Flyers 0-3, Time to Panic?

Flyers 0-3, Time to Panic?

Out of sync would probably be the simplest way to describe
the Flyers through three games so far, but at least in the first two they
managed to make it competitive. On Tuesday night in Newark, they had dug
themselves into a hole little more than a minute into the game, and kept on
digging until it was 3-0 Devils early in the second period, which wound up the final
tally.

Not much has gone right for Philadelphia. Cluade Giroux is
doing his thing, lighting the lamp twice this season already, or the equivalent
of two-thirds of Philly’s goals. Ilya Bryzgalov looks sharp enough, though you wouldn’t
know it from looking at his stats thanks to the numerous breakdowns in front
of him. There are rumblings that 18-year-old Scott Laughton could stick with
the big club, so I suppose that’s positive.

Then there are these special teams numbers which tell a big part of the
story. The Flyers have scored one power play goal on 15 tries, tied for the
third-highest number of opportunities in the NHL. They have allowed opponents
to convert on six of 16 tries, both the goals allowed and amount of times they were
short-handed being tied for the most in the league. Their power-play (6.7%) and
penalty-kill percentages (62.5%) rank 27th and 25th respectively.

Then there are the things you can’t necessarily quantify.
The lack of chemistry has been disappointing on every line starting from the
top. Everybody is playing the same sloppy brand of post-lockout hockey, but the
Flyers really seem to be pressing more than others, forcing bad passes in the
offensive and neutral zones, and making generally poor decisions with or
without the puck all-around.

When you list it all like that, it sounds heavy. When you state
it frankly – zero points through three games of a 48-game season – it sounds
downright desperate. You might be tempted to panic.

Naturally it’s too soon for all of that. Those special teams
numbers can’t keep up at their current rate, and head coach Peter Laviolette
will find the right pairings to spark the offense – he’ll get reinforcements
soon once Danny Briere returns to the lineup. And nothing can account for the
bad bounces that have come the Flyers’ direction, like having a pair of goals waved
off in Buffalo on Sunday, or having two deflect past Bryz off of teammates already.

It also just so happens the last time Philly started 0-3 was in the lockout-shortened 94-95 season, when they wound up finishing first
in the Atlantic Division and going all the way to the Eastern Conference
Finals.

We certainly understand the reasons for concern however, even
if the team is only 6% of the way through the schedule. The Flyers’ sluggish starts
in all three games have become the personification of the early goings of this
season. There is plenty of time to climb back in, but as they demonstrated last
night, sometimes the holes run too deep.

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Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year, but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Peterson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much. 

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star for Toronto last season when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP

Rockies
1. Charlie Blackmon CF
2. D.J. LeMehiau 2B
3. Nolan Arenado 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez RF
5. Mark  Reynolds 1B
6. Gerardo Parra LF
7. Alexi Amarista SS
8. Tony Wolters C
9. Jeff Hoffman SP