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Wild and Crazy: Thoughts on Flyers 6, Panthers 5 (SO)

Anthony SanFilippo - October 17, 2018

You may have heard, the Flyers gave out a Jake Voracek Chia Pet to fans at the game Tuesday. They smartly handed them out to fans on the way out the door rather than as they entered the Wells Fargo Center.

That’s because there’s a good chance that midway through the third period they would have become instant hand grenades.

Blow a three-goal lead to a winless Florida Panthers team, and who knows what lengths the fans might go to.

However, some of the business and marketing smarts of the organization must have rubbed off on the players during a well-used timeout by Dave Hakstol after the Panthers tied it, because the Flyers were able to get themselves righted, remain tied through overtime and win the game in a shootout 6-5 to even their record this season at 3-3-0.

Jordan Weal had the game-winner in the shootout. He also had a goal and an assist in regulation and played a pretty solid all-around game. Claude Giroux was the Flyers’ best player with a pair of goals and Wayne Simmonds continued his torrid start with two goals as well in what amounted to a wild game from start the finish between two teams who threw out the playbook when it came to defense and instead played a sometimes entertaining, sometimes frustrating game of shinny that ended with a Flyers win.

At the end of the season, when the regulation and overtime win (ROW) tiebreaker comes into play, Flyers fans might look back at this early season circus on ice and shake an angry fist, but a win is a win, and the Flyers will take it.

Weal is a great story. He’s been through the ringer confidence-wise in the past month. He went from entering camp as the leader in the clubhouse to earn the No. 3 center’s job to being the Flyers’ extra forward and a healthy scratch three times, to filling in for an injured Nolan Patrick on the second line and having two successive well-played games in a row, including netting the game winner.

Russ spent some time talking to Weal after the game and has a nice piece on his sudden emergence as a contributing player to the Flyers.

As such, I’ll leave that to him, but there are plenty of other observations from this game. Most aren’t great… but I’ll do my best to find some positives – heck they did win the game!

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This Was Better Than You Think: Thoughts from Golden Knights 1, Flyers 0

Anthony SanFilippo - October 13, 2018

Losing a hockey game in the final two minutes of regulation always hurts.

Losing a hockey game in the final two minutes when your most defensively responsible player commits a turnover that results in the game-winning goal, hurts even more.

Losing a hockey game to a long-time nemesis goalie who made one spectacular save after another after another, pretty much crushes the soul.

But losing a game when you played exactly the way you wanted to play and did all the things correctly that you wanted to improve, well, I’ll let coach Dave Hakstol tell you how that feels:

“We played a hell of a game today and it stinks walking away with nothing to show for it.”

The Flyers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0 in an entertaining, fast-paced, grind-it-out, flat-out fun hockey game, and although it was eye-candy for those of us whose only job is to be a spectator, it’s easy to understand the frustration that permeated the Flyers’ locker room after such a loss.

The primary reason the Flyers came up empty was Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped all 26 shots he faced. You could see it from early on; he was dialed in. He made several incredible stops – two particularly on Claude Giroux.

I’m not going to dive in too deeply on Fleury, because Russ caught up with the Golden Knights’ netminder after the game as has all those details for us. 

The Flyers, though, should take solace that except for not being able to cash in against Fleury, they played exactly the kind of game that winning hockey teams play. They locked it down defensively in the neutral zone and really played solid team defense. When that defense broke down, Brian Elliott was there to make the needed save… right up until the very end. They played the game with a lot of speed. They created a bevy of scoring chances. They killed penalties with great pressure up ice, not really letting Vegas set up in the offensive zone.

The Flyers should take this as a blueprint for the way they need to play moving forward and carry that banner through the remaining 77 games. Because if they do, more often than not they’ll be earning points in the standings.

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Sports Betting Updates

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DraftKings Sportsbook Review

DraftKings Sportsbook has been live in New Jersey for over two full months now and a lot has changed since launch. While they were the first out of the gate for legal US sports betting, they now face competition from many sites, including FanDuel Sportsbook, SugarHouse Sportsbook, BetStars and others. How do they stack up and what promos does DraftKings Sportsbook offer? Let’s take a closer look. Bonus: First bet matched up to $200 Minimum

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NBA Over/Under Wins That You Might Want to Check Out

The NBA season is upon us and hope springs eternal for all most fan bases. The sportsbooks aren’t emotionally invested in your teams and don’t care if your first round draft pick is once again shelved to start the season. I, however, take the over/under numbers they set and cross-reference it with the human element: old faces in new places (Melo on the Rockets), moronic trades for watered-down stars (Trae Young isn’t even diet Steph Curry),

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The Best New Jersey Sportsbook Promos For Week 6

Week 6 is upon us, and there’s a diverse range of betting options in New Jersey. FanDuel Sportsbook and BetStars, in particular, are offering strong promos. A part of any betting strategy that often gets overlooked is the value being offered by the books, whether that’s straight price or promos and incentives that can be used to your advantage. Here’s a rundown of the best NJ online sportsbooks and most compelling offers for Week 6:

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Positively Mediocre – Thoughts on Flyers 7, Senators 4

Anthony SanFilippo - October 11, 2018

Warning: The old man in me is about to come out for a few minutes.

