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Flyers Comeback Falls Short Against Coyotes

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(Kate Frese/SB Nation)

The Philadelphia Flyers were all tricks and no treats as they fell 4-3 in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes.

By Dan Heaning, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

On the night before Halloween, fans thought they were in for a late treat but the trick was on the Philadelphia Flyers as the team lost in overtime 4-3 in a classic trap game against the Arizona Coyotes.

The Flyers played poorly through most of the contest. However, down 3-1 they completed the comeback with two late goals. Jordan Weal made the scored 3-2 after capitalizing on an Ivan Provorov rebound. Then forty-some seconds late Sean Couturier scored his second off a Claude Giroux feed.

Yet, in the three-on-three overtime, Travis Sanheim made an indecisive play in the offensive zone which allowed the game-winning rush to unfold and, ultimately, led to the winner by Alex Goligoski.

This was another contest that the Flyers allowed the team to jump out ahead and had to chase the game throughout.

In the opening frame, after a backhander by Brad Richardson, Niklas Hjalmarsson's quickly sent a cross-ice feed to a wide-open Jordan Martinook, who barely got the puck past a diving Brian Elliott. Martinook was left all alone thanks to a communications error between Travis Sanheim and Mark Alt. Alt abandoned the left side to cover the right, his assigned spot. However, Sanheim didn't move over to the left. Though, the rookie may have been expecting Alt to remain on the right side until the team got out of danger.

Christian Dvorak put the Coyotes up by two when Oliver Ekman-Larsson found him with a slap pass in the right circle. Elliott reacted early to the slap pass which put him out of position and allowed Dvorak to put the puck in the net. This put the Coyotes up 2-0 through most of the game.

The Flyers and Coyotes traded power play goals in the final frame. Brendan Perlini sent a wrister from the left circle above Elliott's glove to give the Coyotes a 3-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, Couturier put the Flyers on the board after Giroux found him open in the slot to put the Flyers back within two.

A bizarre turn in the game came when Jake Voracek and Luke Schenn engaged in a scrum midway through the third period. The officials announced a roughing minor on Schenn but as the game returned from its media timeout the officials announced a four-minute double minor on Voracek. Effectively, erasing a Flyers man advantage and replacing it with one for the Coyotes.

The Orange and Black were listless throughout the game firing only three shots in the first period and didn't draw their first power play until the third period.

The Coyotes gained their first win of the season despite a goaltending carousel that saw the team waive Louie Domingue, place Antti Raanta on injured reserve, recall Hunter Miska from Tucson and acquire Scott Wedgewood from New Jersey in the days leading up to this game.

Wedgewood had the best seat in the house for the opening period but had to make a few solid stops afterward. He stopped 28 shots while Elliott made 30 saves on 34 shots.

The loss for the Flyers makes for a fitting first win for Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet as his team took away much of the room against the franchise that drafted him into the league back in 1983. While Tocchet cannot be happy with the way his team finished the third period, they managed to escape Philadelphia with a victory.

The Flyers will hit the ice once again on Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks from the United Center. The game will mark the first of a back-to-back situation against Western Conference powers as Philadelphia faces the St. Louis Blues the very next night. Both contests are scheduled for 8 p.m.

Box Score

  1 2 3 OT T
Coyotes 2 0 1 1 4
Flyers 0 0 3 0 3

Scoring Summary

1st Period

  • Jordan Martinook (1, 2:20)
  • Christian Dvorak (1, 7:46)

2nd Period

  •  No scoring

3rd Period

  • Brendan Perlini (2, 1:34)
  • Sean Couturier (8, 2:14)
  • Jordan Weal (2, 19:07)
  • Sean Couturier (9, 19:44)

Overtime

  • Alex Goligoski (1, 4:45)

Game Statistics

  Coyotes Flyers
Shots 34 31
Power Plays 1/4 1/1
Hits 34 26
Faceoff % 43% 57%
Giveaways 15 14
Takeaways 6 2
Blocked Shots 12 16
Penalty Minutes 6 10

Sixers looking for revenge against the Rockets in Houston

By Sean McBryan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Sixers get a second crack at the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the Toyota Center. This is the second matchup between these teams in less than a week.  The Sixers fell 104-105 on a buzzer beater by Eric Gordon last Wednesday. Philadelphia will certainly be looking for revenge in this one, as questionable coaching and time management doomed them in the first game.

