Subject: BSH Radio reacts following a 5-2 win over Calgary
Flyers end 10-game losing streak, but many questions remain
The losing streak is over, as the Philadelphia Flyers won their first game since November 8th, defeating the Calgary Flames 5-2 on Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Despite the win, which saw the Flyers net three goals over a 71-second span midway through the second period, the Flyers are still surrounded by questions as they look to turn their season around with two more games in Western Canada before returning home next week.
Travis Sanheim played one 18-second shift in the third period, Nolan Patrick got a pair of power play shifts during a five-minute major penalty against Calgary’s Travis Hamonic for targetting Dale Weise’s head but was otherwise stapled to the bench as Philly clung to its two- and three-goal leads in the third.
Travis Konecny was used even less than those two rookies. TK didn’t see a shift after he was on the ice for Sean Monahan’s goal with 1:15 left in the second period.
Check out Bill Matz’s reaction to the end of the streak and Dave Hakstol’s coaching decisions on this edition of BSH Radio Facebook Live Postgame.
Posted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Monday, December 4, 2017
Subject: Todd Gurley took a little shot at the Eagles
Nothing too malicious.
Gurley gave interesting answer as to why the Rams haven’t been taking advantage of the NFL’s relaxed celebration rules. Via Joe Curley of the Ventura County Star:
“We get in there so much, we don’t have to do it every time ... I don’t have all day to do a whole cha-cha slide, electric slide.”
The funny thing, though, is that the Eagles have a lot more touchdowns than the Rams this season. Philadelphia has 42 touchdowns compared to 36 for Los Anglees.
The Eagles weren’t able to celebrate much in Week 13 after only scoring one touchdown against the Seahawks. They’ll be looking to score a lot more this week in an effort to bounce back against the 9-3 Rams.
Given the way the Eagles looked like they lacked their usual confidence/swag in Seattle, it’d be nice to see them get back to the celebrations. Also wouldn’t hurt to rub it in a little to Gurley.
Speaking of Gurley, here’s a funny exchange.
Just landed in LA, now to get some rest!— LeGarrette Blount (@LG_Blount) December 4, 2017
Nah stay out all night and party bro lol https://t.co/S6UW4kqoWg— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) December 5, 2017
Subject: NFL executives name Eagles
Will the Eagles lose one of their top personnel guys?
The downside to being one of the NFL’s best teams is that other teams will look to poach members from your organization. The Philadelphia Eagles have a number of assistant coaches who could be hired away this offseason, for example. (We’ll have more on that here at BGN tomorrow.)
But coaches aren’t the only members of the franchise who can be poached. There are also front office executives. This consideration is relevant when it comes to Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas.
Peter King notes that Douglas is currently viewed as one of the top three general manager candidates in the league. Bold emphasis is mine:
I asked four current NFL executives, two of whom have been in the GM market in the last three seasons, about candidates. The three most common names: George Paton, the affable assistant GM for Minnesota who has been an oft-interviewed candidate; rising star Eliot Wolf, Green Bay’s director of football operations and the son of Hall of Famer Ron Wolf; and Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, who made his bones scouting for the Ravens and is vital to Philly’s recent success.
We don’t necessarily know exactly what moves Douglas has made since being hired by the Eagles in May 2016, but we do know he’s contributed to the Eagles’ success. Douglas is the one who’s responsible for setting Philadelphia’s draft board, though Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman ultimately has final say on all personnel decisions.
The Roseman and Douglas relationship has been fruitful so far. The Eagles have gone 17-11 since Douglas was hired.
It’s possible Douglas could use his success with Philly to springboard himself into a more traditional general manager role where he is the one with final say on personnel decisions.
It sounds like Douglas might already be generating some interest from a division rival.
Had to happen. Clean house early and begin evaluation of potential candidates. A name you’ll hear a lot for #Giants GM — Joe Douglass — Player Personnel Director from the #Eagles. With their success this year, it’s bound to come up.— Chris Carlin (@ChrisCarlin) December 4, 2017
Imagine if Douglas went to the Giants and he brought Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo with him as New York’s new head coach? I’m sorry for even bringing it up.
It’s quite possible Douglas is content with his role in Philly (for now, at least). The Eagles will be bound to offer him a lot of rea$on$ to stay if they feel he’s truly vital to their success.
Something to keep an eye on this offseason, though, as GM vacancies start to open up across the league.
Subject: Jordan Matthews Injury: Bills wide receiver to injured reserve
Tough season for the former Eagles WR.
Jordan Matthews’ season is over. The Buffalo Bills officially placed the 25-year-old wide receiver on the injured reserve list, per an announcement from the team. Matthews has been battling through a knee injury as of late.
