Broken Twigs: Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers

Broken Twigs: Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers

Believe it or not, FGSB isn’t at home. Please leave a messsssaaaggge at the beep. We must be out, or we’d pick up the phone. Whhheerrrreeee could we be? Believe it or not, we’re not hooommmeeee!
 
FGSB is off vacationing in the woods with Rocky IV this week, please leave your mailbag questions after the beep and we’ll try to get to them next week. In the meantime, enjoy the following hack job:

Over at Puck Daddy they’re running a segment called National Hockey League of Nations in which local bloggers pick the their franchises best all-time player from like 8 countries. Obviously there’s not much wiggle room with the Flyers (or probably any club) when it comes to selecting Bobby Clarke, John Leclair, Ilya Bryzgalov and a couple other greats. Not much room for debate. But because we’re wild and crazy kids, instead of coming up with our own list of just the greatest players, we decided to take it in a slightly different direction and hit you with the Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers. The criteria were as follows: you should have more than 200 games played and less than 200 PIM. And that’s it.  Without further ado, here you have the best, most gentlemanly players from the biggest, baddest ugliest franchise in the history of hockey (Mutant League Hockey aside).

Canada: Claude Giroux, 2007-present, 333 GP, 290 pts., 135 PIM


Although he does have 7 NHL fights (:o), Captain Claude was easily the best player to fit the 200+ game/200- PIM criteria. Claude’s never going to win an actual Lady Byng as he plays with an edge , as displayed in the Pittsburgh series two years ago. But all-in-all he’s just so damn skilled that he doesn’t have time to be taking slashing penalties. Steve Hartnell could learn something from the guy.

Worth mentioning is Jody Hull. I’m not sure this is a record that any Flyer would or should be proud of owning, but Hull has the lowest PIM per game all-time of guys that have played 200 games in the orange and black. The dude had 26 PIM in 210 games as a Flyer. Had I known about this at the time I would have revoked is goatee pass. All his penalties were minors. In fact, Hull’s second year as a Flyer he had 4 PIM in 67 games. How is that even possible? He either wasn’t trying hard enough or was the sneakiest bastard to ever lace up skates.

Finland: Ilkka Sinisalo, 1981-1990, 526 GP, 408 pts., 180 PIM

Ilkka is well-renowned as the greatest Finn to ever don the flying P, and he also played a clean game. Ilkka had two fighting majors in his NHL career, the first came 2:22 into a game where in the third period some ja-moke broke his stick over Bobby Clarke’s head. Du Hast!

Coming in as a close second was The Next Generation’s favorite Finn, Sami Kapanen. Sami only had 70 PIM in 311 games, but his offensive stats just don’t come close to Ilkka-Score-a-Hat-Tricka.

USA: Matt Carle, 2008-2012, 308 GP, 137 pts., 91 PIM


No one would ever accuse Matt Carle of aggressive play. If the Pronger-Carle pairing was Between Two Ferns then Carle was the ferns. I’m not even sure he could talk. The guy just like, wasn’t there. But pairing up with Chris Pronger is a good way to avoid opponents getting in your face as well as pad your stat sheet. Pre-Pronger Carle had 24 points in 64 games in 2008-09. Post-Pronger Carle averaged 81 games and 38 points a season. So yeah, Matt Carle owes Chris Pronger a Christmas card every year that says “Thanks for getting me a 6 year $33m contract, Love the Carles and Rocko the Bulldog.”

He didn’t make the Columbus list as even an honorable mention, but I think RJ Hamberger should be in the conversation here. 78 PM over 3 seasons? That smells gentlemanly to me. But Umberger did have 3 fights as a Flyer, most notably the payback match for the only hit of Brian Campbell’s career. Wow he got cream pied (no? I’m not using that right?). In a fairly uneventful fight RJ got the upper hand, which was easier to do because he was throwing punches before Campbell’s gloves were even off. Earned an instigator for that one. Instigating is not very lady like.

Russia: Dimitri Yushkevich, 1992-1995 and 2003, 215 GP, 80 pts., 212 PIM

I assure you that Russian cyborg pictured above was at one time a Flyers defenseman. No Russian fit the criteria, but The Russian Tank was closest at just 12 PIM over the limit. DY was a thick, physical dude but managed to stay out of the box for the most part. My only real Yushkevich memory is the time that Rod Brind’Amour scored a goal and DY kissed him right on the mouth in the group hug. That is lady like. These days the Westboro Baptist Church would have been outside the Spectrum for the very next home game. That probably would have been a good thing because now they wouldn’t exist (Note to youngsters: before cell phone cameras and video and the 24 hour news cycle you used to be able to just “eliminate” radical groups like that.).

Slovakia: Stanley Cup Champion Michal Handzus, 2002-2006, 237 GP, 146 pts., 166 PIM

(Faces of Zeus)

Zeus was lucky that he had a cool nickname because otherwise people would have been all over him for not using his giant body to totally level punks from the opposing team. Zeus is the only guy on this list that was involved in the infamous Flyers-Senators brawl of 2004, during which he got absolutely smashed up by Carrie Underwood’s husband.