Now with that out of the way, the Sixers did finally win a close game against Dallas, the game sandwiched between these two games against Houston.  Philadelphia is 2-4 on the year.

The Rockets won a game and lost a game in between the two tilts against Philadelphia, beating the Charlotte Hornets and losing to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are the 5-2 Rockets' only losses this year.

Continue reading "Sixers looking for revenge against the Rockets in Houston" »


NBA Rookie Report: Sixers' Simmons, Bulls' Markkanen lead the way

Bs

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

We're two weeks into the 2017-18 NBA season and there have been a ton of surprises early on. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are 3-4 on the year after dropping contests to both the Nets and Knicks at home. The Detroit Pistons are atop the Eastern Conference at 5-2 and Lonzo Ball has had a lackluster start to his NBA career.

This year's rookie class had a lot of talent, and it's taken longer for some to adjust than others. Today, we're going to look at rookie studs and duds through the first week and a half of action. We'll leave guys out that have missed two or more games due to injury since it's still early on in the year.

Stud: Ben Simmons (PHI) 17.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.5 apg - 51.2% FG

Philadelphia's Ben Simmons has been the top of this rookie class and it hasn't even really been close. It's his second year in the league, but first actually playing, so the former LSU product had an entire season to adjust to the NBA lifestyle and learn different aspects of the game. He's come out of the gates strong, taking control of the Sixers offense, whether it be scoring the ball, passing it or running the floor after a defensive rebound. Simmons' basketball IQ is noticeable on a game-by-game basis and the 21-year-old is slowly developing more confidence in his jump shot too. If he gets some consistency with it, he'll be even more dangerous than he already is. Simmons leads all rookies is scoring and double doubles (4), ranks second in rebounds and assists, and third in field-goal percentage.

Dud: Malik Monk (CHA) 7.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.5 apg - 23.3% FG, 24.2% 3FG

Known in the rookie class as perhaps the best pure shooter from the draft, Monk has yet to find success in the regular season after putting together multiple strong performances in the preseason. After averaging 15.6 points on 35.6 percent shooting in exhibition play, Monk is averaging just seven points per game through six regular season games, struggling to shoot from both inside and outside the arc. Last week, he put together solid games against Houston (10pts, 3reb, 2ast) and Denver (17pts, 2reb, 2ast, 2stl), but scored just two points in 18 minutes against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. 

Stud: Lauri Markkanen (CHI) 15.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg - 43.1 % FG, 41.7% 3FG

The Chicago Bulls are one of the worst teams in the league at just 1-4 this season and they've had to deal with player altercations, leading to suspensions and injuries. With Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis both not playing, Markkanen has taken advantage of extended minutes. He ranks second among rookies in scoring, leads in rebounds and is tied for sixth in three-point percentage. Markkanen has scored in double figures in each of his first five career games and tallied two double doubles, which ties him for second most in the rookie class, behind Philadelphia 76ers' forward Ben Simmons. Markkanen made history in the Bulls' win against Atlanta last Thursday, becoming the first NBA player to hit 12 three pointers in the first four games of his career.

Dud: Lonzo Ball (LAL) 10.0 ppg, 7.7 apg, 7.5 rpg - 31.1% FG, 28.1% 3FG

Ball's averages actually are not that bad, but his shooting has been very poor to start his NBA career after shooting 55 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc at UCLA prior to getting drafted. His best game came against one of the worst teams in the league, the Phoenix Suns, in his second professional game. Ball scored 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds and nine assists, shooting 44.4 percent overall and from three-point range. Unfortunately, he's averaging just seven points per game in four games since, sinking just 10 shots in 41 attempts, which equals out to 24.4 shooting percentage. Ball leads all rookies in assists and ranks third among first year players in rebounds per game.

