Subject: The best photos from the Flyers OT win against the Hurricanes
Subject: Goalie mask bracket madness!
From Bernie to Pelle, Beezer to Zepp we’ve got it all in our goalie mask bracket.
Bracket season is upon us, and while the Flyers do not look like they will be on a bracket come this April, we have made our own.
Jacques Plante famously was the first goaltender to sport a mask in 1959. Since then masks have grown and changed with the game around it. Gerry Cheevers first decorated his mask, making a mark on it every time a puck struck him in the face; Vladislav Tretiak helped to popularize the cage mask.
We’re all familiar with the famous Flyers goaltender masks of the past, Parent; Lindbergh; Hextall and so on. But how about Beezer or Laforest maybe Hackett or Favell? Today we’re here determine the best mask, worn by a Flyers goaltender.
Michael Leighton vs. Antero Niittymäki
Antero Niittymäki spent parts of 5 seasons minding the Flyers crease, adding a Calder Cup win during the 2004 lockout. His mask featured a gangster theme, with a man dressed in a suit smoking a cigar and firing a Tommy gun. Nittymaki stated during a 2010 interview (with NHL.com) the theme started because “It came from Philly, they called me ‘Frank Nitti’ there” he added They still do. I think Coach [Ken Hitchcock] started it way back. A lot of the fans there really loved it.
2010 is a season, for the most part, Flyers fans love to think about. Michael Leighton, love him or hate him was a large part of that season. During the 2010 Winter Classic Leighton would suit up with this icy mask. The mask showed a snowy Philadelphia skyline.
The clear winner here is Nittymaki, how could you not love a mask with bullet holes on the front?
Brian Boucher Vs Anthony Stolarz
Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh. Just when you thought he was gone for good, Brian Boucher somehow found his way back onto the Flyers roster. The mask Boucher sported here was painted by Franny Drummond who has also painted masks for Steve Mason and Ilya Bryzgalov. The bottom half is occupied by steel and rivets, made to look like an aircraft. While the top is the cockpit, being flown by a man smoking a cigar.
Stolarz is the new kid on the block in our bracket, starting two games this season. His mask features what looks to be fabric burning away to reveal Flyers logos. Iron Man has made appearances the last two years on Stolarz’s cage.
This was close, but the winner has to go to our old favorite Boosh. Better luck next year Stolie!
We all remember the 33-year-old rookie, Rob Zepp. Zepp also had arguably one of the interesting goalie masks in Flyers history. The left side featured part of an illustration called ‘The Hermit’ created by Barrington Coleby and influenced by Jimmy Page’s favorite tarot card by the same name. The illustration was on the inside cover of Led Zeppelin IV. Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones has his stamp at the top of the helmet, which he chose from Rudolf Koch's Book of Signs, the symbol is meant to represent a person who has both confidence and competence. Finally the bottom features his name, in a Led Zeppelin-esque font.
Bobrovsky’s lid does not have as cool of a tale unfortunately. However the mask is appealing to the eyes, with flying jets and a snowy Philadelphia being located on the side. His nickname ‘Bobs’ is spelled across the bottom chin portion of the mask.
Zepp is the clear winner here, how could you not love his mask and story? I guess you can say there might be a Whole Lotta Love.
Jeff Hackett Vs Martin Biron
Jeff Hackett’s tenure as a Flyer was cut short due to his diagnoses of vertigo in 2004. His mask shows Flyers goalie legends Bernie Parent, Pelle Lindbergh and Ron Hextall. Lightning bolts can be seen on the top, and each side of the mask is painted after the facade of the Spectrum.
Marty Biron had the best eyes of any Flyer ever, this however is common knowledge. His mask had a lumberjack, chopping trees down with a hockey stick. The name of this man was the ‘Great Gaston’. The name is after Biron’s middle name ‘Gaston’ which was the name of his god-father. Biron said (in an interview on Rodgers TV) that the Great Gaston ‘was everything I am not’. Along the top of his helmet, fleur de lis’s can be seen, paying tribute to his home providence of Quebec; also paying tribute is the Quebec coat of arms on the chin portion of the mask.
The Great Gaston is the winner here, and just like Hackett’s time with the Flyers his time is short on our list.
John Vanbiesbrouck Vs Antero Niittymäki
You could either love or hate Beezer’s Flyers mask; it is not even in the same conversation as the one he wore while with the Florida Panthers. The mask is straight out of the 90’s with a glittery orange background and a very deformed Flyers logo that makes the early 2000’s 3D logo look good. But there is something about the mask, it is so ugly, its actually beautiful.
Beezer edges out Niittymaki in a close matchup here with the 3D, sparkle orange, lightning, mask, thing.
Doug Favell Vs Pelle Lindbergh
Gary Cheevers was known as the first goaltender to have artwork appear on his mask, but Doug Favell was the first goaltender to appear in game with a painted mask. Just before Haloween of 1977, Favell took a can of orange paint to his mask giving it a festive look. Doug made an appearance on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast in October of 2014 (you can listen to the episode here), he mentioned it all started when a team-mate jokingly asked if Favell was going to a Halloween party and was going to dress up. As Doug was leaving, in the morning, he said to trainer Frank Lewis "Frank, with tonight being Halloween, why don't we put orange on the mask? Can you paint orange on the mask? We'll paint it orange like The Great Pumpkin.” Just like that the orange mask was born.
Other than Bernie Parent, Pelle Lindbergh has the most infamous in Flyers history. The similarities between the masks are very easy to spot, and it could be speculated that Pelle modded his mask after Parent. Bernie mentioned in a 1985 New York Times article that “As a human being, he was like a son to me.” Unfortunately Pelle would only wear the mask for five years. One early morning in November of 1985 Lindbergh lost control of his Porsche 930 and struck a wall; ending his life.
Pelle’s sleek and stylish, but yet simple mask is the winner here. While Favell might have been the first to wear a painted mask, it looks nothing more then an orange blob on his face.
Ray Emery Vs Brian Boucher
Razor Ray Emery, like Boucher spent parts of three seasons with the Flyers (09/10 13/14-14/15 15/16). During this time Ray changed his mask up a few times, first wearing a Muhammad Ali themed mask in 2009. There is no major themes on the abve mask, other then of course the Flyers. The mask shows off a very nice looking white Flyers logo with a glowing orange dot. Simple, but yet it is very visually appealing to the eye.
Razor’s mask is simple, but Boucher is the winner here. The jet plane mask is just cooler themed then a basic mask design around the team logo.
Mark Laforest Vs Bernie Parent
Mark Laforest, or as he was known by ‘Trees’ split a total of 38 games with the Flyers over two seasons. His mask was a giant tree, pretty fitting right? The tree stemmed from the center of the mask with Flyers logos as leaves. Now, you the reader, have to admit the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.
Trees’ mask might be the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, but Bernie Parent reigns victorious... well because he’s Bernie Parent.
Ilya Bryzgalov Vs Rob Zepp
Why you heff to be mad? Its only game.
Bryz was a quote machine and an all around lovable guy, that is when he wasn’t throwing the puck into David Clarkson’s legs giving up a goal or ducking his head out of the way of a puck going into the net. Ilya’s time with the Flyers, to put it nicely was a mess. During this time he wore his tiger mask pictures above as well as a Star Wars themed mask. The mask was painted by Stephane Bergeron, from Griff Airbrush and in an interview with In Goal Magazine Bergeron said “Well it’s Bryz’s idea. The tiger is the emblem of Russia, called the Amur.”
Led Zeppelin is pretty damn awesome, this is a fact. But Bryzgalov’s Siberian tiger mask is our winner by just a hair.
Wayne Stephenson Vs Pete Peeters
Certainly one of the most creative masks in Flyers history, Wayne Stephenson. The mask features two Flyers logos mirroring each other with the eye hole in the mask used for the dot in the logo.
Pete Peeters did not record a loss in his first 27 games as a Flyer. During that time he suited up in a plain white mask though. Sometime after he rolled out this mask that looks something like a deformed Batman logo meets a Gulf gas station.
Stephenson’s iconic mirrored Flyer logo mask is the obvious winner here in an almost no contest.
Steve Mason Vs Martin Biron
Steve Mason loves zombies, he also loves to have zombified caricatures of his team mates painted on his mask. Mase has rolled out many versions of his zombie mask during his tenure in Philadelphia, and he likes to have 2-3 different masks to wear each season. The above mask was worn during the 2013/2014 season. An undead, smirking Claude Giroux can be seen on the side with a wide eyes Jake Voracek to the right. The reverse side (not pictures) has Scott Hartnell with a missing mouth and Wayne Simmonds with a beaten up face. Although this could be Simmonds any day of the week, and no before you ask you cannot fight Wayne Simmonds.
If a zombie was to get into a fight with the ‘Great Gaston’, odds are the zombie would be the winner. So, sorry Marty your pictured image of the perfect you does not hold up to Steve Mason’s mask.
Garth Snow Vs Ron Hextall
Garth Snow shared the crease in Philadelphia with Ron Hextall all three seasons he was a Flyer. His mask shows was painted black, with a creature which we can only assume is the half-brother of the abominable snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We’re not sure what Garth was going for here and its a crime that his mask never featured a reference to the only other person in the world named Garth, Garth Algar.
Ron Hextall was an animal, he could score goals, stop goals and he could lay a crushing hit on you. His mask was simple, but just like the rest of him it was badass. An orange arrow is pointing down the center of the mask. Two Flyers logos are near the top at the back of the mask as well.
Hexy is out winner here, and thank fully we didn’t have to see Garth Snow’s abominable mask for that long.
John Vanbiesbrouck Vs Pelle Lindbergh
Vanbiesbrouck’s 90’s Pimp my Ride style mask against Lindbergh’s iconic white mask is a no brainer for us. As mentioned previously Pelle’s mask is sleek and stylish while simple and elegant.
Brian Boucher Vs Bernie Parent
This is the end of the road for Boosh, we’d take Bernie’s classic lid over most masks any day of the week. Twice on Sundays.
Ilya Bryzgalov Vs Wayne Stephenson
Hopefully Bryz won’t be mad with us, this is only a game. Stephenson’s creative mirrored Flyer logo mask is moving on to the next round.
Steve Mason Vs Ron Hextall
Would Steve Mason rather fight one Ron Hextall sized duck or 100 duck sized Ron Hextall’s? Anyway that is a question best left for another day, but to put an end to todays debate of masks Ron Hextall is our winner. Sorry Mase, zombies are cool but Ron Hextall could totally kick all of their asses.
