SanFilippo: Get Off My Lawn – Again

Anthony SanFilippo - June 4, 2018

Yeah, I’m back. And I’m more bitter than last time.

Maybe it was because I went to a restaurant recently and there were two service dogs barking their heads off at each other.

I wasn’t mad that the dogs were in the restaurant. I perfectly understand why they are there and I have no problem with them being there.

But my issue was with the host who stupidly positioned the dogs at tables directly across from one another so that they were barking at each other incessantly.

It was a large restaurant. Plenty of booths. They could have seven service dogs in the restaurant and, if sat strategically, they wouldn’t see each other.

But, no. This guy sat them eight feet from one another… and they let them bark back and forth for 20 minutes and didn’t try to move one of the tables elsewhere. Finally, the one couple with one of the dogs got up and left the restaurant.

Just poorly played by all.

Which reminded me of a couple things going on in Philadelphia sports right now that are equally as annoying – and have me channeling my inner curmudgeon:

1. Jake Arrieta

How can anyone – especially in this sports-crazed market – have a problem with what Arrieta said? How many times do we sit around and say that we wished our sports figures were more honest and candid and didn’t give us the rehearsed speeches that they were coached to say publicly?

Now, we have a guy – who knows a little something about winning by the way – who calls a spade a spade publicly and we want to kill him because it might hurt a teammate’s feelings?

Who are we? What have we become?

There was a time when the players in this city hated their coach or manager and the coaches didn’t like them back. All sides would go to the media and bitch about each other publicly. It would lead to shouting matches, wars of words, and teams that went on to play for and/or win championships.

Now we have to throw a fake tantrum to protect wealthy athletes from being butt hurt about somebody saying something remotely negative about them.

And in this instance, it was real remote – not that we as fans, or writers, or talk show hosts want to consider the entire message – no, why do that when we can cherry pick one small sample of it and make a mountain out of a molehill, losing focus on the real message anyway?

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SanFilippo: Get Off My Lawn

Anthony SanFilippo - May 24, 2018

Let me tell you why I love the guys here at Crossing Broad – they are no different than you.

It’s why this site is successful – mostly everyone on here is just like you – a Philadelphia sports fan, with an aptitude for breaking down a game or a segment of the game intelligently all the while still finding the time to overreact to something in the moment.

It’s what makes the Philadelphia sports fan so unique and so special. Conditioned from their formative years to respond with unbridled vim and vigor to even the smallest detail of a sport, often over-blowing it to the point of ridiculousness before gathering themselves and taking a much more rational look at it after they’ve had a few minutes to overcome their initial spastic outburst.

Our Slack chat was an unmitigated microcosm of that mentality during every last Sixers game this season. Even those ones against the most miserable teams in the NBA. Overtly praising the Sixers at the levels of religious fanaticism after blowing out the Memphis Grizzles and wanting to take the same people they were praising and put them on a boat in the Atlantic and hang them in effigy from the ships yardarm after the failure against Boston in the playoffs.

But they weren’t alone. I saw it everywhere I went in the Philadelphia media market. The same wild swing of emotion tied to the Sixers as every win was treated as a monumental triumph and every defeat was followed with a full-throated finger-point at someone, anyone, for bringing famine as pestilence to our city.

And this isn’t germane to the Sixers, although our group here at Crossing Broad is definitely a bit NBA-centric, which is totally fine. But until Nick Foles happened, the Eagles were just as readily subject to wild fan mood swings and the Flyers have a collection of supporters who always seem to scream about the wrong things because as good a hockey town as this is, there are a lot of people who really still don’t know or get the sport.

And that’s OK. I’m not here to tell you that you can’t be a fan unless you study up. It’s perfectly acceptable to be an uninformed rooter. It’s absolutely OK to let your anger out through a stream of misguided vitriol. It’s your God-given right to feel however you feel.

Just don’t do it on my property.

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The Real Reason the Flyers’ TV Ratings Dropped 25%

Anthony SanFilippo - April 26, 2018

Many believe Flyers fans are expressing their┬ádistaste with the team’s seeming perpetual mediocrity both at the box office and with their remote control.