That’s because there is nothing that bothers me more in professional sports today than people who eschew criticism when it is warranted.

It’s the narrative of sports these days. We’ve created a culture where accountability is fleeting and mediocrity is lauded.

I guess this is the direct result of the generation of people who made the participation trophy a good thing at the youth sports level.

Why am I so crabby?

Because of the overt nature today of people to take an outcome of a sporting event and over-accentuate the positive of it. There are times when the negative can be over-accentuated as well, and that’s equally as wrong – but wins and losses in sports need to be put into context.

If a win in particularly good, then fine, it’s OK to say it. If a loss is particularly awful – such as the Flyers home-opening loss to the Sharks on Tuesday – then yes, it’s OK to slide the team’s performance under the microscope.

But when you have a game like Wednesday in Ottawa – a sloppy, uneven, pretty uninteresting game which the Flyers won 7-4 against the lowly Senators – to sit around and spew a steady stream of positivism is what really sticks in my craw.

I was all ready to sit here and say the things that everyone was saying last night right after the game. I was poised to start typing this story at 10:30 PM. I even had this lede to the story written:

When you have one of your most embarrassing performances of the season one night, coming back and earning a much-needed victory the next night is definitely a sigh of relief. And that’s what this was for the Flyers, for it was not a perfect game, it was not a pretty game, in fact it was riddled with inconsistency and choppiness and still had more than a handful of mistakes to be concerned about – not to mention a worrisome injury to a prominent player – but the team can take a big collective sigh after winning this game, because an outcome in the other direction would have set off the alarm bells with a gusto.

That, to me would have been a fair description. That to me would have been keeping things real with the fans of this hockey team.

Instead, we are given, as we too often are in today’s sports world, a narrative laden with saccharine that is dishonest and unaccountable.

It gives me agita. You true, blue Philadelphia area folk know what I mean.

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Shark Attack – Picking Through the Rubble of Sharks 8, Flyers 2

Anthony SanFilippo - October 10, 2018

It would be easy to sit here and tell you what how abysmal the Flyers 8-2 loss in their home opener to the San Jose Sharks was and break down all the misery that was the defensive abomination.

It would be easy to do a 5,000-word breakdown, as some are wont to do, analyzing every failing on every goal and to tell you how terrible the defensive pairs were, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But if you watched the game, you saw just how miserable it was. You were probably on Flyers Twitter making all kinds of cynical commentary about the state of the team.

And if you didn’t watch it, you were the lucky one.

But rather than rehash all of that nonsense, let’s just let the Flyers players tell you how bad it really was.

Here’s Shayne Gostisbehere, who actually played his ass off and had a good game amid the rubble of the full-team implosion:

“Yeah, we sucked. It is what it is. I mean I feel so fucking bad for Moose (Brian Elliott) right now. We left him out to dry, he was our best player tonight. It could’ve been eight nothing after the first [period]. I mean it’s a little ridiculous. Some of us really have to look in the mirror on this team, and we just gotta respond tomorrow. To leave a guy out to dry like that, it’s really not fair.”

That’s pretty damning words from a defenseman on a team that just gave up eight goals – the most the Flyers ever allowed in a home opener.

But he wasn’t alone.

Take Elliott, for example, the goalie, who was not only left out to dry by his team, but also by his coach Dave Hakstol, who made him endure the embarrassment of letting up all eight goals, never once calling time out, never once pulling him from this debacle and saving him the dubious honor of having a snowman added to his ever-growing goals against average. He had this to say:

“I don’t think we had the structure to take on their attack. They did a good job. Four guys joined in the rush, and a lot of odd-man rushes tonight. It kinda felt like wave on wave. We could’ve handled it better.”

He mentioned structure again in another question, so I just had to ask him about it further. I mean, if the goalie thinks there’s a lack of structure…

“I think they played their game, a fast game. That’s just one word that I just have been thinking about…we shouldn’t give up that many of those types of scoring chances again and again. I think a bit of our structure was off. That’s how it felt out there.”

I’d be thinking about structure too – or lack thereof – when you play a game like this.

But wait… there’s more.

