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Welcome to the mess, Carter Hart:
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) December 17, 2018
Anthony Stolarz is out 2-4 weeks with a lower body injury, because of course he is. Alex Lyon was loaned to Lehigh Valley, so it looks like Hart and Michael Neuvirth are the active goaltenders for tomorrow.
I imagine this news will deflect from the maybe-not-impending-but-ultimately-inevitable firing of Dave Hakstol. The Flyers return home to play the Red Wings tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Here’s what Russ says about the move, since I know very little about ice hockey:
“Carter Hart is only 20 years old. Former GM Ron Hextall, current GM Chuck Fletcher, and team president Paul Holmgren have all intimated that it’s likely too early to bring up a kid with minimal pro experience this early in his career, but here we are. The team obviously has no faith in Neuvy’s ability in net or his ability to stay healthy. Alex Lyon hasn’t established himself in the few opportunities he’s been given. Brian Elliott might very well be having season-ending surgery. Anthony Stolarz is on IR. In a way, Hextall’s failure to acquire a legitimate goalie forced his successor’s hand.
I don’t think Hart’s ready, and bringing him into this toxic environment could have catastrophic ramifications. Add in the struggles of most defensemen, and a group of forwards with a propensity to cheat for a breakaway rather than get back to check in the defensive zone, and this is a recipe for failure. On a positive note, Hart posted his first professional shutout in a 1-0 win over Hershey on December 7th. He is on a four-game winning streak (1.25 GAA, .957 save percentage) and has a 9-4-2 record as the starter. We’ll have to see if he can transcend this team’s woeful start.”
Like I said, we’re not done, YET! pays out $100 on $220.
Video after the jump. Continue Reading
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Douglas D. Pederson – the D stands for… – was positioned for a classic post-game speech last night that harkened back to the bygone days of… earlier this year… and what we were treated to was his inner Stone Cold Steve Austin. GIMME.
Omg Doug came in the locker room last night like Stone Cold yelling gimme a hell yeah pic.twitter.com/kkQLQ1z4fL
— Jeff McDevitt (@JeffMcDev) December 17, 2018
To say I can’t wait for the full video would be like saying
a bear shits in the woods some random neighbor’s dog keeps taking a dump on my sidewalk– it’s an empirically true statement.
If I’m setting odds, I have it at -220 that Pederson dropped his classic We’re not done, YET! somewhere in this speech. All of the feels are rushing back into the my veins, which are now visible in all regions. This feels so familiar*, so safe.
*You know what else feels familiar? Doug Pederson being a betting coach than Sean McVay– he’s beaten him two times now in his own house (temporarily squatted upon by Birds fans) and, you know, he also won the Super Bowl. The media is turning itself inside out to tell you about how the debonair McVay remembers his own plays, while truly inventive offensive coaches like Pederson and Matt Nagy have just put him in his place.
Turns out a healthy Nick Foles is better than an injured Carson Wentz.
Shocking, I know.
That should really be the extent of the “Foles vs. Wentz” argument that will stink up social media and sports radio this week. One guy is healthy, one guy is not. THEREFORE – at this current moment in time, I’m gonna roll with the healthy Super Bowl MVP. It seems pretty straightforward to me, but unfortunately we’re just gonna have to deal with the frothy nothing-burger quarrels for the next seven days.
I’ll tell ya what; that was the first Eagles game I enjoyed watching this year, at least for three quarters. They moved the ball up and down the field, they played aggressive and nasty defense, and I swear I saw glimpses of the 2017 squad out there.
This, of course, begs the question –
Where was this Eagles team against the Buccaneers, Titans, Vikings, Panthers, Cowboys, Saints, and Cowboys?
Surely the quarterback change was not the sole catalyst for the win, right? Nick Foles did play the first two games this season, and he wasn’t exactly Joe Montana against the Falcons or Bucs. The banged-up defense was lights out for 3+ quarters last night as guys like Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc made big plays. Did they miraculously transform into legitimate NFL starters overnight?
Gut feeling: the Eagles still believed in themselves while the Rams believed they were going to trash a 6-7 team in a rebound game coming off a bad loss. It’s the same underdog mentality that got the Birds a Super Bowl ring last year. “No one likes us, we don’t care” was the rallying cry then, but this year it’s more, “No one thinks we have a prayer, and we probably don’t, but we’re gonna at least go down swinging.” Maybe we can get that on a T-shirt.
I’ve been totally unenthusiastic about this team and actually mostly ambivalent over the past three or four weeks, so I won’t flip flop here and tell you how excited I am going forward. That would be the Skip Bayless thing to do, to just hop back on the bandwagon. I’m still skeptical that a banged-up Eagles team does much of anything in the playoffs, but at least they’ve given themselves a chance at 9-7 and a postseason return after slogging through a mostly miserable title defense in 2018.
Very few people (Kyle) thought the Eagles could pull off the upset against the Rams, despite the Eagles having a ton of players on IR and no Carson Wentz due to a fractured vertebra. But somehow they did. And Nick Foles returned to his form from a year ago despite the Birds being a 13.5 point underdog for a 30-23 shocker of a victory in LA. It was Philly’s largest upset win since 1995.
He went 24-of-31 for 270 yards and an interception, which doesn’t look like anything special. But that’s why you watch games and not look at boxscores. It was the second time the Birds scored at least 30 points all year.
Kevin will have more with his takeaways later this morning. But for now, enjoy it.
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I gotta say, I’m 1000% looking forward this week, the week prior to Christmas no less, to a city inhabited by people wearing Nick Foles jerseys and ski masks. Just a suggestion–maybe stay away from Amazon packages.
