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?

Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians

Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians

CLEVELAND -- Stephen Strasburg shut down Cleveland for seven innings and bounced back from his only loss this season, leading the Washington Nationals to a 4-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.

Strasburg (14-1) began the season with 13 straight wins before he was beaten by the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 21. The powerful right-hander shook off that blemish, holding the Indians to only three hits as the Nationals recovered after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth and losing on Tuesday night.

Washington rookie Trea Turner drove in three runs and Daniel Murphy hit his 20th homer off Carlos Carrasco (7-4), who nearly matched Strasburg but was done in by one bad inning.

Nationals reliever Blake Treinen stopped Cleveland's threat in the ninth, getting a game-ending double play for his major league save.

Strasburg walked one and struck out seven (see full recap)

Cardinals snap Familia's saves streak, rally past Mets 5-4
NEW YORK -- Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong each stroked an RBI double in the ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended Jeurys Familia's streak of 52 straight saves in rallying past the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer off Adam Wainwright to cap a three-run comeback in the seventh that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. But then Familia, who hadn't blown a regular-season save opportunity since July 30 last year, finally faltered.

Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Randal Grichuk. Molina hit the next pitch to deep center field, and Grichuk scored standing up to tie it.

Molina was thrown out at third by Familia (2-2) on pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker's comebacker, but Hazelbaker stole second and scored when Wong lined a double just inside the left-field line.

Familia's franchise-record saves streak was the third-longest in major league history behind Tom Gordon (54) and Eric Gagne (84).

Jonathan Broxton (3-2) tossed a scoreless eighth and Seung Hwan Oh got three quick outs for his sixth save (see full recap)

Padres hit 3 HRs to extend streak, beat Blue Jays 8-4
TORONTO -- Adam Rosales hit a two-run home run, Alex Dickerson and Brett Wallace each hit solo shots and the San Diego Padres beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 on Wednesday, avoiding a three-game sweep.

San Diego extended its club-record streak of games with at least one home run to 25. It's the longest run since the 2002 Texas Rangers set a major league record by homering in 27 straight.

Luis Perdomo (5-4) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings to win back-to-back starts.

Wallace reached base three times. He was hit by a pitch and scored on Rosales' homer in the third, connected off R.A. Dickey in the fifth and hit an RBI single off Joe Biagini in the sixth.

Dickerson homered for the fourth time in four games when he connected off Franklin Morales in the eighth. He is first Padres rookie to homer in four straight games.

Dickey (7-12) allowed seven runs, six earned, and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. The knuckleballer is winless in three starts and has allowed six home runs in that span (see full recap).

Eric Rowe explains 'hiccups,' ready for fresh start in pads

Eric Rowe explains 'hiccups,' ready for fresh start in pads

Earlier this week, Doug Pederson admitted cornerback Eric Rowe had some “hiccups” during the spring, and seemed to indicate they stemmed from learning a new defense. 

Rowe says that wasn’t the problem at all.

“It wasn’t the new defense that was giving me whatever hiccups [Pederson] was talking about,” Rowe said on Wednesday as he reported for his second training camp (see Day 3 observations). “It was just, I was having trouble breaking on top of the routes, specifically the curl routes. But fade ball, deep post, digs, I didn’t have any trouble there. It was just curl routes. I just knew I had to work on it after the OTAs.”

Rowe, 23, said the problem was technical; he just needed to get his feet down quicker.

Whatever the problem, whatever the hiccups, it seems as though Rowe’s standing within the organization and on the depth chart isn’t what it once was.

Many thought he would be a starter in 2016, like he was at the end of 2015, but that wasn’t the way things were in the spring. Instead, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks took those positions, and it looks like Nolan Carroll, returning from an injury, and rookie Jalen Mills, who hasn’t yet practiced in pads, are vying for playing time, too.

In back-to-back days earlier this week, Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz failed to mention Rowe’s name while listing players at the cornerback spot. Coincidental omissions or a vocalized unofficial depth chart?

Rowe could possibly go from starter to deep bench player, but that’s not what he’s planning on.

“I know I had a little ups and downs in OTAs, but now the pads are coming on,” Rowe said. “I feel like it’s a fresh start for me and I’m just ready to get out here.”