Pelle Lindbergh Vs Bernie Parent
The original meets the influenced. Pelle’s and Bernie’s mask our similar, but nothing beats the original. Both are sleek and simple, but they just work. Bernie is the winner here and is moving onto the Finals.
Wayne Stephenson Vs Ron Hextall
Ron Hextall can beat a lot of things, but he can’t beat everything. Hextall, in some cases does get beat, might it be by Darren McCarty in 1997 or in this bracket. Stephenson’s mask is simply too cool to not move onto the finals, the creativity but still nice to look out. His mask has it all (unlike Hextall in those 97 Finals).
Bernie Parent Vs Wayne Stephenson
The two Broad Street Bullies goaltenders have met in the finals. This is where you, the reader come in, leave a comment below with a vote for either Bernie Parent or Wayne Stephenson. Did your favorite mask not make it to the final? Leave a detailed comment why I, Joe, am wrong (I’m wrong a lot of the time).
Subject: Flyers 4, Hurricanes 3: 10 things we learned from a well-earned victory
This game probably shouldn’t have required overtime, but credit the Flyers for fighting back to claim a deserved outcome.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Flyers dominated, actually got rewarded
Too many times this season, the Philadelphia Flyers finished with a substantial edge in terms of shots on goal yet were unable to come away with a victory. Some games, the shots advantage was a bit misleading due to poor quality created and allowed, but most of the time, the Flyers simply failed to finish on their chances while allowing the other team to do just that.
After 52 minutes last night, it appeared that the Flyers would be going down that same road. Jordan Staal’s power play goal gave the Hurricanes a late 3-2 lead, bringing Carolina all the way back from a 2-0 midgame deficit. Philadelphia never lost control of the game from a territorial standpoint — they held the edge in 5v5 score-adjusted Corsi in each of the three periods — but an inability to build on their lead and a few well-executed plays from the Canes put the Flyers behind the proverbial eight-ball.
On this occasion, however, Philadelphia finally made their own luck. On their 42nd shot of the night, they evened the score up again, as Travis Konecny threw the puck out in front with less than a minute remaining and watched it redirect off Brett Pesce and into the net. It was undeniably a lucky goal, but it’s type of puck luck that a team receives after outshooting their opponent 44-22, dominating even strength territorial play to the tune of a 60.99% score-adjusted Corsi, and winning the shot quality battle to boot (65.12% xG). For once, the hockey gods smiled upon the Flyers rather than sadistically torturing them yet again.
#2: Key players all performed well
It’s no longer pessimistic to view the Flyers’ playoff chances as an impossibility — it simply shows that you’ve accepted reality. Essentially, the team would have to win something like 10 out of their last 11 games to have a real shot at snatching the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Micah Blake McCurdy, for example, projected the Flyers for a 1% chance at the postseason entering last night’s game. For all practical purposes, the playoff dream is over.
However, that doesn’t mean that fans should be rooting for every game to end in a loss in order to improve the team’s draft position. While it’s undeniable that a higher draft slot increases the likelihood of finding an impact player, it’s not as if the front office can (or should!) pretend that 15% of the season simply didn’t happen when they break down their squad in April and May. Player performances do matter over the season’s final month, even when the games are meaningless. This is when guys like Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere can prove disappointing production in 2016-17 was at least partially due to lingering surgery effects. It’s when rookies like Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny can keep developing and use late-season gains as a springboard for Year Two. And it’s when players who haven’t quite lived up to offensive expectations (Sean Couturier and Dale Weise, to name a few) can prove that they still know how to make things happen on the scoresheet.
That’s why this game was so reassuring — basically all of the above players stood out. Couturier finished with three assists, Provorov a goal and two assists, Konecny scored the game-tying goal, and Giroux led the Flyers with a 73.94% score-adjusted Corsi. Even the much-maligned Dale Weise added a tally of his own. It not impossible to imagine the Flyers losing lots of games in the stretch run if those players are performing well, but it would take a perfect storm of bad luck and bad goaltending for the team to pull it off. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s better to root for positive outcomes even though the games are meaningless from a standings perspective. If Giroux finishes strong, it’s much easier to imagine he bounces back next season and isn’t going into a age-related tailspin., just like great closes from the rookies and vets bodes well for their future play, as well. That’s what fans should be rooting for, not a full-on tank.
#3: What is wrong with the PK?
After a brief respite against the Penguins last Wednesday, the Flyers’ penalty kill has went right back to looking like a sieve. Joseph Blandisi scored against them on Thursday, and last night it was Jordan Staal’s turn. Sure, Philadelphia eventually fought back and won the game, but that PK goal against very easily could have been the game-winner. The Flyers’ 5v5 play (Devils game aside) has generally been solid in recent weeks, but a total inability to prevent power play goals has been one of the main reasons why the team hasn’t been able to go on a real run.
Interestingly enough, the numbers imply that there isn’t a major issue. Philadelphia has been great at preventing shot attempts from opponents over the past few weeks and even months, ranking among the league’s best squads in those metrics. Yet the goals against keep on coming. Via the eye test, the biggest recurring problem seems to be the play of the defensemen, who are inconsistent at best in the crease and low slot area in terms of coverage. The numbers say that the Flyers haven’t done a poor job at preventing high-danger chances, but it sure seems like the the high-danger shots they do allow are especially difficult for their goalies to stop.
The shot prevention metrics imply that the PK’s structural issues are improving — they’ve totally bought into the adjusted 1-3 neutral zone forecheck that is new this year, and the forwards are now adept at the Czech Press in the defensive zone to pressure the outsides of the PP formation. In order to take the next step, the defense needs to be more sound in front, and the goaltenders also just need to stop more pucks. Staal’s goal last night seemed close-to-impossible to stop, but that hasn’t been the case with every goal allowed. I personally believe the penalty kill is on the right track, but it can be tough to accept that when they’ve been such a weak point recently.
#4: Couturier was flying
He’s had a couple poor games sprinkled in (against Toronto, for example), but Sean Couturier has mostly been playing fantastic hockey in March. Last night was no different, as Couturier kicked off the game with two high-quality scoring chances on his very first shift and didn’t stop there. He ended up with three assists, including a primary tally on Brayden Schenn’s game winner, during which Couturier showcased both his strength and (surprisingly) a high-end skating ability to blast around Teuvo Teravainen and create the initial shot that Schenn would clean up. After the three-point night, the team’s shutdown center now has nine points in nine games, boosting his full season production to 26 points in 55 games, a 0.472 PPG pace right in line with his 13/14 and 14/15 years.
Of course, this is still a dropoff from the 0.619 PPG pace that he delivered last year, a pace that had many in the fanbase excited that Couturier was truly taking the leap into high-end 2C territory. He’s finally looking the part now, but the naysayers will surely argue that production now doesn’t matter since the season is already over. That’s an unfair viewpoint for a number of reasons, but none more obvious than the fact that this Flyers team has not given up hope for a playoff run. In their eyes, this is the most important part of their season, and Couturier is coming up huge in the moment. Don’t marginalize the 24-year old’s play just because you don’t think the team should be thinking playoffs anymore.
#5: Provorov shows off what makes him special (again)
Also posting a three-point night was rookie Ivan Provorov, who opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season and later added two assists before the game was finished, giving him 28 points on the season. The way he scored that goal was especially exciting, not just in terms of evaluating Provorov, but also as a preview of what the Flyers have to come from their pipeline. Taking a D-to-D pass from Andrew MacDonald, Provorov carried the puck deeper into the offensive zone, closer to prime scoring area, before sniping a top corner shot past Cam Ward. Right now, the Flyers have two defensemen (Provorov and Gostisbehere) who have both the physical ability and the instincts to make those point shots that Hakstol seems to love so much extra dangerous. But with dynamic blueliners like Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers on their way, it won’t be too long before each pairing has at least one player who can shrink the attacking zone prior to shooting.
#6: Provorov-MacDonald pairing’s inevitable regression
When Ivan Provorov was first paired with Andrew MacDonald, the duo saw positive goal-based results occur on their watch. In fact, the Flyers outscored their opponents to a ridiculous degree (approaching 80% for stretches) with the pair on the ice, so it wasn’t exactly a major shock when Dave Hakstol fell in love with the duo and their apparent effectiveness. After all, Provorov passes everyone’s eye test and is apparently one of the most coachable rookies that any of the hockey lifers on the staff has ever met, while MacDonald appears to be a Hakstol favorite (in spite of his poor metrics). My concern was that the pairing’s poor play-driving metrics would eventually cause those strong goal differentials to crater. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
Last night, the duo was on the ice for both Hurricanes 5v5 goals, giving the pair a season-long Goals For percentage of 39.5%. In plus/minus terms, that’s a -9. What’s clear by looking at these results and the above chart is that the days of the Provorov-MacDonald pairing driving positive goal-based results are long gone. As it turns out, when two players are consistently outshot while on the ice over a long period of time, their goal differential starts to match it. Imagine that.
#7: Konecny’s ability to create his own shot
For the second time in a week’s span, Travis Konecny showcased the skating ability that sets him apart from the rest of the forwards on the Flyers’ roster during a scoring play. He was not rewarded with an assist, but it was his ability to separate from the defense while in the offensive zone that allowed for Dale Weise’s goal to even have a chance to occur. Philadelphia has some plus skaters up front — Voracek and Raffl come to mind immediately — but none have the ability to simply skate around the attacking third of the ice (as opposed to the rush, which allows a player to reach maximum speed before hitting an opposing defender) and leave opponents in the dust like Konecny. I’m not sure that he’ll ever be a true sniper in the sense that he’ll be able to pick the corners on NHL goalies, but he leads the Flyers with 15.03 shot attempts per 60 at 5v5 in his rookie year, and it’s easy to see how he racks up all that volume.
#8: Filppula line plays totally different style than rest of lines
From the start of Dave Hakstol’s tenure, the Philadelphia Flyers have been a heavy forechecking, dump-and-chase centric squad for the most part. There are some exceptions — Sean Couturier’s line usually does a decent job at hitting the offensive zone with speed, especially when he has at least one talented scoring winger with him — but there’s a reason why the Flyers under Hakstol have posted a team-wide Controlled Entry rate below 50% in both of his seasons. They play a north/south, “get the puck into the zone and then pressure the hell out of it” offensive style that isn’t always conducive to creative entry strategies. That’s why it’s been so odd to watch the line centered by Valtteri Filppula over the past few weeks, regardless of his wingers.
