Broken Twigs: Most Hated Players in the NHL and Your Flyers Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Most Hated Players in the NHL and Your Flyers Mailbag

I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the Arron Asham signing when it happened. For years I had loathed that Metis meatball and now he was coming to my home town team. But like it has happened with so many before and so many since (read: Daniel Carcillo), I rooted for him when he wore the orange and black. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I just wouldn’t really think about it. And if I did it was to try and trick myself into getting pumped up about him. Like “Arron Asham's gonna give you the Kung Fu, beeeyyyaaaatttccchhhhh!” I’m not sure it ever really worked but it got me through a difficult time, although I'm not sure the bad taste ever left my mouth.

Since he’s left the organization I can categorize my opinion of Asham as “he’s not the worst.” That might not seem like a big difference but it’s quite the leap for me.

There are just some guys that I just never want to see in a Flyers jersey. There are a handful of current NHLers that would ruin the whole team for me. They’d be like meeting someone on the beach who had a dead toe. It’s like yeah, you got 19 good ones but I don’t want to be around you because that thing is like blackish grey and stinks and if it touches me I will die face first in a sand castle so now I'm packing up my things and going home. Kinda like that...

So in the spirit of Bleacher Report here is a slide show (j/k you guys) showcasing a group of tool boxes I hope get groin pulls, and when Homer finally signs them, I will drop a dookie on his doorstep that will be so historic IT will become the primary owner of the Wikipedia page for Dookie, and Greenday’s seminal work of alt-rock genius will become just another entry on a disambiguated list.

Chris Neil – Chris Neil is actually the inspiration for this list. I saw Danny Syvret the other night and thought it was Chris Neil for a split second and walked over and punched a hole in my living room window. Chris Neil is that big of a turkey. He’s not particularly dirty or anything, he doesn’t “play the game the wrong way” like the next entry, he’s just…I don’t care to be reminded he exists much less have to force myself to think “nice hit Chris Neil” if the Flyers ever sign him.

Matt Cooke – This guy is going to make any list about NHL shitbirds. Cooke is a great example of how terrible the people of Pittsburgh are. He’s a head-shoting, achilles stomping, chromosome collecting horrible human. And they root for him. Worse than that they DEFEND HIM. If he became a Flyer I’d quit. That’s it, I'm outta here. I’d rather eat sad desk lunches every single meal for the rest of my life than see that pie-shaped, it-wasn’t-me rest stop glory hole wearing my flying P.

Colton Orr – Oh my Lord something is wrong with this guy. He’s legitimately insane. If his non-stop Here’s Johnny expression wasn’t enough to convince you of that go re-watch what he did to poor Todd Fedoruk. Also, he’s easily the worst hockey player, possibly in NHL history. When people talk about wasting roster spots on a guy who can’t play hockey they’re talking about Colton Orr. Guy skates like he just stopped pushing a chair around at practice.

Patrick Kaleta – Google Satyr and then write me a five page paper on how Patrick Kaleta is not a time traveling mythical musical goat man from the past. The Sabres janitors are required to keep 45 lbs. of soda and beer cans behind the Zamboni at all times so Kaleta can graze between periods.

Steve Ott – Steve Ott is what I imagine would happen if Ron Weasley had sex with a Chihuahua in a pile of vomit while wearing Buffalo’s new jersey. YOU DON’T PUSH OUR COACH AND THEN CALL HIM CLASSLESS. I don’t care how good you are at face-offs.

God, that was gross. And now your XXX Flyers Mailbag!

@smasterson3 If you directed an episode of Flyers Flight Plan what would it be about?
That’s the great thing about a tiny little project like this – the ideas don’t need to be fresh or novel or anything. Given the fact that a lot of people who are a lot funnier than me have already had some pretty great ideas I would just steal them. Or pay tribute to them or whatever. But right off the top of my head I’m going with a Drunk History starring Scott Hartnell. I’d want him to drink 8 neat whiskeys and then recount the Day the Music and Drinking Died, aka the day that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded. We could have local celebrities like weather man John Bolaris and non-local celebrities like Blake from Workaholics act out how it went down. The only problem with this is that professional athletes are only allowed to have Puritan School Marm levels of fun when something is being recorded or there are reporters around. This is because the media has ruined everything. Therefore Scott Hartnell would not agree to do this (rightfully so) so it might have to be called Someone Slipped a Mickey In My Drink History. Either way it would be real solid Philadelphia gold that would be woven into the fabric of this great city for the rest of time or at least until the zombies come.

