Subject: Leave Lonzo Ball Alone
Subject: Checking out the competition: The Vancouver Canucks with Kent Basky
Taking it back to the old school...
Welcome to the first throwback version of Checking Out the Competition for the season! Many, many years ago, before The Great Pivot To Video of 2k17, Broad Street Hockey used to exchange pre-game questions with our friends at the other SB Nation NHL hockey blogs via e-mail and we’d write all of those words here on this website. And people would read them. It was very quaint. We decided to take it back there for our preview of tonight’s Canucks game with our pal Kent Basky from Nucks Misconduct for fun artistic and nostalgic reasons (definitely NOT because of technical difficulties nope). Here we go:
BSH: The Canucks are sitting in the third spot in the Pacific, right ahead of San Jose and Calgary. How's the overall feeling around the Canucks at this point in the season? You guys happy with how things are going?
Kent: I think the overall mood of Canucks fans right now would have to be cautious optimism, tempered with the feeling that it's all going to fall apart. Since 2011, it's been a pretty harsh downward spiral, and this fan base has been clamoring for change. And with a new coach, and (some) of the youth movement getting their opportunity, we're beginning to see results. That being said, we haven't forgotten what division we're in, and know that an extended losing streak at any point could spell doom. The real question is what's the worst outcome: Missing the playoffs by a couple points, or making the playoffs? Is even moderate success hindering the attempts to rebuild (because they obviously don't have all the pieces yet). There are a lot of things to be happy about, though. Brock Boeser appears to be the real deal, and probably the first legitimate pure goal scorer this team's had since Pavel Bure. The Sedins are playing extremely well in a reduced roll. They're getting good goaltending from Jakob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson. The PP doesn't suck for the first time since 2011. The addition of Derrick Pouliot is starting to look like the Canucks fleeced the Penguins, and even Tomas Vanek's addition in the offseason has been far better than anticipated. But with the loss of Dorsett (more emotional than an actual on ice loss, as it's allowed the Canucks to get Nikolay Goldobin into the lineup) and a potential long term injury to Bo Horvat show that this team could just as easily be battling the Oilers for draft lottery supremacy. Also, screw the Oilers. How on earth can they be given all they have, and still not get it right. They make the case for AHL relegation look reasonable.
BSH: Speaking of the Pacific, the Golden Knights continue to be a thing, which still blows my mind. You guys have played them twice and they've beaten you both times; since you see them more than we do out here, do you think they're the real deal?
KB: I still don't know what to think. I mean, on the one hand, they've done incredibly well at home, and went through that ridiculous stretch of goalie injuries and it didn't stop them. Hell, they took Luca Sbisa and they're still in a playoff spot! But I think we need to stop looking at them as an expansion team, because there's never been an expansion team that was set up to succeed the way Vegas has. Whether you agree with it or not, the NHL changed the rules to ensure this team wasn't going to be like the Washington Capitals in their first season. They had to be a success for their own fans, and not just be a destination for opposing team fans looking for an excuse to go to Vegas. There's a lot of hockey to be played still, and we'll see how it all plays out.
BSH: Back to tonight's game: when we played you guys a few weeks back, it didn't go well for the Flyers. We were midway into our epic losing streak, Brock Boeser was all over the ice, Michal Neuvirth wasn't great for us, and the 'Nucks won 5-2. Is this a game that a Canucks fan is at all worried about?
KB: When you're a Canucks fan, you're worried about every game. They've won 3 in a row, including a win over the Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada, and a shutout against Carolina. A fan of another team might look at this game and think "Here's a great opportunity to go 4 straight". Canucks fans know this could be one of those games where they get embarrassed on home ice. I will say though I am not as fearful about it as I was before the Flyers beat Calgary. And, hey... thanks for that.
BSH: Speaking of, Boeser is the guy I'm most excited about watching when I catch a Canucks game, because he's preeeeeetttttty ridiculous. Any Flyers players you look forward to watching?
KB: I have always enjoyed watching Claude Giroux. Criminally underrated guy. Shane Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek are fun to watch, as is Wayne Simmonds (would love to see him in a Canucks jersey, honestly). And let's not forget the emotional return of the man we call Dutch Gretzky: Dale Weise. [I am laughing so hard right now —Ed.]
BSH: And finally, you guys are coming off a win over Carolina and a few days off, and the Flyers are on the tail end of a back-to-back out there in Western Canada. What are your overall predictions for this game?
KB: I think it depends on the results of two things: The game against the Oilers and Bo Horvat's MRI. This game has emotional letdown, Canucks style written all over it. Should be fun to watch, as games against the Flyers always are.
Be sure to get your coffee in today, Flyers fans, as tonight’s game doesn’t start until 10PM on the NBC Sports Network on television and on 97.5 on your FM radios. Let’s Go Flyers!
Subject: Flyers at Canucks preview: Closing out the Western Canadian swing
Our third and final edition of Flyers After Dark awaits.
Hey! Hey guys! You know what’s better than a game that starts at 9:30 at night?
A game that starts at 9:30 and then a game that starts at 10:00 the night after. Who needs to go to bed early?
The Flyers close out their Western Canadian swing tonight in Vancouver. After the ten-game losing streak, they’ve kicked off a newer and fresher streak, with back to back wins on the road for the first time in about a year. And that feels pretty neat.
If you haven’t totally blocked out the Flyers’ last meeting with the Canucks—which, you know, would be reasonable since it was dead in the middle of the ten-game losing streak—you’ll remember that the Flyers dropped that one 5-2. There were two empty net goals involved, so the suggested blowout wasn’t quite a blowout. But it was ugly.