In short, the arguments have been that clusters of empty seats at the Wells Fargo Center for playoff games coupled with declining TV ratings mean that apathy has set in among the Orange and Black faithful, who not so many years ago were dubbed “stepford fans” for being robotically conformist to whatever the organ-eye-zation did and said.

Maybe the fan base is changing. Maybe Millennial fans are not like their Gen-X predecessors or the original Baby Boomers who made Philadelphia akin to a Canadian city when it came to hockey fandom.

Maybe they are getting tired of mediocrity. Maybe they are more discerning about how they are going to spend their entertainment dollars than those fans that came before them.

And then I saw this series of Tweets traipse down my Twitter timeline the other day – the first from a Canadian reporter who does some work for the New York Times (quoting Sports Business Journal), and then the rest from the site manager of Broad Street Hockey, the SB Nation fan site, and her cohorts: Continue Reading

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The First of Many Postmortems: An Assessment of the Flyers in 29 Steps

Anthony SanFilippo - April 23, 2018

My first thought was to be reactionary.

After the Flyers season came to a crashing end Sunday in a classic Flyers manner – blowing a two goal lead – it was easy to put the target on this team, who ended up playing 88 games this season, winning 44 of them and losing 44 of them, as still not being ready for prime time.

It would be easy to target the coach – as I have for much of the season. The goaltending – for the umpteenth time. The defense – for their inherent lack of ability in getting the puck out of their own zone. The star players – who couldn’t score.

It would be easy to target all the negatives – and some negatives deserve to be highlighted – but the biggest takeaway of all of this is that even though the Flyers took a small step forward – making the playoffs after a one season hiatus, and doing so with a lot of young players in the lineup, there is still a long way to go before they can compete with the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that’s the one thing that is going to make the upcoming offseason so crucial for the Flyers. They need to finally address holes in their roster via trades and free agency and need to stop trying to get by with band aids – marginal NHL veterans who provide no scoring punch.

It’s almost certain that a number of players who played in Sunday’s loss won’t be back. This Flyers team will have a much different look to it when training camp begins five months from now, but will it have a different feel? Or will we still look at how the roster has been put together and consider them a borderline playoff team, much as they have been the past six seasons, which includes three first round exits and three seasons where they missed the playoffs entirely?

So, I thought, let’s examine this roster, the impact each player had on this first round loss to Pittsburgh and what the future holds.

But, before we do, some telling statistics:

  • The Flyers allowed eight goals in an elimination game for the fifth time in franchise history (1979, 1982 [nine goals], 1985, 2001, 2018). That’s a lot.
  • The Penguins scored at least five goals in eight of the 10 games played against the Flyers this season, and all five of the games played in Philadelphia. That’s got to be considered completely unacceptable.
  • The Flyers allowed 28 goals in the six games against the Penguins – tying a franchise record for most goals allowed in a playoff series and setting a franchise record for any series fewer than seven games.
  • Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the series clincher against the Flyers, becoming the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1989 to score four goals in a playoff game against the Flyers (Lemieux had five).
  • Guentzel and Sidney Crosby each finished the series with six goals and seven assists for 13 points – more than two points per game, as the Flyers had no answer for their line.
  • Game 6 was the first time the Flyers lost a playoff game under Dave Hakstol where the team scored more than one goal. in his previous seven losses, the Flyers were shut out four times and scored one goal three times.
  • Continuing on the last bullet, in Hakstol’s four career playoff wins, the Flyers have outscored their opponents 13-4. In Hakstol’s eight losses, the Flyers have been outscored 38-8.

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Reprieve! Reprieve! Flyers Still Alive After Some Memorable Performances.

Anthony SanFilippo - April 21, 2018

I don’t know about you, but I still can’t figure out the Flyers.

How do you get embarrassed in two home playoff games (and three of the first four) and then go on the road, into the home arena of the two-time defending champions, in an elimination game, and win?