2017 was a lost season for Matthews. The former Eagles slot receiver was targeted 36 times this year for a mere 25 catches, 282 yards, and one touchdown. Not a great outing for him to have as he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Eagles traded Matthews — along with a 2018 third-round pick — to the Bills during training camp in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby. Darby has been a starter all year for Philadelphia when healthy, which has only been four games since Darby suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 1.
Matthews’ absence has really allowed 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor to shine this year. Through 12 games, Agholor has 40 receptions for 599 yards (15.0 average) and seven receiving touchdowns. Agholor hasn’t been the volume target Matthews was but he’s been much more efficient and explosive for Philadelphia.
If you project Agholor’s stats over a 16-game span, he’d finish this season with 53 receptions for 800 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Compare that to Matthews’ most productive season, which took place in 2015: 85 receptions for 997 yards and eight scores. Agholor’s 15.0 yards per reception is much more efficient than Matthews’ 11.3 mark in that season. Also, Agholor isn’t picking up a ton of garbage time production like Matthews was.
Back when the Eagles traded Matthews, some were concerned about how Carson Wentz and Philadelphia’s offense would fare without him. It turns out they’ve been just fine without him. Wentz has been playing like an MVP candidate. The Eagles lead the NFL in scoring.
It’ll be interesting to see where Matthews lands in free agency this offseason. There’s no guarantee the Bills bring him back, since he was essentially a throw-in for the Darby trade.
Subject: The Eagles
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: We
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* Did you watch Monday’s victory, but still want to relive the excitement? You can check out Bill’s post-game reactions here. [BSH]
* Already got the feelings out? Need some numbers and notes in your life? Well, Kyle’s got you covered. [BSH]
* Still not feeling sated? Need even more observations? Well, you’re in luck. To celebrate the Flyers snapping their winless streak, the Athletic unlocked Charlie’s ten observations from the Flames game. Get at that free content, pals. [The Athletic]
* Not breaking news: it’s been a rough start to the season for the Flyers. But can they still salvage this season? They’ll need to act fast, and may now be heading in the right direction. [Philly Voice]
* Forbes just dropped their ranking of most valuable NHL teams. Let’s see where the Flyers fall. [Forbes]
* The Olympic drama just keeps on rolling, but it’s not just the NHL at the center, this time. [Sportsnet]
* It’s another week and we’ve got a new set of power rankings. And the Flyers are right around where you’d expect them to be. [Puck Daddy]
* So you may have heard that the NHL may be getting a new team in Seattle. It’s still early, but the buzz is already starting. The league may be looking at a brand new team, and Greg Wyshynski dives into the name game. [ESPN]
Subject: Eagles News: Nelson Agholor is one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 12/6/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
WR Nelson Agholor: Newfound production in the slot - PFF
He was perilously close to being written off as a total bust over that time, gaining less than 0.7 yards per route run. That’s a figure that would rank 87th this season and only two players would be less productive on a per snap basis. Top receivers can gain as many as three yards per route run, so for Agholor to be more than four times less productive was an amazing exercise in futility as a receiver. This season, Agholor spends almost all of his time in the slot (86.5 percent of snaps), and his production has shot through the roof. Only Larry Fitzgerald has more yards gained from inside this season than Agholor’s 582, and his overall yards per route run figure is more than twice as high as it had been heading into the season.
Todd Gurley took a little shot at the Eagles - BGN
Late last week, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley was asked about why his team hasn’t joined in on the team touchdown celebration craze sweeping across the league. Gurley gave interesting answer as to why the Rams haven’t been taking advantage of the NFL’s relaxed celebration rules. Via Joe Curley of the Ventura County Star.
Afternoon QB: This is Not a Time to Panic - BGNRadio.com
BLG breaks down the Eagles-Seahawks loss, tells you why it's not time to panic, and asserts that the Eagles are primed to bounce back this week against the Rams. Plus three over/unders from Stephen Lee as always!
Eagles third quarter report cards: Offense edition - PhillyVoice
Carson Wentz was outstanding in three blowouts of the Broncos, Cowboys, and Bears, but the game that will remain etched in everyone's brains at the moment was the Eagles' loss to the Seahawks. Wentz made some highlight reel plays, as he always does, but two missed throws to Nelson Agholor and a lost fumble at the goal line have tainted his third quarter of the season to some degree. Wentz is clearly a great player, and in time he'll be more consistently great. As Sunday night showed, there is still progress to be made, and he'll make it.
Context Matters - Iggles Blitz
The funny thing about all this schedule talk is how different it was back in August. If you watched Eagles broadcasts of the preseason games, Mike Mayock would go over the upcoming schedule. He and Scott Graham were struggling to come up with more than a handful of winnable games. I was hoping for 9-7 and those guys made it sound like the Eagles would need luck to get 7 wins. They weren’t down on the Eagles so much as they were up on everyone else. The only sure wins felt like the Chargers, Niners, Bears and Rams. Let’s hope they were right about that last team.