Derek T: You ever notice how all the Pittsburgh teams are black and gold and Philadelphia is orange, black, white, red, blue, green and silver?
Hmm, maybe? Are there other cities that all have the same color scheme? Somehow I feel like the government mandated that Pittsburgh teams be yellow like pee and black like death so that all other cities would be repeatedly warned about the awfulness that is Pittsburgh. “No, no hopeful colors. You can throw the piss color in if you absolutely need one.” It was probably originally yellow and brown, but the brown turned to black amid all the despair floating around the air outside any Pittsburgh bar/school/is there a difference.

@mager_pls when do the Flyers give Hal Gill a max contract?
I must not be the only one wondering what in the world Hal Gill has on our GM that he’s here at training camp. Every time I see him I’m surprised. “What’s he doing here?” It’s awful nice that we’re putting on a Hal Gill Showcase but since when are we in the business of charity? It’s not even like he’s a former Flyer or missing an eye like Bryan Berard. I’d rather them select a random 18 year old out of the crowd every night and let him touch a dream he’ll never even come close to so he can use the story to get laid for the next 10 years. Hal Gill…how did you trick our GM into trotting you around like a show pony for the rest of the NHL? Why do you even want to get embarrassed for another year? Do you have a gambling problem?

@lonis119 Would you trade Jay Rosehill for Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Vladimir Tarasenko?
Can’t do it. Salary cap, bub. Which makes me think – it’s sad that we’ll never get to see super teams again, and equally amazing that the Hawks have managed to win 2 cups in 4 tries. Our kids will never grow up seeing a team that is far and away better than the rest that you can’t help but root for them despite your dad cautioning you not to because they’re a bunch of assholes. Not in hockey anyway. On a semi-related note do you think the Canadian Olympic Team would be a lock for the Cup for the next 5 years? I bet some scrappy team could beat them in a best out of 7 two years out of the five. The cap has made the game a little different in the NHL. People are getting so accustomed to their specialized roles that they become expert 3rd line wings or 6th defensemen. I’d like to see a KHL all-star team play a season in the NHL, and not just to see Lou Lamerillo snipe Ilya Kovalchuk Goldeneye-style from the owner’s box.

Gracie B: Who’s your long-shot to make the team?
I don’t know why exactly but Chris Vande Velde has caught my eye. It might just be his name though. He’s like, not out on the ice but then sometimes he is? I don’t know how to explain it but a perfect analogy is I went to look at the box score from the Rangers game on Tuesday to see how to spell his name and he wasn’t in it. 17 Flyers were, but he wasn’t. That’s weird right? Before I heard he had actually signed a contract with the Flyers I thought he was the product of my crowd-sourced dreams coming true at Flyers camp. I thought he was some HS kid that was making the run of his life. That being said, I don’t think he’ll make the team, but when our first place club gets decimated by injuries in December I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the lineup on some random night. Dude has NHL games under his belt and coaches love when a call-up is responsible defensively. Which he must be as he certainly isn’t responsible offensively, as evidenced by his stat sheet.

Closing thought:
How about the balls on Raffl, eh? Gagne’s body isn’t even cold and this Sound of Music extra is wearing his number.

NHL Playoffs: Sharks win to reach 1st Stanley Cup Final

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NHL Playoffs: Sharks win to reach 1st Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After 25 years, the San Jose Sharks will finally play for the Stanley Cup.

Captain Joe Pavelski scored an early goal, Joel Ward added two of his own and the Sharks advanced to their first Stanley Cup final in franchise history by beating the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Wednesday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference final.

Joonas Donskoi also scored, Logan Couture had an empty-netter and Martin Jones made 24 saves as a Sharks team notorious for postseason letdowns will now play for the championship that has eluded stars such as Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau for so many years.

Thornton assisted on Pavelski's goal less than four minutes into the game to set the tone and Marleau had two assists in the third period that set off chants of "We Want The Cup! We Want The Cup!"