The Canucks have hit a bit of a hot streak, as they sit at third in the division and are in the middle of a three-game win streak. They’re rested after their win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday, but will be without center Bo Horvat, who is estimated to be out for six weeks with a fractured foot. Horvat had been centering their top line, and has 20 points through these first 28 games.
Yesterday, I broke down three things to look for in the game against the Oilers, with two of them being issues or potential issues that needed fixing. And they fixed them.
So, welcome to my articles, the Hockey Team the Flyers. Let’s dig into three things to look for in tonight’s game.
1. Give Maddie one million dollars
No...? Fine. It was worth a shot.
1. Elliott’s strength has to hold
With Michal Neuvirth out for the next week or two, the onus of main goaltending has fallen even harder on Elliott’s shoulders. He’s been given the larger share of work to begin with, and deservedly so, but your backup shifting from “NHL backup” to “AHL backup turned inadvertent AHL starter,” and the defense in front of you consisting of an AHL lifer, two rookies, two veterans under the age of 25, and one Andrew MacDonald, your buffer starts to shrink. And that isn’t a knock on Lyon, who may well actually be a perfectly competent NHL backup, now that he’s up, but the team is still relying on Elliott, and he has to be good. The Flyers have finally begun to show that they can get something sparked, and they don’t necessarily need lights out goaltending, but they certainly need Elliott to show up.
2. Secondary scoring
Once upon a time, the Flyers were able to get this thing called secondary scoring going. It was a mystical time, before the losing streak, even, and we’ve been calling for its return for what feels like ages.
And, at long last, we have been rewarded. With Laughton, Simmonds, and Raffl breaking into the scoring conversation over the last few games, it seems the Flyers have finally solved the secondary scoring question. But if we know anything about this Flyers team, it’s that they’ve been streaky, to say the least. So have they found a permanent solution? Will they slip back into the old trend of the first line carrying the team’s scoring? Only time will tell.
3. Third line has to find its legs
While the shifts to the lines have led to some solid tangible results—namely that secondary scoring thing we just talked about—but it’s also left one line dragging behind. The line of Konecny-Patrick-Weise—third by the ordering but fourth by icetime—has been lagging behind. They’ve been, in short, not great. Against the Flames, they averaged an adjusted CF% of 14.7 percent at even strength, and 38.51 percent against the Oilers. And while the numbers from the Edmonton game still aren’t fantastic, they do mark an improvement, which isn’t nothing. To be sure, they’ve been defensively sheltered and their icetime has taken hits, but they may be taking steps in the right direction. The Flyers looked most dangerous early in the season when they were able to get all of the lines rolling, and this line getting established is the final step in the team getting back to that.
The models over at Corsica again seem to be against the Flyers, on this one, giving them an average of 48.5 percent chance of winning. Can they prove the models wrong two nights in a row? A girl can dream.
You can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below, and we’ll see you at 10 p.m. for our next edition of Flyers After Dark.
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Konecny - Patrick - Weise
Leier - Laughton - Weal
Provorov - MacDonald
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Alt - Sanheim
Subject: Darren Sproles say he
Darren Sproles doesn’t sound like he’s ready to retire.
The 34-year-old running back said he’s leaning towards returning to football in 2018.
“This year was going to be a big year for me. But I had torn my ACL and I broke my forearm, all in one play. For me to get back on the field, it’s going to be challenge. It’s going to be a lot of pain that goes in it. But I’m going to keep fighting until I reach my goal.”
“I don’t have to play next year, but I’m leading towards coming back. Like, I can’t end like this.”
This fits with what Sproles had to say right after he originally suffered his injuries back in late September.
It was originally thought that 2017 was going to be Sproles’ final season in the league, but he didn’t fully commit to that notion. Now it really sounds like he’s not done.
It remains to be seen if the Philadelphia Eagles would bring him back for 2018. Sproles is currently set to be a free agent, so he’ll need to sign a new contract in order to play next season.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are tight on cap space. So keeping Sproles, who turns 35 in July, might not be an easy decision for them.
Eagles running backs Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey are all currently under contract beyond this season. LeGarrette Blount, like Sproles, is set to be a free agent. Blount turned 31 earlier this week.
It would be great to see Sproles healthy and helping the Eagles win football games once again. That’s the way he deserves to go out — on top.
We’ll see if it happens.
(Hat tip to the Inquirer’s Zach Berman)
Subject: Eagles have what it takes to bounce back against the Rams
Subject: Shipping Update: Steady Does It
Subject: Report: Sixers Trading Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas
Subject: Saints vs. Falcons: How to watch Thursday Night Football
Everything you need to know.
Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season officially kicks off tonight. Including this one, only four more weeks remain in the regular season. How time flies.
As far as the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned, a Saints loss tonight is preferable. New Orleans losing would give the Eagles more breathing room in the NFC playoff picture.
A Falcons win is also bad for the playoff chances of the Seahawks, Cowboys, and Packers. One could argue the Eagles don’t want to see those teams in the playoffs (assuming Aaron Rodgers returns for Green Bay).
Find everything you need to know about tonight's game below.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Game time: 8:25 PM EST
Channel: NFL Network, CBS, Amazon Prime Video
Date: Thursday, December 7
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta, Georgia
Amazon Prime members can stream this game online.
New Orleans Saints +2 (-105)
Atlanta Falcons -2 (-115)
Over/under: 52 points
SB Nation Blogs
Saints - www.CanalStreetChronicles.com
Falcons - www.TheFalcoholic.com
Open thread: discuss Thursday's game in the comments below.
Subject: Trevor Booker, Jahlil Okafor, and a Trade that
Subject: Malcolm Jenkins selected as Eagles
Recognized for his impact in the community.