'We're A Really Good 10-2 Team' - PE.com
COSTA MESA, Calif. – Creatures of habit, Eagles players are not in any kind of familiar environment living in California through Sunday, but they are trying to keep the day-to-day operation the same as every other week. It’s a challenge, defensive end Brandon Graham admits. That’s why he brought his wife and daughter out to California just to keep things as normal as possible ...
Coach of the Year: Eagles' Doug Pederson or Rams' Sean McVay? - ESPN
Doug Pederson cut his teeth as an NFL quarterback, backing up Brett Favre and starting ahead of Donovan McNabb during a career that spanned 10 seasons. Sean McVay learned the inner workings of the NFL from his grandfather, the celebrated San Francisco 49ers executive who teamed with Bill Walsh to build a Super Bowl powerhouse. Pederson, 49, spent three years as an offensive coordinator on Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs before joining a Philadelphia Eagles team that was only a year removed from back-to-back 10-win seasons. McVay, 31, spent three years as an offensive coordinator on Jay Gruden's Washington Redskins before joining a Los Angeles Rams franchise coming off 10 consecutive losing seasons. They now share two notable circumstances: A chance to be named the NFL's Coach of the Year, and a highly anticipated Week 14 showdown.
Week 13 DVOA Ratings - Football Outsiders
How often do we play a DVOA Bowl during the regular season? Well, I went back to look and it turns out that it's more common than you might think. It seemed special when it happened the last two years because it didn't happen a single time from 2010 through 2014, and it only happened very early in the season in 2009. However, throughout the '90s and '00s, a DVOA Bowl took place roughly twice every three seasons. But this year's DVOA Bowl is an extra special DVOA Bowl. We've seen No. 2 play No. 1 before. We've never seen No. 1 play No. 1. That's essentially how the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles stand in DVOA right now. The Rams are at 32.449%, and the Eagles are at 32.392%. To show you how close that is, five extra yards on Carson Wentz's final 20-yard completion on Sunday night would be enough to make up the difference and put the two teams in a dead heat.
All-22: Carson Wentz, Eagles left too many plays on the field vs. Seahawks - The Athletic
Doug Pederson suggested that the underthrow was related to Wentz's previous miss when he sailed one over Agholor's head. “It's the hardest thing to do because it goes back to your question — when you overshoot the first one, the next time he's wide open, you almost guide the ball,” Pederson said. “You almost just want to put it on him. It just so happened that we were able to complete that pass.” The off-target throws to Agholor were part of an inconsistent night for Wentz. He was asked after the game if he was happy to be going to southern California instead of Philadelphia. “Yeah,” he said. “That would be a long flight home.”
Doug Pederson at his best when facing challenges — on and off field - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Whatever chaos was swirling around the Eagles last year, you never saw things snowball. You never saw things get out of control. Pederson continually demonstrated a knack for dealing with whatever issues arose around the football team, and by the end of the season, they were playing pretty good football. That's a unique skill and just as important for a head football coach as calling plays, making substitutions or challenging bad calls. All those little mini-dramas can take a toll on a football team, but it seemed like with each one, the bond in the Eagles' locker room grew stronger, as did the respect the players have for Pederson. All of which is why I'm not all too worried right now.
Carson Wentz's toughness, the defense's penalties, and ice cream - Inquirer
With the Eagles in Southern California, Brandon Graham flew his family out to spend time with him this week. They went to the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles when the team was off on Monday. “They give you ice cream in every room,” Graham said. “It was a pretty cool museum.” Graham enjoyed the gummy bears.
Philadelphia Eagles find a challenge -- and a surprise -- in studying Rams' Todd Gurley - PennLive
"He can run downhill, but he also has some Le'Veon Bell in him when it comes to picking his way through," Schwartz said, invoking the Steelers' famously patient running back and two-time Pro Bowler. And, like Bell, Gurley's impact on the offense doesn't dissolve on passing plays. It's quite the opposite. Schwartz said he didn't anticipate marveling at Gurley's route running or pass catching abilities while preparing for Sunday's game at the Rams, but those traits stuck out on game footage.
Rams alter practice plans due to fire in Ventura County - PFT
A fire in Ventura County, California has led to a change in the Rams’ practice schedule this week. Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register reports that concerns about poor air quality resulting from the fire have led the Rams to call off their usual 90-minute practice for Wednesday afternoon. They will hold a lighter walkthrough practice instead of the regular session.
While on the West Coast, Eagles Determined to Avoid Distraction Ahead of Showdown With Rams - Sports Illustrated
After the Eagles' loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night—the beginning of a planned week on the West Coast for Philadelphia—a change of messaging is in store for the players ahead of arguably their biggest game of the season.
