meltzer’s Musings

#3: Filppula a strong debut

The goal of the Mark Streit-for-Valtteri Filppula trade was simple — acquire a useful 3C without expending any assets, aside from an expansion draft protection slot and $5 million in cap space next year. The Flyers tried numerous options in the 3C role this season, including Brayden Schenn and Nick Cousins, but never seemed fully satisfied with either. Since their best center prospects (German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyov) are at least two years away, and the market for centers in free agency was looking extremely thin, Hextall apparently decided that Filppula was worth the risk.

But the move does come with risk, namely that Filppula will simply not be a useful third line center next season. Yes, his 5v5 scoring rates have jumped back into borderline first liner territory in 2016-17, but Filppula hasn’t driven play relative to his teammates since 2013-14, even if he’s generally stayed above 50% in terms of raw differential. You generally don’t want a top-nine center getting buried, but it remained legitimately possible that Filppula was grading out poorly simply because the top-end of Tampa Bay’s roster made him look unimpressive by comparison. On a team with less forward depth, maybe Filppula wouldn’t be a liability at all, yet would still be able to contribute solid scoring rates.

At least last night, that’s exactly what happened. Not only did Filppula score the game-tying goal simply by crashing the net and making himself a target for the puck (something Flyers players have struggled to do this year), he also was not a liability in terms of territorial play, finishing with a solid 56.53% score-adjusted Corsi, almost dead-even (-0.07%) relative to his teammates. Filppula’s plus puck-carrying ability was apparent, as he generated multiple controlled offensive zone entries at 5v5, sometimes doing so more than once on the same shift. His passing also stood out as effective in all three zones. There have been many examples of eventual disappointments getting off to good starts in Flyers uniforms (Ilya Bryzgalov and Vincent Lecavalier come to mind) so it’s best to hold to a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Filppula. But it was certainly an auspicious beginning.

#4: Mason shakes off situation, excels

Following the Flyers’ decision to lock up Michal Neuvirth to a two-year extension, the status of Steve Mason with the organization seems fairly straightforward. With Anthony Stolarz banging down the door for an NHL backup spot, and Neuvirth signed to a $2.5 mil AAV that seems quite expensive for a traditional backup role, the future in net for Philadelphia appears to hold no room for Mason, since his contract expires at the end of the season. However, that lame-duck status did not prevent Dave Hakstol from going back to Mason last night, fresh off a shutout of the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. And for the second straight game, Mason delivered, stopping 39 of 40 shots and making two big saves in the shootout to earn the victory.

What seems clear is that even though the front office has ostensibly committed to Neuvirth over Mason for the future, that doesn’t mean that Mason won’t have a chance to take the starting job and run with it during the stretch run, so long as his play warrants the usage. Mason may not be having a strong year at all (though it’s still been better than Neuvirth’s season!), but don’t forget that he delivered three straight years of better than 0.917 goaltending as a starter for the Flyers prior to the 2016-17 debacle. He’s fully capable of turning things around. And if he does, that will make for an interesting situation moving into the offseason, especially if Mason plays lights-out hockey the rest of the way.

#5: Constant offensive zone motion by forwards

One possible reason for the Flyers’ goal-scoring struggles this season is that they simply haven’t been creative enough in the offensive zone. The regular formula has been obvious — win a puck battle down low, get it back to the point, and then blast away with traffic in front, hoping for a deflection or rebound opportunity. Some of that is on the coaching staff, to be sure, but let’s not absolve the players, either. Low-to-high is an easy fallback strategy for them, as the point men are usually open for passes. Creative feeds are more difficult and hold an increased likelihood of turnovers, but also create far better chances when executed properly. All too often, the forwards have taken the safe route when on the attack, rather than the best one.

That’s didn’t happen last night, however. Both on rushes and in the cycle game, the Flyers players were in constant motion, criss-crossing with and without the puck in an attempt to confuse Florida defensemen and get open for passes. The Filppula goal was a perfect example — on a controlled entry, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn essentially swapped spots in the high slot on a passing play, which served to open up the middle lane for Filppula and give extra space for Schenn to make a pass to a high-danger area. The Flyers may not be the Penguins in terms of raw skill, but they have more than enough talent to make plays like this on a regular basis. Last night, at least, they did so consistently.