The annual award is designed to recognize “outstanding community service activities as well as excellence on the field.”
"I'm so proud to be the Philadelphia Eagles' nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award," Jenkins said via the team’s site. "I think it's important for athletes on any level, but especially pro athletes, to use their platform for more than themselves, more than the monetary gains, but to really make an impact."
In addition to being such a good and versatile defender, Jenkins has done a lot of great work off the field during his time with Philadelphia. Earlier this year, Jenkins was selected as the NFLPA’s Byron "Whizzer" White, which is the highest honor the player’s union can bestow on a player.
The Eagles haven't had a Walter Payton award winner since retired cornerback and current NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent took home the honor in 2002.
Jenkins, along with each of the 32 team nominees, will receive a donation from the NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. Two runner-ups will receive an additional donation, and the overall winner will receive an even bigger additional donation in his name.
Finalists will be announced in January 2018. The award winner will be announced during the annual NFL Honors awards show on February 3.
Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Zach Ertz returns to practice
Good news for the Birds.
The big news is that Zach Ertz returned to practice. He’s still officially in the league’s mandatory concussion protocol, despite the fact the team announced earlier that he had passed through.
Ertz was officially listed as “limited” in practice but he should be on track to play against the Rams this week. The Eagles could really use a strong game from their leading receiver on Sunday.
Backup defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao also returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday. He was full go.
Joe Walker was a full participant in practice for the second day in a row. It looks like he’s ready to return this week, which could mean Dannell Ellerbe will go back to being inactive. Ellerbe only played one snap against the Seahawks.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (THURSDAY)
TE Zach Ertz (concussion)
DE Derek Barnett (groin)
C Jason Kelce (ankle)
DT Destiny Vaeao (shoulder)
LB Joe Walker (neck)
LOS ANGELES RAMS INJURY REPORT (THURSDAY)
Official Rams injury report to be announced - check back for updates.
Subject: Flyers at Canucks lineups, start time, TV, radio, live stream and discussion
Could the Flyers actually sweep this Western Canada road trip?
Tonight’s game begins at 10:00 p.m. ET and can be:
- Seen locally via NBC Sports Philadelphia (or via stream on the NBC Sports App)
- Heard via radio locally on 93.3 WMMR
- Seen in Canada via Sportsnet Pacific
- Seen or heard elsewhere via NHL.tv, NHL Center Ice, or Sirius XM
No word on any potential changes in the back-to-back; we’ll guess that Brian Elliott will be in net for the second night in a row.
Projected Flyers lineup:
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Weise - Patrick - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Weal
Provorov - MacDonald
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Sanheim - Alt
Projected Canucks lineup (via):
D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Eriksson
Goldobin - Burmistrov - Boeser
Baertschi - Gagner - Vanek
Gaunce - Granlund - Virtanen
Edler - Pouliot
Del Zotto - Tanev
Hutton - Stecher
Subject: Eagles practice squad defensive tackle signs with Chiefs
And the Eagles already replaced him.
The 24-year-old Hamilton had a good summer with the Eagles before landing on Philadelphia’s practice squad. He was called up to the 53-man roster in October and appeared in three games before eventually being sent down to the practice squad.
Craig originally signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie following the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent the offseason with Philadelphia before being waived in final cuts.
Craig gives the Eagles some more depth on the defensive line. The Eagles had him line up at both defensive tackle and defensive end this summer.
For more background info on Craig, check out BGN’s profile on him from earlier this year.
Again, reliability and consistency. Also, some versatility, as he was also a standout on special teams with blocked kicks. Great work ethic. Often times saw him out on practice field either on his own or with one other teammate working on technique, quickness and skills. Seemed to be a quiet leader but was definitely a leader in the locker room and on the field – as would be indicated by being a two-time captain. Always seem to make his biggest plays in the biggest games, and at the key moments.
UPDATED LOOK AT THE 2017 EAGLES PRACTICE SQUAD
DT Winston Craig
C Jon Toth
CB DeVante Bausby
C/G Josh Andrews
TE Billy Brown
PRACTICE SQUAD INJURED LIST
Subject: NFC Playoff Picture: Saints loss to Falcons is good for Eagles
Top six seeds
1 - Minnesota Vikings: 10-2 overall, 8-1 conference (strength of victory tie-breaker over PHI)
2 - Philadelphia Eagles: 10-2 overall, 8-1 conference
3 - Los Angeles Rams: 9-3 overall, 6-3 conference (direct tie-breaker over NO)
4 - New Orleans Saints: 9-4 overall, 7-3 conference
5 - Seattle Seahawks: 8-4 overall, 6-3 conference
6 - Carolina Panthers: 8-4 overall, 4-4 conference
In the hunt
7 - Atlanta Falcons: 8-5 overall, 7-2 conference
8 - Detroit Lions: 6-6 overall, 5-4 conference (direct tie-breaker over GB, common games tie-breaker over DAL)
9 - Green Bay Packers: 6-6 overall, 5-4 conference (direct tie-breaker over DAL)
10 - Dallas Cowboys: 6-6 overall, 5-4 conference
The Saints losing helps the Eagles in several ways.
First, it gives the Eagles less competition in their hunt for a first-round bye. More breathing room for the Birds. If the Eagles beat the Rams on Sunday (no small task), Philly should be in in great shape to land ones of the top two seeds in the 2018 NFL playoffs. The Eagles would be up two games on both the Saints and Rams with only three weeks remaining. Plus the Eagles would have a head-to-head tie-breaker over L.A.