Unlike the other three lines, Filppula’s unit is very obviously playing a rush-centric game. Not only are they willing to rely on the counterattack at times, they also (led by Filppula) have engaged in far more east/west skating and passing plays in the neutral zone than the other units. I don’t view this as an inherently good or bad development — while it makes the “second” line more capable of creating high skill plays, it opens things up for the opponent as well. The controlled entry rates bear this out. In Filppula’s first five games, 58% of the Flyers’ entries came with possession of the puck, but 54% of their opponents’ entries (with Filppula on the ice) came with possession as well. Both rates are team-highs. At least from a raw play-driving standpoint, the formula hasn’t quite worked for Filppula yet (43.18% score-adjusted Corsi) but I also can’t deny that it’s been refreshing to witness a different approach than the Flyers’ norm.
#9: Flyers rebounded from last awful game versus Hurricanes
Philadelphia’s worst 5v5 game of the season came back on January 31st against these very same Carolina Hurricanes, as the Flyers were outshot 21-8, outscored 3-0 (en route to a 5-1 defeat) and posted a season-low 29.6% score-adjusted Corsi. Last night, the Flyers flipped the script, posting a strong 60.99% Corsi rate, and generally looked the better team throughout. I asked Hakstol after the game if the poor effort two months ago was a topic of conversation prior to this game, or if it was mostly ignored.
In response, the head coach did not deny that the game was discussed, but downplayed the “revenge” angle, stating, “We took some things out of that game that they did very well and we needed to counteract tonight. But for the most part, we didn’t spend too much time looking at that game, and more so what we have to do tonight. But you can always take some stuff out of that game where they played very well and gave us a lot of problems.” My guess is that while some of the players surely remembered the embarrassment of that game and wanted to redeem themselves, the more important vengeance factor was making up for the team’s awful game in New Jersey last Thursday.
#10: Time to make Del Zotto-Gudas the top pair
As the Provorov-MacDonald pairing (which again received the most minutes of any defense duo last night) continues to flounder from a results standpoint, the reunited top pair from last year is flourishing. Last night, both players finished with score-adjusted Corsi percentages over 70%, and helped the Flyers to win the scoring battle handily (7-1 in HD chances) despite receiving more defensive zone starts than offensive zone ones.
It shouldn’t be a huge shock that the duo is performing well — they were the de facto top pair for much of last year, of course. But what is truly interesting is that they’ve actually been better statistically this season than they even were in 2015/16. In 353 minutes this year, the duo has a 55.41% score-adjusted Corsi together, and an even-better 58.39% xG. Both are improvements over last season’s 54.01% Corsi and 52.97% xG. Now, I’m certainly not advocating for Michael Del Zotto to be re-signed — he’s been a defensive mess for the majority of the season. But it sure seems like this MDZ-Gudas pairing works, and if the coaching staff plans to keep using it through the remainder of the year, they might as well ride it as much as they can.
Subject: Defenseman Mark Friedman to sign with Flyers, skip up senior NCAA season: report
The 2014 draft pick just finished his junior season at Bowling Green.
The Flyers are set to sign Mark Friedman, the Bowling Green State University junior defenseman who was drafted by the club in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, according to Cherry Hill, N.J.’s No. 1 newspaper, the Courier-Post.
Friedman just completed his third season at BGSU. Should he sign with the Flyers, he’ll lose his college eligibility and skip his senior year.
A deeper look into this news could perhaps give you a glimpse into the Flyers plans for next season. Should they let Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz walk as expected, they’ll have at least two open roster spots for youngsters like Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim Phillippe Myers or Robert Hagg.
Brandon Manning could be claimed in the expansion draft, opening one more spot on the roster. Andrew MacDonald could be sent to the Phantoms (lol we can dream). In any event, the idea is that there are going to be open spots on the blue line in Philadelphia, which means there are going to be open spots on the blue line in Lehigh Valley.
How do you convince a college kid to give up his senior season? Tell him he’s going to have a chance to play a full year in the AHL. That’ll do.
Here’s what SB Nation College Hockey has to say about Friedman, who they ranked 53rd on their Top 100 NHL Prospects in the NCAA list:
Friedman continues to be one of the top defensemen in the WCHA. He’s effective in all three zones, and plays in all situations. He doesn’t project as a big offensive point producer at the next level, but should be a capable puck-moving defenseman that plays with a nasty, physical edge.
Here’s a look at his stats:
Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Does anyone ever win in Winnipeg?
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*The Flyers are in the 'peg tonight, trying to keep this little baby winning streak alive. Puck doesn't drop until 8, though, so really we are all losers. Go Flyers!
*Tonight's game is the first of four on the road that will really, truly, decide their fate. [Inquirer]
*Frese frames!!! Kate's game pictures just keep getting better and better, folks. [BSH]
*Let's take a look at how the Flyers' CHL prospects have progressed this season. [CSN Philly]
*And also, Travis Sanheim. [Flyers]
*The Flyers have a pretty nice loyalty quotient but really, how the f are we so low on this list?! [Fanatics]
*In light of the USA Hockey/USWNT feud, this look at the difference between the development of two excellent hockey players from the same market is very interesting. [Pension Plan Puppets]
Subject: BSH Radio # 103: Even rooting for the Flyers is in question now.
In which the gang gets a little yell-y.
With the playoffs now a near-impossibility, the BSH crew takes on the question of whether fans should be rooting for a strong finish to the season anyway, or just unapologetically pull for the tank. The importance of getting a higher draft pick versus wanting key players to finish their seasons on high notes is evaluated, as is the impact the final weeks could have on the status of Dave Hakstol. Things get heated when Bill, Steph, and Charlie go back and forth on how much blame the coach deserves for the disappointing year, and how much the players shoulder. Finally, in their first real look at the offseason, the hosts take a brief look at the Flyers' pending UFAs, specifically the much-maligned Chris VandeVelde.
Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio so you don’t miss any fun!
Subject: The Flyers, the 2017 playoffs, and how to get yourself through 11 more games
Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs, ya kidding me? Playoffs?
The playoffs are something we’re almost spoiled with as Philadelphia fans. Sure our teams always find a way to screw up in some sort of dramatic fashion on the big stage, but at least we can say they tried; except trying doesn’t explain why the Philadelphia Soul have won the most championships in Philadelphia sports since 1981 and they’ve only existed for just over 10 years.
If the Flyers fail to make the playoffs this season, it will only be the fourth time in the last 20 years they have been sent packing in early April. Overall, the Flyers have made the playoffs 40 times during 50 seasons. To put that into perspective, the Edmonton Oilers are currently in the midst of a 10 year playoff drought.
Right now, the Flyers are near the bottom of a list of teams fighting for the second and final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ve got an uphill climb, with Toronto, Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders all ahead of them.
The Flyers are not technically eliminated
According to SportsClubStats.com, the Flyers currently hold a 0.05% chance at making the postseason. Cue Dumb and Dumber ‘So you're telling me there's a chance’ memes.
The Flyers have 11 games remaining, a possible 22 points are within their grasp. Realistically, the Flyers are not going 11-0-0 unless Jordan Weal turns into 2010 Ville Leino and Ian Laperriere figures out how to coach a competent penalty kill.
Toronto has an ever growing grasp on the final wild card spot, so what does this mean for the Flyers slim chances of qualifying for the postseason?
... but they’re realistically eliminated.
Well, they are eight points back of the Maple Leafs, and it also does not help that the Leafs have been playing very good hockey of late, going 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. Now, lets say in a hypothetical world Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs fall off the face of the earth and lose out their remaining games. The Flyers would have to finish the season with a record of 4-7-1 to claim the final playoff spot. Unfortunately we do not live in a world where things go the Flyers way. In a situation where the Flyers go 11-0-0 and finish with 96 points, the absolute best Toronto could do would be to finish 7-4-0, giving them 95 points.
Let’s look at it a little more realistically and say the Leafs play .500 hockey to end the year, going 5-5-1. This would not be the first time the Leafs played .500 hockey at the end of the season, allowing a hot team to sneak up from behind. Just ask Wade Dubielewicz and the 2006-07 Islanders. If the Leafs go 5-5-1 they would finish with 93 points, meaning the Flyers will have to finish the season at least 10-1-0 to finish at 94 points.
It is also important to note that the Flyers do not hold the ROW tiebreaker — the greater number of games won minus shootout wins — against any of the teams they are fighting for a playoff spot with, further complicating matters.
We can’t forget about the other two teams in front of the Flyers, of course. Tampa Bay has also been playing great hockey while being decimated by injuries. (Seriously, their second line features Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne.) They will only get better as key players return to the lineup. The Islanders are also doing well and have been a new team under interim head coach Doug Weight, going 16-9-2 since Jack Capuano was fired on January 17.
Putting all of this together? The playoffs are a near impossibility, and I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news for those of you who have yet to give up on the season.
Still plenty to root for in these 11 games
But this does not mean you should give up on the team, because in the wild world of sports who knows what can happen. Maybe Claude Giroux, as a wise man once said, ‘puts da team on his back’ and scores a hat trick for the next eleven games.
OK ... maybe not.
More importantly, we should embrace the official motto of Philadelphia sports: “There’s always next year.” A defensive corps that could possibly feature at least two of Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers, paired with a fully healthy Shayne Gostisbehere and more mature Ivan Provorov makes the future look like a bright sun rise on a warm summer day.
Who knows, maybe the Flyers with their 1 percent chance at winning the draft lottery somehow do it — revenge for losing the same lottery 10 years ago this year. Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier sure would look good in orange and black.
So sit back, crack a cold one and enjoy the remaining games on the schedule. The season will be over before you know it, and you’ll miss the constant yelling about how bad all the players are. Although a summer without head scratching coaching decisions does sound fairly nice ...
Subject: Flyers vs. Jets: Lineups, TV and live stream info, starting goalies, discussion thread
I hear Winnipeg is lovely this time of year. I am testing out new jokes.
Tonight’s game is on CSN Philly, CSNPhilly.com and 97.5 The Fanatic. In Canada, you can watch on TSN 3. NHL.tv will also carry the action.
- Jordan Weal - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
- Travis Konecny - Valtteri Filppula - Jakub Voracek
- Brayden Schenn - Sean Couturier - Meat Read
- Chris VandeVelde - P-E Bellemare - Roman Lyubimov
- Ivan Provorov - Future Vegas Golden Knight* Andrew MacDonald
- Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas
- Nick Schultz - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Steven Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
- Nik Ehlers - Bryan Little - Patrik Laine
- Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
- Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
- Marko Dano - Nic Petan - Chris Thorburn
- Julian Melchiori - Dustin Byfuglien
- Josh Morrissey - Brian Strait
- Mark Stuart - Nelson Nogier
- Connor Hellebuyck
- Michael Hutchinston
Subject: Flyers vs. Jets Recap: Jets fly past Flyers
10 games of pain and misery remain.