Stud: Jayson Tatum (BOS) 15.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.7 apg - 50.9% FG, 50% 3FG

With the injury to Gordon Hayward just minutes into the season, the Celtics seemed to have a significant hole in their offense. Hayward's presence would still be making a difference, but rookie Jayson Tatum has started off his NBA career really strong, shooting the ball well, being active defensively and having the versatility to score in the paint or behind the arc. Over the last three games, he's averaging 18 points on 60 percent shooting. Tatum has also done a good job taking care of the ball, averaging under two turnovers per game. The third overall pick out of Duke ranks third among rookies in scoring, fifth in rebounding, fourth in field-goal percentage and second in three-point percentage. 

Dud: Bam Adebayo (MIA) 3.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg - 36.4% FG

Selected 14th overall by the Heat in the draft, Adebayo hasn't had a great start to his young NBA career. After tallying just six minutes in the Heat's opener against the Magic, the 6-foot-10 forward out of Kentucky has been tossed into the starting lineup with Hassan Whiteside nursing a knee injury. Adebayo hasn't been too effective in his two starts, scoring 10 points (4-10 FG) to go along with 11 rebounds and two blocks in 20+ minutes each game. Abedayo will likely get another opportunity to start on Monday with Whiteside officially ruled out for Miami's game at home against the 3-3 Timberwolves.


Who will be Phillies pitching coach under Gabe Kapler?

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Though an official announcement is yet to come, multiple outlets reported Sunday evening that the Philadelphia Phillies plan to hire Los Angeles Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler as their next manager. When Game 5 of the World Series started Sunday evening, we didn't know that Kapler was going to be the next manager of the Phillies. The game, which ended up being over five hours long, gave plenty of time to speculate on what his coaching staff may look like. 

I wrote immediately after reports began to surface that the Phillies were hiring Kapler that former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez could be a fit as the club's next hitting coach. Who will be Kapler's pitching coach? Here's a preliminary look at some potential candidates:

Continue reading "Who will be Phillies pitching coach under Gabe Kapler? " »


Flyers-Coyotes: Game 12 Preview

  10-27-2016_FlyersvsCoyotes_2nd_credKateFrese-4

(Kate Frese/SB Nation)

The Philadelphia Flyers will need to avoid falling into a classic trap game tonight at 7 against the winless Arizona Coyotes from the Wells Fargo Center.

By Dan Heaning, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Philadelphia Flyers are looking to earn back-to-back wins for the second time this season while avoiding falling into a dreaded trap game against the winless Arizona Coyotes tonight at 7 p.m. from the Wells Fargo Center.

Continue reading "Flyers-Coyotes: Game 12 Preview" »


Flyers Prospect Report: Phantoms Off to Hot Start

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers have boasted organizational depth over the years, and while a good portion of it is starting to appear at the NHL level, there is still a lot of it in the minor leagues and among the junior leagues.

Here's the latest look at how some of the Flyers prospects are doing.

Continue reading "Flyers Prospect Report: Phantoms Off to Hot Start" »


Filppula's Leadership, Depth Making Impact on Flyers  

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(Kate Frese/SB Nation)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Ever since being traded to the Flyers from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Valtteri Filppula has quietly been an impact player for the Flyers whether people realize it or not.

Over the course of his short career so far with the Orange and Black, the 33-year-old Finn has 15 points in 31 games.

Continue reading "Filppula's Leadership, Depth Making Impact on Flyers  " »


Eagles Armchair: Comparing Carson Wentz's 2017 to Donovan McNabb's 2004

The Eagles rolled over the San Fransisco 49ers yesterday, improving their record to 7-1, the best start for the franchise since 2004. As fans and pundits continue to pile on to the rapidly expanding Wentz Wagon, it's time we compare the franchise quarterback's hot start to the first half of Donovan McNabb's 2004 campaign.