NFL Panic Index 2017, Week 14: The playoffs are finally going to look different, maybe - SB Nation
Being 10-2 is nothing to be ashamed of for the Eagles. Even with last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, they have a lock on the NFC East title and are still tied for the top of the NFC standings, and the kind of schedule that gives them a leg up for home-field advantage come January. But that schedule is also a concern. Of those 10 wins, only one came against a team currently holding down a playoff spot, the Panthers. The beat the Chargers too back in Week 4, before the Bolts went on their current surge. Both of Philadelphia’s losses came against likely playoff teams. While the Chiefs have slumped since then, getting beat by a banged up Seahawks team should be more than slightly concerning. This week, they play the Rams in Los Angeles. A loss there would raise legitimate doubts about whether they belong among the NFC’s best.
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Subject: So What Are Eagles Beat Writers Doing Out in LA?
Subject: RADIO WARS: Angelo Cataldi Is Not Retiring Yet
Subject: Your Wednesday Morning Roundup
Subject: The losing streak is over, but now what?
Wins are good, the gang likes wins, but now we’ve got to figure out where we go from here.
The losing streak is over, but are you any more encouraged by the direction of the organization after the long-awaited victory? Steph, Charlie, and Bill discuss Hextall’s unwavering public support for Dave Hakstol, development of youngsters Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick as well as whether it’s more advantageous, in the long run, for the Flyers to just lose.
Subject: Villanova Mauled Gonzaga and Is Maybe The Best Team in the Country
Subject: Flyers recall T.J. Brennan and Alex Lyon, place Brandon Manning and Michal Neuvirth on injured reserve
So, this is a bit out of nowhere, but we’ve got some late-breaking news on the injury front for your no-longer-on-a-losing-streak Philadelphia Flyers:
Per the release from the Flyers, Brennan (who will wear number 43) and Lyon (number 49) will both be available to the Flyers tonight as they square off with the Oilers in Edmonton.
I have questions. So may you! Let’s walk through them.
So modern technology is really at the point where we can not only get two individuals from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Edmonton, Alberta but also have them potentially ready to play in a hockey game that same night?
Indeed. So wait, what happened to Manning?
Good question! Manning was getting regular shifts through the entirety of the game on Monday in Calgary, and there’s been no word on a potential injury until just now. It’s unclear what’s ailing him, as the Flyers didn’t even bother to tell us whether his upper or lower-body was injured. In any case, he’s now unavailable for tonight’s and tomorrow’s games, though he can be activated prior to next Tuesday’s home date with the Maple Leafs.
I mean, Michal Neuvirth kind of just exists in a perpetual state of injury, doesn’t he?
In all seriousness, though, it’s also not clear what happened to Neuvirth, who last played on Tuesday, November 28 against San Jose (a game in which he did not look good). Assuming this IR designation is a retroactive one, I think that Neuvirth can actually be removed from it at any time, since it’s already been seven days since he last played in a game. But given the move to actually call up a goalie it seems safe to say, at the least, that he won’t play tonight or tomorrow.
How exciting is it that the Flyers now have a South Jersey Native actually on their team?
Extremely! But really, cool moment for T.J. Brennan, who has been great for the Phantoms for the past year-plus and will at least get to hang with the team that he grew up rooting for.
Is he actually going to play, though?
I would lean towards no, barring another injury or a horrendous performance tonight, and would think that Mark Alt is probably more likely to slide into the lineup tonight in Manning’s stead. He was the guy they called up first, after all. But we’ll see. They did rush him on a plane to Edmonton, after all.
Wait, why didn’t they call up Samuel Morin?
What about Phil Myers?
Do the Phantoms actually have any defensemen left on their roster?
Sucks for them. So what’s this mean for the Flyers’ defense?
Well, Ivan Provorov is probably going to play about 35 minutes tonight. And since he’s the only “veteran” currently in the lineup with Radko Gudas still suspended, Andrew MacDonald’s probably going to play about 30. Meanwhile, my guess is that whoever gets the lineup spot between Alt and Brennan will probably play with Travis Sanheim, and will get very little ice time.
The other big question this leaves lineup-wise is that of who will fill in for Manning on the penalty kill. Right now, the Flyers will pretty much have to put one of Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, or their Phantoms fill-in out there when they go to kill penalties. Is Alt that guy? Or do they trust Sanheim to take on that role? We’ll find out.
Moving on, then: so is Lyon going to make his NHL debut?
It’s tough to say for certain and probably depends on how long Neuvirth is actually out for. My guess is that the Flyers are going to send Elliott out tonight against Edmonton, and unless it goes very poorly for him or he gets injured, he’s probably also going to play tomorrow in Vancouver. So if Neuvirth is only out for these two games, I doubt we see any Alex Lyon. Now, if Neuvirth’s actually out for a month or so, then yes, he’ll probably get in a game somewhere. We saw this all unfold with Steve Mason and Anthony Stolarz last season; if the Flyers have a young goalie that they’re clearly not comfortable giving NHL time to, they’re not afraid to ride their starter for as long as they possibly can.