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final will be Monday night. The Sharks will either host Tampa Bay or visit Pittsburgh, depending on which team wins Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

With the loss, the Blues' postseason woes continue as the franchise still seeks its first championship and first trip to the Cup final since 1970. Coach Ken Hitchcock's second goalie change of the series did not work as Brian Elliott allowed four goals on 26 shots in his return to the net.

Vladimir Tarasenko, a 40-goal scorer in the regular season, got his first points of the series when he scored twice in the third period but it was too late for the Blues, who still trailed 4-2.

Despite making the playoffs 16 times in 18 seasons and winning the second most games in the NHL since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Sharks have been known for their soul-crushing playoff disappointments.

They won just three games in three previous trips to the conference final, were knocked out twice in four seasons by an eighth seed and most notably blew a 3-0 series lead to lose in the first round to Los Angeles in 2014.

The impact of that loss lasted for an entire year as San Jose missed the playoffs entirely last season. But led by first-year coach Peter DeBoer and bolstered by some key acquisitions by general manager Doug Wilson, the Sharks recovered this year and are now only four wins away from a championship.

This was the first time in San Jose's history that the team played with a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line. The atmosphere in the Shark Tank reflected the high stakes with the fans at a frenzy during pregame introductions and the "Let's Go Sharks!" chants starting soon after the puck dropped.

The Sharks fed off that energy and were buzzing early as Hitchcock predicted before the game. St. Louis nearly silenced the crowd when Alexander Steen got a chance in the slot early in the period but Jones robbed him with a glove save.

That led to a breakaway for Thornton, who missed the net on his chance. But Pavelski recovered the puck behind the net and before Elliott knew what was happening, Pavelski tucked the puck in on a wraparound for his NHL-leading 13th goal of the playoffs.

San Jose added to the lead early in the second when Ward tipped a point shot from Brent Burns past Elliott to make it 2-0.

The Sharks had a chance to add to it when Scottie Upshall was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty. But the Blues managed to kill San Jose's potent power play and started to take over the play after that. They couldn't get a goal the rest of the period, however, as San Jose kept them mostly to the outside and Jones made a great pad save against Jori Lehtera.

Ward's second goal and another by Donskoi in the third period removed any drama and allowed the fans to celebrate.

Notes
Marleau played his 165th career playoff game, the most ever for someone who never played in the finals. Thornton is next on the list with 150 games, followed by Curtis Joseph with 133. ... The only franchise that has played longer than San Jose without going to a Cup final is Arizona, which began NHL play as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs respond to destroy Raptors in Game 5

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NBA Playoffs: Cavs respond to destroy Raptors in Game 5

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Back home, the Cavaliers were not hospitable.

They rudely roughed up the Raptors again.

LeBron James scored 23 points then sat the fourth quarter, Kevin Love scored 25, and Cleveland unleashed tenacious defense on Toronto to regain control of the Eastern Conference finals with a 116-78 rout of the Raptors in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

On their court in front of 20,000-plus screaming fans following two straight losses in Canada, the Cavs opened a 34-point lead in the first half and never slowed while taking a 3-2 series lead.

They can clinch their second straight conference title and trip to the NBA Finals with a win in Game 6 on Friday night in Toronto.

"We ought to be able to transfer that on Friday," James said. "Playing in that beast of an arena that we're going to we got to be composed, we got to be tough and we got to be sharp."

The Raptors, who came in with momentum and confidence after winning Games 3 and 4, left Quicken Loans Arena shaken and one loss from having their deepest playoff run stopped.

"They kicked our butts, bottom line," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "That's been all three ballgames."

James had eight assists and six rebounds in 31 minutes before checking out late in the third quarter with the Cavs up 37. He spent the fourth quarter resting on the bench while Cleveland's reserves finished the romp.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and he, James and Love outscored the Raptors 43-34 in the first half. Cleveland has won its three games in the series by a combined 88 points.

"They are a different team here," Casey said. "We came in here with a chance to do something special and we didn't get it done. They pushed us around and took what they wanted."

DeMar DeRozan scored 14 points and Kyle Lowry had 13 for the Raptors, who were overwhelmed from the start. Bismack Biyombo had just four rebounds after getting 40 the past two games. The only positive for Toronto was center Jonas Valanciunas, who returned after missing eight straight games with a sprained right ankle. He scored nine points in 18 minutes.

