Preseason Report: Some Good Individual Performances, Some Terrible, and Undisciplined Mistakes

Preseason Report: Some Good Individual Performances, Some Terrible, and Undisciplined Mistakes

We
already discussed the quarterback situation following the game, which
you can read here. Let's jump right into the good and the bad from
Monday night's 27-17 preseason victory over the Patriots.

The Good

King
Dunlap appeared to solidify himself as the left tackle going forward.
He seemed calm and solid, and I only counted one pressure coming from
his assignment. The Eagles ran to the right side more, but the few times
they went left, he looked okay. And while it's true the Patriots
weren't using many of their starters, Dunlap had a decent test going
against first-round pick Chandler Jones most of the night. Meanwhile,
Demetress Bell looked adequate at best when he entered the game in the
second half.

As we mentioned in the past, Dunlap could very well
be the solution there
. He's generally played very well in seven starts
over the past two seasons, and so far, so good this summer.

Mychal KendricksFor
the second week in a row, the rookie linebacker gets a mention in the
good column. While Mychal Kendricks was beat for a touchdown pass, it
was close to the only notable flaw you could find in his performance on Monday
night. Kendricks was disruptive in the backfield, causing several plays
to go for a loss, and he's been excellent at diagnosing screens this
preseason.

With his speed and instincts, Kendricks may already be
the best linebacker on this team. DeMeco Ryans hasn't looked bad, but
he looks like he's running in mud compared to the second-round pick, who
finished the game with six total tackles.

Running Backs

We
all know LeSean McCoy can play, and he eased some concerns that the
running game might not be nearly as effective without Jason Peters anchoring
the left side, rushing for 30 yards on seven carries and a score. Nice
night, now keep him on the shelf until the real deal begins, please.

But
the backs who really caught my eye are a pair who were thought to be potentially fighting for roster spots -- and may have ended any debate
with strong outings. Bryce Brown and Stanley Havili impressed in several
phases of the game. At 6-0, 223, and sporting 4.48 speed, Brown is really something to
behold when carrying the football. He's got good burst, is able to gain the corner, then
finish runs with power. Brown finished with 51 yards on nine
carries, including a 27 yarder, plus caught two passes and made a tackle
in the return game. Havili's action was limited, but the fullback had a nice series,
taking a trap play 14 yards to the goal line, followed by a nice
block on the next play to help McCoy punch it into the end zone. Havili
had a tackle on special teams as well, and if these guys can play on the
third unit, there will most definitely be space for them.

Nate Allen

While
he didn't do anything that overwhelmed, I thought Nate Allen
played a very strong game. The third-year safety led the team in tackles
with seven, was aggressive in run support, and batted away a deep pass
in coverage. His effort against the run was the biggest thing that stood out though. On several occasions, Allen came flying into
the picture, but under control, limiting runs to just a handful of
yards. Good night for Nate Allen, as he and Kurt Coleman have both
looked fine so far.

The Bad

Penalties

This is going
to be a short list, because penalties were primarily what the negatives
on defense boiled down to. The Patriots managed to put 14 points on the
board with a pair of backup quarterbacks in the game and all their star
players on the bench, but it didn't have to be that way.

On New
England's touchdown drive, the Eagles had them pinned twice. First,
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted a Ryan Mallett pass deep inside
Patriots territory, but the pick was erased by a Fletcher Cox late hit
on the quarterback. It wasn't malicious, but under the rules, it is a
penalty. No need to kill the rookie for it, you just chalk it up as a
less of the preseason, hope he learns from his mistake. Three plays
later, it's third down again, only this time Mallett is sacked and they
will be forced to punt -- except a Nnamdi Asomugha holding penalty
results in an automatic first down. I did not see this shown during the
broadcast, so we'll take the officials at their word.

The Pats
converted three more third downs on the series, including the score, and
there is something to be said for the defense's inability to get off
the field in some of these situations. The blog McNabb or Kolb takes a
detailed look at all 13 third downs
, of which New England converted
eight total. That's far too many, especially with the B-team out there,
and considering it's been a recurring theme.

However,
the Eagles most likely don't face anywhere near 13 third downs if it weren't for the
fact they shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions. All three
Patriot scoring drives were aided by a 15-yard personal foul (as an
aside, the words personal foul are telling -- when a player hits
somebody late, I fail to see how that's on coaching), and if only DRC's INT
holds up, that's likely a 10-to-14 point swing in Philly's favor. This
alone would've made the outcome, and the way the defense was viewed,
quite a bit more favorable.

All of which is not to make excuses.
They committed the penalties, and plays that ensued then ultimately led
to points falls on the defense. It made for a miserable viewing
experience, and plenty of reasonable second-guessing. The question now
is whether they can clean it up, because in the NFL, you can't give
anybody -- not even the backups -- second and third chances.

Flyers-Blackhawks 10 observations: Have yourself a day, Ivan Provorov

Flyers-Blackhawks 10 observations: Have yourself a day, Ivan Provorov

It was the Ivan Provorov show at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon when the Flyers took down the NHL-leading Blackhawks, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).
 
The orange and black are now on a season-best four-game winning spree and have climbed past the Capitals for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.
 
Let’s delve into the game with 10 observations.
 