Alright, here is the setting. A cold, third-string back-up goalie and a defensive corps decimated by injuries.
These are things on paper, that look to give the Flyers an advantage. But you, my friend, have to understand, this is the Philadelphia Flyers we’re talking about. The same team that can turn a back up goalie into a perfect reincarnation of Dominik Hašek. That is exactly what they did in this game, losing to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2.
The team looked flat from the get go in Winnipeg. They never put themselves in a position to win this game, a game in which they held the lead for a total of three minutes. Standing in the crease tonight for Winnipeg was goaltender Michael Hutchinson who has started a total of three games in the span of two months. The Flyers did not challenge Hutchinson much through the first two periods, mustering 14 shots through two periods of play.
Something magical did happen within the first seven minutes. The Philadelphia Flyers ... KILLED A PENALTY. Killing off penalties has not come easy to the team of late, or really over the last three years. The Flyers currently have the eighth-worst penalty kill in the NHL and did themselves no favors this game. Racking up 18 penalty minutes over the span of the game, the Flyers gave the Jets six power play chances, including a four-minute power play. Fortunately nobody told the Jets how bad the Flyers’ PK really is and they only scored once on the six chances.
Jordan Weal scored the fourth goal of his career with Wayne Simmonds doing most of the work. Hutchinson decided it was a good idea to lay down and take a nap but Wayne Simmonds was nice enough to wait for him to wake up. But the moment Hutchinson was up on his skates, Wayne threw a crisp pass to Jordan Weal who buried the puck.
The Flyers, unsure what to do with an actual lead, had to screw it up somehow. So, Nick Schultz threw the puck over the glass giving a souvenir to a fan. What a nice guy. It also gave the Jets a subsequent power play, which they scored on.
But that was not enough! The Flyers were feeling extra-giving tonight and Ivan Provorov slashed Mark Stuart to the face, giving the Jets their four-minute powerplay. But as we mentioned above, the Jets did not capitalize on this.
The game was tied at one goal a piece going into the third period, and while the Jets looked like the stronger team through two periods a win was still within the Flyers grasp. But again, this is the Philadelphia Flyers we’re talking about. How many times has the team gone into the third period, with a win within reach and fell flat?
Well, pretty much every time, and that is exactly what they did tonight. Blake Wheeler scored midway through the third period. Not time to panic ... yet. Shortly thereafter, Adam Lowry tried to fight Radko Gudas and ended up taking an extra penalty.
Here we are, the Flyers down by one with half a period to play. So of course they manage to attain one measly shot on the power play. To add insult to injury Mark Scheifele scored giving the Jets a 3-1 lead minutes later.
Somehow, the Flyers remembered how to play hockey within the last five minutes of the period. They were not able to put any pucks into the net, until Matt Read deflected a Michael Del Zotto point shot with a total of one seconds remaining in the game. It’s something.
Overall, the Flyers never showed up to this game and odds are it would not have been much different if the team stayed in their hotel room all night. Road games have been the Flyers’ kryptonite this year, as they’ve gone 12-20-4 away from home. And guess what! They’re back at it on the road this Thursday in Minnesota.
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Refs are bad.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Did the Flyers fly by the Jets? Or did the Jets take off? Find out in this exciting recap!!!
*One thing Ron is clear on: he doesn't think the Flyers have underachieved this season. [CSN Philly]
*Technically, the Flyers can still make the playoffs. Let's get positive, people! [BSH]
*On the Phantoms' playoff push and what it means to play 60 minutes. [The Morning Call]
*So looks like the NHL won't be allowing its players to go to the Olympics. This should go over well. [Sportsnet]
*Redefining what it means to win a faceoff. [Hockey Graphs]
*Everyone hates the playoff format, even NHL hockey players whose teams are guaranteed a spot. [CSN Mid-Atlantic]
*And finally, in case you missed it yesterday, this week's BSH Radio is a feisty one. [BSH]
Subject: Jets 3, Flyers 2: 10 things we learned from a disheartening road defeat
The playoffs aren’t happening. But it would still be nice to see the Flyers deliver strong nightly efforts. This wasn’t one of them.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: The negative narratives surrounding PHI were accurate on this night
It’s not surprising that during such a frustrating Flyers season, narratives have taken hold in the fanbase to help explain the poor year that may contain grains of truth, but aren’t fully accurate. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more popular ones:
- The Flyers are boring
- Giroux is finished
- Couturier is useless
- The power play is bad
That’s not to say there aren’t fair points within these beliefs. The team has struggled in regularly generating high-skill plays; Giroux hasn’t met preseason expectations; Couturier is not scoring like he did last year when he was one of the NHL’s better 2Cs; the power play has gone through extended droughts. But in reality, the narratives are mostly unfair and incomplete. Had this been the first game of the Flyers season that a fan was able to watch on television, however, those bullet points would sure seem spot-on.
Against a poor Winnipeg club, the Flyers could muster just 26 shots on goal and 45 total attempts and rarely even attempted creative offensive plays. Couturier not only did not score — his line was destroyed territorially at 5v5. By the third period, Giroux was flailing around the ice on the PP and at even strength with emotion, but without any obvious sense of purpose. And speaking of the power play, it failed on all three opportunities and generally looked ugly in the process.
In terms of the furthering of these narratives, this game was an anomaly, especially compared to recent weeks. Giroux’s play has noticeably taking a turn for the better over the past month, and he’s even scoring points again (two tonight). Couturier’s line had delivered a number of monster games. The Flyers still take too many point shots, but over the past couple months, there has been a conscious effort to attack the slot more, as show in rising xG For rates. And no power play unit in the NHL has been a better shot creation unit than Philadelphia’s PP1 this year. Still, I’m sure there’s a fair amount of “I told you so’s” on social media this morning after that clunker.
#2: Flyers did not pressure an awful Jets defense enough
The Jets essentially iced a blueline corps with two capable players (Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey) and then lots of slop, whether it was untested players like Julian Melchiori and Nelson Nogier or guys with awful NHL track records like Brian Strait and Mark Stuart. This was a back-end that the Flyers should have been able to exploit, which they showed on the Jordan Weal goal, with Wayne Simmonds taking up uncontested residence behind the Jets’ net and waiting for a passing lane to open up. Those types of defensive zone follies should have been commonplace last night, but instead, the Flyers could barely even get the puck into the zone to start putting pressure on Winnipeg’s defense.
Through a little over 40 minutes at 5v5, Philadelphia generated 31 shot attempts and less than one Expected Goal (0.87). That’s not just bad, it’s embarrassing, especially considering the quality of defense that they were facing. Credit the Jets forwards for being aggressive in the neutral zone to protect their weakness from being exposed, but there’s no reason why the Flyers shouldn’t have been able to put together a number of extended cycles, wearing down a limited Jets blueline. Instead, there were one-and-done far too often, settling for point shots most of the time they actually did get set up. The result was fruitless, nonthreatening offensive zone entries, and no actual pressure being placed on Winnipeg’s biggest weakness.
#3: Inconsistency the biggest recent problem
Over the past four games, the Flyers have two losses and two wins — obviously not nearly good enough to make a miracle push back into playoff contention, but not a portrait of a team in free fall. However, it seems like when the Flyers lose, they do so in especially embarrassing fashion, which is the heart of the problem. This is a team that can go out and dominate the Penguins both on the scoreboard and the stat sheet, and then one night later, get bulldozed by an atrocious Devils club. They kicked off this week by thoroughly outplaying the Hurricanes and finally getting their deserved victory in overtime; then they follow that up with a stinker in Winnipeg against a beatable club.
Is the problem effort or “heart,” as Sam Carchidi put it after the game? I have my doubts. Last night, I watched a team that couldn’t complete a simple pass up the ice, and no amount of heart is going to help passing accuracy. In the end, I think back to an article that Kurt wrote earlier this year, arguing that — aside from the power play — the Flyers lacked a standout aspect of their game that could carry them when other parts go cold. Well, now that the power play has gone cold too, the Flyers really don’t have anything they can count on. The result is that they lack a stabilizing element to their game, a knowledge that if things go really bad, “we can count on the goalies” or “if we draw a penalty, we can turn this game around.” As a result, poor play tends to snowball and the team can’t seem to shake off their malaise of poor execution once it appears.
#4: Horrific offensive first period
The opening stanza was actually the Flyers’ best in terms of raw territorial play (a 42.2% score-adjusted Corsi just barely edged out the results from the 2nd and 3rd), but it was also a completely toothless offensive period. They generated seven shots on goal, but only three actual scoring chances, while the Jets were able to create ten. Philadelphia fell back hard into their bad offensive zone habits, settling for low-percentage point shots on almost every occasion. The heat map chart for the period was laughable in terms of the Flyers’ shot locations and how likely they were to create goals.
These are also not the spots where you want to be shooting from. pic.twitter.com/jKgaSKhb4m— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) March 22, 2017
Over the final two periods, Philadelphia did generate the occasional scoring chance. But against a goalie (Michael Hutchinson) who hadn’t started a game in two months, it would have been nice to see them actually test him early, especially since Hutchinson’s puck handling was a mess in that opening period. Instead, they gave him lots of perimeter shots, and probably allowed him to play his way into the game.
#5: PK gives up another one
The Flyers’ penalty kill truly amuses me at this point. For long stretches within games, they actually look fairly competent, stopping teams from moving the puck through the neutral zone against them and blocking shots before they can get to dangerous areas. But over the past month, it’s been inevitable that at some point, there will be a breakdown, and that breakdown will result in a goal against. On this night, it was an extended shift for the Couturier-Read duo, followed by a picture-perfect deflection of a point shot that tied the score.
Truthfully, the biggest problem last night was a lack of discipline, not PK ineptitude, as killing five-out-of-six penalties really isn’t an awful rate (and is above PHI’s season average). Even a mediocre power play like Winnipeg’s is probably going to score at least once on that many chances. Still, considering their current status as one of the biggest whipping boys, a clean sheet from the shorthanded units would have been nice to see.
#6: Sad truth is that there’s dead weight on two pairs
If you’re looking to point fingers as to why the Flyers were butchered from a play-driving standpoint last night at 5v5, go no further than the results of the three defense pairings. The Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas duo was again fine, with both players finishing above 50%. The Schultz/Gostisbehere and Provorov/MacDonald pairs, on the other hand, were not so lucky. The former hovered around 38%, while the “top” duo couldn’t even crack 25%.