Should they be comfortable giving NHL time to Lyon?
Meh. Lyon hasn’t exactly played well this year, in what had the potential to be a big season for him after Anthony Stolarz’s knee injury. With an acknowledgment to the fact that the pieces in front of him have changed a lot this year, particularly on defense, Lyon’s .894 save percentage isn’t something to write home about. This isn’t quite the same situation as it was last year with Stolarz, who was off to a great start before getting called up and was clearly pretty close to NHL-ready. I don’t think the Flyers would be calling him up unless they thought they had to.
Something like that.
Subject: Eagles are now underdogs against the Rams after opening as favorites
Don’t sleep on the Birds.
For the first time since Week 6, the Philadelphia Eagles are not favored to win their upcoming football game.
This sudden change tells us that a lot of people have been putting money on the Rams.
People have seemingly lost faith in the Eagles after Philadelphia lost to the Seahawks on Sunday night. The Eagles opened as 5.5 point favorites against Seattle. That number crept up to as high as six at one point before dropping down to 3.5 before the game. The drop can be explained by a lot of the “smart money” being placed on the Seahawks. They clearly call it smart money for a reason.
There’s still plenty of time for the Eagles-Rams line to change prior to Sunday’s game. For now, it’s not a shocker to see the Eagles as underdogs. The Rams are a very good team.
Los Angeles ranks No. 1 in DVOA and No. 1 in points per game (tied with Philly). Rams rookie head coach Sean McVay is arguably the favorite for Coach of the Year. Jared Goff looks much improved in Year 2 and running back Todd Gurley is a beast. On defense, Wade Phillips is still one of the league’s best d-coordinators. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is arguably the best defender in the NFL; he can wreak havoc.
But the Eagles shouldn’t be so easily dismissed just because they suffered a loss in Seattle. Philadelphia still has a lot of things going for them. Carson Wentz is bound to bounce back after playing one of his worst games this season. Same for head coach Doug Pederson, who’s mostly done a very good job this year. Goff won’t be able to neutralize the Eagles’ defensive line the way Russell Wilson can.
Sunday’s matchup figures to be a good one. It’s a very important game for both sides.
Subject: A letter to the 2017-18 Philadelphia Flyers
The losing streak is over! Now let’s talk about what we actually want this team to be this season and get to it.
TO: The Hockey Team, The Flyers
3601 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Dear The Flyers,
Hey! What’s up? Based on how things have been going for most of the last month, I’d love to be able to say “long time, no see”, but we both know that would be a lie.
Nice win on Monday! First in a while, of course. I’m happy for you guys. I’m sure that feels good. Not the prettiest win you’ve ever pulled together, for sure, but any win that you’ve waited nearly a month for is a pretty one, let’s be honest. Plus, nice job not just taking every shot at the point and instead fighting for chances the hard way. Habits are tough to break, but when you’ve lost 10 games in a row, you gotta try. Good job at it.
So with that all said … we have to talk. We’ve had to talk for a while, frankly, but it’s been so hard to have substantive conversations with you when you’ve spent the better part of the past month stepping on rakes. Everyone’s been pissed off and sad, even by normal Philadelphia sports standards, and often times that’s not a conducive environment in which to have calm, rational discussion about the best long-term course of action for a professional organization. I’m all for making change when change is necessary, but sometimes people make poor decisions when they’re angry.
But now that the 10-game losing streak is over and the “everything is awful, nothing matters, eat Arby’s” phase is somewhat behind us, let’s have a real chat about this season.
We’ll officially reach the one-third mark of your 2017-18 NHL regular season tonight in Edmonton. By the time that game starts, you all will be at least eight points out of a playoff spot, potentially more if both Pittsburgh and Washington pick up points in their games tonight. And in terms of league-wide pecking order, you’ll be somewhere around 27th in the NHL in standings points percentage.
That’s bad. You know that. And worse, it’s a step back from last season, which we all agreed was a total mess of a year where everything went wrong and, yet, was still a year in which you finished the season just seven points out of a playoff spot and 19th in the league in points percentage.
Sure, there’s time to turn that around. Your last two playoff teams both shook off ghastly Octobers or Novembers to get back on track. If Claude says it’s a playoff team, he has earned the benefit of my doubt that it could, in theory, happen.
But you also know that even with that time that’s left, you all are facing tall odds to make yourselves a relevant team in this year’s playoff picture. The odds don’t all agree with how tall those odds are, but when you really look them — 23 percent, 14 percent, eight percent — you can’t really concern yourselves with the differences, because you realize we’re talking about the difference here between how tall Ben Simmons is and how tall Joel Embiid is. Pretty damn tall, either way.
