For 50 minutes, the Flyers played like everything hung in the balance -- the coaching staff, the playing roster -- so much was up for possible change in the coming days and weeks. As a result, the Flyers built a 3-1 lead after two periods, controlling play in the middle 20 minutes.
But as the final minutes of the third approached, the Flyers became more passive. The Senators struck for three goals in 5:29 to turn the tables and take a 4-3 win from the Flyers on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Sixers guard Markelle Fultz is in New York getting a series of consultations done on his right shoulder. After beginning the season in the starting lineup, Fultz was moved to the bench upon the acquisition of Jimmy Butler. It was only a short while after that when Fultz's agent recommended that Markelle go to have his shoulder examined.
The 2019 Major League Baseball season will mark 10 years since the Philadelphia Phillies last appeared in the World Series.
The Phillies were coming off of their second championship in franchise history. Pat Gillick stepped down as general manager, opening the window of opportunity for Ruben Amaro Jr.
Raul Ibanez was signed to a three-year contract, along with Chan Ho Park to a one-year pact during the offseason, while starters Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez — along with outfielder Ben Francisco — were acquired during the latter months of the season. Among other transactions and the ebbs and flows of the 162-game regular schedule, the Phillies were primed to repeat as World Series champions.
The only obstacle in Phillies' way that ultimately proved to serve as their "Goliath" was the New York Yankees. At the end of the 2009 season, the Yankees walked away as 27-time World Series champions, while the Phillies' trophy counter remained stagnant at two.
The Phillies have only returned to the postseason twice since losing the 2009 Fall Classic. The 2019 season will mark eight years since Citizens Bank Park hosted postseason baseball.
Ten years later, the Phillies — now led by Managing Partner John Middleton and Vice President and General Manager Matt Klentak — are out for revenge.
They have been targeting this offseason for years to "big-game hunt," according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman, who adds the Phillies are could "out-boss" the Yankees as publicly being the "one team willing to go to the top of the market.
If the Sixers (11-7) are truly title contenders this season, their upcoming seven game stretch over the next two and a half weeks is critical.
With a favorable schedule, which features six of the next seven games at home, the Sixers need to add to their current two-game winning streak before they get a second crack at the Raptors on Dec. 5 in Toronto.
Starting tonight at home against Phoenix (3-12), the Sixers should be on a roll when they go up north to face the Raptors, this time with their big three of Joel Embiid,Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler intact.
Over the next 16 days, they play only two teams in Memphis (10-5) and the Pelicans (9-7) with winning records, both of which are at home, where the Sixers are a perfect 8-0 this season.
In addition, this upcoming stretch features no back-to-backs and games against the Knicks, Cavaliers, Nets and Wizards, who are all a combined 18-46.
Beyond just having a rather soft schedule, these next seven games will be crucial in Butler’s development within the offensive and defensive schemes, as well as getting the roster more comfortable playing alongside him.
But even more so, these next seven games will serve as the Sixers’ first real chance so far this season to put the conference and the rest of the league on notice.
When the Sixers pulled the trigger and acquired Jimmy Butler from Minnesota, there was less worry about his on-court fit compared to his fit in the locker room. We knew that his style of play was going to bode well with Philadelphia plans, but following his ugly exit wit the T'Wolves, the jury was out about his behavior and relationships with former teammates. Since arriving in Philadelphia, though, Butler has been a positive influence on and off the floor.
The Sixers got to have their first full practice at their facility in Camden since the trade on Tuesday and to no one's surprise, Markelle Fultz was a topic of discussion. JJ Redick said he just hopes Markelle gets healthy. Meanwhile, Butler gave a heartfelt response to Fultz's situation.
"I just want Markelle to know that he's got everyone in his corner here," Butler said. "We want him to be great, we want him to continue to work. All the outside noise is just what it is...it's noise from the outside. I love having him around, everybody here loves having him around."
Butler's response somewhat echoes what both Elton Brand and Brett Brown said last week. The Sixers organization still supports Fultz and wants him to find out what is wrong so he can get back on the court at a high level.
Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme is highly reliant on the defensive line getting consistent pressure on the quarterback. One big problem with the defense for much of the year is that that simply isn’t happening. While Fletcher Cox has been dominant and Michael Bennett has been productive in his expanded role, with Schwartz rarely blitzing, the Eagles need all four defensive linemen to make an impact.