Playing defense as if every possession was the game's last, Cleveland held Toronto to 34 points in the opening half while building a 31-point halftime lead -- the largest in conference finals history. Since their expansion arrival in 1993, the Raptors had never been down by 30 before in any game -- regular or postseason -- at halftime but they have rarely seen a defense like this either.

The Cavs were all over the court, swarming and stifling DeRozan and Lowry, who combined for 67 points in Game 4.

A courtside doctor might have stopped this one in the first half.

Love found his shooting touch after it went missing during the lost weekend in Toronto, where he went just 5 of 23 and was benched for the fourth quarter of Game 4. He finished 8 of 10 from the field, a confidence-boosting performance that should temporarily quiet his critics.

"Kevin Love being Kevin Love," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "He had two bad shooting games and we made a big deal out of it. Nothing he does amazes me. We gotta keep him aggressive all the time."

The Cavs made a point of getting Love the ball right away and he responded by making all four field goal attempts, dropping a 3 late in the first quarter that pushed the Cavs to a 37-19 lead.

"He was just locked in," James said. "We saw that and just wanted to keep giving him the ball. The easiest one he had tonight, he missed."

Cleveland's onslaught continued in the second quarter, and when James got free for an easy two-handed dunk, Cavs fans could relax and begin making TV viewing plans for Friday.

These looked more like the Cavaliers who opened the postseason with 10 straight wins, obliterated the Raptors by a combined 50 points in Games 1 and 2 and given a chance to beat whomever survived in the West.

Center of attention
Valanciunas hadn't played since May 7. He scored two quick baskets in the first quarter when the Raptors were still close.

Tip-ins
Raptors: Dropped to 2-7 on the road in this postseason. ... Played a game every other day since April 29, going 7-7. . Biyombo and Valanciunas are the only teammates with at least 120 rebounds this postseason.

Cavaliers: Trumped their 31-point win in Game 1, which was the previous most lopsided playoff victory in team history. ... James played in his 191st career postseason game, moving him ahead of Magic Johnson for 12th place on the all-time list. ... James (1,320) is tied with Kobe Bryant (1,320) for the second-most free throws in postseason history. Michael Jordan made 1,463. ... Improved to 7-0 at home in these playoffs.

Up next
Game 6 is Friday night in Toronto.

Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

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Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford singled in Matt Duffy with two outs in the 10th inning, and the surging San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 Wednesday for their 13th win in 14 games.

Duffy singled off Brad Hand (1-2) with one out, pinch-hitter Hunter Pence popped out, Duffy advanced on a wild pitch and Crawford hit a 1-2 offering over center fielder Jon Jay as Duffy scored standing up.

Crawford also singled and scored after some alert baserunning in the second inning. Duffy and Denard Span drove in runs for the NL West-leading Giants.

San Francisco completed a three-game sweep, extended its winning streak to five and improved to 9-0 against the Padres this season. The Giants' two walkoff wins in the series were against Hand (see full recap).

Arrieta moves to 9-0 in Cubs' win over Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Arrieta remained unbeaten on the season despite allowing as many as four runs for the first time in nearly a year and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday.

Arrieta (9-0) joined the White Sox's Chris Sale as the only nine-game winners in the majors.

Arrieta allowed four runs in a regular-season game for the first time since June 16, 2015.

Arrieta became the first Cub to win his first nine decisions since Kenny Holtzman in 1967 and it is the best start to a season for the franchise since Jim McCormick went 16-0 in 1886.

Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist each drove in two for the Cubs (see full recap).

Bradley extends hit streak to 29 in BoSox victory
BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his major league-best hitting streak to 29 games, Xander Bogaerts homered to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 10-3 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Travis Shaw had three RBIs and Boston moved to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Red Sox have scored eight or more runs 10 times in their last 14 home games.

Steven Wright (4-4) had another solid outing, giving up three runs, two earned. He has now given up three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts.

Chad Bettis (4-3) held the Red Sox scoreless through three innings but was responsible for seven runs over the next two innings before getting pulled.

The Rockies have lost six of their last seven -- all on the road (see full recap).