Czech Republic: Miroslav Dvorak, 1982-1985, 193 GP, 85 pts., 51 PIM


To tell you the truth I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of this guy, and I take great pleasure in knowing obscure Flyers. Dvorak is 7 games short of meeting the criteria but there were no other Czechs that even came close. Hockey Legends had this to say about Dvorak:

Miroslav Dvorak was a rock hard square built defenseman who did not make his NHL debut until he was 31 years old in 1982. That's when the Czechoslovakian Ice Hockey Federation made him available for the Flyers. Miroslav was a tough defenseman who was very hard to get by. He excelled in one on one situations and was excellent positionally. Miroslav played the body very well but he didn't pick up many penalties. He was aggressive but not stupid. When he played in Philadelphia his play was highly appreciated by the Philadelphia organization. In 1983-84 he was named as the team's top defenseman. The popular teammate nicknamed "Cookie" also got to play in the Stanley Cup finals in 1985 where Philadelphia lost in six games to Edmonton. He spoke no English when he first arrived in Philadelphia. Defense partner Brad Marsh took him under his wing both on and off the ice. With a Czech-English dictionary and a common appreciation for beer the two became best friends.

Now that I think about it, I believe I’ve read of Bill Meltzer’s fondness for Dvorak who died in 2008 at the age of 56. RIP Miroslav.

Sweden: Pelle Eklund, 1985-1994, 589 GP, 452 pts., 107 PIM


Pelle Eklund is indubitably the greatest Swedish Flyer of all-time. Not the best Swede to play for the Flyers, but greatest Swede Flyer of all-time. Some of my earliest memories are of him dishing the puck across that dark ‘80’s ice, between boards that had no ads on them, to wide open line mates. I also remember my dad telling me to stay high in the slot and pick up garbage like Eklund did sometimes, ripping home wristers on goalies that wore less equipment that Darryl Sydor.

Eklund also owns the honor of being one of three Flyers who played two hundred games and somehow had less PIM per game than BERNIE PARENT. The goalie. Andre Lacroix joins Jody Hull and Eklund in that category.

Rest of the World, Lithuania: Dainius Zubrus, 1996-1999, 200 GP, 62 pts., 89 PIM

From Tim Panaccio the day Zubrus was traded away for 31 year old Mark Recchi:
As for the struggling Zubrus, 20, he had three goals and five assists in 63 games for the Flyers this season. In fairness to him, he was rushed into the NHL three seasons ago at Clarke's urging. He played every forward position and went from the first line to fourth line under three coaches - Terry Murray, Wayne Cashman and Roger Neilson. His ice time varied from a season-high 19 minutes on Jan. 3 to less than 10 minutes in the last 10 games. Zubrus never figured out whether he was a finesse player, such as Saku Koivu, or a power forward such as Lindros. He scored 19 career goals in 200 regular-season games as a Flyer.

Zubrus has gone on to score almost 600 points in over 1,000 NHL games so…yeah, who knows.

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Howard, Phils can spoil Mets' season

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Howard, Phils can spoil Mets' season

Phillies (70-89) vs. Mets (85-74)
7:05 p.m. on CSN

Just three games remain in the Phillies' season. After a 24-17 start, the season went predictably downhill. However, the Phils have a chance to play spoiler to a big-time rival with the New York Mets in town. Alec Asher is on the hill for the Phillies while Robert Gsellman faces the Phillies for a third times this year.

Here are five things to watch on Friday night.

1. End of the road for the Big Ticket
There are just three games left in Ryan Howard's tenure with the Phillies.

It's been a long ride for Howard. There'll be plenty on Howard this weekend (and there's a pregame ceremony for him on Sunday), but here are some of his stats from his 13 years in Philadelphia.

Howard has hit 381 home runs and has 1,192 RBI with the Phils. He has 10 seasons of at least 20 home runs and has a run of six straight seasons from 2006 to 2011, his first six full seasons, with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI. He twice walked more than 100 times in a season and he racked up 276 doubles.

The long-time first baseman has hit 47 home runs against the Mets, his second highest total against any team (52 vs. Atlanta). In 174 games, Howard has 157 hits and 73 walks against the Mets.

Howard goes into the weekend with 197 home runs at Citizens Bank Park. Overall, he's racked up 1,465 total bases at CBP. He has, however, struck out 880 times in 769 games there as well.

2. Playing spoilers
While the Phillies are firmly outside of the playoff race, the New York Mets are in the driver's seat for a wild card spot. The Phillies could have something to say about that.

The San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals both won on Thursday while the Mets were off. That leaves the Mets one game ahead of the Giants for the first wild card spot and two games up on the Cardinals for a playoff spot. 

If the Mets win two of three this weekend, they clinch homefield advantage in the Wild Card game on Wednesday. With one win, they guarantee that they cannot be eliminated this weekend. Their magic number is two to clinch a playoff berth, so a combination of wins and Cardinals' losses can get them into the postseason. 