1. Remember this? When Provorov tripped over his own two skates in Chicago? It was a bit of an embarrassing moment for the 19-year-old. It resulted in an easy Blackhawks goal and, in many ways, served as Provorov’s rookie initiation as he finished a minus-5. Well, you can forget all that. The Flyers’ young, prized blueliner, who entered with one goal in 25 games, showed Chicago his true colors Saturday by ripping off two markers in 31 seconds of the second period. Good for him.
 
2. Brayden Schenn was extra demonstrative after extending the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 in the second period. Can you blame him? The 25-year-old had just one goal in his last 17 games. Schenn has been up and down the lineup, playing on all four lines and at both wing and center. He looked good here with Travis Konecny, who delivered a surgical pass to set up Schenn.
 
3. Patrick Kane had a secondary assist but that was all as the Flyers kept him mostly quiet. Kane, a four-time All-Star and last season’s Hart Memorial Trophy winner for NHL MVP, had 24 points coming in, good for seventh in the league.
 
4. Steve Mason was good in net. He’s now won three straight, a span in which he’s stopped 90 of 95 shots.
 
5. Aside from a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty by Nick Cousins in the third period, the Flyers played with great discipline. Chicago wasn’t awarded any power plays until there was 6:31 left in the game. The Flyers forced the Blackhawks to beat them at full strength and they couldn’t.
 
6. Cousins, Chris VandeVelde and Michael Raffl all tallied an assist apiece. The Flyers outshot Chicago, 30-27, and had just seven giveaways.
 
7. The Blackhawks’ opening goal was a nice one. Artem Anisimov adeptly eluded a sliding Provorov in front of the crease and fed Artemi Panarin for a one-timer. Mason had no chance. Panarin, as you may know, beat out Shayne Gostisbehere for last season’s Calder Memorial Trophy given to the NHL’s top rookie. The 25-year-old has nine goals and 22 points this season.
 
8. Unexpectedly, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford underwent an appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital Saturday, putting Chicago in bind. Second-string netminder Scott Darling received the start, but the Blackhawks needed an emergency backup. Enter the pride of Temple, Eric Semborski, a 23-year-old from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, who played club hockey for the Owls. Chicago inked him to an amateur tryout, essentially for one day. He was seen in warmups wearing a Temple mask, which sported “Philly Proud” and “Temple Tuff.”
 
 9. Chicago came in 13-3-2 since Oct. 28. However, the Blackhawks overall are 6-6-1 on the road compared to 10-1-2 at home. The Flyers did catch a break as Chicago was without Crawford and three-time All-Star Jonathan Toews (back). Still, a really good win for the Flyers against a team that was atop the NHL.
 
10. Wondering if there were any “woo” chants in the first home game since Jakub Voracek blasted fans for it? Well, only a select few had the audacity to try it but the woos never gained steam. Fans are past it.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1

BOX SCORE

The Flyers now have a legitimate win streak going.
 
They defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1, in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the Wells Fargo Center for their fourth straight victory (see 10 observations).
 
It’s the longest win streak of the season for Dave Hakstol’s club.
 
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov scored twice in the second period just 31 seconds apart to erase a 1-0 deficit and put the Flyers ahead. The Flyers scored three goals on their first four shots that period.
 
Chicago has now lost 13 consecutive regular-season games in Philadelphia. The Hawks last won here in 1996-97, when the building opened as CoreStates Center.

Steve Mason (26 Saves) made his third straight start in goal for the Flyers, while Scott Darling was a late sub in goal for Chicago given Corey Crawford’s emergency appendectomy surgery. 
 
Notable goals
Artemi Panarin’s one-timer from the left circle in the first period saw all five Flyers on the opposite side of the ice. 
 
Twice is nice
Provorov’s first goal was high shot above the left circle. His second goal came from the high slot low toward the left post on Darling.
 
What-a-pass
Travis Konecny threaded a puck between two Blackhawks to Brayden Schenn’s stick to set up the Flyers' third goal in the second period.
 
Inconclusive
In an effort to help Mason, Provorov had his glove hand over the puck in the Flyers' net and cleared it out. Replays were inconclusive. All you could see is Provorov moving his glove hand and the puck squirting out … but from where? It should have been a goal, but if the video doesn’t show the puck in the net, even if logic suggests otherwise, it’s not a goal. 
 
Goalie report
Mason didn’t face the kind of shot challenges that Darling did, but he did a very good job of slowing things down and forcing faceoffs by covering up shots in the paint rather than attempt to keep pucks alive.
 
Power play
The Flyers had their pickings on their first opportunity and the Hawks’ lowly 30th-ranked PK units did nothing but rely on Darling to make saves.
 
Penalty kill
Chicago didn’t have a full power play. It got an abbreviated one in the third period, when the Flyers were called for too many men on the ice during a power play, which is rather incongruous when you think about it.
 
Father and sons
The Flyers' annual event began Saturday, as players’ fathers watched the game here at the Wells Fargo Center. The fathers will travel with the team to Nashville for Sunday’s game as well.
 
Scratches
Defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy) and Radko Gudas (ill); forwards Boyd Gordon (back spasms), Sean Couturier (left knee) and Scott Laughton (healthy); goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee).
 
Up next
This is a back-to-back situation for the Flyers. They leave after the game for Nashville, where they will meet the Predators on Sunday at a rare playing time of 6 p.m.