Broken Twigs: Flyers' Rosehill Problem and Your FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Flyers' Rosehill Problem and Your FGSB Mailbag

Something I’ve noticed about the Flyers is that they seem unable to be grasp a basic subject that most of league has picked up on over the past few years – opportunity cost.

Here are some completely random transactions from recent Flyers history:
April 17, 2013: Jay Rosehill signed to a 2 year, $1.35M contract
July 1, 2010: Jody Shelley signed to a 3 year, $3.3M contract
July 1, 2008: Riley Cote signed to a 3 year, $1.65M contract
October 7, 2007: Jesse Boulerice signed to a Ryan Kessler’s face contract

And the reason I bring this up is that as disappointing as the Jody Shelley contract was financially, the Jay Rosehill contract is conceptually.

Let me be clear that this is not a fighting debate. Although I know fighting is probably unnecessary when it comes down to brass tacks, and is surely reckless and completely dangerous, for some reason I’m a fan. I like fighting in hockey even though I know it’s against my better judgment and will leave it to people more progressive than I to remove it. But the fact that a “player” like Jay Rosehill could possibly be on the big club this October instead of a younger, faster, more promising prospect such as Tye McGinn doesn’t sit well with me. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a young guy. It could be an old salty veteran that excels at killing penalties (and pirates). It could be Scott Gomez! It could literally be anyone with any sort of skill that was more hockey-related than UFC.

Jay Rosehill has 3 goals and 3 assists in 83 NHL games. Jay Rosehill has 24 fights in 83 NHL games. Last season Jay Rosehill averaged 6:47 TOI during his 11 games as a Flyer (I had to go to the second tab to find that stat! He wasn’t even in the top 30 on the freaking team!). Jay Rosehill has never put up real points at any level including junior and is not a consistent, defensively-sound checking forward. Jay Rosehill is a fighter when what we need in 2013 is a hockey player.

It’s no secret that the number of pugilists in the league has been dropping steadily for years, since the advent of the instigator rule and much more so since the 2004-05 lockout resulted in a faster, slicker, sexier brand of hockey. But the Flyers don’t get that. Or more clearly stated, don’t care to get that. This is Philadelphia and no one’s going to push us around and Broad Street Bullies and Rob Zombie and gggrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So they sign Jay Rosehill to a two year deal and then they traded a puck-moving piece of defensive inventory for Kris Newbury. There was probably someone in that conference room that was considering resigning Jody Shelley. And what we as fans get is a couple fights with Colton Orr and to grit our teeth every time the 4th line is out. Sounds good.

Hopefully this is some underlying, double secret plan to finally give the people of Glens Falls some entertainment after 4 years of hockey that wasn’t winning but wasn’t Slap Shot either – aka boring. The worst part is you know it’s not. And you know there will be injuries. And you know that there will be a game where our 4th line features Jay Rosehill and Kris Newbury – both with the hockey skills of Riley Cote, one of whom he used to beat up and another one he should have.

Time for some questions!

Bill L.: What kind of season is Danny Briere going to have with Les Canadiens?
The weird thing about being a Philadelphia fan is that more than winning, possibly, you love to see former players excel in new environments because a) you appreciate their service and b) you love to have spare darts to throw at management. That being said, Briere will lead the league in points next year with 110 points in 81 games. He will miss one game because the President cannot find Jack Bauer and needs Danny Briere to save the world in 24 hours sometime in January. He’ll do that AND manage to take his kids to a One Direction concert because he’s a good dad.

Ada D.: Couldn’t Kurtis Foster have stayed in the NHL, somewhere?
It would appear not. Good rule of thumb for anything in life is that if people would rather have Oliver Lauridsen do it, it’s time to start doing something else. But I’m glad to see Fozzie Bear head to Europe to play, even though I thought he’d return to the Finland or possibly even head to a less competitive league in Austria. Kurtis Foster is a good dude that has worked really hard and had some really bad luck. That he can change leagues, make at least the same amount of money and go from never knowing if he’d be in the press box to #1 superstar offensive dynamo defenseman is deserving of his hard work. I saw a lot of Twitter rubbish talking about moving to Siberia and whatnot but if you’ve never been to Croatia (which I haven’t) you should Google Images the town he’s going to be playing in (which I did) – it’s absolutely beautiful.