The Phillies can throw a wrench into the Mets' gameplan with a strong showing this weekend. While they've lost six of seven, the Phillies will likely get up for games with playoff implications. Furthermore, the Mets have the incentive to clinch as soon as possible as to avoid needing Noah Syndergaard to pitch on Sunday, so they can hold him for the National League wild card game on Wednesday.

3. Asher closes out impressive month 
Asher has made four starts since coming up earlier this month and has been much more impressive than his late season stint in 2015. 

After going 0-6 with a 9.31 ERA last year, he's 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA. However, despite picking up a win last weekend against the Mets, he struggled late and left room for improvement. 

Asher began his start Saturday vs. the Mets with a perfect game through three innings. He worked around three baserunners in the fourth inning, but came unglued after a couple errors in the fifth inning. While poor defense is not his fault, it would have been a good sign if he could have picked up his defense. Instead, he barely made it through the inning after four unearned runs.

Normally, a team would look for length out of their starter when handed such a large lead, so Asher only making it through five is disappointing. He still hasn't allowed more than two earned runs and has induced plenty of weak contact with his two-seam fastball.

The Mets will be the first (and only) team he faces twice this season.

4. Third time the charm vs. Gsellman?
Gsellman will be making his seventh career MLB start on Friday and it will be his third against the Phillies.

In two starts against the Phils, Gsellman is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA over 13 innings. He has 13 strikeouts against them while allowing 10 hits and three walks. 

All four runs he allowed to the Phillies came in his first start. He had held the Phils to one run over six innings but departed after loading the bases with none out. The Mets' bullpen promptly allowed all three inherited runners to score.

On Sunday, Gsellman dominated, shutting out the Phils for seven innings. He allowed just five baserunners and struck out eight in the 17-0 win. 

The 23-year-old rookie has a 2.56 ERA through seven appearances in the majors. He started the season in Double A, but he will likely get a playoff start if the Mets gets to the Division Series.

5. This and that
• The Phillies have just two extra base hits in 50 plate appearances against Gsellman. They are hitting .222/.271/.267 against him. 

• Eight Phils have hits off Gsellman. Freddy Galvis is 2 for 5 with a double and Jimmy Paredes is 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. 

• Michael Conforto hit a home run off Asher last season. No Mets hitter has more than one hit against him, in part because none of them have faced him more than three times.

• The Phillies have 601 runs on the season, the fewest in baseball by 39 runs. The Mets have the fifth worst total with 659 runs.

• Jeanmar Gomez is 0-3 with a 19.13 ERA in September. He's allowed 18 runs (17 earned) in eight innings.

An Attack on Carson Wentz is an Attack on All of Us

An Attack on Carson Wentz is an Attack on All of Us

Carson Wentz. He’s a phenom. He’s a star. He’s the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for for all this time. Wentz has led the Eagles to a 3-0 start, showing poise well beyond his years, and establishing himself, without a doubt, as the best quarterback in Eagles history, or at least the best since Jeff Garcia. Who else would it be? McNabb? Please. How many times was he undefeated at the bye? 

Wentz, especially after crushing the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, is unquestionably the real deal -- and I have only two questions: Should I order my flight to Houston for the Super Bowl now, or wait until the rates come down? And should the parade go up Broad Street towards City Hall, or down, towards the Sports Complex? 

Carson Wentz has already been named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month, which is clearly only a small steppingstone to Rookie of the Year, MVP, having his number retired, and ultimately the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I mean, did you see some of those throws last Sunday? 

But even with all the excitement, some are skeptical. After Week 1, we heard “it’s just one game, and besides -- it’s Cleveland!” After week 2? “the Browns and Bears suck -- wake me up when he beats a good team. After week 3? “He hasn’t even played a division game yet!” Worst of all was CBS’ Bart Scott, who called Wentz "fool’s gold." 

Please. What you have to understand is that people like Scott aren’t just mouthing off on a pregame show or sharing a meaningless NFL opinion. They are launching a vicious attack on Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles organization, every Philadelphia fan, and the city of Philadelphia itself. We should all be horribly insulted, and demanding action. 

It’s bad enough when the national guys bring up snowballs and Santa Claus. But let’s be real: Bad-mouthing Carson Wentz must not be tolerated, ever. I call for a boycott of all CBS-owned properties (other than WIP), until Bart Scott apologizes or is fired. 

Sure, I know a lot of people are more upset about the national anthem stuff. But make no mistake: Questioning Carson Wentz is way worse. 

Other Philly sports takes: 

- Of course, I’d be even happier with the Eagles’ start if the long snapper hadn’t unfairly lost a televised talent show to a little girl. 

- For those of you who asked: Now that Buddy has passed, I’ll be writing in Carson Wentz for president. 

- Assuming Jim Schwartz leaves the Eagles for a head coaching job, who should replace him as defensive coordinator? It’ll be a tough choice between Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan.  

- The only downside to the Eagles’ 3-0 start? Josh Innes isn’t around for it. Poor guy. 

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