Broken Twigs: Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers

Broken Twigs: Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers

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FGSB is off vacationing in the woods with Rocky IV this week, please leave your mailbag questions after the beep and we’ll try to get to them next week. In the meantime, enjoy the following hack job:

Over at Puck Daddy they’re running a segment called National Hockey League of Nations in which local bloggers pick the their franchises best all-time player from like 8 countries. Obviously there’s not much wiggle room with the Flyers (or probably any club) when it comes to selecting Bobby Clarke, John Leclair, Ilya Bryzgalov and a couple other greats. Not much room for debate. But because we’re wild and crazy kids, instead of coming up with our own list of just the greatest players, we decided to take it in a slightly different direction and hit you with the Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers. The criteria were as follows: you should have more than 200 games played and less than 200 PIM. And that’s it.  Without further ado, here you have the best, most gentlemanly players from the biggest, baddest ugliest franchise in the history of hockey (Mutant League Hockey aside).

Canada: Claude Giroux, 2007-present, 333 GP, 290 pts., 135 PIM


Although he does have 7 NHL fights (:o), Captain Claude was easily the best player to fit the 200+ game/200- PIM criteria. Claude’s never going to win an actual Lady Byng as he plays with an edge , as displayed in the Pittsburgh series two years ago. But all-in-all he’s just so damn skilled that he doesn’t have time to be taking slashing penalties. Steve Hartnell could learn something from the guy.

Worth mentioning is Jody Hull. I’m not sure this is a record that any Flyer would or should be proud of owning, but Hull has the lowest PIM per game all-time of guys that have played 200 games in the orange and black. The dude had 26 PIM in 210 games as a Flyer. Had I known about this at the time I would have revoked is goatee pass. All his penalties were minors. In fact, Hull’s second year as a Flyer he had 4 PIM in 67 games. How is that even possible? He either wasn’t trying hard enough or was the sneakiest bastard to ever lace up skates.

Finland: Ilkka Sinisalo, 1981-1990, 526 GP, 408 pts., 180 PIM

Ilkka is well-renowned as the greatest Finn to ever don the flying P, and he also played a clean game. Ilkka had two fighting majors in his NHL career, the first came 2:22 into a game where in the third period some ja-moke broke his stick over Bobby Clarke’s head. Du Hast!

Coming in as a close second was The Next Generation’s favorite Finn, Sami Kapanen. Sami only had 70 PIM in 311 games, but his offensive stats just don’t come close to Ilkka-Score-a-Hat-Tricka.

USA: Matt Carle, 2008-2012, 308 GP, 137 pts., 91 PIM


No one would ever accuse Matt Carle of aggressive play. If the Pronger-Carle pairing was Between Two Ferns then Carle was the ferns. I’m not even sure he could talk. The guy just like, wasn’t there. But pairing up with Chris Pronger is a good way to avoid opponents getting in your face as well as pad your stat sheet. Pre-Pronger Carle had 24 points in 64 games in 2008-09. Post-Pronger Carle averaged 81 games and 38 points a season. So yeah, Matt Carle owes Chris Pronger a Christmas card every year that says “Thanks for getting me a 6 year $33m contract, Love the Carles and Rocko the Bulldog.”

He didn’t make the Columbus list as even an honorable mention, but I think RJ Hamberger should be in the conversation here. 78 PM over 3 seasons? That smells gentlemanly to me. But Umberger did have 3 fights as a Flyer, most notably the payback match for the only hit of Brian Campbell’s career. Wow he got cream pied (no? I’m not using that right?). In a fairly uneventful fight RJ got the upper hand, which was easier to do because he was throwing punches before Campbell’s gloves were even off. Earned an instigator for that one. Instigating is not very lady like.

Russia: Dimitri Yushkevich, 1992-1995 and 2003, 215 GP, 80 pts., 212 PIM

I assure you that Russian cyborg pictured above was at one time a Flyers defenseman. No Russian fit the criteria, but The Russian Tank was closest at just 12 PIM over the limit. DY was a thick, physical dude but managed to stay out of the box for the most part. My only real Yushkevich memory is the time that Rod Brind’Amour scored a goal and DY kissed him right on the mouth in the group hug. That is lady like. These days the Westboro Baptist Church would have been outside the Spectrum for the very next home game. That probably would have been a good thing because now they wouldn’t exist (Note to youngsters: before cell phone cameras and video and the 24 hour news cycle you used to be able to just “eliminate” radical groups like that.).