mhoc3518: What do you think about the Philadelphia Amateur Hockey Combine?
I think the 64 13-15 year olds who were invited to that camp probably have a good chance of playing college hockey somewhere, and it’s nice to get them together to reaffirm to every other kid in the area that they probably don’t. Which raises the question: when is a good time to tell your son he is not going to play in the NHL and should start staying up all night developing apps unless he wants to be a floor salesman when he grows up? I would guess that deep down you know if your kid’s got a shot at pro hockey around the age of 10, and I suggest as soon as the thought even occurs to you (missed breakaway, bad practice, whatever) you tell him that he doesn’t. No need to fill his mind with dreams of Joel Otto, Matt Read or other late bloomers – it’s not going to happen. There are over 500,000 active registrants in USA Hockey. There are 600 NHL positions available. If you play the odds and stick your kid at forward there are actually only 360 spots available (forget about goalie). Then take into account that people of at least a one decade range are competing for those 360 spots, not just ‘96’s or ‘04’s. And then take into account Canada, Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, and Slovakia. When you’re delivering this news be sure to blame most of your son’s failure on your spouse’s lack of athletic ability.

Mike K.: What is your obsession with Jim Dowd.
Let me ‘splain something to you. Matt Read was a very good college hockey player, right? His best year he had 41 points in 37 games and it appears he’s going to put together a decent NHL career. Now think about this – Jim Dowd’s best year at Lake Superior State he had NINETY TWO points in 46 games. One year in NJ high school he had 113 points in TWENTY FOUR games. Jim Dowd Y’all!
Also, when he finished his NHL career with the Flyers in 2007-08 he scored 6 goals during the course of the year and looked as excited as a squirt scoring his first goal ever every time. That was fun.

Mike G.: You think the NHL will ever see a Royce White?
Ever is a long time but still, probably not. Hockey so manly that there is fist-fighting allowed (see: above). Concussions (brain damage) are hidden by the players if they’re not elite. Above all, individualism is only allowed as a marketing tool and personalities or other distracting qualities(see: Bryzgalov, Ilya) are frowned upon. That aspect is probably one of the biggest challenges You Can Play faces in hockey culture – that coming out is a personal action in a team environment. On that line of thinking Royce White probably needs to not travel for a while, but besides the logistical hurdles this raises for the coaching staff, it would make for a weird locker room, which is also not tolerated in hockey (see: Island, Dry). We’re huge proponents of both You Can Play and Royce White’s mission to bring mental illness to into the professional sports discussion, but it’s going to be a while until hockey culture sees either.

Yinztweet Breakdown of the Week

She's saying she had a sex dream about Sidney Crosby. That's what she's saying.

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Eagles (3-2) return home Sunday for the first time in nearly a month and welcome a familiar face to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) will come to Philadelphia fresh off a Week 6 bye and, most notably, as the league's lone unbeaten team. Minnesota boasts one of the league's top defenses, ranking first in points allowed (12.6 per game) and second in yards allowed (287.6 per game), and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2009.

The last time these two franchises met was back in December 2013, when Matt Cassell and the Vikings put up 48 points in a win over Chip Kelly's Eagles.

To get a better handle on this year's Vikings, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 7 opponent.

Brian Robison poses yet another challenge for Big V
Making his NFL debut in a start against the Redskins last week, Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Ryan Kerrigan beat Vaitai and got to Carson Wentz for 2½ sacks, all of which came in the first half.

It won't get any easier for the rookie right tackle this week either, as he'll likely be lined up against Brian Robison for most of the afternoon. Robison has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season and, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the versatile 10-year defensive end could be difference maker on the defensive side of the ball Sunday.

"Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back," Krammer wrote. "At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate. ... And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there."

Makeshift offensive line remains a question mark
The Vikings may be undefeated, but by no means are they made up of perfect parts. As the midway point of the NFL season approaches, Minnesota's injury-battered offensive line is still a work in progress. 

Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both sidelined with season-ending injuries. Starting guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion Week 5 against the Texans, but is expected to return against the Eagles. Center is the only position on the line the Vikings haven't had to replace because of an injury at some point this season.

But despite the constant changes up front, Minnesota has been stout overall in protecting the quarterback, allowing eight sacks and 27 quarterback hits across five games. According to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, the performance of that makeshift offensive line is going to be key in the Vikings' potential success down the road. 

"What’s best for Bradford and the Vikings’ standing as the NFC’s top dog is better pass protection," Murphy wrote. "He was sacked twice when Houston defenders turnstiled Clemmings and hit hard in the pocket other times. ... Offensive line intrigue never is a sexy storyline, but how well the Vikings manage the unit week to week figures to be an underlying factor to their continued success."