Going Deep

Carson Wentz is just 24 games into his NFL career, but his performance in 2017 may have already surpassed the peak year of the Philadelphia Eagles' greatest quarterback. Let's take a look at the pair's numbers through the first eight games of their best seasons: Wentz vs McNabb

The first thing that jumps out is just how similar so many of the numbers are. Outside of touchdown passes, in which Wentz has a decisive lead, and sacks, where McNabb holds the advantage, every statistic is practically even.

What is also obvious is how much younger Wentz is now than McNabb was in 2004. Wentz is just 24, but McNabb was 28 and heading to his fifth-straight Pro Bowl. As a result, Wentz has a higher number of "mistakes." Wentz has just one more interception than McNabb did, but he's been sacked five more times.

McNabb's supporting cast was also more star-studded than Wentz's, featuring names like Terrell Owens, Brian Westbrook and Tra Thomas. Granted, Wentz had Jason Peters protecting his blindside until a week ago, but no one on the Birds current roster can even be mentioned in the same breath as Owens or Westbrook.

Still, with all of that being said, Wentz is still out-playing McNabb through eight games and he is still getting better. That's what is truly exciting about watching this kid play every Sunday. Less than 24 months ago he was an unknown player, playing at North Dakota State. Now he's the toast of the town and an MVP candidate. 

Through eight games, it's safe to say Wentz is playing better than McNabb was, but he'll need to continue his hot start if he wants to out-play him for the entire season. McNabb threw 17 touchdowns in the final seven games of 2004 and tossed just four interceptions. If Wentz can replicate those numbers down the stretch, the Eagles will be sitting pretty, come playoff time. 

Injury Report

Did Not Play: Ronald Darby (ankle), Jordan Hicks (ankle)

Patrick Robinson: The Eagles lone injury of the day came in the second quarter when Robinson left the game with a head injury and never returned. The veteran cornerback has been a revelation this season, playing at a high level all year after barely making the team out of training camp. Hopefully, Robinson will be back by next week, but Rasul Douglas played pretty well in his absence and Darby could be healthy by Sunday.

Measurables

.857: Jim Schwartz is 6-1 when he faces a team coached by Kyle Shanahan. The younger Shanahan has struggled against Schwartz's defenses, but this number is a tad surprising, just because Schwartz has coached for so many sub-par teams.

24: The Eagles have gone 24 games without having a receiver record two straight 100-yard games. Zach Ertz ended the 2015 season by posting 122 yards against the New York Giants and 152 yards against the Washington Redskins. Now, the Eagles experienced a lot of growing pains with their passing game as Wentz developed last year, but to not have someone do something as routine as put up 100 receiving yards in back-to-back weeks is astonishing. 

12: On a more positive note, the Eagles offense has scored 20 points in each of their last 12 games, the longest such streak in the NFL. The consistency Doug Pederson's offense has shown is astounding, considering his lack of coaching experience. Think about it; when was the last time he was thoroughly out-coached or over-matched? Not since the Eagles' 32-14 loss has the offense been shutdown. With each passing week, Pederson gets better and better. 

Turning Point

Maybe it was the poor weather conditions or the uninspiring opponent, but the Eagles really sputtered out of the gate yesterday, putting up just three points in the first 27 minutes of the game. Wentz hit Ertz for a touchdown to make it 9-0, Birds, but the game wasn't securely in hand until Jalen Mills picked off CJ Beathard three plays later:

Mills INT

Mills' touchdown and the subesquent two-point conversion kicked the Eagles into gear and they rolled over the 49ers for the rest of the game. Apparently Mills was catching flak from his coaches and teammates about his inability to return his interceptions:

"I was actually about to go out of bounds, but then I thought about Malcolm [Jenkins], Schwartz, and [Eagles defensive backs] coach [Cory] Undlin have been grilling me all week and talking about how I have no return skills," the cornerback joked. "That kind of went through my mind so I cut it back and I had to get in the end-zone or I wouldn’t have stopped hearing that."