#6: Giroux’s strong game at 5v5 overshadowed by awful turnover

Even when things go well for Claude Giroux this season, he seems to find a way to frustrate fans. Last night, Giroux’s and his wingers (Wayne Simmonds and Jordan Weal) were absolutely dominant at 5v5. In terms of raw shot attempts generated/prevented, the Flyers doubled up the Panthers with the captain on the ice, racking up 22 attempts and allowing just 11 in over 13 minutes of ice time. In addition, Giroux helped his team to create five high-danger opportunities while permitting not a single one to the opposition. The result was a team-leading score-adjusted Corsi (63.95%) and xG (85.93%) from Giroux.

However, all of that strong play was overshadowed by a horrific play in the second period that led to Florida’s only goal. Rather than carry the puck up ice, Giroux attempted a half-hearted pass to Brayden Schenn that was both off-target and lacking any real velocity. To compound his error, Giroux then was walked by Aaron Ekblad as he tried to prevent the ensuing shorthanded rush. To the captain’s credit, he took full blame for the goal, stating, “I’m pissed off and I have to be better and the team played a great 55 minute game and personally I gave Florida a point so it’s frustrating.” You can’t absolve him entirely for the play (it was, objectively speaking, an awful showing) but you also can’t ignore that he exerted his authority in basically every other shift of the game.

#7: Power play great early, liability later

A brief look at the shot generation metrics for the top unit would lead one to believe that they had another “good process, bad result” game. After all, each member of PP1 finished with a Corsi For per 60 over 180 (anything over 100 is very good), so on the whole, they definitely had their chances to score. However, the vast majority of those shots occurred on the very first power play of the game, which saw Philadelphia blast away at Roberto Luongo with eight shot attempts during a shift in which they kept the puck in the offensive zone for over a minute.

Their other PPs were less than inspiring, though, and that was including 1:05 of a 5-on-3 that mustered two unblocked shots and no goals. Things got even worse in the second, as Giroux’s consecutive mistakes ended up directly resulting in an Ekblad tally. To be sure, Florida’s penalty kill unit is very good (2nd in the NHL in success rate, 1st in shot suppression), primarily due to how aggressively they challenge puck carriers. Still, the Flyers are an elite shot creation unit, so you would have liked to have seen them build off that strong early PP. Instead, they faded.

#8: Couturier line matched heavily against Barkov

With Michael Raffl now of the lineup for the foreseeable future and Dale Weise scratched to make way for Roman Lyubimov, Sean Couturier lost both of his linemates from the previous game in one fell swoop. Given the opportunity to provide Couturier with scoring wingers, however, Hakstol instead decided to try and replicate the spirit of the past line by placing his young center with Matt Read (a play-driver) and Nick Cousins (a strong transition player). That’s not much scoring help for Couturier, but it is a trio that can be reasonably expected to push play in the right direction.

A play-driving line that doesn't bring much offense to the table is probably best suited for shutdown duty, and that’s exactly how Dave Hakstol used the Couturier line last night, giving them heavy minutes against Aleksander Barkov, Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau. In 10:25 minutes at 5v5 versus Barkov, Couturier held a strong 55.54% score-adjusted Corsi, and helped to prevent Barkov’s unit from generating even one high-danger chance. His line also thrived against Vincent Trocheck and his mates, a matchup that took up the remainder of Couturier’s ice time. In fact, Couturier led all Flyers centers in 5v5 ice time, a testament to the faith that Hakstol placed in his unit last night.

#9: Strong start for Ghost, some later struggles

For the first 25 minutes of the game, Shayne Gostisbehere was maybe the most dynamic Flyers player on the ice. Particularly in the offensive zone, Ghost was a handful for the Panthers, using his mobility to open up shooting lanes and carry the puck down to the faceoff circles in order to create more dangerous shots than simple point blasts. In fact, he led all Flyers players last night with 11 shot attempts and 7 shots on goal, and ranked third in individual Expected Goals with 0.47, implying that his shot creation wasn’t of the low quality variety. In that sense, it was truly a standout performance from the Ghost Bear.

But as the team started to sag midway through the second period, Gostisbehere’s play dipped as well. The worst moment was one horrific shift that saw Ghost’s attempted ice-length pass be intercepted and turned into an immediate Florida scoring chance, and then a second high-difficulty breakout pass become an icing. The remainder of the game was a mix of strong offensive plays and turnovers, as he looked like a player who had supreme confidence in his puck skills in the offensive zone but jumpy in his own end. The numbers pick up some of that — he posted a solid +1.94% score-adjusted Corsi relative to his teammates, but was -13.89% relative to those teammates in xG, implying that his mistakes were leading to high-quality chances. On the whole, I want Ghost taking risks, but on this night, he made a few too many errors for my liking despite his clear contributions on offense.