(Yep, we’re making Sixers-themed jokes now, because at this point we need a reminder that at least there’s one team that regularly plays sports in your house that has a winning record and plays to packed home crowds.)
To be honest, we’re not used to this. Over five years ago, we made note of the fact that you hadn’t gone at least five years without a “Final Four”/Conference Finals appearance at any point in franchise history. Oops. That streak is currently running on seven seasons, and if you think it’s not about to become eight, I admire your optimism.
You also haven’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 1994. 1994! I wasn’t even three years old the last time you did something that you are, by all means, on track to do again this season. I didn’t even know what you were the last time this happened.
We may not be used to this. But you’re getting used to this, aren’t you? Don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t a “this core is rotten, throw it out” argument — anyone who’s actually watched Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek play hockey this season ought to know how thoroughly ridiculous it is to drop this mess on their shoulders. But since the most recent lockout, you’ve collected five playoff wins, zero playoff series wins, and three playoffs-less seasons. Mediocrity is what’s been expected of this franchise for the better part of this decade.
And yet, up until really the past couple of months, there’s largely been a sense of calm around your fanbase for a while now. There’s been a lot of confidence that things are, slowly but surely, moving in the right direction. And while I had my minor concerns, particularly when it came to NHL-level talent acquisition and evaluation, I’ve long been firmly in the “things are going to get good soon” camp, as well.
Because it always seemed like there was a plan. A direction. A clear goal in mind. After a near-decade of ol’ YOLO Paul running the team, doing whatever he could in that exact moment to make his team better with no thought whatsoever for the long run, there was an obvious mantra under Ron Hextall. Hit on (and keep) your top draft picks. Develop young guys and be patient with, but confident, in them. Don’t sign giant regrettable contracts. Have, as someone who shared 3601 South Broad Street with Hextall for nearly three years once said, the longest view in the room.
Despite three seasons under Hextall that, outside of a magical rookie season by Shayne Gostisbehere and a late-season push for a playoff spot in 2015-16, have been pretty forgettable on the NHL ice, we’ve largely remained optimistic for the future. And despite a 2016-17 season that was a meaningful step back in a lot of ways, this fanbase was as ready as ever to see some patience pay off. To see that group of young defensemen you’ve been talking about prove its chops. To see the guy who was the near-consensus top prospect in the 2017 NHL Draft start his Flyers career. To see that there is light at the end of this crowded I-95 tunnel we’ve — and you’ve — been stuck in for years now.
To say “it hasn’t happened” would be both stating the obvious and not nearly going far enough. And right now, fans are more frustrated with your front office and coaching staff than they’ve been at any point in their respective tenures.
“Well, that’s because we just lost 10 ga—”
No. That’s not wh... OK, yes, fans are obviously annoyed about your losing 10 games in a row. Fair.
But that’s not the big problem here. Crappy teams can lose several games in a row without it being an indicator of genuine design flaws which had previously gone unnoticed. Heck, even average teams can do that with enough bad luck.
The problem here is twofold. First, we don’t know what the direction and plan are anymore. Is it to win games now and get back in the playoffs, or is it to keep that long view and develop young guys? Or is it both? And second, whatever the answer to the first part is doesn’t really matter, because you’re currently coming up short at both short-term results and long-term development.
If the team wasn’t getting much of a contribution from its new guys, but was clearly in the thick of a playoff race in one of the deepest divisions in recent NHL history, fans would probably accept it. If the team was struggling to put wins up in the standings, but was seeing obvious progress from young players, fans would at least have something to look forward to.
You thought you could do both. We thought you could do both. And right now you’re doing neither. You have more wins than just two other teams in the NHL. And the only newcomer that you clearly trust is a 22-year old defensive defenseman who spent the previous four seasons in respected professional leagues. Not the No. 2 overall pick from six months ago, who is currently bleeding shots and scoring chances whenever he’s on the ice. Not one of the best-scoring rookie defensemen in the AHL last season, who seems closer to the press box than he does to top-4 minutes despite being successful by nearly every underlying on-ice measure you can find. And not one of the other half-dozen guys who are banging on the door in Allentown so loud that you can hear it from an hour down 476.
I understand that to write this two months into a season after spending the last three years being excited is very much an abandonment of the patience that we’ve been trying to preach for so long. Yes, you will probably finish higher than 27th in the standings. Yes, the young guys will probably look better by the end of the season, four months later. But the issue is that I don’t know what you, as an organization, would deem a successful 2017-18 at this point.
My hope here is that you, the Flyers, do know what you would consider to be a success from this point forward. What’s done is done, ten straight losses and all. What I want now is for you to decide what needs to happen between now and April 7, when the regular season ends, for this season to be considered a success (if you already know, then great!). I want you to make as much of your decision-making as is realistically possible revolve around achieving that end goal(s). And if it’s not reached, I want you to make sure people are held responsible for those failings.