Slovakia: Stanley Cup Champion Michal Handzus, 2002-2006, 237 GP, 146 pts., 166 PIM

(Faces of Zeus)

Zeus was lucky that he had a cool nickname because otherwise people would have been all over him for not using his giant body to totally level punks from the opposing team. Zeus is the only guy on this list that was involved in the infamous Flyers-Senators brawl of 2004, during which he got absolutely smashed up by Carrie Underwood’s husband.

Czech Republic: Miroslav Dvorak, 1982-1985, 193 GP, 85 pts., 51 PIM


To tell you the truth I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of this guy, and I take great pleasure in knowing obscure Flyers. Dvorak is 7 games short of meeting the criteria but there were no other Czechs that even came close. Hockey Legends had this to say about Dvorak:

Miroslav Dvorak was a rock hard square built defenseman who did not make his NHL debut until he was 31 years old in 1982. That's when the Czechoslovakian Ice Hockey Federation made him available for the Flyers. Miroslav was a tough defenseman who was very hard to get by. He excelled in one on one situations and was excellent positionally. Miroslav played the body very well but he didn't pick up many penalties. He was aggressive but not stupid. When he played in Philadelphia his play was highly appreciated by the Philadelphia organization. In 1983-84 he was named as the team's top defenseman. The popular teammate nicknamed "Cookie" also got to play in the Stanley Cup finals in 1985 where Philadelphia lost in six games to Edmonton. He spoke no English when he first arrived in Philadelphia. Defense partner Brad Marsh took him under his wing both on and off the ice. With a Czech-English dictionary and a common appreciation for beer the two became best friends.

Now that I think about it, I believe I’ve read of Bill Meltzer’s fondness for Dvorak who died in 2008 at the age of 56. RIP Miroslav.

Sweden: Pelle Eklund, 1985-1994, 589 GP, 452 pts., 107 PIM


Pelle Eklund is indubitably the greatest Swedish Flyer of all-time. Not the best Swede to play for the Flyers, but greatest Swede Flyer of all-time. Some of my earliest memories are of him dishing the puck across that dark ‘80’s ice, between boards that had no ads on them, to wide open line mates. I also remember my dad telling me to stay high in the slot and pick up garbage like Eklund did sometimes, ripping home wristers on goalies that wore less equipment that Darryl Sydor.

Eklund also owns the honor of being one of three Flyers who played two hundred games and somehow had less PIM per game than BERNIE PARENT. The goalie. Andre Lacroix joins Jody Hull and Eklund in that category.

Rest of the World, Lithuania: Dainius Zubrus, 1996-1999, 200 GP, 62 pts., 89 PIM

From Tim Panaccio the day Zubrus was traded away for 31 year old Mark Recchi:
As for the struggling Zubrus, 20, he had three goals and five assists in 63 games for the Flyers this season. In fairness to him, he was rushed into the NHL three seasons ago at Clarke's urging. He played every forward position and went from the first line to fourth line under three coaches - Terry Murray, Wayne Cashman and Roger Neilson. His ice time varied from a season-high 19 minutes on Jan. 3 to less than 10 minutes in the last 10 games. Zubrus never figured out whether he was a finesse player, such as Saku Koivu, or a power forward such as Lindros. He scored 19 career goals in 200 regular-season games as a Flyer.

Zubrus has gone on to score almost 600 points in over 1,000 NHL games so…yeah, who knows.

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Hellickson good to go; Franco sits again

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Hellickson good to go; Franco sits again

Phillies (15-28) vs. Rockies (30-17)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies' nightmarish skid continued Tuesday as they dropped a second straight game to a Rockies rookie starting pitcher.

They've been outscored 16-3 in the first two games of this four-game series against a Colorado club that has the best record in the NL and more road wins (17) than the Phillies have total wins.

Let's take a look at Game 3:

1. Hellickson good to go
The Phillies got a scare last Friday night when Jeremy Hellickson hurt his lower back during his seventh-inning at-bat, but they avoided disaster when it was diagnosed as mere stiffness as opposed to something more serious like a strained oblique.

Hellickson said that night and again the next morning that he felt fine and wouldn't miss a start. The Phillies are thankful for that given the inefficiencies of their rotation, which has just 16 quality starts in 43 games, third-fewest in the majors.

Hellickson (5-1, 3.44) was locked in last weekend against a weak Pirates lineup but this is much more of a challenge. Don't expect him to set down 16 of 17 batters the way he did in Pittsburgh.

The Phillies are 8-1 when Hellickson pitches this season and 7-27 when anyone else does. The only loss in a Hellickson start came against the Cubs on May 2, the first of a three-start skid in which Hellickson allowed 12 runs in 13⅔ innings. Of those 12 runs, 11 scored via home runs. He allowed seven homers in those three starts after giving up just two in his first five.