#10: Flyers aren’t awful at shootouts this year

Now that Philadelphia has made it through over 75% of their season, it can be safely noted that the team’s historically awful shootout performance hasn’t carried over to the 2016-17 season. Last night’s victory was the Flyers’ sixth shootout win of the season, against four losses. For those that view the shootout as essentially a coin flip driven by random chance, this year has just been an example of the luck finally going the team’s way (appropriately, in a season where all of the Flyers’ luck in other situations has been horrific). Others might attribute the improvement to the play of the goalies, who have stopped 79.49% of all attempts this year, or to Jakub Voracek, who has scored on five of his nine shots after being only an occasional option for Hakstol last season. Regardless of the reason, fans rightfully aren’t dreading shootouts this year, a dramatic shift from their past thoughts on the skills competition.

[#] Fri Mar 03 2017 15:18:08 EST from Travis Hughes

Subject: Goodbye, Steve Mason: Did Michal Neuvirth’s new contract end a Flyer career?

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How did Mason’s uplifting comeback story end up going so wrong?

With the Flyers signing Michal Neuvirth to a contract extension on Wednesday -- a two-year contract extension, with a big raise, during a year he has a sub-.890 save percentage — there are a lot of questions.

Will he be in tandem with Anthony Stolarz next year? Will he be exposed in June’s expansion draft? Will the Flyers sign another goaltender this summer?

But while those questions around Neuvirth persist as we look at the Flyers goaltending situation moving forward, one apparent reality is that Steve Mason is no longer part of that future.

The writing was probably on the wall for a while here. Mason played well for a stretch this season while Neuvirth was on the shelf with an injury, and his overall numbers have indeed been better than Neuvirth in 2016-17. But both goalies have been bad, and Mason’s .905 save percentage is nothing to write home about.

The result? For whatever reason, the Flyers feel as though Neuvirth won whatever battle existed between them this season.

It was evident that Dave Hakstol and the front office had cooled on Mason as a long-term option in goal, clearly shown over the last month as Neuvirth started six games in a row — to terrible effect during a playoff race -- and Mason sat on the bench watching.

Now, by signing Neuvy just hours before the trade deadline, it is pretty clear that Mason will not be back next season. It’s a quick, frustrating end to what before this season had been a compelling comeback story.

Mason rebuilt his career in Philadelphia

Mason came to the Flyers at the 2013 trade deadline, and we had a lot of questions when the deal was made. To that point, Mason had been one of the worst statistical goaltenders in the NHL following his Calder Trophy-winning rookie year, and there were big questions about whether or not the change of scenery would work for him.

I mean, a goalie going to Philadelphia for a change of scenery? With our history of goalies? Come on. It seemed unlikely to work.

But .... well, it worked. Pretty masterfully for a while. Mason played just seven games following his deadline day trade during that 2012-13 season, and he allowed just 12 goals in those games. It made us all excited for what he might be able to do in his first full season with the team.

As the 2013-14 season began, stories emerged of Mason’s chemistry with Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese — how Reese helped him get his head straight and his game back to form after some terrible seasons in Columbus. The results showed.

Mason had been a sub-.900 goalie his final year with the Jackets, and in 61 games during his first full season in Philly, a league average .918 was enough to help the Flyers get to the postseason. He was injured just before the playoffs that year, and in a close series with the New York Rangers, there’s still a belief that had he been healthy the Flyers could have advanced beyond that series.

The first cracks?

The 2014-15 season wasn’t just a good one for Mason. It was the third-best season in franchise history for a starting goaltender. The results were not there for the team as a whole, and the year led to the firing of Craig Berube as head coach. But that could hardly be pinned on Mason.

The season was not all roses for the goaltender, however. It’s possible that the first cracks in the relationship between Mason and the Flyers came during the ‘14-15 season, too. Mase dealt with a few injury issues throughout the year, and frustrations about how he was handled by Berube came to a head in March.

Reese, the goalie coach who was so pivotal in getting Mason’s game back in order, reportedly left the team over the situation. Here’s how we wrote it up:

Essentially, there have been multiple times where it's looked like the Flyers have rushed to get Mason back on the ice and in games before he was 100 percent recovered from his injuries. [...]

The Flyers, desperate to win hockey games and (per Berube's own words) going with their "gut", have been trying to get their best goalie on the ice as soon as they deem it possible for months now. But it's clear that they've been doing it at a detriment to Mason's health, and it's all snowballed over time and ... has ultimately led to the departure of their well-respected goalie coach.

