Mike Richards back to Philly? No, shut up.

 

With the LA Kings cap woes coming up there’s been a hell of a lot of chatter about Mike Richards. Not, who might the Kings get rid of to release some cap space, but, where exactly will Mike Richards go because he’s going. Everyone seems to be convinced that Mike Richards will be sacrificed to save some space and that’s all good, but let’s put one rumor in the ground right now, Mike Richards is NOT coming back to Philadelphia.

Richards Kings

While you’re all caught up in the Kings needing to shed cap space, don’t forget that the Flyers have the same issue. Sure the Flyers situation may not be as dire as the Kings, but we don’t exactly have a lot of expendable money to be throwing away on nostalgia. The two obvious trade candidates that everyone is pointing to are either Vinny Lecavalier or R.J. Umberger two of the Flyers worst contracts in terms of player productivity. Since the Flyers got him people have been calling for Lecavalier’s trade, fans are desperate to get rid of him if only for cap space. The Flyers traded away fan favorite Scott Hartnell to Columbus for former Flyer R.J. Umberger to free up a little bit of cap space, Umberger’s contract is a couple hundred thousand less than Hartnell’s and 2 years shorter. Unfortunately while Hartnell is putting up average numbers in his new home, Umberger hasn’t found the same success here making him another target for cap space clearance.

Hockeybuzz’s Dave Eklund decided to get fans a little too excited by putting this out there;

“Many teams are keeping a close eye on this and some teams will have to make other moves to make this possible, but already I am hearing Nashville (e3), Pittsburgh (e2), Winnipeg (e2), Ottawa (e2), Toronto (e3) and Philly(e3) (YES I KNOW, but Hextall is HUGE proponent) have their feelers out.”

Here’s the problem, Lecavalier is currently getting paid $4,500,000/per year for 4 years, Umberger is getting paid $4,600,000/per year for 3 years, Mike Richards is getting a way more hefty $5,750,000/per year for 6 YEARS. If you can’t immediately see the problem don’t worry i’m gonna spell it out. For the Flyers to actually shed cap space on a trade for Richards, the Kings would have to take BOTH Lecavalier and Umberger; if they were to trade for one of them they’d be taking on an extra 1.25-1.35 million dollars extra for 3-4 years, the Flyers only have $855,000 in cap space which is A LOT LESS THAN 1.25 MILLION. The Kings will never take both Lecavalier and Umberger, it’s literally impossible unless the Flyers retain like 90% of their contract money which obviously would make that deal even stupider for the Flyers.

“Oh but Mike Richards is more productive than Umberger and Lecavalier so it would still be better than having the old people line not doing anything!” Yes! Richards is slightly more productive than Lecavalier was last year, so why would the Kings try to acquire a player who is less productive and has a contract almost as big and dumb as Richards’? If you think Lecavalier is the answer to the King’s cap space issues then you need to go check out cap geek and see how far int he hole they actually are. The Kings also have players like Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams who will be free agents next season, all of them will surely be looking for a raise and Stoll and Williams already make over $6 million, the small $1.25 million that Lecvalier would free up isn’t nearly enough for those 4 players alone.

It’s just not smart or possible for either the Flyers or the Kings to have Mike Richards make a return to Philadelphia. Maybe a move like this could have been a dumb possibility when Paul Holmgren was in charge, but we’ve gotta hope that Hextall doesn’t value nostalgia as much.

Eagles Steam Roll the Panthers

EAGLES DEFEAT THE CAROLINA PANTHERS 45-21.

The Eagles entered this game with a bounce back win in Houston the previous week but had some major losses. The Eagles lost offensive lineman Todd Herramans, quarterback Nick Foles, and linebacker Demeco Ryans. With such big pieces missing usually most fans would be worried, but the feeling was more nervous excitement to see how Mark Sanchez would play. The injuries turned out to not be a factor in this game as the Eagles came out guns blazing to get an early lead and get the victory.

Quarterback Mark Sanchez played well as he completed 20 out of 37 passes for 332 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. This is was Sanchez’s first start since the 2012 season with the New York Jets (the same season that he was apart of the infamous and hilarious butt fumble). This game was very impressive for Sanchez as he never had a game of over 265 passing yards without an interception with the Jets. Sanchez also seemed to have a certain chemistry with guys like wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who he constantly threw to in the preseason,  and tight end Brent Celek.