It’s especially frustrating because Provorov and Gostisbehere are clearly the two most dynamic players on the blueline, and the ones most capable of changing a game in one play. But both are saddled with veterans who have driven down their play all year long. Ghost had a 48.9% Corsi For with Schultz entering last night’s game and was at 54.2% without; Provorov was 46.4% with and 52.8% without MacDonald. It’s amazing to think that the Flyers still want to believe that they can make the playoffs while basically strapping a ball and chain to their two most talented blueliners.
#7: Top line had its moments
The only forward trio that showed any signs of life was the top line of Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal. For the first two periods, they were the only “scoring” line capable of creating anything offensively, as the Filppula and Couturier lines floundered. Eventually, they were rewarded with a goal, the result of a slick rush execution from Giroux, expert patience from Simmonds, and Weal showcasing his willingness to park in front of the net despite his diminutive size. That wasn’t a fluky goal that gave the Flyers the early lead — it was the type of high-skill tally that has occurred far too infrequently this season.
But once the third period rolled around, the Giroux line collapsed in terms of effectiveness. After posting solidly positive play-driving metrics over the first 40 minutes, the top line cratered late, and all three of Weal, Simmonds and Giroux finished with sub-50% score-adjusted Corsi ratings for the game. Their struggles late were clear via the eye test, with Giroux receiving the bulk of the vitriol online for some ugly turnovers and especially poor routes through the neutral zone. They were still better than the second and third lines on the whole, but the poor close put a damper upon their game.
#8: Bellemare line drove play, surprisingly not rewarded
I’ve come to expect that if the line centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has a few strong shifts early in a game, they’ll be getting a not-insignificant number of 5v5 minutes the rest of the way. Head coach Dave Hakstol clearly has a soft spot for the line, and he often seems to be looking for an excuse to use them more. That’s why I was surprised to see the VandeVelde-Bellemare-Read trio have a few very strong shifts (all finished with score-adjusted Corsi rates over 74%) yet still be stapled to the bench. None of the forwards received more than seven minutes of ice time at 5v5, and even with PK time added to the mix, they were all near the bottom of the charts. Not that I think Hakstol should have given the fourth line a longer look, but it was just surprising to see the coach stick with the struggling second and third lines considering his obvious respect for Bellemare’s unit.
#9: Couturier line a big disappointment
While the Giroux line at least drove play for extended stretches, the trio of Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Dale Weise struggled from the opening puck drop. They didn’t even have the excuse of primarily matching up with the Jets’ top players — instead, they mostly faced the Morrissey-Strait pairing (hardly world-beaters) and battled the Winnipeg third line more than any other. Despite the relatively cushy usage, they were torched to the tune of a sub-30% score-adjusted Corsi and xG rates in the single digits. It’s especially disappointing because Couturier’s line has delivered so many good games in recent weeks, with Sunday’s win over Carolina just one of those instances. Last night, however, they were a disaster.
#10: Giroux fell apart in third
Claude Giroux was absolutely destroyed on social media following the game, first for a perceived poor showing in the game, and then for a “We’re a better team than what happened tonight” comment. The latter is just the usual social media madness — for starters, Giroux obviously isn’t going to throw his team under the bus and say that the roster is terrible, and second, his comment was objectively true. The fans’ issues with Giroux’s play in the game, however, warrant serious scrutiny. He did finish with two assists (both secondary), and the first one at the very least was well-earned. But he sure looked ugly over the final twenty minutes of play, particularly on the power play, where he turned the puck over multiple times and was outmuscled by Jets PKers in his usual spot.
I don’t think it’s fair to call his entire game a disaster. For two periods, his line was the only Flyers unit that could create anything, and Giroux wasn’t a passive observer there. But that doesn’t absolve him for a horrific third period with the game’s outcome still in doubt. The one argument that is unfair, in my opinion, is that Giroux stopped trying. Jumping into a scrum in that third period to back up Radko Gudas (who surely didn’t need help) doesn’t paint the picture of a player who stopped caring. The execution was off, sure. But as I’ve said on multiple occasions, it’s just plain inaccurate to ascribe poor effort to the Flyers’ captain.
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Gonna get wilk
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Especially since Mason has been performing very well, despite circumstances. [Sports Talk Philly]
*Hey look, more people who hate the NHL playoff format! [Philly.com]
*DGB on five teams who missed the playoffs for a time but returned to the postseason with a vengeance. [The Hockey News]
Subject: Flyers vs. Wild: Preview, lineups, TV, live stream info, and discussion thread
10 games left. Mercifully.
The Flyers are in Minnesota tonight to take on Bruce Boudreau’s Wild club, which appears to be locked into the second spot in the Central Division for the upcoming playoffs. The Flyers aren’t going to those.
Minnesota has been a force all year, but they’re definitely going through a late season swoon that’s seen Chicago take over the top spot in the Central. Their fans seem OK with it. Either way, it sounds nice. Competing for things. Playoffs. Lots of teams get to do that. Most of them, actually. Not us. We don’t get nice things. I think the Flyers have broken me of my spirit to write previews of hockey games, and of my will to live.
Anyway, here’s a paragraph or two about the shit Dave Hakstol’s doing in advance of yet another alleged display of athletics that we’ll actively choose to torture ourselves with this evening. Travis Konecny is playing on the fourth line with Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, because what better way to help a 19-year-old skill player grow than to put him with the two players who, objectively speaking, have the least amount of talent.
I do find it funny that I wrote on Tuesday, "They have one good pair (3/15) and two awful ones (9/47, 55/53)" and Hak kills the good one.— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_Charlie) March 23, 2017
The rest of the forward lines are being shaken up too, with the lone exception of Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Dale Weise. They’ll stick together. Jordan Weal will play with Wayne Simmonds and Valtteri Filppula, while Claude Giroux will play with Matt Read and Jake Voracek.
Steve Mason will likely start in goal. I will likely fall asleep by the second period. It’s an 8 p.m. start. It’s on CSN Philly and 97.5 The Fanatic. Alternatively, there’s a Shark Tank marathon on CNBC or a Tiny House, Big Living marathon on HGTV. Your call.
Subject: Flyers at Wild recap: Flyers beat one of the best teams in the NHL, because of course
Naturally, two days after one of their worst showings in a while, the Flyers come out and outplay the Wild en route to a victory.
Sure, the Flyers would beat one of the best teams in hockey this year, in said team’s building, in a season where they’ve routinely been terrible on the road, and in the middle of a brutal stretch of games for the team, two days after a pretty terrible contest against a much worse Winnipeg team. That’s a thing that this year’s Flyers team would do.
But yes, they did that, picking up a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in Saint Paul. Let’s talk about it.
THE MOST FUN THING THAT HAPPENED TONIGHT:
Sean Couturier scored a super-nifty goal in the first period to tie the game up, as he would head towards the net, take a Brayden Schenn pass that was slightly behind him, bring it up between his legs to his forehand, and slam it past Devan Dubnyk.
The Flyers... SCORED A GOAL! pic.twitter.com/VpRm2zEULt— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 24, 2017
Raise your hand if you had Sean Couturier, who missed a month of the season, as the guy who would lead the team in 5-on-5 goals this season. There’s a lot that that says about this Flyers season, and not much of it is good, but still, not a bad stretch run for Couturier as the rest of the team has faltered.
A LESS FUN THING THAT HAPPENED TONIGHT, THOUGH I GUESS IN HINDSIGHT WE CAN LAUGH ABOUT IT:
Two minutes into the game, Steve Mason sort of fumbled a long pass all the way from the Minnesota defensive zone, and then couldn’t get a hold of the puck on a scramble in front, allowing Zach Parise to swoop in and pick up a goal for the home team.
Steve, man. What are you doin? pic.twitter.com/0d8CoO2bwk— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 24, 2017
The initial rebound was not considered a shot, meaning Mason had given up a goal on his first shot of the night. Given Mason’s, uh, recent history with extremely long shots turning into goals, you could be forgiven for being worried about the game starting out like this.
That was it! Mason — making his seventh straight start, for whatever reason — made some other nice saves and denied every one of the Wild’s other 24 shots. The past week or so hasn’t been great for him, but tonight was a nice bounce-back.
IT’S BETTER TO BE LUCKY THAN TO BE THE FLYERS, BUT EVERY SO OFTEN YOU’RE BOTH:
With that said, he was probably fortunate that Minnesota didn’t double their lead early on. Case in point:
Zucker goes around MacDonald and Mason but completely misses the wrap around. Still 1-0. pic.twitter.com/YLWYazb52w— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) March 24, 2017
That’s a whooooooole lot of net that Jason Zucker decided not to place that puck into. Bless him for that. Also, uh ... Andrew? You OK over there?
WHO SCORED THE WINNER?
The team dad, of course.
MEAT READ GIVES THE FLYERS THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/EViuFAfz6C— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 24, 2017
Read now has goals in consecutive games! And he did this in Minnesota, relatively close to noted Matt Read alma mater Bemidji State, so good for him.
WAS THIS ACTUALLY A GOOD HOCKEY GAME?
Is any game in the final few weeks of this wretched season really a good hockey game?
But seriously, the Flyers started this one out very slowly but were able to tighten up significantly as the game went on, even limiting the Wild to just four shots on goal in a third period where they led throughout. Against one of the best teams in the league this year? It’s a performance to be pleased with.
AND NOW, A QUESTION THAT I, ALLEGEDLY AN ADULT, GENUINELY ASKED MYSELF DURING THIS GAME:
“Is the thing in the Minnesota Wild’s logo wearing the sun as a hat?”
As my BSH colleague Al K. suggested to me, the sun may be the ear of that thing, whatever it is. Or it may just be, like ... the sun. I don’t know, man. These are the questions I ask myself with 10 games left in a lost season. Let’s go to bed, everyone. (On that note, this is the Flyers’ final game of the year with a start time at or after 8:00 p.m., so that’s something else to celebrate.)
Nine more games left this season, starting with a back to back in Columbus and Pittsburgh this weekend. See you then.
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Wow that game sure was wild!
*Oh come on you were thinking the same thing too. RECAP!
*Listen, just because we know Dave Hakstol isn't going to be fired doesn't mean we can't complain about the fact that Dave Hakstol isn't going to be fired. [Courier-Post]
*Sometimes, certain players are good players but they need a change of scenery to really flourish. Here's five that could benefit from a trade. Add Brayden Schenn to the list in my opinon. [The Hockey News]
*Let's look at the NHL aging curve using a new metric. Might change some things. [Hockey Graphs]
*And finally, because it's Friday, and you deserve a little fun: DGB brings a look back at an insane hockey brawl from the time when insane hockey brawls were a thing that happened all the time. [Sportsnet]
Subject: Flyers 3, Wild 1: 10 things we learned from a solid road win
Hey! Another win. Those are still fun, right?