Mills has played fairly well this year and he now has two interceptions in the past three weeks. Good stuff from a former seventh-round pick.

Up/Down Drill

Up: Alshon Jeffery

It's no secret Jeffery has struggled to break through in his first season as an Eagle. He is second on the team in targets, but has caught less than half of those passes. Yesterday, it was much of the same as Jeffery caught two of his eight targets, but one of those catches looked like this:

Jeffery TD

That is the guy the Eagles are paying to be their top offensive weapon. Jeffery is built to win jump balls and take them to the house. Maybe this catch is a sign that Jeffery and Wentz are getting on the same page and we will see an uptick in his production soon. The Eagles need to find a better way to utilize all of Jeffery's skills because we need to get more celebrations like this, soon:

Jeffery Celebration

Oh, and he got credit for a pass breakup on the Hail Mary at the end of the first half.

Down: Offensive Line

The offensive line really struggled against the 49ers' blitz package all day. Certainly, the loss of Peters didn't help, but even the usual starters seemed to get lost in pass protection and Wentz didn't have much time all game. With Von Miller and company coming to town next week, things better tighten up or it could be a long afternoon for the young signal-caller.

Up: Mychal Kendricks

With Hicks out for the year, Kendricks has an opportunity to take over and play big-time snaps for the Eagles defense. Nigel Bradham remained the dime linebacker, but Kendricks was on the field with the base defense and nickel package. Kendricks finished the day with 14 tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits and a pass break up. 

Down: Jake Elliott

Elliott has become a bit shaky in the past two weeks, and that is scary for a young kicker. The rookie has now missed three extra points in the last two games, although one of them may not be entirely his fault as Donnie Jones struggled to cleanly hold the presumably slick ball. Elliott still knocked home a 51-yard field goal between the two misses, so he hasn't fallen apart yet, but construction on his bust in Canton has ceased for the time being.

Three-Step Drop

1. Besides the offensive line's struggles as a whole, Halapoulivaati Vaitai played pretty well at left tackle. He only had one play where he was beaten for a sack and stood up pretty well over the course of the game. The second-year tackle can't replace a future Hall of Famer, but Vaitai is solid enough to plug the hole. Maybe the Eagles will add a veteran with the trade deadline looming, but it would be hard to find an upgrade without hurting this team's future.

2. One thing that has really impressed me with this team is how no one is satisfied with their hot start. Lane Johnson went as far to yesterday's game felt like a loss, even though they never trailed, won by 23 and got the backup QB some snaps. The Eagles are more concerned with getting better and winning in the postseason than reminiscing or resting on their laurels. That's a good team.

3. It was nice to see the ovation Brent Celek got after his 14-yard reception yesterday. The 11-year vet is the longest-tenured athlete in the city of Philadelphia and he has become a bit of a forgotten man as Ertz plays like the premier tight end in the NFL. Celek's time with the Eagles is all but over, but it's good to see the fans are still giving him the appreciation he deserves.

Who's Next

The Eagles will put their six-game win streak on the line next Sunday when they host the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are sitting at 3-3 after losing each of their last two games to the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants. The Broncos will visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football this week.

Denver still boasts a top-tier defense, but Trevor Siemian and company have really struggled since putting up 42 points on the Cowboys in Week 2. In their four games since, the Broncos have scored 16, 16, 10 and 0 points, respectively. The Eagles defense has been impressive all year and, after the offense sputtered for much of yesterday's game, this game could be a low-scoring affair.


Don't be surprised if Raul Ibanez ends up on Phillies coaching staff

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Despite an impressive first season as the Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach, Matt Stairs left for stability in San Diego, as he joined Andy Green's coaching staff as the Padres hitting coach last Friday. It wouldn't be shocking if his successor is his former teammate Raul Ibanez. 