Running back and special teams ace Darren Sproles made his presence felt in the win. Sproles had only 1 carry for 8 yards but it was a walk in 8 yard touchdown, and a 65 yard punt return for a touchdown. Sproles lived up to the nickname I gave him which is “The Sparkplug”. Sproles is a guy who can just turn the momentum in a split second.

sproles

Tight end Brent Celek became the Brent Celek of old as he had a stellar game. Celek had 5 receptions for 116 yards with an average of 23.2 yards per reception. If Celek produces like this and Zach Ertz produces as well, the Eagles have a pretty good tandem of tight ends.

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews had a breakout game in the win. Matthews had 7 receptions for 138 yards, with an average of 19.7 yards per reception, and 2 touchdowns. “I felt like Jeremy Maclin,” Matthews joked after the game as Maclin was a few feet away and smiled at the comment. Matthews played like Maclin and has played just a level under Maclin, who has played great so far this year. Matthews now has 39 catches for 451 yards, and 5 touchdown. He is on pace for 69 catches, 801 yards, and 10 touchdowns which is pretty damn impressive.

The Eagles defense really fueled this victory with the 5 turnovers they forced in the win. The Eagles sacked the Panthers quarterback Cam Netwon 9 sacks, picked him off 3 times, and made him fumble once. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks made 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for loss. Fellow linebacker Connor Barwin made 8 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. The defensive backs played their best game of the year as Bradley Fletcher, Malcolm Jenkiins, Cary Williams, and Nate Allen combined for 12 tackles and 3 interceptions.

Linebacker Brandon Graham summed up the how well the defense played as he said, “We just had to take the middle away from him. That’s what we did, took the middle away from him, went after him. Man, we had so much fun out there, I can’t even tell you.”

The win pushed the Eagles record to 7-2 and are in first place in the NFC East as the Eagles lead the Dallas Cowboys by a half game.This game sends the Eagles with confidence up to Green Bay as they take on Packers.

 

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Flyers offense overpowers Panthers

On Saturday night the Flyers were only able to score on Roberto Luongo once, late in the 3rd period. Teams facing the Panthers have had offensive trouble all season with no team scoring more than 2 goals on the Panthers in regulation time; the Panthers had the fewest goals against in the NHL so far this season. If the Flyers wanted to build off Mason’s win against the Oilers they’d have to solve Luongo. And goddamn did they find the solution.

About 4 minutes into the game Sean Couturier started the scoring with a subtle tip in past Luongo. Couturier and Read got yet another 3rd line mate with Brayden Schenn after the lines were shuffled because of Michael Raffl’s injury. 4th liner Chris Vandevelde got a shot at the top line in place of injured Michael Raffl, but didn’t even last a whole game and was eventually replaced by Wayne Simmonds.

MDZ first goal

The second goal came from Michael Del Zotto, his first as a Flyer, from a Brayden Schenn pass. MDZ had some help from a linesman who inadvertently became a screen in front of Luongo. The Flyers went into the second period with a 2 goal lead for the second time in two games.

Del Zotto said after the game that he’s playing hard to show the teams that didn’t want him earlier how big of a mistake they made: “Lot of people doubting me, my ability to play the game. Every day I have that chip on my shoulder trying to prove them wrong.”

Del Zotto was definitely the stand out star of tonight’s game, playing 23 minutes of ice time and ending the game +1.

The second period started just as well for the Flyers with the recently impressive 4th line putting the Flyers up by 3. French gem Pierre Edouard Bellmare scored his third of the season after sandwiching Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov with Zac Rinaldo then catching a pass from Carlo Colaiacovo. The 4th line has had some great chemistry recently with Bellmare on it, when asked how he felt about playing on the 4th line, Bellmare responded with “Yeah I really like playing with Akey” (someone should probably tell him it isn’t going to last since Berube doesn’t like Akeson.)

The Panthers did manage to end the Flyers perfect 19-19 penalty kill at home record(now 19-20) in the second period, but that’s all the offense they would get as Mason stopped 35 of 36 shots on the night. Seconds after the Panthers power play goal, Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux got a chance on Luongo on a 2-on-1 that resulted in Voracek’s 6th goal. With that goal Voracek is now tied with Sidney Crosby for most points in the NHL.

The Flyers have now won half of the 4 games on their current homestand and will Play the Colorado Avalanche/Danny Briere and Max Talbot next.