Meanwhile, the Falcons’ win is bad news for several other teams in the playoff hunt. If I’m the Eagles, I’m glad there’s now more pressure on Seattle to keeping winning. Atlanta has a direct tie-breaker over them. I’d also be glad there’s less of a chance the Packers get Aaron Rodgers back and somehow get in as a wild card. I’d also also be glad the Cowboys’ playoff hopes got even slimmer.
Getting help is always nice. Speaking of, the Eagles can actually officially clinch the NFC East on Sunday before they even play if the Giants beat the Cowboys. A Vikings loss to the Panthers could also allow Philly to get back to the No. 1 seed.
But ultimately the Eagles need to help themselves and get back on track after losing in Seattle last Sunday.
Beat the Rams and the Eagles are in good shape.
Subject: Flyers 3, Canucks 1: Western Canada is now Flyers property
The Flyers’ response to their lengthy losing streak continued tonight, as they finished out a three-game sweep of their Western Canada road trip.
I mean, come on, we all knew on Monday when this stretch of games began that it’d be a three-game sweep for the Flyers, right? That’s just how teams roll when they’ve lost 10 games in a row?
No? Well, it’s certainly how this team has decided to roll.
Another fantastic showing from the Michael Raffl - Valtteri Filppula - Jakub Voracek line led the way for the Flyers, Brian Elliott was excellent for the second straight night, and the Flyers slammed the door on Western Canada with a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The win was their third straight victory following the brutal 10-game losing streak that lasted for most of November.
You can re-live the final #FlyersAfterDark of the season (no more late starts after tonight!), courtesy of my minute-by-minute thoughts, below.
9:50 p.m.: So are they really gonna do this? After patiently waiting four weeks between wins, is this team really gonna sweep a 3-games-in-4-days swing out in Western Canada? Am I getting ahead of myself by asking that question? Why am I asking all of these questions?
Coming out and pulling together a second straight strong performance on the tail end of a back-to-back is never easy. But last night’s game was the best the Flyers have played since around Thanksgiving, and Vancouver is pretty bad. (Yes, I see their record, but, like ... come on. Look at that team.) So we’ll see how this one goes.
9:57 p.m.: The Raffl-Filppula-Voracek line and Provorov-MacDonald will be out to start this one. Given the praise that those units have received in the past couple of games, that should come as little surprise.
10:09 p.m.: We’re underway in #FlyersAfterDark for the final time this season.
10:10 p.m.: Iffy start there for the Flyers, as Provorov clears it right to a Canuck to set up a chance and then someone else loses his man in front to give them another one. Both just missed, but Vancouver’s got the better of the first couple shifts.
10:12 p.m.: And it’s not getting any better yet, as Jordan Weal (in his homecoming of sorts) is called for slashing.
10:15 p.m.: Penalty is done, but not by way of any particularly good penalty killing from anyone other than Brian Elliott. Good start to him on the second half of the back-to-back; hopefully he’s able to stay alert through the rest of the game.
10:18 p.m.: A 2-on-1 for Vancouver is slowly-developing-enough that Elliott is able to get over to shut down our old pal Sam Gagner, but the bad start continues for the Flyers. Vancouver has outshot the Flyers 9-0 through these first seven minutes. Elliott seems to have his legs under him; when will the skaters find theirs?
10:20 pm.: The Flyers have a shot! A half-decent one, at that, one that Markstrom has to slide around a bit on the ice to wrangle. More, please.
10:27 p.m.: A little more back-and-forth in that part of the period, and now the Flyers will head to the power play for the first time tonight as Alex Edler hooked Couturier. A goal here would go a ways toward erasing the bad taste from those first few minutes
10:29 p.m.: So do people actually think that power plays/penalty kills are significantly better on the road/at home? Just asking, because the broadcast crew is here talking about how much better the Flyers’ PP is on the road this year, and I have no idea if they actually think it’s tactically/systemically better or if they just think it’s a fun fact. Seems like a random thing to me. What do I know, though.
10:31 p.m.: No goals on that power play despite some solid pressure by both the first and the second unit. After the Canucks got the first nine shots on goal of the evening, the Flyers now have the next nine.
10:34 p.m.: And now the Flyers will head right back to the power play. A high-stick by Daniel Sedin, as Couturier (who miiiiiight have sold that one a little bit, though it was certainly still a legitimate penalty) draws his second penalty of the period and the Flyers will get their second shot at the man-advantage.
10:35 p.m.: Ghost from downtown! Or it’s deflected! Not sure! 1-0 Flyers.
10:36 p.m.: It was indeed deflected, but it appears it’ll remain Ghost’s goal
SCORES! 1-0 FLYERS! pic.twitter.com/8hEunxSCPA— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
10:37 p.m.: Things have taken little time to pick back up following that opening tally. Good chances on both ends of the ice in the minute or so since.
10:39 p.m.: Laughton is down on the ice following a very awkward collision. Goes for a hit on Troy Stecher near the boards, misses, and his face lands right on the referee’s hip. He’s up now, but is heading off the ice and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s not seen again tonight.
Scott Laughton collided with the referee, was down for a min, walked into the locker room. Expect an update soon. pic.twitter.com/FnV3zwMOq4— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
10:43 p.m.: A little bit too much action in the Flyers’ end in the past couple of minutes, as Elliott’s been forced to bring back his early-period self in making a couple of scrambling saves.
10:45 p.m.: Fortunately we likely won’t see that again this period, as the Flyers will head to the power play with 2:01 left in the frame. Alex Edler is off for the second time tonight.
10:47 p.m.: That ... was not a good power play. But it does mark the end of the first period. Flyers will head in up 1-0; shots were 15-12 Canucks in the frame.
10:55 p.m.: Do you remember that game against Vancouver a couple of years ago where Bill Clement, for whatever reason, spent an entire intermission just ripping Vancouver and the Canucks and their arena and their fans? That was entertaining. (I have nothing against Vancouver. I’m sure it’s lovely.)