And not only that, they did it with a lopsided special teams disparity against them, and came out on the plus side of that ledger. They did it with a new starting goalie, who gave up two bad goals, but also made several big saves – including one in the final minute – to protect the win. They did it with a much-maligned depth forward being thrust into a position where he was destined to fail – and he played the game of his career. They did it with their most important player in this series, somehow playing with an injury he shouldn’t be playing with, one that noticeably limits his skating and is definitely limiting his minutes, scoring the game-winning goal.

In other words, they did it against all odds. Continue Reading

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Anthony SanFilippo - April 19, 2018

Sean Couturier has been such an integral part of the Flyers this season.

So, it’s only right that he got a little bit of love league-wide on Wednesday when he was announced as a finalist for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the best two-way forward in the NHL.

Couturier has long been just on the outskirts of this award, and has finally cracked the top three in voting, joining stalwarts in this category Patrtice Bergeron of Boston and Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles.

It’s a credit to Couturier, who had a breakout offensive season to go along with his excellent defensive play as a shutdown forward.

Wait… what’s that? There was something else that happened last night involving the Flyers? Really? Did I miss it? What was it? A playoff game? Stop. You’re pulling my leg. There was playoff hockey played in Philadelphia last night? Seriously, am I on the Carbonaro Effect? Where are the hidden cameras? I want to see a magic trick!

No, you’re not kidding? There was a game last night? What happened? Anything? Oh, I didn’t miss much. The Flyers were blown out by the Penguins again? Oh, right, right, right. That’s what that sound was. It sounded like something sucking the life out of the city was emanating from the Sports complex. I tried to stay away so I wouldn’t turn into a zombie.

Yeah people, the Flyers played another playoff game yesterday – and, as per usual, it wasn’t pretty. Continue Reading

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A Lack of “Sticktoitiveness” – Breaking Down the Real Reason the Flyers Lost Game 3 to the Penguins.

Anthony SanFilippo - April 16, 2018

It was a common theme.

Each player in the locker room said it.

The coach reiterated it, ad nauseam, during his nearly 10-minute press conference.

The Flyers lost Game 3 to the Penguins 5-1 because of a lack of discipline.

I’m here to tell you that while giving Pittsburgh’s potent power play seven chances (of which they scored on three times) is certainly a way to lose a game, it wasn’t where the game was lost.

Nope. The game was lost in the locker room between the first and second period – before all the penalties started piling up.

The game was lost after the Flyers played perhaps their best period of the hockey season and had nothing to show for it.

A great game plan by Dave Hakstol blew up in smoke and went out the window pretty quickly in the second period when the Flyers stopped believing in the process.

A 1-0 deficit after 20 minutes – even the most energized 20-minutes of the season – wasn’t the culprit either. It was just one goal. The result of one bad decision – the only one of the first period – and the Flyers picked up where they left off immediately after it, so it wasn’t the deflating element.

No, the downfall for the Flyers was the fact that they couldn’t finish their chances – and they had a bevy of them – in the opening 20 minutes. They were in full throttle mode for 20 minutes and couldn’t crack Matt Murray and the Penguins defense – which blocked a ton of shots, yet again.

So, in the second period, the Flyers started a little more tentatively. And when you’re tentative in the playoffs, it leads to mistakes – in this case, stick infractions, that led to a parade of penalties.

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Underdog Mentality: Flyers Believed in Themselves When No One Else Would, Tie Series With 5-1 Win

Anthony SanFilippo - April 14, 2018

No one.

Let me say that again.

No one.

That’s exactly how many people outside of the Flyers locker room thought they could completely turn the tables on the Pittsburgh Penguins following the embarrassment that was a seven-goal loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Sure, the more level-headed knew the team would play better – mostly because they couldn’t play worse – but to shut down the Penguins for the first time all season? To score five goals of their own? To dictate the pace, tempo, and style? To revert back to a tried and true formula that certainly still has a place in the sport, especially in the playoffs? To get lights out goaltending?

No. None of this was expected. And yet, it happened anyway.

A mere 48 hours after being the laughing stock of the playoffs, the Flyers suddenly became the first team to draw even with their opponent in the postseason. Continue Reading

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