OTHER NOTES:

Here’s a list of why referee Brad Watson is a complete douche:

  • Tried to get Luongo his stick back by kicking it to him.
  • When that didn’t work he blew the play dead when Luongo obviously didn’t have the puck covered.
  • Watched Kopecky slash at Colaiacovo’s face while he was on the ice.
  • Gave Colaiacovo a penalty after he tapped Kopecky who immediately flopped.
  • Stood and did nothing while Giroux got tripped in front of him.

Also there was no call on a crosscheck to Sean Couturier who was on his knees. causing him to hit the boards hard.

Coots down

Raffl injured

Blocking shots hasn’t worked out too well for the Flyers this season, first Braydon Coburn was injured by a blocked shot keeping him out for 6 weeks then Lecavalier took a shot to the foot and only recently returned then Andrew MacDonald joined Coburn and will also miss 6 weeks. If you want to count Wayne Simmonds’ pre-season injury that makes Michael Raffl the fourth Flyer to be injured from blocking shots. Rafll is tied for the team lead in goals this season with Wayne Simmonds; both have 6 goals.

Raffl640

Around midway through the third period on Tuesday’s game against the Oilers, Raffl blocked a shot from Mark Fayne, but turned at the last second exposing the unprotected back of his leg.             “He’s got a different style, everybody’s got their own way of doing things.” Berube said about Raffl’s not so great blocking technique. Maybe everyone should learn a way that doesn’t result in 6 week injuries.

The shot hit Raffl right on the back of the leg, it is thought something is fractured, and he has been labeled with a lower-body injury.

Craig Berube continued odd decision making with Raffl’s replacement, moving Chris VandeVelde up into the first line spot. Obviously Berube felt that Brayden Schenn did so bad on the top line in his short time there that he won’t be getting another chance and Berube has already shown that he barely likes Jason Akeson enough to keep him on the roster let alone move him to the top line. Berube decided to go with the least obvious choice in VandeVelde calling him a “straight-line player.”

“Jake and Claude need a guy that they know what he’s going to do.” Berube optioned for a more “simple” player to fill in for Raffl.  Berube was quick to say that no one had quite convinced him of their 1st line ability yet.

According to Hextall though, a trade or free agency move wouldn’t be out of the question; a free agency move never seems to be out of the question for Hextall. The Flyers already have too many centers in the line up so it wouldn’t make sense to call up Scott Laughton and force him to play the wing, but Hextall is always keeping an eye on the free agency apparently.

 

Flyers beat Oilers, Get Mason back on his game

The Flyers had a pretty tough schedule through October that they managed to come out with an even record after beating some of the toughest competition in the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Detroit Red Wings and then the defending Stanley Cup Champions the LA Kings, so it was a bit confusing when they managed a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday; they were even at risk for being shut out.

Roberto Luongo, who has let in the least goals of any team this season, managed to keep the Flyers offense pretty non-existent stopping 37 shots on the night. The game against the Panthers was supposed to be an easy win, but that wasn’t the only reason the Flyers were happy for the beginning of November. Goalie Steve Mason, who had yet to win a game, was meant to get his confidence back up and shake off any rust after sitting for 6 games. Unfortunately the Flyers couldn’t put enough past Luongo and Mason still didn’t get his first win.

Mason glove

 

Tuesday night the Flyers had their second (supposedly) easy game at home against the Edmonton Oilers, who are obviously going through some stuff. To make the odds that much better for the Flyers, the Oilers were playing without their Captain Andrew Ference and their leading scorer Taylor Hall. Coming into Philadelphia, the Oilers had a perfect record against eastern conference teams

Despite being out shot 11-8 in the first, 15-7 in the second and 36-25 overall, the Flyers outscored the Oilers to win 4-1. The Flyers found themselves in a rare position for this season, going into the 2nd period with a 2 goal lead thanks to rising superstar Jake Voracek who had multiple pass attempts bounce right back to him for a goal. His first goal bounced off the net and came back to him allowing him to tuck it in behind Fasth. His second came from a blocked MDZ shot that ended up on his skate, a quick little kick and a hard shot through traffic gave Voracek his second. Voracek is currently 2nd in the league in overall points behind only Sidney Crosby (who is one point ahead of him).

“It’s only been 12 games,” Voracek said about his place on the points chart. “Obviously it’s good to hear that but I’m not going to get overly confident.’

One of P.E. Bellmare’s shots in the second period trickled past Fasth to give the Flyers a 3 goal lead and Luke Schenn got his first goal in 32 games from a falling pass from his brother behind the net.