11:06 p.m.: We’re back at it as the second period starts.
11:06 p.m.: And it’s a goal! Michael Raffl appears to have done it again! 2-0, the Flyers.
11:07 p.m.: That ... is not a goal that Jacob Markstrom is going to want many people to see. Yeesh. Nice pass by Jake to get it on Raff’s tape, though.
LISTEN. MICHAEL RAFFL BABY! HE'S OUR BABY! pic.twitter.com/b3MZEkjcMr— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
11:14 p.m.: Scott Laughton is back on the ice, by the way. Great to see.
11:18 p.m.: Raffl threatens again after some Canucks zone time, as he takes the shot on a 2-on-1 with Voracek but is snuffed out by Markstrom.
11:25 p.m.: Giroux is tackled by Sven Baertschi in the faceoff circle and the Flyers hit the power play for the fourth time tonight.
11:27 p.m.: Ooooooooooooooooooooooh that’s a classic Giroux power play snipe. 3-0 Flyers.
11:28 p.m.: This is some straight-out-of-2012 stuff right here. Claude Giroux being really good again is fun.
CAPTAIN CLAUDE SCORES!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
3-0 FLYGUYS pic.twitter.com/7KxdGwTnja
11:28 p.m.: Welp, when you get four power plays in half of a game, the refs are gonna be watching you. Vancouver will get its chance when we come back from the break as Leier is called for slashing.
11:30 p.m.: As the NBCS Philly broadcast just informed us, Jakub Voracek currently leads the NHL in assists. The entire NHL. That’s cool.
11:33 p.m.: Pretty solid penalty kill for the Flyers, as Vancouver wasn’t able to get much going until there were about 40 seconds left on it. Nice save by Elliott on Gagner at one point.
11:35 p.m.: Some drama in front of Elliott as Vancouver’s getting some pressure going in the Flyers end annnnnnnnnd it’s now stopping as the Canucks are called for too many men on the ice. So that’s how they were able to keep the puck in like that. Cheaters.
11:40 p.m.: That was not a particularly strong power play. Flyers led it with the second unit, probably in an effort to get them going in what’s slowly becoming a bit of a low-risk game. (It didn’t work.)
11:44 p.m.: And that was probably inevitable. Vancouver’s been testing Elliott for much of these first 40 minutes, Elliott loses track of the puck after an initial save, Boeser beats Hagg to the rebound, and it’s 3-1 with 19 seconds left in the second period. That’s a buzzkill.
11:46 p.m.: Hmm. Dave Hakstol is challenging this for goaltender interference. On replay, Sven Baertschi’s stick is clearly being held above Elliott’s blocker arm, right above which Boeser fired that puck. Not a bad challenge, solid risk to take. Let’s see what they say.
11:48 p.m.: Goal call stands after a lengthy review. Meh. Not surprising. 3-1 Canucks after two periods. Much more to like from the team in orange that period, but Vancouver has controlled far more of this game than they probably should have. You’ve got four days off after this one; no reason not to go all out in this third period.
11:57 p.m.: Through two periods, overall shots are 28-17 Vancouver, while shots at 5-on-5 are 16-10 Canucks.
12:08 a.m.: Third period is underway, and Henrik Sedin threatens Elliott in close just 68 seconds into the period as a couple of guys in orange lose sight of the puck. Gonna be one of those periods, huh.
12:11 a.m.: Weal gets a partial breakaway in on Markstrom after Gagner runs into his own guy along the boards in his zone. Hey, we never accused Sam Gagner of being very good defensively.
12:13 a.m.: The more you know: according to the broadcast crew, the Flyers have the best record in Rogers Arena of any visiting team in the NHL. Good omen?
12:17 a.m.: Adventures in goaltending! Markstrom leaves his crease and gets tied up with Scott Laughton next to his net, but no one’s there to take advantage. Seconds later, at the opposite end of the ice, Brian Elliott kind of just falls down chasing down the puck, but again, the Flyers are there to clean it up before it becomes dangerous.
12:21 a.m.: Man, Voracek and Raffl are good tonight. Nice shot by Jake is stopped by Markstrom.
12:24 a.m.: Gah. Great play towards his own blue line by Simmonds is quickly flipped into a 2-on-1 by Couturier and Giroux, but G’s pass is cut off. Flyers are pushing a bit now, content to not sit back while up 2.
12:26 a.m.: Hectic sequence continues up until a shot is blocked out of play. Flyers still up by 2 with under 8 minutes left on the road trip (hopefully).
12:29 a.m.: Filppula, while screaming* “I AM NO THIRD WHEEL ON THIS LINE!”, pushes the puck up-ice and starts an odd-man rush with Raffl and Voracek. Raffl just pushes it through the crease, but a penalty is called (on Edler, for the third time this evening) and the Flyers will get a great chance with 6:40 left to play some keepaway at worst and widen the lead at best.
*Filppula may not have actually screamed this.
12:33 a.m.: Efforts to play keepaway have not been particularly successful, as Vancouver has actually had two semi-rushes and an offensive zone faceoff during this Flyers power play. Not great! But the penalty comes and goes. Four and a half left in this one.
12:37 a.m.: Every single time something good happens to the Flyers tonight it’s that Filppula line. They just had another odd-man chance that didn’t go. And then the pressure from that entry turns into a solid chance from the slot for Robert Hagg to score his first NHL goal, but Markstrom shuts that down as well.
12:40 a.m.: Canucks, with the extra attacker, just miss out on a Sven Baertschi goal that would’ve cut that lead in half.
12:41 a.m.: And that’ll do it! For the second night in a row, Wayne Simmonds slams the empty-net goal home, following a great defensive play in the neutral zone by — who else? — Michael Raffl. The Flyers will sweep this Western Canada road trip, less than a week after losing their 10th consecutive game. This sport is so stupid.
12:42 a.m.: Elliott makes one last strong save for good measure. Can’t possibly ask for more out of him than what he gave the Flyers tonight, on a back-to-back. 4-1 is your final, and the Flyers will get four days off before heading back on to the ice next Tuesday against Toronto. (With 100 percent more Radko Gudas at that point, too!) Go Flyers.
Subject: Eagles News: Jason Peters is still helping the Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 12/8/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
The Eagles Have Held It Together on the O-Line, With Some Help From Jason Peters - Sports Illustrated
Seattle has a disruptive defensive front, and the offensive line had the added challenge of playing in one of the NFL’s noisiest venues. The Eagles offense used a silent count, triggering the snap through signals relayed from Wentz to right guard Brandon Brooks to center Jason Kelce. Keeping one eye on the signal coming through the guard on the opposite side of the line and the other on the defensive end is no small task. (Noise will not be an issue this week, in front of a Los Angeles crowd that is likely to have more Eagles fans than Rams fans.) No matter the circumstances, though, Vaitai was disappointed in his performance. So he sought out Peters, who told him to calm down, first of all. “He says, ‘You look like you are all over the place, but that’s easily fixable,’ ” Vaitai says. “It was just all technique. [Clark’s] job is to get through me, and my job is to block him. I’m making it hard on myself, because I am doing a lot of things. Sometimes, I go off [course]. Because of nerves; I don’t know. But J.P. always says, trust the process. You are still young, and you don’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t make them.”
The Eagles have what it takes to bounce back - BGN
The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #283). In this episode, we preview the Eagles vs. Rams game in Week 14, analyze key matchups, playoff implications, and much more.
Brandon Brooks: We need to start faster and execute vs. Rams - PhillyVoice
I have to give credit to Jason [Peters] himself. Although he had torn his ACL, you saw when he came off the field he was coaching up V [left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai]. He was thinking about helping the next guy, so he could perform to the best of his ability. He still comes around the locker room. He’s still that same leader, that same force when he was around. That’s how we kept pushing.
Good Vibes - Iggles Blitz
As frustrating as it was to re-watch the Seattle game (at boy was it ever), it did feel good to come away knowing that the loss was on the Eagles. The team blew chance after chance. They should have easily scored 20 more points. The problem is that they just kept making mistakes at the worst time. The result was a 24-10 loss. When you study a game and see that your team had no chance…that the other team just overwhelmed you, that makes things easy in a sense. You just weren’t good enough. You can accept that. Figuring out how to get better is the tricky part. Does that mean the current players developing over time or waiting until the offseason to get better players? Carson Wentz played poorly in Seattle. Clearly the Eagles don’t need a new QB. They just need Wentz to play better. They need him to play to the level he’s played almost the whole year. That’s a good problem to have. It is easy to get caught up in the result from Sunday night. Some people want to wipe out the previous 11 games (10-1) and act as if that was the whole season. This isn’t college football. That was just a bump in the road. The Eagles are still good. Damn good.
NFL Week 14 Preview: Eagles at Rams - PFF
QB Jared Goff vs. Eagles Pass Rush – Goff currently owns the sixth-highest passer rating on dropbacks under pressure since Week 8 with an 88.8. In that same time, Goff is one of only two quarterbacks to have at least four touchdowns and zero interceptions under pressure, the other being Carson Wentz. With the Eagles defense generating pressure at the highest rate in the league (42 percent of pass plays) and the most pressures overall (285), Goff will be tested on his ability to get the ball out and make quick decisions. Two of the Rams’ losses this season have come in games where Goff has been pressured on 36 percent or more of his dropbacks, making his performance under pressure all the more important.
Contender kryptonite: Biggest weaknesses on NFL's top 14 teams - ESPN
This exercise is virtually futile for the Eagles, who are the most balanced team in football and don't appear to have an obvious weakness. They rank in the top eight in both passing and rushing offense and defense DVOA and are 10th on special teams. They're fourth in DVOA at defending short passes and long passes. They run efficiently and generate big plays. They rarely turn over the ball, and they force plenty of giveaways. To be fair, Vaitai has looked better in this second season as a regular filling in for a missing star on the Philadelphia offensive line. Vaitai was posting up at right tackle for the suspended Lane Johnson in 2016; this season, he's lining up at left tackle for the injured Jason Peters.
Offense Hones In On Return To 2017 Form - PE.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. – There has been no panic, no revamping of the approach, and no loss of confidence for an offense that took a left turn on Sunday night in Seattle, managing just 10 points in a loss to the Seahawks. Instead, the Eagles fully expect quarterback Carson Wentz and Co. to get back on the right track Sunday at Los Angeles by doing what they do, with better execution.
The NFL's Wokest Team Faces Ultimate Test of Its Resolve on and off the Field - B/R
The Eagles have made it all look easy this year: winning games, changing the world and having fun doing it. The NFL's most overtly, unapologetically activist team is out to prove that it's possible to win a Super Bowl while fighting for causes and sticking it to the "stick to sports" crowd once and for all. "We are trying to do things the right way both on and off the field," receiver Torrey Smith said. But the NFL's Woke Warriors now face their toughest tests yet: a challenging late-season schedule and rebellion among the NFL's social-justice advocates. The Eagles have a chance not only to bring Philadelphia its first NFL championship in 57 years, but also to turn the Super Bowl into a megaphone for social change.
