Broken Twigs: Flight Plan in a nutshell and your Flyers questions answered

Broken Twigs: Flight Plan in a nutshell and your Flyers questions answered

Part 1 – Does Jake Voracek Even Lift, Bro?

Just because something’s been done before doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it. Those right-before-I-penetrate-you faces have got to go. You can open a game and recap things with actual on-ice footage. No one needs to see Zac Rinaldo all aroused and staring at on a Cirque de Solie set while you’re sitting there on your old grimy couch in sweats downing your 3rd glass of Sav before 7 for God knows what reason while getting ready to watch the Flyers play the Panthers.

Part 2 - Fred Armisen takes pictures of Vinny Lecavalier

First things first. Has a dad ever looked at a son with more pride than Scoot Hartnell looks at Max Talbot from the doorway during his WMMR promo?

That’s how I always imagined my dad would have looked at me if I graduated high school. GED’s ARE EQUIVALENT, DAD!

Now a true story – New York city is disgusting and magical. One time I had a male model friend who was hired to be in a photo shoot for genetically-specific vitamins. These vitamins were so racist. There were black people vitamins, white people vitamins and other. I’m really not making this up, stick with me. So they were shooting a print campaign with the theme of people being out of place and they needed hockey extras for the second shoot. It paid $500 cash just to skate around an outdoor rink in Prospect Park all day so yes please. We had to meet the crew at the first shoot in the Meatpacking District where we saw they were shooting a spot with an old granny in a biker bar – fine. So they drive us over to the rink, do a little makeup, we get dressed and hit the ice. It was late fall and a beautiful day, and I’m in NYC playing shinny on an outdoor rink with some childhood friends. What could go wrong? The crew is setting up lighting stuff all over the rink and a lot of people are apparently getting paid to stand around and do nothing, and we’re starting to wonder what it is exactly we’re there to do when we see a bunch of guys helping this older black woman onto the ice. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT I AM NOT RACIST, WHOEVER SET THIS UP WAS. We’re like “oh shit what is going on here.” She can’t even ice skate. She was so nice though and it didn’t seem to matter to her what had us feeling pretty weird – they obviously sat down in a conference room and though black people playing hockey was just the craziest thing they ever heard of. No wait! An older black woman who can’t skate with a bunch of young white dudes that can!

Anyway, they propped her up in front of the net and made us sprint up to her and snow her for like 4 hours. When Fred Armisen half-joking tells Vinny L that he knows his name so he wouldn’t need it on his stick I immediately had flashbacks to the director at this NYC shoot who kept telling us to “ski over here” and “ski up to me.” Why can’t you be creative AND into sports? What’s wrong with you people?

I never saw the ad anywhere, I assume, because the product and everything to do with it was completely racist. I would occasionally wander into a GNC and look for this thing call Gen-Spec over the next couple years and luckily never found a bottle of it. Oh yeah, then they black-faced a Swedish stunt guy, threw a wig on him and made us give him the Hanson Brothers treatment for a video extra that was supposed to go on their website.

Next!

Part 3 – Scott Hartnell starring Steve Hartnell

Tell me you weren’t worried that Hartsy was going to fall during any of his various NHL Network promo shoots. Remember that one where he almost lost the puck coming around the corner? Whoa baby!

Part 4 – I <3 Bruno

I was sooooo ready to make fun of Bruno Gervais when I saw him walking into the Steve and Preston Show. But then one of the very first things he said was that he brought shirtsys and that they were only one number off from Claude Giroux’s. Self-deprecation! This is a life lesson kids – self-deprecation shows you are at least capable of being humble, which good people appreciate. Bottom tier guys are almost always genuinely nicer than superstars. That’s just the way the world works. Now I want Bruno to be the 7th defenseman. Happy Trails Hal Gill!

I think I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – I’m a big fan of the idea that is Flight Plan, just the execution needs some work. What we’re actually seeing is a behind the scenes view of things we’ve already seen or will see this seaon. What has made 24/7, NHL 36 and Oil Change so great is that we’re getting glimpses into previously entirely unseen aspects of the NHL Life. There have been a couple moments in Flight Plan thus far that have touched on this – Lappy addressing the rookies and Chris Pryor scaring the shit out of a room full of grown men – but otherwise Flight Plan is just another camera where there are already dozens – the Draft table, Trial on the Isle, all this promotional stuff. There’s no narrative being woven and there’s no context being given, but hopefully this is something that comes with time and is easier to do during the season. Right now I can smell the BO coming off the two guys that get locked in a room with 10 hours of footage from all this “behind the scenes” stuff and are told to cut it down to ten minutes. There’s a lot of work going into it but it still could be a lot better.

And now the only Flyers Mailbag in the city:

@GoingHard_inger preferred bottom-6 combo: Raffl-Coots-Read, Talbot-Hall-Rhino OR Talbot-Coots-Read, Hall-Laughton-Rhino?
Scott Laughton should be begging to move to wing because I just got a live update from CNN and guess what – Claude Giroux, Vinny Lecavalier and Sean Couturier are going to be our 1, 2,3 centers for a while, possibly a long while. That being said, I’d love a 4th line of 25-18-36. Which leaves Cooter and Read on the third line with either Laughton or Raffl. I’d platoon those clowns until one of them took the job. Laughton’s been playing with a little more spunk. Raffl seems serviceable but hasn’t impressed me as much as some other, less famous members of the Philly media.