Mason made 35 saves in the game to get his first win of the season. A new glare reducing mask and continual fan support may have been factors in Mason’s return to form against the Oilers. “Playing in Philly is a special thing,” he said. “The fans have been supportive of me, even through the tough start. You love them for that.” Mason definitely needed the confidence booster after going through October (and then the unfortunate Panthers game) without a win.

The Flyers face the Florida panthers again tonight, on home ice this time hoping they can find a way to beat Luongo and get more shots on net early on instead of waiting until late in the game.

OTHER NOTES:

  • The 4th line has had a good impact on games since the Bellmare-Rinaldo-VandeVelde line was regrouped after the return of Vincent Lecavalier. It seems like Bellmare isa key player on any line he joins, notable the Bellmare-Schenn-Simmonds second line that was so effective through Lecavalier’s absence.
  • Carlo Colaiacovo made his Flyers debut, ending the game +1 after almost 17 minutes of ice time.
  • Michael Raffl blocked a shot midway through the 3rd period and left the game with a lower body injury, the Flyers announced that he’ll be out for 6 weeks, Chris VandeVelde has been promoted to the top line wing.

Eagles Bounce Back in Houston

EAGLES DEFEAT THE HOUSTON TEXANS 31-21.

The Eagles came into this game after the nail biting loss to the Arizona Cardinals with a 5-2 record. After a loss like the one in Arizona, it’s interesting to see what kind of changes a team will make to improve their performance.

The quarterback situation in this game was interesting and may have started the quarterback controversy conversation back up. Nick Foles started the game as usual but was taken out of the game by a hit from a Texans player and has a broken clavicle and won’t be returning for a while. Foles completed 10 of 13 passes for 124 yards, 9.5 yards per pass, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. The interception was Foles’ 10th and was taken back for a 51 yard touchdown by the Texans. The Eagles touchdown  was a 57 yard bomb to Jeremy Maclin and the ball was placed perfectly into Maclin’s hands. The very small silver lining of Foles’ injury is that his throwing arm wasn’t the one injured. After Foles was knocked out of the game, good ol’ Mark Sanchez came in for relief. This was Sanchez’s first start since the 2012 season finale with the Jets. Sanchez completed 15 of 22 passes for 202, threw 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and had a 89.6 passer rating.

The rushing attack was the focus in this game. LeSean McCoy had 23 carries for 117 yards, and 5.1 yards per carry. Chris Polk only had 8 carries for 50 yards with a touchdown. McCoy and Polk spearheaded a crucial 4 play, 70 yard drive that got the Eagles a Chris Polk touchdown. The drive went 14 yard run and 26 yard run for Shady and then a 22 yard run and 8 yard run for Polk. Polk also picked up a HUGE fourth down conversion in the fourth quarter that set up an Eagles touchdown. ”

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin had another stellar game and is proving that he is a number 1 receiver in this league after a few rough games. Maclin made 6 receptions for 158 yards, an average 26.3 yards per catch, and 2 touchdowns. This game give Maclin gives 45 catches for 790 yards and 8 touchdowns for the season. Maclin is on pace for 90 catches, 1,580 yards, and 16 touchdowns this season. Maclin also made another accomplishment as he became the 13th player in NFL history with 2 straight games of 150 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.

Chip Kelly made some very good adjustments, switching to a more running  based game after Foles went down. Kelly also learned from his decision to not go for it on 4th down last week as he went for it on 4th down this week much to the relief of most fans.

THE GOOD

Obviously the main focus is on the Eagles win, winning is always good, but it’s better that with all the injuries and important players missing this team can still win.The Eagles are also 6-2 now and lead the Dallas Cowboys by a half game in the NFC East, which means we’re number 1.

Mark Sanchez, after coming to Philadelphia with the butt-fumble title, showed bright spots. If the Eagles are going to rely on him for a long time there shouldn’t be any reason to panic; that’s based on his one game performance, but we expect the best case scenario.

 

THE BAD

Offensive lineman Todd Herramans, quarterback Nick Foles, and linebacker Demeco Ryans left with injuries. Herramans left with an arm injury. Unless your starting QB is terrible you don’t really want to be without him. Foles has had some problems recently, but nothing that has really been costing the Eagles the season. Demeco Ryans left with an Achilles injury and will be out for the season, this is a bigger loss as Ryans has been called the heart and leader of the Defense.

The Eagles are now 6-2 and play the Carolina Panthers next week on Monday Night Football on ESPN in primetime.

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