Mason was pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing, but noticeably unhappy:

“It’s been a tough couple days here,” Mason said. “[Thursday's] game was a real hard game to focus on just because of the circumstances. What was going on. Like I said, he is somebody I owe my career to. I wish him the best.”

With Berube fired weeks later, the hope was that those issues were in the rear view mirror. It’s hard to know if they’ve lingered in the back of Mason’s mind since or not.

Enter Neuvirth, in a clear backup role

On July 1 that summer, the Flyers signed Michal Neuvirth to a two-year deal, and despite all the drama surrounding the Flyers, Reese and Mason, it was evident from the get-go that Neuvirth was coming in as a backup.

Mason was dealing with some personal issues early in the season — which impacted his play to a certain extent -- and Neuvy came in relief to perform admirably, but at no point during the regular season was there any real thought that Mason had lost his starting gig.

The slow start was concerning, but that concern quickly evaporated. Despite a sub-.900 start to the year, Mason’s season numbers were back up near .910 by the New Year, and things felt back to normal. In fact, we all just felt generally good about the goalie situation: for the first time in a long time, the Flyers had two capable netminders. What a world.

Under new coach Dave Hakstol in 2015-16, the Flyers went on that unbelievable second half run to the playoffs. Flashy guys like Shayne Gostisbehere get a lot of the credit for it, but it can be easy to forget just how solid Mason was in net on a night-in, night-out basis during the stretch.

In fact, during the 2016 half of the season -- from January 7 against Minnesota until his regular season finale against Pittsburgh on April 9 — Mason went 16-9-5 with a .923 save percentage. He was as much a reason the Flyers qualified for the postseason in Hakstol’s rookie coaching year as anything else.

Neuvirth had been a key piece on the Flyers in 2015-16 too, playing slightly more than the average backup and picking up Mason’s slack early in the year.

But it was completely clear throughout the year that it had been Mason’s net with Neuvirth as his clear obvious subordinate. The usage showed that and the stats did, too -- particularly in the back half the year as Mason led the Flyers to the playoffs and Neuvirth provided a solid .909 performance in relief.

Mason started 17 of 18 games during one point in this stretch, including a stretch of 13 straight until the Flyers finally clinched a playoff spot.

Six games changed the narrative against Mason

It was the 2016 playoffs that seemed to change the narrative around the Flyers goaltending situation; never mind that he was the reason they got there.

Mason looked perfectly fine in a tight 2-0 win for Washington in Game 1, but the wheels fell off his bus in Game 2.

With the full effect of hindsight now available to us, it’s possible that this goal was what ultimately led to the end of his Flyers career, or at least the start of the downfall:

The Flyers lost that Game 2 and the talking points immediately flipped. Mason buckled under the pressure of that goal, the fanbase and the 2-0 series deficit. While there was talk that he may have hurt himself in Game 2, he didn’t show anything in Game 3 to restore confidence, and ... as it turned out, that was the end of his season.

Philadelphia lost. Hakstol opted to start Neuvirth in Game 4 with the team’s backs against the wall. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Steve Mason has not played particularly well in these last two games for the Flyers, and while he's certainly not the chief problem on the team in this series, he hasn't been a difference maker either. There's been some speculation that he's been injured, perhaps suffering a setback in Game 2 down in D.C. There's no confirmation of that, although it'd be a fair explanation for some of the weak goals he's given up in the series.

This shouldn't define Mason's season. Maybe he's hurt, maybe he's not. There is no doubt that he hasn't looked himself in the last few games, and given that it's hard to argue with the call to change goalies for this big Game 4. But at the same time, let's hope that the narrative will keep in focus the fact that his strong season-long play is one of the key reasons the Flyers are even playing here in the postseason.

Had the Flyers lost Game 4, it probably wouldn’t have done much to change the reality that Mason had been the better goalie over the long term, that he was a key reason the team made the 2016 playoffs, and that he would enter the 2016-17 season as the clear starter. It would have been a few bad games, and a reset entering the new year.

Had Neuvirth played fine but not brilliantly in Games 4, 5 and 6, things would have been status quo entering the offseason. But Neuvirth didn’t just play brilliantly. He was the reason the Flyers even had a chance to play Games 5 and 6.

In Game 4 on home ice, Neuvirth made his first meaningful start in over a month and absolutely killed it, allowing just one goal while making 31 saves in a 2-1 win to keep the season alive. It was a team effort, but Neuvy certainly did more than his part.