The Rockies present a lot of challenges and one of them is that they've been the second-best team in the majors this season against changeups, which is Hellickson's go-to pitch. Only the Marlins (.312) have a higher batting average vs. changeups than the Rockies (.286).

(For reference, the Phillies are 28th in baseball against changeups with a .201 batting average.)

Then again, not all changeups are the same, and Hellickson did limit the Marlins to one run on seven hits over six innings when he faced them April 27.

Current Rockies are just 10 for 56 (.179) off Hellickson. Ian Desmond has the only homer (2 for 5, HR, double).

2. Blackmon the Destroyer
Charlie Blackmon, good lord.

The guy has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. Over that span — Aug. 12, 2016 through last night — Blackmon has more homers at CBP than any Phillie.

Think about how ridiculous that is. Aaron Altherr and Ryan Howard are next with six homers in 15 and 17 games, respectively. Then comes Freddy Galvis with five in 26 games.

3. Fading fast
At 15-28, the Phillies are on pace to finish 57-105. They've dropped 19 of 23 and now have the second-worst record in the majors, ahead of only the 16-31 Padres.

The offense has been completely devoid of life lately. It's not like these guys are going out and playing with zero energy, but when you don't hit it's always going to seem like that.

Since May 12, the Phillies are 2-9. They've hit .225/.273/.345 as a team for the second-worst OBP and OPS, ahead of only the Mariners.

They've been middle of the pack with runners in scoring position over that span, but they have just 89 plate appearances with RISP, which is seventh-fewest in baseball.

A lot of this can be attributed to the top of the order. Cesar Hernandez is 9 for 54 (.167) with no extra-base hits over his last 14 games. And that vaunted 1-2 in the Phillies' order — a duo which hit close to .350 in April — is down to .282.

4. Scouting Chatwood
The Phillies face 27-year-old right-hander Tyler Chatwood (3-6, 5.09).

He was the Rockies' best starting pitcher last season when he went 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA in 158 innings. He walked 70 and those control issues have continued this season — 27 walks in 53 innings.

He's been especially wild lately, walking 19 in 21⅔ innings this month. 

Chatwood averages 95 mph with his fastball and sinker and 88-90 with his slider and changeup. He also throws a high-70s curveball.

He faced the Phillies twice last year and went 0-2, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) in nine innings. Interestingly, though, no active Phillie has an extra-base hit against him.

Hopefully, the Phils will be able to make Chatwood work tonight and take advantage of their opportunities with men on base. They stranded the bases loaded three times last night.

5. Franco sits again
Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp are sitting again. Pete Mackanin wants the extremely inconsistent, wild-swinging Franco to sit back and watch for a few days to regroup. He also wants to see some more of Andrew Knapp after a rough defensive week from Cameron Rupp.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Andres Blanco, 3B
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Andrew Knapp, C
8. Michael Saunders, RF
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

Bringing fun back: Counting down the 10 best Eagles touchdown celebrations

Bringing fun back: Counting down the 10 best Eagles touchdown celebrations

Up until Tuesday afternoon, many fans assumed NFL stood for No Fun League. And with often-excessive fines for celebrations such as this and that, it's easy to see why.

In a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell, though, the NFL finally wants its players to have "more room to have fun."

Yes, there will still be no twerking -- sorry, Antonio Brown -- as the league will still flag "offensive demonstrations," but we might actually get back to the good old days. And of course, I wish we could enjoy the creativity of guys like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco on a weekly basis.

But the Eagles have had plenty of fun on the field in years past and we're all hoping to see more from Carson Wentz, Jordan Matthews and the rest of the new wide receiving corps in months to come. Until then, let's count down the (entirely objective) 10 best Eagles dances and celebrations of all-time:

10. Shady's got moves...
WATCH
LeSean McCoy danced plenty and although he didn't change it up very often, the guy had his signature celebration.

9. ...And Donovan too?


Well, let's not give Donovan McNabb too much credit here. His moonwalk pales in comparison to Michael Jackson and I'm still unsure of who he was imitating with his air guitar in Dallas. Hey, at least he tried...

8. Rip it down, Terrell Owens (October 24, 2004)
WATCH
Alright, can we stop bringing pain to Browns fans?

T.O. absolutely torched Cleveland in this one when the teams faced off in 2004, catching four balls for 109 yards and two touchdowns. And to cap it off, he brought Browns fans down just a bit more, ripping off their sign that read "T. Akes O. Ne To Know One."

Clever? Yes. Smart to mock one of the best wide receivers of the generation? Probably not.

7. Freddie Mitchell: The People's Champ


This one didn't happen in the end zone, but Aaron Rodgers, I think Fred-Ex wants his celebration back.