If you decide the goal is “get back in the playoffs”, no matter how tall the odds currently are? Go for it. After all, you told us not to call this a rebuilding season back in August. Hell, you said this was still a playoff team last week after consecutive loss number nine, so I have to imagine this is the plan. Play what you think is your best lineup every single night, whatever you think that may be. Bench a young guy if you think he’s not going to help you win. Give fourth-line-caliber veterans second-line minutes because they’re Reliable and you Know What You’re Getting From Them. Do what you have to do. If you really, truly believe it’s the best thing you can do for the 2017-18 Flyers, do it.
But if it doesn’t work out, it’ll be time to stare down the reality of the situation a bit. We’ll be talking about a team with two high-dollar stars entering their twilight years (and, once again, it’s important to stress that this is not their fault) as a team that is going to need significant changes and improvements. Big ones, small ones, and in all likelihood behind-the-bench ones. To declare the playoffs the goal (again), miss out on them (again), and then not make meaningful changes would rightly mark the point at which this fanbase’s patience ends.
Now, if, instead, you’ve reached the point where you know the playoffs probably aren’t going to happen, and have decided it’s time to really focus on setting some long-term groundwork in place? That’s OK, too! In fact, if what I’ve been seeing on social media is any indication, there are probably a lot of people that would be totally fine with this. But you’ve really got to stick with it, and more than anything, you have to show some confidence in these kids that you’ve told us are the next wave of this organization.
Don’t regularly scratch/place them low in the lineup in favor of players who are neither key contributors now nor meaningful long-term pieces in the organization’s future. Give them some minutes in high-pressure situations, knowing that they’re going to be better for the experience even if it may occasionally burn you in the short-term. Call up players who are lighting the AHL on fire, and actually keep them here if they play well. And if a guy is struggling (which some of them will! Chances are — rookies, do not read this — that not all of these guys will end up being good!), try and figure out what in a player’s game is correctable and what may just never change, and plan for the future accordingly.
Of course, this plan also shouldn’t be considered risk-free, or one that doesn’t involve anyone being held accountable. Ideally, there are some benchmarks in mind for how some of these guys are going to look and what they’ll be capable of by the end of the year, and if those aren’t being met, it’ll be tough for anyone to say with confidence that this coaching staff is the right one to really help these guys reach their peaks. If, come March and April, Robert Hagg is still the only rookie on the team that the coach is comfortable playing in high-leverage situations, that’s a bad look for the folks that are supposed to be turning Travis Sanheim and Nolan Patrick into all-around NHL threats.
In sum ... I just want you to figure out what you are, or what you’re supposed to be, and I want you to go and be it. And if you’re not being it, then I want to know what the plan is for you to become it and find some people who are going to get you there. Because I don’t want to believe that the answer to what you are is “a team that is 27th in the NHL and isn’t getting much from its big-name young talent”. We’ve been too patient to believe that this was the reward. And as upset as we are, I still think (and I think that most fans still think) that reward is coming at some point.
Don’t make me change my mind.
Go Flyers. (Go you? Go you.)
Love (because I still know no other way),
Subject: RADIO WARS: 94 WIP Rides Eagles
Subject: California wildfires disrupt Rams practice schedule ahead of Eagles game
According to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez, the Rams will not practice on Wednesday due to poor air quality caused by the fires in Ventura Country. Instead, the team will hold a walk-through. More info:
Rams will gauge the air quality at the facility on Wednesday to decide whether they need to practice elsewhere on Thursday. And they pretty much have a place in mind if that's the case. A Wednesday walk-through, which will take place near their facility, isn't a big deal for them. That's what Wednesdays have basically become for them anyway, with several veterans taking rest days midweek. They're in pads on Thursdays. That's the big one for them.
Unlike the Rams, the Eagles’ schedule hasn’t been impacted by the wildfires. The Birds are lodging in Costa Mesa this week and practicing at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim. That’s well south of where the fires have taken place.
The #Eagles are practicing about 100 miles away from the Ventura County wildfires. This is something to watch, though. Santa Ana winds are causing fires across southern California. pic.twitter.com/BvlM7S5UtQ— Aaron Kasinitz (@AaronKazreports) December 6, 2017
After losing to the Seahawks, Doug Pederson and players alike mentioned that the Eagles haven’t had good weeks of practice leading up to their last two games. The team will be looking to correct those issues while away from their normal practice environment at the NovaCare Complex in South Philly. The Eagles decided they’d rather stay out on the West Coast than make four cross-country trips in the span of two weeks.
The Eagles and Rams are set to play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in L.A. on Sunday at 4:25 PM Eastern.
Below are some crazy scenes from the fires out west. Here’s hoping for everyone’s safety.