Game 5 back in Washington was what really got the fanbase behind Neuvirth. A game the Flyers had no right winning was stolen from the jaws of defeat thanks to a Ryan White goal and a 44-save shutout by Neuvirth. I mean, look at the headline from our game recap that night.

The Flyers returned home with the thoughts of a 2010-like comeback on the minds in of a raucous Wells Fargo Center crowd, but Neuvirth and the squad were not able to pull out the win, losing just 1-0 despite 28 saves.

That playoff series and the goaltending change within it was enough for the momentum to shift into Neuvirth’s corner, however. Here’s what we wrote in our review of his 2015-16 season under the headline “Has Michal Neuvirth pushed himself into the long-term goalie discussion?”

While it's generally inadvisable to make sweeping, long-term judgments based on a single playoff series, it seems hard to deny that what happened in the playoffs will shape how many Flyers fans will remember Neuvirth's season (as well as Mason's, but that's a discussion for another time). After coming into the playoffs as a very solid but injury-prone goalie who was clearly the backup to Steve Mason (who was a huge reason the team made the playoffs in his own right), many who follow the team are now clamoring for Neuvirth to be the team's starter going into next year.

That is ... precisely what happened.

Entering camp this season, the conversation was not that Neuvirth would remain the backup -- or at best, the ‘1B’ — to Mason the starter. It was about which goalie we thought would win the season-long goaltending battle, as both were free agents after the year and only one would likely be sticking around.

Neither goalie rose to the occasion. Mason’s numbers have been ugly this season, and Neuvirth’s have been uglier. The Flyers are not really in the playoff picture with 20 games left, barring another ridiculous run, and the goaltending is at least partially to blame for that. As recently as this week, we were talking about the chances of the Flyers letting both guys walk in free agency.

But now Neuvirth is here for two more years, barring his selection by Las Vegas in the expansion draft. Ron Hextall said in his post-deadline press conference that he would not rule out signing Mason again, but it’s obvious that chances are slim there.

Does this sound like a goalie who is happy with his current situation?

"We just had no indication it was in their cards," [Mason] said. "I basically just never even planned on it. It would be different if there were conversations but there were none, so you kind of put it on the backburner and focus on trying to win hockey games.

"My signing here I don't think was going to happen during the regular season anyway. We've had no talks. So at the end of the day, it changes nothing for me. My one goal is to get this team into the playoffs, have a playoff run and come summertime we'll see what happens.

"It doesn't change anything for me, it doesn't make me bitter or anything like that. If anything, it just clarifies things and puts your guessing game away from the forefront of your mind. So, clear mind the rest of the way here and hopefully we can have a strong run."

“It just clarifies things and puts your guessing game away.”

Yep, it sure does.

The Flyers went out of their way on trade deadline day to side with the goalie who not only has been worse this season, but has been worse throughout his career. You don’t even have to be a big fan of Steve Mason or a hater of Michal Neuvirth to admit that of the two, Mase is objectively the better goaltender. These are just facts.

And if you’re Steve Mason, would you want to come back to this? Would you want to come back and, at best, work in tandem with the guy who the team signed over you, despite the fact that you have consistently proven that you are the better player?

Didn’t think so.

So just like that — again, barring some miraculous run that again flips the narrative on its head — we’re seeing the likely end of Mason’s time in Philadelphia. You can’t really blame him if he’s ready to put it in his rear view mirror, too.

[#] Sat Mar 04 2017 15:43:57 EST from Brandon Lee Gowton

Subject: Kirk Cousins gets exclusive franchise tag from Redskins, which is good and bad news for the Eagles

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An update on everyone's favorite NFC East quarterback: Kurt Coupons.

For the second year in a row, the Washington Redskins used the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. Unlike last year, however, Washington applied the exclusive version of the franchise tag to Cousins this time around. This means he’s set to make at least $24 million in 2017.

This news has good and bad implications for the Philadelphia Eagles. Let's break it down.

Why Washington tagging Cousins is bad news for the Eagles

• For as much as I like to poke fun at Kurt Coupons, he does play pretty well against the Eagles. He's 4-1 in five starts against Philly. Take a look at his splits against the Birds: 63.59% completion for 1,579 yards, 12 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 102.9 passer rating. The Eagles haven't been able to beat Washington since the 2014 season. Their struggles might continue with Cousins staying in the division.

Why Washington tagging Cousins is good news for the Eagles

I'd argue the good news outweighs the bad news for the Eagles.