The problem is that the birds have gotten almost no production out of the second defensive tackle position. That issue was finally addressed in the game against the Giants last Sunday, though it is not all because Tim Jernigan was active. The solution has been an option all season long.
I have long speculated in nearly every article about a defensive tackle (mostly Bruce Hector and Destiny Vaeao) being waived or injured that perhaps the Eagles would play Brandon Graham or Michael Bennett in the second defensive tackle spot to solidify the line and solve the problem. One example can be found in the final few sentences in this article as well as the original 53-man roster analysis of the defensive linemen. In fact, fellow Eagledelphia writer Matthew Kaplan and I were discussing that idea and why Jim Schwartz wasn’t utilizing it the Friday before the second Giants game.
Neither was a stretch. Brandon Graham played at the tackle position for quite a few snaps during the playoffs last year during the Eagles playoff run. Most fans will fondly remember Brandon Graham laying a nice strip sack on Tom Brady in the Super Bowl earlier this year. Graham was lined up at the tackle position on that play. Meanwhile, Bennett has moved inside to play DT for the Seahawks quite a few times throughout his career.
With Jernigan limited after just getting back to football activities with the team, he was limited in his playing time in his first game back and ended up not registering any major statistics in the game. Instead of continuing to trot out the rotation of Ngata/McGill/Hester that has yielded little result, Jim Schwartz finally decided to move Michael Bennett inside on some plays. The results speak for themselves. In addition to the Eagles allowing just three points following Bennett’s return in the second half, the line made quite a few plays and got far more pressure than they had been getting over the past few games. Just look at this clip.
The play greatly impacted the game and Bennett playing inside got Chris Long in the game. Both players were able to beat their man. Ngata has just not been productive in the 4-3 defensive scheme, but Bennett has. Last season proved that Graham, Long and Cox could be productive in the system. Instead of being limited by labels, the Eagles put out their four best options to give Jernigan some rest.
It is questionable what took Schwartz so long to at least try the move, especially at the beginning of the season when Derek Barnett was still healthy and Jernigan was on the NFI. At that point, the Eagles had Barnett, Graham, Bennett and Chris Long at DE and only Cox and Ngata as anticipated high-powered options at DT. Rotating one of Bennett or Graham in would have allowed the line to have four top options on the line at all times while also giving Cox and Ngata more rest.
The tactic may become less necessary as Jernigan sees more snaps, but it should not be left at the wayside. Ngata will still see snaps, but it may be best to look to limit those and get Bennett and Long more snaps as the pair seems to be more effective. It should also remain in the system for next season as Bennett will still be with the team and the move could help to improve rotations depending on who else ends up on the line in 2019.
The MLB offseason is in full swing as teams begin signing free agents to build up their rosters for the 2019 season. The Philadelphia Phillies have a lot of money to spend, and they plan to use it. They have been linked to nearly every big name from Bryce Harper to Paul Goldschmidt.
One of the guys that the Phils have high on their list is southpaw Patrick Corbin. The Phillies have the left-hander in town for a visit on Tuesday.
Tuesday's game at Wells Fargo Center will certainly have a different vibe. The waves of Ron Hextall's dismissal by the Flyers are still fresh. There's also the feeling that more changes could be coming after this game.
The Flyers have to somehow focus on that first and foremost. They will face the Ottawa Senators, another team that has gone through a share of changes over the last year.
With 24 hours passing between the time that the Flyers announced the dismissal of Ron Hextall as GM and the press conference with team president Paul Holmgren and Comcast CEO Dave Scott, you would think there would be plenty of answers.
For the most part, there wasn't. Holmgren deflected a lot of questions to the next GM, a hire that the organization wants done in "weeks, not months."
One thing was clear: Ron Hextall would not waver from his plan, and it is what cost him his job.
The Markelle Fultz saga continues. After a summer in which he apparently took 150,000 shots to rebuild his jumper, the former top pick is sidelined again with a mysterious combination of an unknown shoulder injury and some sort of mental issue. Last week, Fultz's agent Raymond Brothers called the Sixers and told them that Markelle would not be participating in games or practices until he had his shoulder examined. It was also revealed that Fultz is nursing a wrist injury.