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?

Future Flyers Report: Welcome to North America, German Rubtsov

Future Flyers Report: Welcome to North America, German Rubtsov

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this week’s report, we feature the Flyers’ 2016 first-round pick who escaped his motherland of Russia for a better situation — no, not the United States, Canada.

German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
If there was any doubt as to why it was important for Rubtsov to terminate his KHL contract to relocate to North America, the questions were answered last week. Rubtsov made waves in his QMJHL debut tour for the Chicoutimi, quadrupling his KHL production in just three games for the Saguenéens, registering four points in three games.

It did not take long for the 6-foot forward to make noise for Chicoutimi, which had the center playing on the wing as he gets acclimated to the North American game. In a 4-3 shootout win over Halifax, Rubtsov immediately put his stamp on the Saguenéens with a two-assist, six-shot performance in which he was named the game’s third star.

Both of Rubtsov’s apples were nothing to write home about, though he made strong hockey plays on both, his second assist in particular in which he scooped up the puck along the boards and pushed it to the blue line. In the overtime period, he twice had serious scoring chances on the same shift, displaying his speed and power on one and failing to score on a breakaway the other. It was a quiet night for Rubtsov on Friday in Chicoutimi’s 1-0 loss to Saint John, but the Russian showered the stat sheet Saturday.

In his third contest, Rubtsov registered his first career QMJHL goal, a power-play tally, and another assist in a 6-4 win over Acadie-Bathurst. Outside of the points, there was plenty else to like from Rubtsov from last week. Touted as a 200-foot player, he showcased his defensive prowess Friday against the Sea Dogs, taking away a passing lane that resulted in a Chicoutimi rush.

There was much to like about Rubtsov’s first week in the Q. Considering the frustrating start to this season with HC Vityaz, Rubtsov will finally get a fair shake at playing time.

Anthony Stolarz, G, 6-6/210, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Stolarz missed both weekend games against Providence and Hershey because of a lower-body injury believed to have been suffered in his 5-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday, which was also his 23rd birthday. Head coach Scott Gordon said Saturday night he was “waiting to hear from the doctor.” Lehigh Valley called up Mark Dekanich from Reading to fill in as Alex Lyon’s backup — Dekanich did see game action Saturday.

It looked like Stolarz was on track to start at least three of the Phantoms’ four games last week before the injury. He stopped 25 of 28 shots in Lehigh Valley’s 4-3 over Springfield on Monday, and followed that outing up with 35 saves in a 5-3 victory to the Penguins on Friday night. It’s unclear if Stolarz will miss any time this week.

Battling for the net with Lyon, Stolarz is 9-3 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .921 save percentage and one shutout in 12 games this season. His competition, Lyon, has been strong as well, despite a clunker on Saturday night against the Bruins.

Lyon was yanked against Providence after 27:02 and allowing four goals on 16 shots, but rebounded well Sunday night against Hershey. Lyon stopped 25 of 26 shots against the Bears, and lost his shutout bid about seven minutes into the third period.

The crease is crowded at Lehigh Valley, but if Stolarz should miss time, Lyon has shown this season he’s more than capable of handling the workload.

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
Another strong week for Hart, the Flyers’ top goaltending prospect. The 2016 second-round pick picked up two more wins in four games last week for Everett, stopping 113 of 94 shots he faced. On Friday, Hart picked up his sixth shutout of the season, a 33-save blanking of the Seattle Thunderbirds in a 1-0 victory of the Silvertips. In Everett’s 4-3 shootout loss to Spokane on Sunday night, Hart stopped 16 of 19 shots, but did give up 2-0 and 3-2 leads in the loss. He was beaten just once in the shootout. Hart is now 19-4-5 on the season, with a 1.90 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Scott Laughton, C, 6-1,190 , Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Remember Laughton? The 2012 first-round pick had a huge week for the Phantoms last week, as he’s continuing to work his way back into the Flyers’ future plans. Laughton turned in a five-point week, recording points in all four games and picking up his third multi-point game of the season Sunday. He had a goal in three of those four games, and tallied an assist in the Phantoms’ 9-1 blowout loss to Providence Saturday. He helped the Phantoms to a 5-1 win over Hershey on Sunday with a goal and an assist. He’s now up to eight goals and 18 points in 26 games this season at Lehigh Valley.