With the Phillies reportedly set to name Los Angeles Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler their next manager, Ibanez could make quite a bit of sense as team's next hitting coach. Besides the fact that he had over 2,000 hits in his 19-year big league career, Ibanez is well connected to Kapler. Since Feburary of 2016, Ibanez has been a special assistant to Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations. Friedman is one of the most respected executives in the league, especially by someone like Kapler. That Friedman brought Ibanez into the front-office almost immediately after his career ended won't be lost on Kapler. 

In addition to both having worked in the Dodgers front-office, the two have the common connection of both having worked at FS1. Their tenures didn't overlap at FS1, but they have mutual connections from their stint on the network. They also saw quite a bit of each other early in their playing careers, when Ibanez played for the Seattle Mariners and Kapler was with the Texas Rangers. 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, who broke the news that the Phillies plan to hire Kapler, did note that Kapler has some detractors around the league, with some viewing him as overly intense. Ibanez, who was once voted the second nicest player in the MLB, might be a perfect compliment to Kapler. 

One thing that could get in the way of Ibanez joining Kapler's staff in Philadelphia is that he's been connected to the managerial vacancy that the New York Yankees now have. A chance to manage one of his former teams, one that is full of young talent and finished a win away from the World Series in 2017, would obviously take precedent over following Kapler to Philadelphia. 

The Phillies, of course, wouldn't be limited to hiring Ibanez as a hitting coach. Kapler could elect to go with another hitting coach, but still offer Ibanez a job as the bench coach, first base coach or third base coach. However, Ibanez is a well enough viewed commodity around the league that it may take more than a base coach job to get him to part with his current roles with the Dodgers and as a studio analyst for ESPN. And given that Kapler's managerial experience is limited to a one-season stint as a Single-A manager in the Boston Red Sox organization, the team may elect to go with a more experienced bench coach. So a role as the team's hitting coach would seem to make the most sense. 

Ibanez, 45, spent three of his 19 major league seasons playing for the Phillies. 2009, when he hit 34 home runs and was an All-Star for a Phillies team that went to the World Series, was the best season of his career. 


Phillies reportedly to tab Gabe Kapler as next manager

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies appear to have concluded a lengthy search for their next manager. 

According to Jon Heyman and Robert Murray of FanRag Sports, general manager Matt Klentak and the Phillies brass have decided on Los Angeles Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler to be their next manager: 

The Philadelphia Phillies are focused on Gabe Kapler in their managerial search, and barring something unforeseen, he will be the choice to be the next Phillies manager, sources tell FanRag Sports.

A decision is thought to have been made Sunday, and an announcement could come as early as Monday, or perhaps right after the World Series, which will end Tuesday or Wednesday night.

MLB.com's Todd Zolecki confirmed this report. 

Kapler has spent nearly three seasons as the Dodgers director of player development, working in an extremely talented front-office that is led by Andrew Friedman. Friedman nearly hired Kapler to be the successor to Don Mattingly as the Dodgers manager after the 2015 season, but instead chose to hire Kapler's former teammate Dave Roberts. Roberts has proven to be one of the game's top managers, and has the Dodgers within two wins of their first World Series title in nearly three decades. So there wasn't anything wrong with Kapler falling just short of the Dodgers job in 2015. If anything, it allowed him to work in a talented front-office for a few more seasons before getting this chance. 

Kapler was a well-regarded utility-man that spent 12 years in the major leagues, including playing for the 2004 Boston Red Sox that broke an 86-year World Series curse. In addition to his playing career and work in the Dodgers' front-office, Kapler also spent time as a studio analyst for FS1. 

With Klentak's sabermetrics focus in mind, it isn't a surprise that he's elected to pick the 42-year-old as the next manager. Kapler is considered a progressive baseball mind and just finished a three-year stint working in one of the most progressive organizations in professional sports. 

Have there been times where teams decided on a manager and then things fell through? Sure, the Washington Nationals were going to hire now Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black after the 2015 season. Instead, they were unable to agree on a contract and ended up going with Dusty Baker as their manager. That happened because of an unwillingness from the Nationals ownership to spend more money to assure they landed Black. Don't expect that to happen in this case. 

We will have more on this story as it comes in...