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
Continuing their recent run of “one good game, one bad game,” the Flyers put together an all-around solid effort against the Minnesota Wild, who currently have the second-most points of any team in the Western Conference. The Wild have an interesting method to their success at 5v5 — while they generally just break even in raw shot differential (19th in the NHL in score-adjusted Corsi), their performance by weighted shot metrics like xG are in elite territory, as Minnesota entered the game second-best in the league at 55.27%. So for Philadelphia to hold off the Wild, they not only had to avoiding losing the territorial battle, but also prevent their opponent from dominating in shot quality, which has been an issue for the Flyers this year.
On this night, however, the Flyers were up to the task. They finished with a slight edge in Corsi at 52.7% score-adjusted, and improved their mark in each period. But most importantly, they didn’t allow Minnesota to rack up tons of scoring chances, either. Philadelphia actually led in regular 5v5 chances (21-16) and high-danger ones (10-9), which helped them to a 51.21% score-adjusted xG. They did it despite a disastrous start filled with turnovers and other miscues, but after Zach Parise’s early goal, things stabilized. To the Flyers’ credit, they never really let off the gas after that, and the numbers show it.
#2: Narratives thrown for a loop in this one
There were two big stories bandied about in the media following Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to the Jets — a perceived “lack of heart” on the part of the players, and the fact that Steve Mason seemed to call out the skaters’ effort in the game. I had issues with both stories. I’m of the belief that critiques regarding a team’s drive to succeed are usually misguided, as poor execution leading to frustration leading to even worse execution can look a lot like poor effort even when that’s not the explanation. Of course no one looks like they’re “trying hard” when nothing is clicking — the team can’t even string together enough plays in a row to get to the point where trying hard becomes a factor. That’s what I believe Mason was actually trying to get at after Tuesday’s game, as “effort” can just as easily mean “poor play” as it can “not working hard enough.”
But Mason’s comments made for an easy narrative in this one — how would his teammates respond to being “called out” by their goalie? And I’ll be honest, I cringed when Mason allowed that weak goal to start the game, partially because of how terrible it was, but partially because of the looming onslaught of takes that I could see in the distance: “Mason calls out team then blows game” as the headline, complete with passive-aggressive comments from at least one frustrated skater. Instead, Mason locked it down and didn’t make another mistake the rest of the game, while the team played a high-octane game that should have convinced any of the skeptics out there that this team hasn’t quit on the season. Score one for the “sometimes a mediocre team just has bad games” theory to explain Tuesday’s loss rather than effort-related reasons.
#3: Fascinating to watch Wild’s offensive zone tactics
Watching the Minnesota Wild while on the attack in this game was like seeing an inverted version of the Philadelphia Flyers. As I’ve noted on numerous occasions this season, the Flyers have far too often resorted passing the puck back up to the point in order to jump start their shot generation, depending upon deflections and rebounds to create chances. Rarely have the Flyers tried a “behind-the-net” strategy (perfected by the San Jose Sharks in recent years) to create their shots. The Wild, on the other hand, owned the area behind the Philadelphia net, especially early in the game, and created a number of high quality chances in the slot from passes that originated there.
As for the shots from the point, it was obvious that Minnesota considered them truely a last resort. On a few occasions, rather than try to force a shot through, the defenseman up high even voluntarily dumped pucks into the corners, expecting that a forward would win the ensuing race and hopefully open up a teammate in a more dangerous shooting position. It’s easy to see why Minnesota’s xG outperforms its Corsi if this is the strategy they use on a nightly basis; it’s also easy to see how they can lose the territorial battle a fair amount, since they are so focused on generating good shots. My guess is there’s probably a middle ground between the Flyers’ style this year and Minnesota’s, but I’d also wager that ideally you’d want your offense mirroring the Wild more than the Flyers over the long haul.
#4: Perfectly boring third period
As hockey fans, an exciting, back-and-forth third period in a one-goal game seems like the most attractive possible scenario. But that only holds for games where the fan has no rooting interest. In games where the fan truly cares about the outcome, all that really matters is the win, and the style of play can be as choppy and dull as humanly possible. That’s what the Flyers were able to pull off against the Wild, clogging up the neutral zone with ease and disrupting the Wild in the offensive zone just enough to prevent their high-quality (but high-difficulty) chances.
Despite holding a one-goal lead throughout the stanza, the Flyers actually won all of the shot battles at 5v5 in the third. They led in total attempts 13-12, and even generated more scoring chances (7-3) despite the fact that they were protecting a lead. Their chances rarely felt threatening, but that wasn’t the point — the goal was to essentially play keep-away from the potent Minnesota offense, and they did just that. Sure, with about six minutes to go, the Wild finally created some sustained pressure, but that’s to be expected with the clock running down. On the whole, the Flyers executed well late and exited Minnesota with a well-earned win.
#5: Matt Read was a standout
This season, Matt Read has been a shining example of the “good start” phenomenon. When a player gets off to a strong start to his season, fans seem far more willing to forgive later struggles unless they become especially glaring (Brandon Manning fell into this category until he lost the Flyers the game in Boston). That was the case for Read, who since the hot start that saw him score five goals in his first five games, has gone back to being pretty much the same guy from last year. Don’t get me wrong, that means he’s been scoring like a bottom-sixer but driving play like a first liner, which in my book is extremely useful production. But that was the case last year as well, and he was regularly eviscerated by fans for it. I have to believe that the strong start changed the perception surrounding Read, allowing for some of his haters to recognize the little things that he does right on a nightly basis.
As Read showed last night, he’s still capable of (once in a while) doing the big things right as well. Placed with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the top line, Read was shockingly the best player on the unit, and was rewarded for his efforts with an unassisted goal that proved to be the game winner. But while the goal was a bit lucky, his overall play was anything but, as Read was all over the ice, creating zone entries, winning puck battles and racking up scoring chances. Even acknowledging that Read isn’t likely to repeat this performance, I don’t hate him with Giroux and Voracek — he basically brings the same support play-driving skillset to the table as Michael Raffl, who has been a good fit with the Flyers’ two stars in the past.
#6: Mason’s rebound control was awful but he worked through it
Based on Zach Parise’s early goal, it looked like it was going to be a very long night for Steve Mason. Unable to corral even a shot that originated from the defensive zone, Mason put the team in an early hole and certainly wasn’t inspiring much confidence. The Flyers quickly improved their all-around play, but the Wild still were able to generate occasional chances, which required Mason to step up and keep his team in the contest. Throughout the game, his positioning on shots was generally fine, as making the first save wasn’t difficult for him. But it was obvious (especially in the game’s first half) that he was fighting the puck, resulting in big rebounds. Early in the second period, it appeared that Mason had simply given up on using the glove and was just resorting to blocking all shots with his body, rebounds be damned. It worked in the short term, but it felt like eventually, one of those loose pucks in front would come back to haunt him.
Instead, Mason settled in. His stop on Jared Spurgeon in the waning seconds of a second period power play was the first “big” save of the game that he simply smothered, and from then on, it was like he suddenly remembered that he has a strong glove hand. Scoring chances may have been less frequent for Minnesota in the second half of the game, but when they did attack, a newly-confident Mason was there to slam the door shut. It was a nice in-game turnaround from a goalie whose hasn’t exactly been at his best this season.
#7: Couturier-Schenn duo works, but...
Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn hooked up for yet another goal, this time courtesy of an accurate pass on the rush by Schenn and a slick finish from Couturier. It’s become a talking point among Flyers fans that these two tend to play their best hockey when paired together, and it’s easy to understand why that narrative has taken hold. Over the last three years, the Flyers have a stellar 62.5% Goals For percentage at 5v5 with that duo on the ice at the same time. And it does make sense in a way — Schenn can score but struggles to push play in the right direction, while Couturier is something of the opposite.
However, despite the intuitive aspects of the pairing and the fantastic GF%, this may just be a small sample size-induced fluke. Over that same period, their Corsi For percentage together has been just 48.8%, far less impressive. It’s certainly possible that the Flyers win the shot quality battle with that duo together, maybe as a result of strong chemistry in the offensive zone. But it could also merely be caused by unsustainable, sky-high percentages and not be a combo that the Flyers should set in stone. I’d keep them together for the remainder of this season, though, and see if the true answer can be teased out.
#8: Manning-Gudas pairing predictably bad
One big concern entering the game was the new-look second pairing of Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas. The duo of Michael Del Zotto and Gudas had been stellar by all public metrics since the start of March, but Hakstol chose to bench Del Zotto in order to bring a newly-healthy Manning back into the lineup. Unfortunately, the new pair was nothing special, finishing around breakeven in Corsi (50% for Manning, 45.71% for Gudas) and underwater in xG (37.71% and 38.18%). I’m not sure why it was so essential to bring Manning back, and especially why the best performing recent pair had to be broken up in order for it to happen. But the win doesn’t take away from the fact that Del Zotto is a better defenseman than Manning, and is almost certainly a better fit with Gudas considering his superior puck-moving ability.
#9: Konecny’s ice time limited
Another surprise out of the pregame lineup was the fact that Travis Konecny, he of the high-end skating ability and gamebreaking offensive talent, would be starting the game with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde. Konecny had skated with them before, but that was just after returning from a lower-body injury. It was justifiable to limit the rookie’s minutes as he worked himself back into game shape. This decision, on the other hand, was a bit more confusing. It wasn’t a temporary move, either; Konecny only received 9:43 minutes of total ice time last night, the least among Flyers players. The 20-year old’s recent play sure has seemed fine to me, and I wonder what I’m missing here when it comes to this decision. It’s hard to say with a straight face that Konecny wouldn’t provide more help to the Flyers’ top nine than Dale Weise, but the latter received 15:34 in the game, all of which came at 5v5.
#10: Top pair with a “good stats, bad eye test” game
With the Del Zotto-Gudas pair in the garbage apparently, the duo of Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald took center stage yet again as the obvious top pair on the depth chart. And if you just looked at the numbers, it would seem like they did pretty well. Both finished with score-adjusted Corsi ratings over 60 percent, and the pair was on the ice for one goal for and no goals against. Even their xG ratings were strong.