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Not as Bad as it Seemed: Takeaways from Avalanche 5, Flyers 2

Anthony SanFilippo - October 7, 2018

Flyers Twitter is my favorite place to go when I’m looking for a sports-related laugh.

During and following the team’s 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night, the social media platform was ablaze with the same old complaints about the team – bad coaching, turnovers, questioning Andrew MacDonald’s existence, etc.

It was a far cry from the abject elation that was emanating from Twitter following a solid 5-2 win in Vegas on opening night Thursday.

On that night, the Flyers were going to be a chic pick to go far in the playoffs, their depth was being praised, the growth of their young talent was being praised, and all was right with the world.

The difference between winning and losing certainly brings out the extremes in the schizophrenic world of Philadelphia hockey.

I’m about to make it a little more confusing for you:

The Flyers actually played a really good game against the Avalanche, and at times, were actually better than they were against Vegas.

Yeah, their mistakes were more magnified because they either resulted in goals against or incredibly high percentage chances that Brian Elliott was forced to be superhuman and keep out of the net, but the Flyers really had good flow. They skated with a very fast Colorado team. The Flyers breakouts were mostly good. Their 5-on-5 play was really good after an uneven first period. The No. 1 power play didn’t score, but it looked really good. The penalty kill was OK – the Avs didn’t score on the power play until the final four minutes of the game, so the Flyers did a good job of disrupting their set. However I felt Colorado was allowed to set up too easily, which means the Flyers weren’t great killing through the neutral zone.

And Elliott was superb again.

So, things weren’t that bad and we have a few things to talk about, but, for the most part, it’s football Sunday, so I know your attention will be elsewhere, so I’ll try to keep this short:

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Opening Statement – Takeaways from Flyers 5, Golden Knights 2

Anthony SanFilippo - October 5, 2018

There was something different about Thursday morning.

When I drove my kid to school, it was still dark out. There was a slight chill in the air. A radio station called me to go on the air, briefly. I was tasked with staying up well past midnight in order to write a story for the following morning.

Yep. It’s October. Yep, it’s hockey season.

A lot of people in the Philadelphia area celebrated that on Thursday – the start of a new season, where hope springs eternal and visions of the Flyers skating with a silver chalice for the first time in 43 years dance in imaginations from Yardley to Yeadon.

And while turning those visions into expectations is still quite premature, the Flyers did give their fans what they wanted Thursday night. In what is becoming a bit of an (unwelcome) tradition, the Flyers kicked off their season on the West Coast, and much like last year, were rude house guests and spoiled the home opener of their opponent.

And although the Flyers beat the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights 5-2, they didn’t do it with speed or tenacity, but rather with smart positional play (eventually) and goaltending.

Four of the five Flyers goals were fluky or fortunate – but if you are going to be a good team you have to make your own good luck sometimes, and the more impressive aspects of the game were bottling up the neutral zone to take away Vegas’ strength and a really strong effort in goal by Brian Elliott.

Let’s break it down:

1. Moose Tracking

Elliott is the lone goalie on the roster, not injured that is, who the Flyers seem to have confidence in when he’s on the ice.

However, Elliott is not normally a fast starter and is coming off of not one but two surgeries in nine months, so it would be easy to forgive Elliott if he got off to another slow start.

Uh… not the case:

And this was just one of his 23 saves. And it wasn’t even his best – just the best one I could find on the Twitter by the peeps who make these things.

Nevertheless, Elliott was strong, especially low and along the ice. It seemed like that was the Golden Knights’ strategy to beat Elliott, but he was able to do a good job of squaring himself to the shooter, stacking the pads, and making himself look bigger than he is.

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Can You Like Gabe Kapler and Not Like Him at the Same Time?

Anthony SanFilippo - July 26, 2018

I’m here to answer a question that I was asked the other day by someone in the strangest of places.

My daughter is a dancer and her character shoes broke during dress rehearsal for a show she is in.

Desperate for a new pair, I ended up ordering her a new pair on Amazon. However, I wasn’t sure how the sizes ran, so I asked a question first, hoping someone would answer it.

The person who answered the question suggested had the name “Phillies” in their username. When I thanked them, I signed off with a pleasant, “Go Phillies.”

The follow up response was filled with too many LOL’s for my liking, but there was an interesting question posed in there. “Is it possible to not like Gabe Kapler and still like him at the same time?”

I didn’t answer the question, because I didn’t want to continue a weird conversation on Amazon that started about dance shoes and turned into a Phillies conversation, but the question intrigued me enough to want to write this post.

And here’s the answer:

Yes. Yes it is possible.

Ironically, it’s how I feel on most days when watching the Phillies. Because I never know what Gabe I’m going to get.

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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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