• First, Washington is paying Cousins $24 million in 2017. $24 million! Only Andrew Luck ($24.6 million) and Drew Brees ($24.3 million) have a higher average annual value. Cousins has posted some good numbers down in Washington, yes. But he's just not an elite quarterback. He struggles to help Washington beat good teams and he's come up really small in some big moments. Washington got demolished in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. With the post-season on the line in what was a meaningless game for the Giants, Cousins mightily struggled against New York's defense.

• The most common refrain I hear to my criticism of Cousins is that "QB WINZ AREN'T A REAL STAT!" Look, I'm not trying to say Cousins is downright terrible. Again, he's posted some good numbers. But I'm just not convinced he's worth the elite quarterback money he's making. Elite quarterbacks beat good teams and come up big in big moments.

• I'm not the only one who isn't convinced Cousins is as good as some suggest. His own team doesn't believe in him! If they truly did, they would have signed him to a long-term deal by now. To his credit, Cousins realizes this, too. And that partially explains why the 28-year-old quarterback reportedly doesn't want to sign a long-term deal in Washington, either. How does it feel to cape for a quarterback who doesn't even want you, Washington fans?

• Washington is pretty screwed in the long-term. Cousins holds all the leverage over the organization. Washington can't tag Cousins for a third time because that would cost $35 million in 2018. There's no reason for Cousins to settle for less because he could potentially get significant offers if he makes it to the market. He's often been connected to his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who now coaches the San Francisco 49ers. Washington is likely going to have to make Cousins the highest paid player in NFL history in order to work out a long-term deal with him. And that's something they're clearly not comfortable doing based on their past behavior, but they might not have any other choice.

• Tagging Cousins causes Washington to lose a large $24 million chunk of cap space. Washington still has $35 million to work with, so it's not like they're totally screwed, but it could impact their free agency plans. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are both scheduled to be free agents. A big reason why Cousins has been so success is because he's had a great cast of weapons to work with (much unlike Carson Wentz). We'll see how Cousins performs if/when he loses some of his weapons.


Eagles fans will be able to appreciate Washington's dilemma more if Philadelphia can actually start to beat them once again. In the meantime, Eagles fans can at least take solace in Washington limiting their team's ceiling by giving elite quarterback money to a quarterback who isn't elite.

[#] Sat Mar 04 2017 15:43:57 EST from Brandon Lee Gowton

Subject: Jamaal Charles released: Eagles should have some interest in former Chiefs running back

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The Kansas City Chiefs officially released Jamal Charles on Tuesday afternoon.

Charles had a $6.1 million cap figure for 2017 and none of it was guaranteed so cutting him was ultimately an easy business decision for the Chiefs.

Now that Charles is on the open market, the question is: could/should the Eagles sign him?

Let’s start by mentioning Charles has an obvious connection to Philadelphia. Charles was the Chiefs’ starting running back while now-Eagles head coach Doug Pederson served as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator. There’s a level of familiarity there.

The Eagles also have a glaring need at running back with Ryan Mathews expected to be cut for a savings of $4 million. Other Eagles running backs under contract include: Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall, and Terrell Watson. Kenjon Barner is set to be a restricted free agent. 

None of the running backs currently on Philadelphia’s roster qualify as proven, full-time lead backs. At his peak, Charles was exactly that. He’s rushed for over 1,000 yards five times in his nine-year career. In 2012, he had a career-high 1,509 rushing yards. He’s also a threat as a receiver; Charles has notched 285 career receptions for 2,457 yards and 20 touchdowns.

When healthy, Charles is a really good player. The problem is the 30-year-old rusher hasn’t been healthy in a long time. Charles has only played in eight games over the past two seasons (83 combined rushing attempts). He tore his ACL in 2015 and then suffered a setback during the 2016 season. Charles had previously torn his ACL in 2011.

Charles is reportedly healthy now, but it remains to be seen if he’s still the player he once was. Signing him would represent a risk.

But that risk might be low due to Charles' injuries. His value shouldn’t be incredibly high. If the Eagles can take a low-cost flier on him, what’s not to like?

Some will say the Eagles shouldn’t sign Charles because he’s not a long-term fit for Philadelphia, and I understand that argument. But did you watch the 2016 season? Carson Wentz needs all the weapons he can get right now. And signing Charles hardly precludes the Eagles from selecting a potential long-term solution at running back in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Again, I’m not saying the Eagles should break the bank for Charles. Philadelphia has limited cap space to work with this offseason; they need to spend their money wisely. But the Eagles should still check out Charles' price tag and take a chance if it’s not too expensive.

Should the Eagles sign Jamaal Charles?

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