Although the wide receiver is best known for his catch on 4th and 26 against the Packers, Mitchell once called himself "The People's Champ" and after snagging a long bomb from McNabb against the Cowboys, he showed off his own championship belt.

6. Mike Bartrum doing his thing (September 26, 2004)
Before Jon Dorenbos, there was Mike Bartrum. The guy was a stud -- he played seven seasons with the Birds and not only could he long snap, but he could also catch passes as a tight end.

We don't have a video of this one, however, according to Larry O'Rourke of the Allentown Morning Call, Bartrum caught a touchdown in Detroit in 2004 and was then flagged 15 yards after what O'Rourke termed a "jubilant long snap."

Apparently, this was an elaborate plan by Bartrum's two young sons and the long-snapper told the media afterwards, "No more celebrating.... I don't think coach Reid was too happy. He didn't really say anything. Just that he wasn't happy."

I wonder how Doug Pederson would react if Dorenbos breaks out an end-zone magic trick this season.

5. Fred Barnett's Backflop (December 2, 1990)
WATCH
Now, I don't think Barnett's celebration was the highlight of this play. I mean, wow, Randall Cunningham was absolutely amazing on this one.

With the Eagles backed up inside their own five-yard line, the quarterback somehow ducked under a Bills defender and then hucked a pass 70 yards down the field. Let's pray Carson has some Randall in him somewhere because the guy was a wizard in green and white.

But let's get to Fred Barnett. He runs into the end zone untouched for the score, stumbles to the back, and then proceeds to do some kind of backflop while shooting the ball into the stands. I'm not entirely sure what was going on with this one, yet Cunningham's work pushes his teammate up this list.

4. Vai Sikahema boxes with the goalpost (November 22, 1992)


The current NBC10 anchor didn't last long on the field with the Eagles, but maybe he could have had a career as a professional boxer. Vai showed his skills off after returning an 87-yard punt vs. the Giants as the Birds blew out their division rivals 40-20 in the Meadowlands.

It wasn't much and I wouldn't necessarily recommend stepping into the ring against Floyd Mayweather anytime soon, but who knows? The multi-talented Sikahema might not fare all that badly (yes, he would).

3. Koy Detmer gives the Patriots the "Whuppin' Stick"(December 19, 1999)
Yes, you read right. We're actually discussing the same Koy Detmer that once backed up Eagles backup Doug Pederson and spent most of his time in Philadelphia as the holder for David Akers.

With the game in hand and the Birds' season going down the drain, Detmer stepped in as the third-stringer against the Pats in 1999, tossing three touchdown passes in a 24-9 victory. Afterwards, he told reporters that his hilarious touchdown dance was known as the "whuppin' stick."

It's not like he hadn't done the dance before — Detmer "whipped it" the year prior against Green Bay — but as he stepped toward the sidelines, he flipped his arm back and forth in a raunchy fashion that I still think might get flagged under today's rules. Andy Reid later said of the celebration, "[Detmer's] a beauty, but he's definitely not a dancer."

2. DeSean's "Nestea Plunge" (December 12, 2010)
WATCH
You remember the old commercial where the construction working dying of thirst does a backflop onto a carpet and somehow lands in a pool of water? Well, that were before my time and still doesn't make much sense to me.

But they became relevant again once more in December 2010 when DeSean broke loose for a 91-yard game-breaking score in Dallas. With no one around him, Jackson got to the goal line, turned around with no one covering him and took the plunge right for paydirt.

In the moment, it was awesome just to watch D-Jax mock the Cowboys, yet that was a huge play in a crucial game for the Eagles that season. The Birds took a 27-20 lead that they would never relinquish, and the win wound up being just enough to give them the 2010 NFC East crown.

1. T.O. mocks Ray Lewis to his face (October 31, 2004)
WATCH
I don't think anyone would ever dare try to replicate soon-to-be Hall of Famer Ray Lewis' infamous "Squirrel Dance" — except maybe T.O. Owens never feared an opponent, so would it surprise anyone that he'd rip off the 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker's own intro dance with Lewis just a couple of paces away? Not a bit.

With the Birds leading Baltimore 9-3 midway through the 4th quarter of their 2004 matchup, Owens eluded a trio of Ravens defenders to slip into the end zone and give the Eagles some breathing room. And just as he had planned, T.O. scooped up a piece of grass and got right into the motions. Although this one was not original, it definitely took some guts and certainly earns its spot at the top of this list.

Not-so Honorable Mention: Brent Celek is Captain Morgan
WATCH
There is not much to be said here. Brent, let's stick to blocking and maybe the occasional spike. Or at least watch a few ads and practice some more before trying again.