However, they sure seemed mistake-prone by the eye test. Provorov wasn’t quite his usual smooth self with the puck, and MacDonald had a couple obvious blunders, including a coverage fail in the first period that ended with him accidentally plowing Steve Mason over as the goalie tried to bail out his defensemen. I was surprised to see that the numbers looked upon their play so favorably, but they did spend a great deal of time backing up the Giroux line, which was clearly Philadelphia’s most effective trio. Maybe they did a little piggybacking off the forwards’ success.
Subject: NCAA hockey bracket 2017: Preview, schedule, TV, streaming, scores
The Flyers have four prospects in the NCAA tournament, which kicks off Friday afternoon.
The 2017 NCAA hockey tournament kicks off this weekend with 16 teams vying for four spots in the Frozen Four, which will be held in Chicago in two weeks.
Four Flyers prospects will be in action, and with the entire tournament on national TV, you’ll have the opportunity to see them -- in some cases for the first time all year. . Four other NCAA prospects have had their seasons conclude already: David Drake (UConn), Cooper Marody (Michigan), Terrance Amorosa (Clarkson) and Mark Friedman (Bowling Green).
Flyers prospects in the NCAA Tournament
Merrick Madsen, G, Harvard
The Crimson enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the East regional, and the No. 3 overall seed in the bracket. Madsen has played 33 games in net for Harvard, leading them to the Whitelaw Cup as ECAC tournament chanpions. He was also named the ECAC tournament MVP. Harvard gets a rough draw in Round 1 of the tournament, however, facing the Providence Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center ... in Providence.
Matej Tomek, G, North Dakota
Well ... OK, we probably won’t see Tomek in action. He’s played just two games this season for the Fighting Hawks, compiling a 7.46 GAA and a .692 save percentage in those games. Those numbers are not typos. Tomek’s team, the defending national champion, has what is essentially home game in Fargo against a tough Boston University squad.
Wade Allison, RW, Western Michigan
After a 22-12-5 season that was good enough for the third spot in the NCHC standings, Allison’s Broncos are the No. 2 seed the East Regional. That could potentially set up a matchup against Madsen and Harvard in Round 2. Allison has 12 goals and 17 assists in 35 games for Western Michigan this year, which is good for top five production on the team. As a freshman ... that is not bad at all.
Tanner Laczynski, C, Ohio State
The Buckeyes are the lowest seed in the West Regional out in Fargo, and they’ll draw a tough one against Minnesota-Duluth in Round 1. They probably have the toughest road to the Frozen Four of any team in the field. No matter how the year ends, though, it’s safe to say Laczynski has had a good one: 31 points in 33 games as a freshman and a spot on the gold-medal winning USA World Junior squad.
One other player to keep an eye on will be Union senior forward Mike Vecchione. A former teammate of defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, Vecchione will be a free agent whenever Union’s season ends. There’s been talk that he may sign a contract with the Flyers once he becomes a free agent, so stay tuned.
Vecchione has been one of the NCAA’s top scorers this year, but he’ll be the enemy of many Philadelphians on Saturday afternoon when he takes on Penn State, who will be playing in their first-ever NCAA tournament game.
All games are streaming on the WatchESPN app. All times are ET.
Friday, March 24 (First Round)
- No. 2 Boston University vs. No. 3 North Dakota: 3:00 p.m., ESPN2
- No. 1 Harvard vs. No. 4 Providence: 4:00 p.m., ESPNU
- No. 1 Minnesota Duluth vs. No. 4 Ohio State: 6:30 p.m., ESPNU
- No. 2 Western Michigan vs. No. 3 Air Force: 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, March 25 (First Round)
- No. 2 UMass Lowell vs. No. 3 Cornell: 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
- No. 1 Denver vs. No. 4 Michigan Tech: 1:00 p.m., ESPN News
- No. 1 Minnesota vs. No. 4 Notre Dame: 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
- No. 2 Union vs. No. 3 Penn State: 4:30 p.m., ESPN3
- West Regional Final: 6:00 p.m., ESPNU
- East Regional Final: 8:30 p.m., ESPNU
Sunday, March 26 (Quarterfinals)
- Northeast Regional Final: 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
- Midwest Regional Final: 6:00 p.m., ESPNU
Thursday, April 6 (Frozen Four)
- West vs. East National Semifinal: TBA, ESPN2
- Northeast vs. Midwest National Semifinal: TBA, ESPN2
Saturday, April 8 (Championship)
- National Championship Game: 8:00 p.m., ESPN
Subject: Eagles defense will have at least five new starters in 2017
Who will step up?
When the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense first takes the field in 2017, Jim Schwartz’s unit will likely feature at least five new starters. Here’s a look at who’s gone from 2016 and how they might be replaced.
CB Leodis McKelvin and CB Nolan Carroll
Let’s start with the Eagles’ most pressing need: cornerback. Philadelphia released McKelvin after the veteran defender struggled through an injury-plagued season. Carroll, meanwhile, signed a multi-year deal with the Cowboys despite Dallas seeing firsthand how he can be a burn victim.
With McKelvin and Carroll gone, the Eagles are set to have their ninth different starting cornerback duo in the last 11 years. This lack of stability highlights a weakness that’s lasted for way too long now. Philadelphia has tried spending big money on cornerbacks (see: Byron Maxwell, Nnamdi Asomugha) to fix the problem but it just hasn’t worked for them.
And so the Eagles will likely turn to the 2017 NFL Draft for cornerback answer(s). Philadelphia did not sign any cornerback help in free agency (yet) so the draft is really the only option for them, unless they pull off a trade or two at some point.
It would not be surprising to see the Eagles select multiple cornerbacks this year. It could happen as early as the No. 14 overall pick. This year’s class is supposed to be deep so the Eagles will likely double or even triple dip at the position. A few ames to watch include Marshon Lattimore (trade up?), Marlon Humphrey (visited the Eagles), Tre’Davious White, Gareon Conley, etc.
But there’s no guarantee the draft will provide immediate help for the Eagles. Would Philadelphia really start two rookies on the outside next season? Maybe, but Schwartz is still really high on second-year corner Jalen Mills. He’ll certainly be in the mix for playing time. 2016 nickel corner Ron Brooks is also still around (for now). Could the Eagles be counting on him more than anticipated? The Eagles signed Dwayne Gratz late last season. The former third-round pick has made 25 starts in 43 games played over four seasons. He’s a dark-horse starting candidate to watch.
It was painfully obvious the Eagles needed to move on from Barwin. The 3-4 outside linebacker just wasn’t a great fit at defensive end in Philadelphia’s 4-3 defense. Going up against left tackles on a regular basis did him no favors. Barwin is a great guy but cutting him to save $7.75 million was a no-brainer decision from a business standpoint.
Barwin’s absence leaves a hole at defensive end, though. Who will start in his place? One would think it could and should be Vinny Curry. After all, the Eagles signed him to a five-year deal worth $46.25 million ($18 million guaranteed) last offseason.
But do the Eagles really trust Curry as a full-time starter? He only played 40.5% of the team’s defensive snaps last year. And it’s not like Barwin was playing so well that it was preventing him from getting on the field.
The sad reality is Curry only racked up 2.5 sacks last season. Sacks aren’t the only indication of pressure, of course, but consider Marcus Smith had the same number of sacks despite playing 200 less snaps than Curry. That’s not a great look.
Curry, who turns 29 this June, has played for three coaching staffs now that haven’t utilized him as a full-time starter. The Eagles need him to be one now, but again, it’s unclear if they trust him to be one. The team reportedly plans on picking a defensive lineman in the first round of this year’s draft and it could easily be a pass rusher. Derek Barnett, perhaps? Solomon Thomas if he falls?
Even if the Eagles do utilize Curry as a starter, they’ll need more defensive end depth. The Eagles like to use Curry as an interior pass rusher on obvious passing downs. That opens up playing time on the edge. Current backups include Smith and Steven Means.
DT Bennie Logan
The Eagles reportedly offered Logan a big money contract extension during the 2016 season but he reportedly turned it down. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. Either way, he’s gone now. Philadelphia’s 2013 third-round pick signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
Logan was a pretty good starter for the Eagles. He excelled at defending the run. And though he might not have been a great pass rusher by himself, he impacted the way the Eagles got pressure. Fletcher Cox didn’t record a single sack while Logan missed several games last season. Cox clearly got more attention with teams having to put less of a focus on Logan’s replacement, Beau Allen.
Speaking of Allen, the Eagles reportedly have been in talks to extend his contract. Maybe that means the team views him as a viable starter. I have my doubts. Allen has been a nice rotational player but is he really an effective long-term option? In 48 games played, he has 40 tackles and one sack.
Even if the Eagles do like big Honey Beau Beau as a starter, the team needs more depth at the defensive tackle position. Once again, it should be noted the Eagles reportedly plan to target the defensive line early in the draft. Maybe Malik McDowell? Jonathan Allen if he falls? It’s another position to keep an eye on.
Kendricks is still here, so there’s at least some kind of chance the Eagles could keep him for the 2017 season. I really have my doubts, though. It’s already been reported that the team plans to trade him. Even if the Eagles kept him around, would they really use him as a starter? Kendricks only played 26.8% of the team’s defensive snaps last year. He only officially started eight games and a lot of that playing time came earlier on in the season. As he struggled, he continued to get less snaps.
The Eagles mostly used two linebacker sets last season. Nigel Bradham played 1048 snaps while Jordan Hicks played 1043. Kendricks played the third most snaps of any Eagles linebacker at 394. It’s possible the Eagles go with a lot of two linebacker sets again in 2016, so it’s not like the team necessarily needs a one-for-one replacement for Kendricks. But adding more talent at linebacker would give the Eagles more options on defense.
More than five starters gone?
There’s been talk the Eagles might move on from Brooks, the team’s nickel corner in 2016, once he’s healthy enough for the Eagles to cut him. A slot corner isn’t necessarily a starter depending on your definition but it’s still another player who plays regularly. He could potentially end up being replaced by Mills or a rookie.
Nigel Bradham is another potential starter who could be missing on opening day. I don’t think the Eagles will cut him, but he could end up getting suspended for his off-field incidents last year. I wouldn’t imagine the suspension would be more than a few games at most but who knows for sure. If he misses time at the beginning of the year, that would mean the Eagles are starting six new players compared to last season. That’d be more than half of the entire defense.
Will the Eagles be worse on defense in 2017?
Some might consider this to be a hot take but I’d argue the Eagles’ 2016 defense wasn’t really that bad. No NFL team allowed fewer touchdowns at home last season. The Eagles ranked 13th in yards per game allowed, third in red zone defense, and 10th in takeaways. Football Outsiders ranked Schwartz’s unit fourth overall in DVOA.