After 12 games spent mostly sitting on its heels with opposing offenses dictating play, the Eagles’ defense decided it needed a new mentality and something to rally around before last week’s game against the Cowboys. Maybe a prop, something that played off last year’s unexpected title run? Like, say, a mask:
Malc Jenkins playing with a ski mask on !? 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/hSMN5G8QEH
— Von 🤙🏾 (@VonPeso) December 9, 2018
Although it didn’t pay immediate dividends in last week’s crushing loss at Dallas, the Eagles ran it out again last night:
Eagles injured safety Rodney McLeod leads an intense pregame huddle with the ski mask in his hand
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) December 17, 2018
This time around, it most definitely paid off in their shocking 30-23 win over the Rams that suddenly breathed life into what seemed for sure was a lost season:
— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) December 17, 2018
So here we are once again, with the backup quarterback leading a team left for dead, rallying around a mask for motivation. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
We exist this morning in what I imagine to be Kevin Kinkead’s personal hell. And I’m here for it.
I need every philly fan too grab they ski mask. 🦅😏
— Avonte Maddox (@2live_AM) December 17, 2018
Say no more, man.
Prepare your battle stations! Per NBCSN Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, Manny Machado will be visiting Philadelphia later this week. The superstar infielder is set to visit Citizens Bank Park on Thursday. While this development will likely fill the hearts of Phillies fans with festive cheer, don’t get too excited. The news follows that of two other stops Machado and his team are planning to make this week.
He’s set to meet with the Chicago White Sox:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) December 15, 2018
The Yankees, meanwhile, will host Machado a day before his visit to Philly:
Manny Machado and Yankees have meeting scheduled for Wednesday in New York
— George A. King III (@GeorgeAKingIII) December 16, 2018
It’s been hard to get a read on what exactly Machado is looking for in a potential suitor. He’s expressed a desire to play shortstop, where he’s played below-average defense to the tune of -11 Rdrs (defensive runs saved above average) in 199 games at the position over parts of three seasons. According to the same metric, he’s saved 85 runs in 731 games over seven seasons at third base.
More after the jump: Continue Reading
Dave Hakstol may have coached his last game as a Flyers coach – we won’t know for sure until tomorrow, but it sure seems like it – and if he has, there’ll be a press conference and General Manager Chuck Fletcher, flanked on one side by Flyers President Paul Holmgren and on the other by Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO Dave Scott, will feed the world one cliche after another about why a new voice was needed.
But what if Fletcher doesn’t necessarily believe what he’s about to tell you? What if internally, inside the hockey operations side of this organization, people truly believe that Dave Hakstol is a good coach?
What if this coaching change is really more about optics and pressure from above to hit a home run?
“That’s a great question,” one Flyers source said to me last night. “And I can’t tell you you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
That’s because Scott has been interested in pursuing Joel Quenneville almost since the minute he was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks last month.
And why not? Quenneville won three Stanley Cups in six seasons with the Blackhawks. The guy has a great track record and one that would certainly bring an instant infusion of interest and excitement to an apathetic fan base.
It was one of those conversations, though, that didn’t go well with former GM Ron Hextall.
So, Hextall was fired. For far many more reasons than this, but this was certainly on the list.
With the addition of Fletcher, Scott agreed to give him time to evaluate what he has on the roster and the coaching staff. But that willingness to be patient has dried up rapidly.
When the team looks as bad as it has in the past four games – all losses – and has fallen into last place by themselves in the Eastern Conference, and is tied for the third-worst record in the league, it can lead to a lot of public angst and make a bigwig like Scott concerned about the perception of his team.
But the Flyers are 2-4-2 since firing Hextall. It’s not good, but it’s not pathetic. There have been many worse eight game stretches than those in which you register six points.
And is six games enough time to give Fletcher to make all the evaluations he needs? Maybe, maybe not.
But the reality is, keeping the fanbase happy is also part of the business, and even if internally among hockey people there is a belief that Hakstol is still the right coach for this team despite all the outside noise, the people who sign the checks sometimes feel they have to consider more than just what the hockey people advise.
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of Hakstol as a coach. If you go back and read many of my posts from last season, you will see that I would have made a change at coach last season.
However, once I was given real insight into what was going on behind the scenes during Hextall’s tenure, even I felt like Hakstol probably deserved a chance to redeem this team post-Hextall.
Frankly, I would have been, and still would be O.K. with letting him coach the rest of the season.
But that’s likely because I don’t see this team as one that’s good enough to make the playoffs this season. After all, they’re eight points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and 10 points out of a wild card spot. They would need to go on an extended hot run to make up those differences AND hold on to a playoff spot.
That’s very unlikely to happen folks.
But the problem is Scott and to an extent Holmgren already told us at Hextall’s firing that the impetus for the organization is to “win now.”
That might have been delusional on the part of Scott, because I never really felt Holmgren believed it was possible as the team was currently constructed – which is why he was chaffed with Hextall.
But Scott’s influences are not all rooted in actual hockey. Sure, he leans on Holmgren and now Fletcher to give him an update on the team’s progress, but really, his decisions are driven by the business side of things. When 12-15% of tickets out are not coming back through the door with regularity, that bothers him. When television ratings are down, even slightly, that bothers him.
And to be fair to Scott, that should bother him. The business side is what matters most, ultimately, to a corporate owner.
But sometimes corporate decisions are being made for wrong-headed reasons.
It’s like when an immensely popular television show is cancelled on one network and picked up by another. Why was it cancelled? Business decisions. Money talks baby, even if it wasn’t the smartest call.
So, Hakstol really doesn’t have a chance here.
And Scott REALLY wants to pursue Quenneville. Not because he’s necessarily the right coach for this group, but rather because that hiring would be viewed as hitting it out of the park by the public and might put some more butts in seats.
But how different from Hakstol really is Quenneville? At least from how he handles his personnel?
More after the jump: Continue Reading