Eagles have concerns this week, but Carson Wentz isn't one of them - Daily News
Linebacker Nigel Bradham seemed amused that anyone would think that last week’s first half, in which Wentz passed for 45 yards, and his subsequent two costly turnovers, would be cause for concern as Wentz faces a defense that ranks fifth in the league in quarterback rating – allowing a 77.3 average, negligibly higher than the Eagles defense’s fourth-ranked 77.0. “It’s Carson Wentz!” Bradham said. “He made tremendous plays in that game, to definitely give us chances to win that game. We got a great quarterback.”
Carson Wentz on verge of breaking NFL's oldest team TD record - NBC Sports Philadelphia
As Carson Wentz becomes the latest to challenge Jurgensen’s mark, this a great chance to put into perspective just exactly what Christian Adolph "Sonny" Jurgensen III accomplished back in 1961 and marvel at just how long his record has stood. Jurgensen, the Eagles' fourth-round draft pick out of Duke in 1957, barely played his first four years. He backed up Bobby Thomason as a rookie, although he did go 3-1 in four starts, and then he backed up Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin in 1958, 1959 and in the 1960 NFL Championship season.
FAQ on the Eagles' playoff scenarios going into Week 14 - The Athletic
Can the Eagles do anything to gain the tiebreak advantage over the Vikings? Yes. There are a couple ways actually. One is to overtake the Vikings in terms of conference records. Both teams are 8-1 in conference. The Vikings face the Panthers, Packers and Bears the rest of the way (NFC opponents). The Eagles face the Rams, Giants and Cowboys. If the Eagles can make up a game there, they'll have the tiebreak. If both teams tie in terms of conference record, it will come down to common opponents. The Eagles can overtake the Vikings with this tiebreak if they beat the Rams and the Vikings lose to the Panthers. If those two things happen, the Eagles would clinch the “common opponents” tiebreak this weekend.
For Philadelphia Eagles, roommates, bobbleheads and slick field keep California stay interesting - PennLive
For a 240-pound linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles defensive linchpin Nigel Bradham has a toothy, goofy grin. He showed it off Wednesday in the Angel Stadium locker room when he was discussing the rooming situation at the team's hotel in Costa Mesa, California, this week. Bradham was one of the players designated to have a roommate on road trips last year, often sleeping a few feet away from another young linebacker. But this season, things have changed. Bradham's included in the group of veterans who get their own rooms, and that's a coveted luxury as the Eagles (10-2) continue a rare week-long stay in the Los Angeles area to prepare for Sunday's game against the Rams (9-3). "It's great," Bradham said as that smile formed. "I'm a vet now. I had roommates last year -- and I was mad."
Long journey pits Eagles defensive end Chris Long against his former team, the Rams - LA Times
From the start of his NFL career, when the St. Louis Rams made him the second pick in the 2008 draft, Chris Long has had fame, fortune and something else. A gnawing belief there was more to life than this. “He’s always been an old soul,” said his father, Howie, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman for the Raiders and a football commentator for the last two-plus decades. “He had a real definitive sense of right and wrong, an understanding that there are people who are less fortunate. Early in his career, I remember him calling me one night and he was talking about wanting his life to have an impact, wanting his life to have a meaning.”
Los Angeles Rams vs Philadelphia Eagles: Q&A with Bleeding Green Nation - Turf Show Times
Getting the inside info from Bleeding Green Nation, the SB Nation community for Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Which NFL teams can clinch playoff spots in Week 14? - SB Nation
The Patriots, Eagles, Steelers, and Vikings all have win-and-in situations.
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Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: We
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
* Three wins in a row! Did you sleep through this one, too? We understand. RECAP!
*It seems like another expansion team is on the horizon for the NHL: [TSN]
Subject: A closer look at why Mack Hollins deserves more playing time
Mack, the knife?
The Eagles enter Week 14 with the best scoring offense in the league. And there’s room for improvement. As good as the Eagles passing attack has been—only one other team, the Patriots, have three players with at least 5 touchdown catches, and the Eagles trio of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Zach Ertz have 7 each—the team doesn’t have a reliable second option on the outside. Torrey Smith was supposed to provide that, but he hasn’t. His speed has worked as a floor spacing presence, but he hasn’t been productive in his last seven games or a deep threat in his last seven games. An upgrade is in order, and the Eagles don’t have to look far: Mack Hollins has been more productive than Smith when given the chance.
Hollins has been thrown to just 14 times this season. 13 if you want to be really specific, as he ran a wrong route on one and wasn’t throw at or to, he was just the intended receiver. Of the passes where he has run the correct route and been thrown the ball, he’s caught all of them. It’s a very small sample size, but it’s been an effective one. On half the catches Smith has, he has two thirds the yards of Smith. In one third the playing time, Hollins has over two thirds the production:
Smith has played 65% of snaps. He has 10% of the team’s receiving yards.
Hollins has played 22% of snaps. He has 7% of the team’s receiving yards.
Beyond just the yardage total, he’s been more productive on a micro level. 7 of Hollins’ 13 catches have gone for at least 10 yards, while only 11 of Smith’s 27 catches have. 8 of Hollins’ receptions have gone for a first down or touchdown, the same as Smith.
On first down, Hollins has been targeted 7 times and caught all 7, 3 have resulted in 1st downs, the other four set up 2nd and short (4 yards or less). Smith has been targeted 18 times on first down, with 6 incomplete, 3 resulting in a 1st down, and 7 in 2nd and short. Not all of those are his fault, Carson Wentz’s early season struggles with the deep ball directly effected Smith.
As the season has progressed, Smith has played less, in the first four weeks of the season he played a low of 71% of snaps, from then through the Bears game he played a high of 66%. Last week against the Seahawks he played 77%, the second highest rate of the season for him, and his 5 catches totaled a paltry 29 yards.