Was the Eagles’ defense perfect? No, that’s not what I’m saying. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement. But there were some legitimate bright spots last season. Philadelphia totally shut down the NFL’s top offense last season by holding the Atlanta Falcons to a season low in points, yards, first downs, offensive plays run, and time of possession.
But now with so many starters gone, will the Eagles’ defense take a step back in 2017? Hard to say for sure until we see exactly how the Eagles plan to replace everyone, but right now it’s at least possible. The Birds don’t have any proven starting cornerbacks. They need more help on the defensive line. Linebacker depth is needed.
The Eagles made the right decision by going out and getting help for Carson Wentz in free agency by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Now the team needs to invest their resources in repairing a defense with a lot of holes. There’s a lot of pressure on Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas to get this draft right and restock Philadelphia’s defense.
Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia should consider trading up for Marshon Lattimore
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 3/25/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
What draft prospects could be trade-up targets for the Eagles? - PhillyVoice
Lattimore was only a redshirt sophomore last season who has participated in under 20 games in his career at OSU, partly due to hamstring issues. 2016 was Lattimore's only season as a starter, when he had 41 tackles, four interceptions, and nine pass breakups. Lattimore is a phenomenal athlete, doing a great job of staying in phase with opposing receivers out of tight press coverage. According to cfbfilmroom.com, Lattimore was targeted 36 times in 2016, and gave up just 13 receptions, or approximately one per game. He allowed one TD while collecting four INTs. He was also credited with 36 tackles, and just one missed tackle. That's outstanding.
Should the Eagles draft Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook? - BGN
Plus: an exclusive interview with 2017 NFL Draft cornerback prospect Ahkello Witherspoon.
Philadelphia Announces Road Closures Ahead Of Next Month’s NFL Draft - CBS Philly
Philadelphia has announced road closures ahead of next month’s NFL Draft that will be taking place on the Ben Franklin Parkway. The full set of closures on the Parkway and in the immediate vicinity are scheduled to be implemented by 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25. The full extent of these closures will be in place until 5:00 a.m. on Monday, May 1
Connor Barwin sad to leave Philly, but understands why he had to go - Inquirer
"It was just sitting around for three, four, five days - whatever it was - to see if Howie would be able to trade me," Barwin said. "And then, thankfully, he released me the day before free agency. . . . I understand how the NFL works, and if I was a GM, I would always try to get value before I released somebody." Earlier that day, Barwin had attended the updated renovation of one of the Philadelphia playgrounds his foundation has helped fund. In four years, he had immersed himself in the community like perhaps no other local athlete, at least one who had transplanted to Philly. He lived in the city year- round, rode SEPTA, biked to work through the neighborhoods, attended concerts, contributed his time, money, and name to civic causes, and most important, played his tail off on the football field.
Meet The Prospect: Zay Jones - PE.com
What will Zay Jones bring to his future NFL team, and what current Eagles player may he remind you of? Fran Duffy breaks down the film.
The Eagles and the Joe Mixon dilemma - CSN Philly
Were it not for the assault charge, Mixon might be a first-round pick. It's impossible to predict where he’ll go now, but rankings suggest he might not slip past the third. Even there, Mixon would be an incredible value to a team, provided he can stay out of trouble. That is, if said team can weather the fallout. Plenty of football fans are mortified a person could commit such a terrible act and would be unable to support Mixon or whatever club drafts him. Protests are not entirely out of the question, either.
3 reasons the Eagles might pass on a CB in 1st round - The News Journal
There’s a good chance that when the Eagles pick, the best cornerback – Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore – will be off the board. Washington’s Sidney Jones was supposed to be the next best cornerback, and many had him going to the Eagles at No. 14. Jones, however, tore his Achilles tendon at his Pro Day a few weeks ago, and he most definitely won’t be taken in the first round. There should still be other first-round cornerbacks available, such as Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey; Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, whom Mel Kiper Jr. has going to the Eagles at No. 14; Florida’s Teez Tabor; and LSU’s Tre’Davious White. But the Eagles might not have them worthy of the No. 14 pick.
2017 NFL Draft: Will Eagles ignore the defense at No. 14 overall? - NJ.com
Other teams knowing what Roseman needs, and assuming he will go cornerback, puts him in a disadvantage going into the draft -- which is why it is so strange he would make the glaring need so obvious. Instead of fixing the defense, Roseman has appeared laser focused on surrounding quarterback Carson Wentz with better skill players. He has spent all of his free agency money on the offensive side of the ball. At No. 14, Roseman and the Eagles very well could decide to completely ignore the defense, and instead once again use an asset to help Wentz.
Reception Perception: Taywan Taylor and Expecting the Unexpected - The Fantasy Footballers
Plenty of prospects offer intrigue on the second day of the draft. So much so that it feels as if Taywan Taylor just doesn’t get his proper due. Everything in his Reception Perception profile speaks to a wide receiver who will translate to the pro game, and have a long successful career as a rotational player, at worst. If he enjoyed a Torrey Smith-like career, no one should be surprised. Of course, we also see with a pristine success rate vs. man and press coverage, in conjunction with a stellar contested catch conversion rate, that perhaps there’s more of a star-studded path for Taylor to stroll down. Should he land with the proper team we could see a situation much like what unfolded with T.Y. Hilton a few years back come to pass.
Alshon Jeffery And Adam Schefter Show Us How The Scoop Game Is Played - Deadspin
Understand: Jeffery did not, in fact, seek Adam Schefter’s counsel on how best to approach free agency. If you read that exchange closely, it’s clear that Jeffery sought information, because information is currency in the NFL scoop game. The scoop game is not a one-sided exchange. It’s not just Schefter or Ian Rapoport or Chris Mortensen sending texts and making calls to sources to see what they know. It’s often a trade, and at times it’s even a negotiation involving how or when you go public with a particular nugget of intel. The scoop hounds who thrive in this arena frequently have something to offer their sources. This is why league executives, coaches, and players all play ball with the scoop hounds. The scoop hounds get what they need by dishing some gossip here, or a rumor there, or—as in the specific case of Alshon Jeffery—some relevant salary figures that might be flying around.
Mike Williams is everything you want in an 1st-round wide receiver ... almost - SB Nation
He’s not a perfect prospect, but you’ll have plenty to be happy about if your team takes the Clemson wide receiver early in the first round.
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Subject: Jeffrey Lurie calls for change in Washington
The Eagles' CEO challenged us to think differently.
"What unites Americans is far more negative."
The jarring words of Jeffrey Lurie's TIME editorial in which the Philadelphia Eagles owner broke form from his peers in making a strong political statement on Washington, America, and the downfalls of contemporary political discourse. The piece primarily functioned as a call to arms for Washington to band together to fight Autism.
"So now, let’s talk about autism as one example. We are in the midst of the single largest developmental disorder epidemic in our country and around the globe. Autism is now being identified at a rate of 1 in 68 births. The costs of treatment and services needed are beyond the abilities of most families. The disorder touches every socioeconomic, racial and gender grouping. Historically, it has been underfunded and hence, under-researched and misunderstood. But with a more comprehensive research agenda, we can uncover both the genetic and environmental influences on brain development which will have enormous implications for autism and other developmental disorders.
We have the opportunity, right now, to do what America is great at: devoting the best minds and necessary resources to tackle the human puzzles that cause so much suffering. Artificial intelligence, computer science, advanced data mining, biomedical science, genetics … the list goes on and on where our country is at the forefront and our people are ready to engage.
All we are lacking is leadership. Imagine if Republicans and Democrats put down their swords just for a day to create a comprehensive multi-disciplinary, multi-occupational effort to solve the mysteries of Autism and uncover groundbreaking treatments. Imagine how we would benefit from understanding aspects of the autistic brain that can include rare mathematical, creative and other cognitive abilities that may well enhance our own brain power and human potential."
Lurie has a personal connection to autism, as it has affected his family. His passion for giving care to those affected has driven his philanthropy. Lurie gave 2.5 million dollars to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia six years ago and the Eagles Charitable Foundation gave one million last summer to aid those affected by autism. Beyond autism, Lurie has been incredibly involved in the Philadelphia community and also national politics, donating money to the Hillary Clinton Campaign during the 2016 election. During last season, the Eagles notably supported their players protesting police brutality during the National Anthem. Needless to say, it is obvious Lurie has a strong, progressively minded connection to the political world and his words on autism struck a greater chord about American politics.
We would like to think that something as seemingly apolitical as autism would be incredibly easy to rally behind combating. Like Lurie said, the numbers show that no one is free from the chances of autism, so what would be the political motivation to not wanting bipartisan unity to stop it or help those affected. Unfortunately, in 2017, not even the health of American people is apolitical anymore. Just this week, the AHCA failed to get votes to replace the ACA as America's health care system. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would have taken health care coverage away from 24 million Americans who were insured under the ACA. This is not to say the ACA is a perfect policy, its not, but the fact that there was an expedited effort from Republicans to kill the ACA because of its being a "Democratic" policy instead of wanting to reform it led to a slapdash bill that not even many House Republicans wanted.
This is the point of American politics that we are at. The health of American citizens is being monetized and politicized and when things are assigned binaries of "Democratic" and "Republican" it makes it impossible for anyone to see the nuance in anything.
"What unites Americans is far more negative."
This has been a longstanding truth in American history and could not be even more true than now. The sitting president ran his campaign on making his supporters fear an "other." Be it Mexicans, Muslims or Democrats, Donald Trump used fear mongering to consolidate his base around him because he had the solution to all of these "problems." The Democrats engage in this too. Hillary Clinton's television campaign was almost entirely bereft of policy and all about the bad things Donald Trump would say, creating a dynamic of "Lesser of Two Evils." Politics has become a team sport where your party is always the Eagles and the other party is always the Cowboys.
Lurie wants every issue to stop being a Democratic and Republican issue. He supports autism research not because Democrats support autism research, he supports it because autism is a debilitating condition that the richest country in the world should be able to dedicate massive resources to fighting.
Lurie did not silence Malcom Jenkins because the racial inequality that Jenkins wanted to speak on should never be a partisan issue (though it has become one).
Regardless if you're a Democrat, Republican, leftist, tea partier or otherwise, it is nearly impossible to disagree with what Lurie is saying. Human issues should not be politicized. Humanity should be up for debate. Be it sickness, racism, poverty or education, there are people's livelihood's at risk and until conversations about solutions start with the helping the human beings affected and not the cost of doing so, politics can start moving in a positive direction.