@PlaidChicken Why hasn't Homer pulled the trigger on a trade for John Scott yet?
Am I the only one who thought that shit was great? All this talk about The Code…I read that book. All it did was contradict itself. It’s a great anthology of war stories from NHL’s Wild Wild West phase but The Code basically boiled down to “do whatever you think is necessary at that moment.” Jump stars, fight heavy weights, slash coaches – whatever. I don’t think Scott acutally had any intention of punching Phil Kessel. He knew what was going to happen. He would have started with a punch Carcillo-Bradley style if he really wanted to hit him, not gone for the double panda grab.

Back in the good old days when one guy with a type-writer told you what to think instead of 400 blogs this just would have been an almost-fight. Right Panatch?

@tunzo17 how large of a roll will Zac Rinaldo have in the Rob Zombie Flyers movie?
Did you know Rob Zombie has a pair of boots he’s been wearing for 20 years? I already had no idea what to expect from this movie that I’ve been hearing about for 17 years and hasn’t started shooting yet. I like that they’re going with the Hail Mary for this story instead of possibly shooting something that ends up being Stuck on You 2 - The Bernie Parent and Bobby Clarke Story.

@Mager_Pls agree or disagree, Flyers should all come out onto the rink with their jerseys tucked.
How could you even suggest something so dangerous?

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

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End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Dougherty
What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.

The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.

But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.

Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.

In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.

Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.

But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.

Hall
I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
 
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
 
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
 
Read said he learned a lot last season.
 
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
 
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
 
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
 
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.

Paone
Want to talk about having something to lose. How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.

The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.

His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short. 

Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.

Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

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Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

Another day, another mailbag. 

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend. If you're reading this on the beach or at a BBQ, well done. 

Yesterday, I answered the first round of your questions about Doug Pederson, Brandon Spikes and the possibility of adding another running back. 

Today, I'll answer some more: 

At times, Jordan Matthews will still be in the slot this season. But he won't be there all the time. 

In Doug Pederson's offense, the receivers will move around quite a bit, which means we'll see Matthews lining up out wide on both sides and in the slot. He has the ability to do both. Either way, he's going to be on the field. He's clearly the Eagles' best receiver and they're not going to take him off the field. 

I think there's a good chance we'll see some Josh Huff in the slot this year, which would make a ton of sense to me. Huff is at his best when he gets the ball in his hands and can make something happen. He's shifty enough to play in the middle. 

The idea that slot receivers are just small, shifty guys is outdated. It's all about matchups and Pederson won't be afraid to move his receivers around to find the best ones. 

Good question. I'll give you two names. One on offense and one on defense. 

Now, I didn't just pick the best players, I picked the best players with the biggest drop off to their backups. So on offense, it's Jason Peters and on defense it's Jordan Hicks. 

The scary thing: it wouldn't be shocking if either of these two go down in 2016. 

If Peters goes down, the Eagles will be fine at left tackle, because Lane Johnson will shift over. But that means either Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai will come in. We all know what's happened in the past when Kelly comes in, and Vaitai is just a rookie. Not a ton of great depth at tackle. 

As for Hicks, we saw what happened to the defense when he went out last season. And this year, the team has virtually no depth at linebacker. If Hicks went down, either veteran special teams player Najee Goode or rookie Joe Walker would need to fill in. Yikes. 

I understand it's kind of a cop-out to just pick the top running back on the depth chart, but that's what I'm doing. I know Ryan Mathews has a lengthy injury history, but I can't see Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood or Kenjon Barner being the team's leading rusher. 

And when healthy, Mathews was the team's best running back in 2015, going for 539 yards on 106 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If he manages to play 12 games this year, I think he'll be the team's leading rusher. 

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

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Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

Seeking to avoid being swept for the first time since their opening series in Cincinnati, the Phillies on Sunday afternoon will ask Tommy Joseph to provide a much needed spark.

Joseph, 24, sat out Saturday's 4-1 loss to the MLB-best Cubs with Chicago trotting out right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who crafted a five-hit, one-run complete game masterpiece.

It will be Joseph's fifth game against a righty this week, as manager Pete Mackanin's platoon at first base with Ryan Howard seemingly is coming to an end. Joseph will bat fifth.

With the Phillies averaging 3.22 runs per game, second-worst in baseball, and owning a run differential of minus-38, playing Joseph more is one of a few moves Mackanin can make.

Take into account Howard's average dipped to .154 after an 0 for 4, two-strikeout game Saturday, the decision to give Joseph more at-bats makes sense. It has for a while now.

Plus, Joseph has enjoyed success during his time up with the Phillies. The first baseman is hitting .290 with two home runs and four RBIs. He is, however, hitting just .211 with seven of his 10 strikeouts in 19 at-bats against righties. He'll face a good one in John Lackey (4-2, 3.32) on Sunday.

Mackanin has also decided to start Andres Blanco at second base against Chicago, which has proved to be too much for the Phils through the first two games. Blanco, 32, will bat third against Lackey, who he has never faced in his career. The utility man is hitting .281 with one long ball and eight RBIs in 35 games this season.

In other lineup news, the Cubs will start Villanova product Matt Szczur in left field in the series finale, giving Jorge Soler the day off. During his junior baseball season at 'Nova in 2010, Szczur took time off to donate bone marrow that helped saved a young girl in Ukraine. (Read more on Szczur here from CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury.) Szczur is hitting .375 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 40 at-bats this season with Chicago.

Here are today's full lineups:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Andres Blanco, 2B
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Vince Velasquez, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

Cubs
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jayson Heyward, RF
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Addison Russell, SS
8. Matt Szczur, LF
9. John Lackey, P

For more on today's game, read Steven Tyding's game notes.