Pads go on Saturday.

“Right now, I think I still stand in a good position (with the team),” Rowe said. “Football is about the game with pads on. Now we’re really about to see in a couple days when we put the pads on.”

Small in stature, Wendell Smallwood likes to play big

Small in stature, Wendell Smallwood likes to play big

He looks like a small back. He's built like a small back. He wants to play like a big back.

Wendell Smallwood, trying to make the Eagles as a reserve tailback, stands 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, but he said he’s got a surprise for defenders that think he’s one of those itty-bitty backs that dances around looking pretty … until they get hit.

“I think that’s what most people expect,” he said Tuesday. “But when I actually put my head down and fight for those extra yards and get under guys, guys start to say, ‘Hey!’ They start to feel me a little bit.

“So I definitely think that started to show my last year in college, and I started becoming more of an inside zone type of runner instead of an outside runner.”

None of this should be a surprise considering Smallwood’s position coach is Duce Staley, who during his 10-year NFL career was much more interested in running over people than around them.

Smallwood is nowhere near as big as Staley, who played at about 235 to 240. But that’s the kind of back he wants to be.

“It’s definitely important to me and it’s definitely what Duce wants me to do,” Smallwood said. “He wants me to hit the holes and hit ‘em hard and that’s the reason he got me here.

“Duce, he doesn’t like small backs. He doesn’t. I don’t think he believes in those guys. He was a big boy. Running dudes over left and right. That’s what he wants.”

Smallwood played sparingly as a freshman at West Virginia, shared time with Rushel Shell as a sophomore, then took over last year when he led the Big 12 with 1,519 rushing yards and added nine touchdowns, 26 catches and a 6.4 rushing average.

The Eagles plucked him out of Morgantown in the fifth round, and in an uncertain running back picture, he’s got a realistic chance to not just make the team but also play a role.

Just don’t expect him to play like a typical guy his size.

“I don’t consider myself a small back anymore,” he said. “People have always said that and I kind of started to agree, but then I looked at some of the guys who are around and I’m not a small back at all.

“I’m not little and the running style I like to do is suited for a big back, and my catching kind of throws people off. I definitely think I’m a mixture of both.”

Smallwood ranked 13th in Division I in rushing yards last year, and his 6.4 average was tied for ninth among backs with at least 200 carries.

He said a lot of defenders expect him to be a finesse back, a guy who likes to juke safeties and linebackers instead of bowling them over.

“Get me going downhill and I’ll get you what I can get you,” he said. “A lot of [defenders] kind of take the easy route and think it’s going to be easy and then the rest of the game they’re going low and trying to take my legs out.”

Look at the Eagles’ running back picture.

The starter is Ryan Mathews, who is talented but injury-prone. The backup right now probably is Kenjon Barner, who has 34 career carries. Then there’s Darren Sproles, whose 3.8 average last year was his lowest since 2009 and second lowest of his 11-year career.

With a strong camp, there’s no reason Smallwood can’t work himself into that picture.

The last frontier for the Northern Delaware native is blitz pickup. Something he was never asked to do at WVU.

“I don’t think I did basically any in college,” he said. “They didn’t ask me to block at all. I was mainly running routes.

“But as soon as I got here, Duce emphasized, ‘If you want to get on the field, you’re going to block. If you’re not going to block, you’re not going to play.'”

Staley’s No. 22 wasn’t available, but Smallwood is happy to wear the jersey number of another one of his favorite backs growing up, Correll Buckhalter’s No. 28, who he seems quite similar to.

It’s not fair to compare Smallwood to Staley, Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook or any other former Eagles back until the pads go on and we see what he’s really made of.

But Smallwood said he’s thrilled Staley is his coach and said there’s nobody he’d rather be playing for.

“I think he’s a great fit for me as a coach,” Smallwood said. “I need a kind of guy who drives me, tough guy, who’s not going to let up, who’s going to keep his foot on my back. I definitely need that kind of coaching.

“Just being around him growing up and seeing what he did when he was here and how he runs and him being one of my favorite backs, I was kind of star-struck to be around him, and now he’s my coach. It’s definitely a great situation for me.”