Strong away from home
The Vikings are a just a few years removed from going winless on the road, finishing 0-7-1 away from home in the 2013 season. Minnesota secured wins in only two of its first 10 away games under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, but have since gone on a tear.

Minnesota has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season and, in their most recent game away from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took down the Panthers, 22-10, in Week 3. A testament of a true contender is having the ability to win consistently on the road, which holds true with the Vikings.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings' vast improvement over the past two-plus seasons has contributed to them becoming a stronger team away from home.

"Facing a tough opposing crowd once was a tall order for the Vikings, but it’s much less of one now. After being one of the worse road teams in the NFL earlier this decade, they’re now one of the best," Tomasson wrote. "Overall, the Vikings have improved, having gone from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 last season to 5-0 this year. That’s the main reason the road record has gotten so much better. Still, players say the continuity the team has had has especially helped when entering rugged road environments."

While Vegas has the Vikings as light favorites on the road, national experts have them heavily favored straight up to hand the Eagles their third straight loss.

ESPN: All nine experts picked the Vikings

CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Vikings

FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Vikings 

Flyers Skate Update: Ivan Provorov has a new partner

Flyers Skate Update: Ivan Provorov has a new partner

Ivan Provorov has a new partner.

Provorov will be paired with Brandon Manning on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, a changeup from the first four games of the season. Mark Streit drops to the third pair with Nick Schultz, a tandem that worked together most of last season.

"We're going to change them up," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said after the team's morning skate. "We're going to look at a couple of different things. Some of the combinations are some familiar ones, such as Streiter-Schultz. They played a lot of minutes together last year. It's a move that we want to take a look at."

The Provorov-Manning pair is an interesting one. It should allow the 19-year-old to activate more in the offensive zone with Manning playing positionally sound. Manning has played with an extra edge thus far, showcasing a far more aggressive brand of hockey than he's shown previously with the orange and black.

With Streit, an offensive-minded blueliner, Provorov had to cover for his partner. Provorov also ran into some tough luck situations, too. Now with Manning, Provorov has the handcuffs off a little bit. Manning plays well positionally and while he has been more aggressive, he knows when to stay back, which will help Provorov.

It's another adjustment for the rookie. Through four games, he said, there haven't been any surprises in terms of his expectations for how the NHL game plays.

"I think what I expected is what I got," Provorov said. "It's the best league in the world, you expect all four lines to be great, you expect fast pace, physical game and that's what I got. I'm still learning, but I'm trying to do better as the games go on."

Provorov has one assist this season and enters Saturday as a minus-5, largely because of the Chicago game Tuesday. Hakstol praised Provorov's maturity level and ability to self-evaluate. What he hasn't done with Provorov is talk about numbers.

"There are some meaning in stats and we take the meaningful areas and apply those," Hakstol said. "But I haven't talked to any of the young guys about their statistics. We're four games in. I don't make too much of statistics right now. We're evaluating day-to-day play and looking at areas that we can use as strengths and areas individually we can improve."

Starting slow
If there has been one common theme through the first four games, it's the Flyers' poor starts. In first periods this season, they've been outscored, 6-1 (see game notes).

On Thursday night, the Flyers again came out of the gates slow. It was their first game back after a season-opening road trip out West, which Jakub Voracek said was a factor.

Voracek, who has four assists, said the burden falls on the individual player to focus on the small details and avoid committing mistakes.

"As a player, if you don't have that extra step, you just have to keep it simple," he said. "It's going to come around. The first 10 minutes, you have to make sure you don't make mistakes and I think that we were trying to do too much if we weren't feeling right. It showed last game against Anaheim. We were a half-a-step slower."

Four games isn't a large enough sample size for Hakstol to make a definite statement on the Flyers' first-period woes. The second-year coach said he'll have a better understanding where his team is at after the Carolina game.

"I think we'll answer that question after the start tonight," Hakstol said. "I think we'll get a fair evaluation of our starts after our start tonight, and if we have a problem, we'll know it after tonight. If we don't, we'll know that as well.

"Pretty clear, crystal clear, black and white in my mind. Tonight should tell else what type of team we are at the start of the hockey game."

Projected Flyers Lineup
F: Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds

Travis Konecny-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Nick Cousins-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde-Boyd Gordon-Roman Lyubimov

D: Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere

Ivan Provorov-Brandon Manning

Nick Schultz-Mark Streit

G: Steve Mason