Quick hits
Tanner Laczynski missed both of No. 11 Ohio State’s showdowns with No. 1 Penn State last weekend. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions split the weekend series.

• Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen rebounded well after a rough outing last Tuesday in an 8-4 loss to Dartmouth, in which he yielded six goals on 18 shots before being pulled.

Madsen responded with a 26-save shutout in No. 6 Harvard’s 3-0 win over Brown University on Friday, and then stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 1-1 tie with Yale.

• Michigan forward Cooper Marody went pointless in the Wolverines’ weekend home-and-home with Michigan State, but did score the shootout winner Saturday night.

Mark Friedman added two assists in Bowling Green’s 3-2 loss to Alaska on Friday, and was pointless Saturday, as the Falcons split the weekend with the Aces with a 2-1 win. With 19 points, the junior blueliner is third on Bowling Green in points.

• Brynäs IF netminder Felix Sandstrom gave up four goals on 24 shots in a 4-3 overtime win over Orebro on Thursday night in his lone game last week.

• Sandstrom’s teammate, Oskar Lindblom, added another goal last week, also in Thursday’s game against Orebro. Lindblom had three shots on net in 20:52 against Orebro. He now leads Brynäs with 31 points and is tied for third in the SHL.

David Kase found himself playing fourth-line center for Piráti Chomutov on Friday and Sunday, partially because of a team need down the middle. Kase did have an assist Tuesday. Sunday, he played just 3:35 against HC Vítkovice Rider and was 3 for 3 in the faceoff dot. He played more Friday (9:25) and saw some PP time vs. HC Karlovy Vary.

Connor Bunnaman had a productive week for Kitchener, adding two goals and three assists in four games. He had a goal and an assist Tuesday in a 4-3 win over Windsor, and then a goal in the Rangers’ 5-3 win over Ottawa on Sunday.

• Phantoms All-Star Taylor Leier had a goal and two assists Friday vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, an assist Saturday against Providence Saturday and another Sunday against Hershey. He now has 19 assists and 27 points in 31 games.

Eagles storylines to watch this week at Senior Bowl

Eagles storylines to watch this week at Senior Bowl

It's time again for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. 

This is the week where the NFL world converges into the smallish Alabama city and takes it over until the game. The North and South squads will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, leading up to the game Saturday. 

This offseason hasn't been as crazy as the last one for the Eagles, but there are still plenty of organizational questions left to be answered. 

Maybe we'll start to get those answers this week: 

Play nice, Howie
Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said at his season-ending press conference that new personnel head Joe Douglas will be the guy who sets the draft board, but Roseman said the responsibility still falls on him. 

That, theoretically, means the Eagles could find themselves in a situation where on draft day, they go against their draft board. 

Douglas came to the Eagles as the result of a long search for a personnel head and comes with an impressive pedigree. But he can only be as successful as Roseman lets him be. Now, we'll have to try to figure out if their relationship is really working. 

Doug's role
The last time Doug Pederson was in Alabama for the Senior Bowl, his full staff was just coming together and he was pretty consumed with trying to learn how to become a head coach and implement his scheme. So he answered a few questions about the players he wanted on the team — and very likely let his opinion be known about the quarterbacks — and went back to his business. 

But as this season wrapped up, Pederson said he'd like to play a bigger role in the entire process. Will the Eagles let him? 

If nothing else, Pederson should at least be more available to give his opinion on players and spend time with them during the pre-draft process. 

Filling the holes 
The Eagles have had decent success finding players at the Senior Bowl. Last year, they got their first extended look at a quarterback from North Dakota State who was soaring up draft boards. 

Aside from Carson Wentz, they've drafted plenty of other Senior Bowl players in recent years: Jordan Hicks, Eric Rowe, Lane Johnson, Jordan Matthews and Marcus Smith. 

There are plenty of interesting prospects at this year's Senior Bowl, too. Four possible first-round corners will be in attendance: Cordrea Tankersley, Tre’Davious White, Cameron Sutton and Jourdan Lewis. There are also a few wide receivers to keep an eye on: Cooper Kupp, Zay Jones, Taywan Taylor, among them.