Los Angeles near the Getty Center looks like Mordor right now. pic.twitter.com/ET6f1gkmre— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) December 6, 2017
fire in Southern California pic.twitter.com/WrcypiotW9— Ram Bhakt -MARCOS (@dsanjeebkumar) December 6, 2017
Subject: Flyers at Oilers preview: Beardless in Edmonton
Last time was fun, let’s do it again, yeah?
It’s hockey night in Canada once again!
I mean, not the Hockey Night in Canada. But the Flyers are playing hockey. On this night. In Canada. Okay.
After finally snapping their winless streak on Monday, the Flyers—now 9-11-7—are set to square off against the Oilers tonight in Edmonton. If their last meeting was any indication of what the course of this game will look like, we can reasonably expect a lower-scoring affair, with Couturier and Laughton’s lines being most often deployed to shut down McDavid.
The Oilers are 11-14-2 and currently sit five points out of last place in the Pacific Division. Well-rested after their 7-5 defeat of the Flames on Saturday, the Oilers will look to (keep rolling with that momentum). They will have one of their more dangerous weapons iced in Leon Draisaitl, who was out with a concussion last time they met the Flyers, but will be without starting goaltender Cam Talbot. Laurent Brossoit, who allowed four goals in the third period of the game against Calgary, will get the start.
The Flyers, of course, will be looking to start out on a win streak. And what will we be looking for? I’m glad you asked.
1. More shots
It’s no secret that the Flyers’ win over the Flames wasn’t a particularly pretty one. Most simply put, if they want to increase this winning run, they have to start generating more chances. In Calgary, shot selection was working in their favor, but they were still outshot 45-21. And that’s not a performance you want to see them repeat.
But there may not be much cause for concern, on this front. The Flyers did well to outshoot their opponents in a number of games throughout the winless streak, even if the results weren’t necessarily there. Ideally, of course, they’ll look to find that perfect balance between quality and quantity of shots (but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves just yet).
2. Lineup shuffling
With the Flyers looking to get more or better offense sparked in Calgary, they once again changed up the forward groupings. We’ve seen them making small adjustments before, with little results, but this time it worked. Mostly. With the exception of the third line--who got positively thrashed by the numbers, but still showed some potential--these new arrangements looked pretty good. As of right now, it looks like the lines will remain the same, as the Flyers hope they can continue to produce.
But beyond the shuffling of the forward lines, more changes are at work. The Flyers announced this morning that Brandon Manning and Michal Neuvirth have been placed on injured reserve, with T.J. Brennan and Alex Lyon recalled from the Phantoms. Lyon will likely just serve as the backup, but there’s a chance Brennan may see some time on the ice, if not tonight then tomorrow.
3. Third period deployment
You had to know this was coming. It’s one of the only things we’ve been talking about since Saturday. For the last two games, the third period saw Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny all but stapled to the bench, and Monday’s game saw Travis Sanheim’s third period icetime cut, as well.
And while a case can be made for benching defensive liabilities while trying to protect a lead, this argument only holds up in the case of one of the past two games. So are we looking at a trend of the coach sitting these young players late in the game, whatever the situation? I certainly hope not, but tonight will tell.
Checking in with the models over at Corsica, they seem to be favoring the Oilers to win this one, giving the Flyers a high of 47.3 percent and an average of 42.9 percent chance of winning. But maybe they’ll surprise us.
Puck drops tonight at 9:30. You can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Konecny - Patrick - Weise
Leier - Laughton - Weal
Provorov - MacDonald
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Sanheim - Alt
Subject: FOX is moving their NFL Sunday studio show to the scene of the Eagles-Rams game
This is pretty cool.
The two top offenses in the NFL. NFC playoff picture implications. The top two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft going head to head: Carson Wentz versus Jared Goff. Two potential Coach of the Year candidates squaring off: Doug Pederson versus Sean McVay.
There’s no shortage of interest in this game.
As such, Sam Farmer of the LA Times reports FOX is actually moving their NFL Sunday show, which is usually shot in a studio, to the scene of the Eagles-Rams game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
NEWS on #Eagles-#Rams — FOX is so excited about keeping this NFC showdown and onetime flex candidate that network is moving its entire studio show Sunday to the front of the Coliseum to create a College Gameday environment.— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) December 6, 2017
It will be the main studio show — Howie, Michael, Jimmy, Terry — and they will be set up in front of the peristyle end of the Coliseum, where those headless statues are.— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) December 6, 2017
That’s pretty cool. Just another reminder that this weekend’s game is a big one.
If Philadelphia’s Week 4 game against the Los Angeles Chargers was any indication, there should be a good amount of Eagles fans at this week’s game. Those Eagles fans can make their presence felt by showing up to the pregame show before then invading the stands at the Coliseum.
It sure wouldn’t hurt the Birds to have some extra support on the road.