But Hollins hasn’t seen a real increase in playing time. His only games with more than 25% of snaps were blowout wins against the Broncos, Bears, and 49ers, in all other games he’s played less than 25% of snaps. An increase in playing time has to come at the expense of someone, and further decreasing Smith’s role is warranted. In his last four games, Smith has 13 catches, for 98 yards and a touchdown. He’s simply not getting the job done.
Hollins’ absurd catch rate is unsustainable, but the bar he needs to clear is Smith’s recent play, which is doing more harm than good. Smith was a worthwhile gamble in the offseason, but unless he suddenly turns it around, he won’t be on the team in 2018.
Hollins has a future on the Eagles. Perhaps it is nothing more than a role player and key special teamer (he’s 5th on the Eagles in special teams snaps). If so, that’s fine, you need depth in the NFL, and Hollins has so far filled out the role he was drafted for. There’s little downside to seeing what more playing time for Hollins can do for the Eagles offense. If this offense can find yet another gear during the rest of December, it could be lethal in January.
Subject: Your Friday Morning Roundup
Subject: Flyers 4, Canucks 1: What we learned from a western Canada sweep
Observations, #FlyersAfterDark edition.
So obviously right off the bat, this game looks like a PDO-fest for the Flyers and they lucked into a win. Truth be told, they definitely got a bit lucky in this one and goaltender Brian Elliott bailed them out for essentially the entire night. But what did the Flyers do well in this game? And what did they do poorly?
Starting off, it looks like the decision to put Jakub Voracek with Valtteri Filppula and Michael Raffl is genius. Raffl was everywhere last night, breaking up passes, retrieving loose pucks along the boards, and finally scoring a goal deflecting a Voracek pass by Jacob Markstrom. At first glance, it looked as though that line would not be able to produce much in terms of goals, the trio is proving that wrong quickly.
The pairing of Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald had a solid game as well (I know, I’m just as shocked as you are). Their raw CF% totals don’t bode well but after adjusting for score and venue, Provorov was almost at 49% and MacDonald at 48%. Still not a great outing for the duo, but considering how often they were faced with a defensive zone start, I’d be encouraged. Provorov also was second on the team tonight in expected goals-for, another positive sign for the 20 year old.
Another positive came in the form of one Shayne Gostisbehere, sticking it to his haters with a power play goal and putting together a great game in the xGF% department with the lowest xGA of 0.10. Meanwhile his partner Robert Hagg came in with the fourth highest xGA of 0.86 which leads us to the negatives from this one.
The third line went missing again late in the second period and for most of the third. Unsurprisingly since all three had extremely poor games based off of their possession stats. Dale Weise had just one corsi for, ONE WHOLE UNBLOCKED SHOT ATTEMPT. I understand not wanting to move Patrick up in the lineup but at the very least, get him away from the train-wreck that is Weise.
The next comes as a positive and negative, in the form of last night’s heatmap. While the Flyers still generated most of their chances from the home plate area —the Canucks were able to do the same — and at a higher volume.
In the previous two games vs Calgary and Edmonton, the Flyers kept their opposition to the outside for the majority of the night, a key cog in their wins. Last night however the Flyers were allowing way too many chances in front of Elliott and it took an almost perfect performance from him, to escape with the win.
1. Brian Elliott was superhuman
At least when they got outshot by Calgary, most of their shots were coming from the outside which made Elliott’s night a hell of a lot easier. Tonight however, showcased how hot the 32-year old netminder has been over the course of this three game win streak. Not only did he help the Flyers secure their third win in a row, he won his 200th game of his career. That moves him into a tie with Patrick Lalime for 86th all-time in NHL history — which sure doesn’t sound like much — but for where Elliott’s career was when he went to St. Louis back in 2011? This has to be pretty cool for him.
2. Michael Raffl: actually good!
Despite a slow start to the season in the point category, Michael Raffl was lighting up the metrics scorecard. Consistently over 50% CF and driving play on quite possibly the best fourth line in hockey with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier. Now, in an expanded role on the third line with Voracek and Filppula, Raffl has come alive on the scoresheet with five goals in his last eight games. He’s only scored more than ten goals twice in his NHL career, a 21 goal season in 2014-15 playing alongisde Giroux and Voracek, and a 13 goal season the following year. He’s got five in 29 games so far this year, so it looks like he’ll be able to reach that plateau once again.
3. The turtling needs to stop
I understand the concept of, “hey, we have a lead and we don’t wanna give it up, so let’s play conservative!”. Obviously if you’re the head coach, you don’t want your team taking too many risks that can lead to odd-man rushes and possibly goals. However I think there’s a way to do this without going to the ultra-conservative route that Dave Hakstol goes. While I liked the few chances they took in the third period, the end of the second leading to the lone Vancouver goal draws my ire. At the end of the second it was obvious, they were just playing to get to the end of the period. So what happened? Brock Boeser scores with 19.4 seconds left and the Canucks trimmed the lead to two.
4. Power play looked strong
They sure got plenty of practice at the very least. The Flyers had six power plays in this game, and although they only scored on two of them, they looked dangerous on just about all of them. There was solid puck movement, good play setups, and overall decent shot selection. The zone entries on the man advantage were especially strong, leading to most of the quality chances.
5. Poor Scott Laughton
Scott Laughton collided with the referee, was down for a min, walked into the locker room. Expect an update soon. pic.twitter.com/FnV3zwMOq4— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
I mean ... I’ll give you an A for effort Scotty. But seriously, why did NBCSP make this their fearless play of the game? Who made that call?
All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.hockey