As streaky as the Flyers have been, they’re somehow still very much in the playoff picture.
With a win last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they would’ve been two points behind Carolina for the final wild card spot, and they’d be out of last place in the very competitive Metropolitan Division.
But the Penguins managed to get four goals in a span of less than four minutes in the second period, three in a span of 2:17, en route to a 5-1 win.
The Flyers started the game very strong, allowing no strong chances by the Penguins on defense. But it all came crashing down quickly with the barrage of Penguin goals. The Flyers countered only once, a Jordan Weal deflection off a Radko Gudas shot. The top line and the rest of the team got nothing going.
And that’s going to be a huge factor heading into the second half of the season. At 16-15-8, the Flyers have gotten very minimal scoring help from outside the first line of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and whoever’s with them (Travis Konecny was for last night, but there’s also been Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek). Would a trade for a better forward be in the mix when the trade deadline approaches?
Philly needs help, and fast, because the rest of the month is brutal. Out of the remaining 11 games left in January, the team plays three opponents who currently wouldn’t make the playoffs if they started today (Buffalo, Detroit, New York Islanders). Buffalo is dead last in the conference, but Detroit is in the playoff race, as shown below:
As for the Islanders, they’ll play Philadelphia on Thursday night. Please make a good run, Flyers.
Some big Sixers news yesterday, as the team sent out a press release on the gradual return of Markelle Fultz to team practices and additional conditioning. So we’re closer than we expected. Joel Embiid also might not play tonight against the Spurs.
Enjoy this James Herbert piece on how head coach Brett Brown uses teacher techniques to educate his players:
Brown pointed up to the second level of the practice facility and said the team would have a Christmas gift exchange the next day. In that room, they have also had a number of team breakfasts. About once a month, at breakfast, a Sixer will pair up with a video coordinator and deliver a presentation — about a non-basketball topic.
“It will be like they’re in school and they have a project,” Brown said. “And it’s PowerPoint. It’s informative. It goes for probably 20 minutes.”
T.J. McConnell talked about coffee, Nik Stauskas talked about UFOs and Gerald Henderson talked about Charles Manson. Jahlil Okafor tackled the debate about whether or not college athletes should be paid. Robert Covington brought in a pet snake. The subject of Dario Saric’s presentation was the Croatian War of Independence. Brown said that there were “a lot of misty eyes during that one.”
Most recently, Justin Anderson spoke to the team about music. “The old school doesn’t really respect the new school as much,” Anderson said, arguing against the generational gap that stops some Jay-Z and Tupac fans from appreciating young artists. Anderson drew a direct parallel to his chosen profession.
“That’s like not changing and growing with the game of basketball,” Anderson said. “We can’t hold on to the typical 4 and 5 man on each block banging and posting up — now your 4 man has gotta be able to shoot 3s. So you can’t really hold on to what was cool in your culture back then. We have to kind of grow.”
Spurs and Sixers tip off at 7 PM tonight.
Pederson also went to the Flyers’ game last night. Howard Eskin found his box at the end of the first period:
We might see more of Jay Ajayi when the Divisional Round arrives next weekend:
However, since Howie Roseman acquired him just before the trade deadline in a move that’s looking more and more important (and savvy) by the day, he’s been a completely different player. And after he was the only offensive starter given the day off on Sunday, it’s beginning to look more and more like he might be the guy the Eagles lean on in the postseason.
“I think that’s a possibility with what he’s shown us down the stretch here and giving him rest last week, and we’ll see where he is this week health-wise,” Pederson said when asked if he envisioned Ajayi being the team’s workhorse in the playoffs. “I think he’s one of the guys that we can rely on.
“Again, I don’t want to get away from the things that got us to this point, too. That’s the other thing is you don’t want to just abandon ship on everybody else. I do think there could be a little more role for him down the stretch.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the finalists for the Class of 2018 last night. It included Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens for the second year in a row.
Could the Phillies go after one starting pitcher? ESPN’s David Schoenfield thinks so:
Alex Cobb, RHP (8)
Best bet: Philadelphia Phillies
Don’t be surprised: Cubs
Don’t take that best bet too seriously: Cobb could land in a dozen places. The Carlos Santana signing and immense flexibility in payroll, however, mean the Phillies could emerge as Cobb’s top suitor as they continue to build for 2019 and beyond. If the Cubs consider Darvish’s price too steep or if he signs elsewhere, Cobb provides an alternative plan at about half the price.
Buyer beware: Cobb had a nice return after missing nearly two full seasons, going 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA for the Rays. His strikeout rate, which peaked at 23.2 percent in 2013, was down to 17.3 percent, however, and his ground ball rate was down 8 percent from his pre-surgery numbers.
In the lone local college hoops game of the night, UNC Wilmington crushed Drexel 107-87. Kurk Lee led the way for the Dragons with 22 points. Tonight in A10 play, St. Joe’s hosts VCU and La Salle visits Rhode Island. Both games are at 7 PM.
Owls cornerback Derrek Thomas and wide receiver Marshall Ellick are transferring from the program. Thomas will reunite with former head coach Matt Rhule at Baylor, and Ellick will go to Stony Brook.
Former Penn State AD Jim Tarman passed away at the age of 89.
In other sports news, Arizona Wildcats’ head football coach Rich Rodriguez has been fired after claims of sexual harassment and creating a hostile workplace came up. Rodriguez called those claims “baseless and false” but did admit to having a “consensual extramarital affair” with a woman.
Isaiah Thomas returned to the court and made his Cavalier debut, scoring 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Outside of Dawkins and Owens, here’s the rest of the Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists:
- Tony Boselli, T
- Isaac Bruce, WR
- Alan Faneca, G
- Steve Hutchinson, G
- Joe Jacoby, T
- Edgerrin James, RB
- Ty Law, CB
- Ray Lewis, LB
- John Lynch, FS
- Kevin Mawae, C/G
- Randy Moss, WR
- Brian Urlacher, LB
- Everson Walls, CB
- Robert Brazile, LB (Senior Finalist)
- Jerry Kramer, G (Senior Finalist)
- Bobby Beathard, GM/Personnel Administrator (Contributor Finalist)
Pittsburgh head basketball coach Kevin Stallings lost to Louisville last night. But he did have a nice comeback against a fan:
— Whitney Harding (@WhitneyNBC4) January 3, 2018
Remember when we all thought Marvin Lewis was out of Cincinnati? Well somehow that’s not happening, because the Bengals signed the head coach to a two-year contract extension. Why?
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer announced his retirement:
An open letter from Carson Palmer.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 2, 2018
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley injured his hip after he was shoved down outside a bar on New Year’s Eve.
For some time, this popped up on Google:
In World Juniors action, Team USA defeated Russia 4-2 and advanced to the semifinals to take on Sweden. Kieffer Bellows had a sick go-ahead goal midway through the third:
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 3, 2018
Derek Jeter’s “Project Wolverine” Marlins plan projects a spike in attendance and profit. Good luck with that.
Christian Pulisic has hops:
This kid has skill:
Scoring twice with one shot. 😳👏 pic.twitter.com/BPmVosEtzw
— Football Showboat (@ShowboatVines) December 30, 2017
In the news, get ready for some more snow tomorrow!
BUTTON WARS: After North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said the US is in striking range of a nuclear missile and he has a button on his desk, President Donald Trump said his button is much bigger and works.
Mike Tyson is opening a 40-acre marijuana resort in southern California.
Jeopardy is cultured:
Spotify was sued for $1.6 billion by Wixen Music Publishing for using songs “without a license and without compensation” for artists such as Tom Petty and Neil Young.
This guy had enough on his plane: