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.

Josh Huff flashes again, but can he finally find consistency?

Josh Huff flashes again, but can he finally find consistency?

INDIANAPOLIS – The main reason Josh Huff has been such a frustrating player during his young NFL career was on full display Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
 
He flashed. Again.
 
The third-year wideout from Oregon was dynamic, elusive, productive. He didn’t look like a disappointment. He didn’t look like the player fans have grown to distrust. Instead, he looked like the guy they still hope he can become.
 
“Just get back to being me, get back to being myself,” Huff said. “I know every receiver, everybody’s gonna drop balls in this league. I just can’t beat myself up over that.
 
“I know that I belong in this league. I know that I’m able to make plays in this league, so I just have to play my game and be myself and let it sort itself out.”
 
Huff finished Saturday’s 33-23 win over the Colts with two catches for 60 yards and a nine-yard touchdown run. He again showed just how dangerous he can be when the ball’s in his hands.
 
His first catch of the day was a 38-yard catch-and-run, which clearly played to his strengths. His second was a 22-yard pickup on a critical 3rd-and-6 during a drive that ended with a touchdown.
 
And aside from the catches, he also ran into the end zone on a 9-yard jet sweep early in the second quarter.
 
“We had some plays designed to get him involved this week, to get him the ball,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I thought he did a great job. The play that really comes to my mind is the third down where it was man coverage. He beat the guy and made a nice catch, big conversion for us. He’s a guy, and I’ve said it all camp, that has big play potential for us. It’s just with his speed and his ability to run after the catch. To get him involved tonight and see those things from him, it was really nice.”
 
Huff said he tried to enter the game like it was any other. And he said he didn’t do anything differently. But it clearly seems like the 24-year-old is trying desperately to get out of his own way. Because when he does, he can be electric.
 
Saturday night was also about the coaching staff’s finding a way to use Huff — something that clearly eluded the last staff, despite Chip Kelly’s familiarity with the wideout.
 
With Jordan Matthews out against the Colts, Huff again played in the slot, a role that seems to fit his strengths, while the jet sweep for a touchdown was the culmination of plenty of similar plays run during practices.
 
“Coaches know what I can do with the ball in my hands,” Huff said. “So they’re trying to find ways to get the ball in my hands, whether it’s a pass or behind the line of scrimmage.“
 
The Eagles made sure to get the ball to Huff on Saturday night and he rewarded them with the kind of play he’s shown he’s capable of before.
 
He took a step forward Saturday night. Now, he just needs to make sure the step backward doesn’t follow this time.
 
“It’s just a mental game for me,” Huff said. “I know I can make all the plays that I made today. It’s just about doing it on a consistent basis and being the best I can be during that play or during that game.”

Today's Lineup: A.J. Ellis, as expected, catches Vince Velasquez

Today's Lineup: A.J. Ellis, as expected, catches Vince Velasquez

After arriving to the team Saturday, veteran backstop A.J. Ellis will see his first game action in a Phillies uniform, as expected, in Sunday's series finale against the Mets.

Ellis will catch right-handed starter Vince Velasquez and bat seventh. The catcher doesn't bring much to the plate with his bat, but he calls a good game and was Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher in Los Angeles. It'll be interesting to see how he handles Velasquez.

The 35-year-old is hitting just .194 this season with one home run and 13 RBIs.

In other lineup notes, Tommy Joseph gets the start at first base and will bat cleanup and Jimmy Paredes gets his second straight start in left field. Paredes will hit sixth.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Jimmy Paredes, LF
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

For more on today's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.

Super sub Roland Alberg putting on potent show for Union

Super sub Roland Alberg putting on potent show for Union

CHESTER, Pa. -- Roland Alberg has been a terror for opposing teams. 

The latest attack from the Dutch bomber happened Saturday, while the Union were gridlocked in a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City. Alberg entered the match in the 65th minute and ended it in the 67th, when he launched a volley that beat goalkeeper Alec Kann. 

“I have to be patient, but when I come on the field, I have to do my thing,” Alberg said. “It’s a great team performance. We did a great job, got three points and we are happy with it.”

He added an assist for the 2-0 win (see game story)

“He’s a wonderful player,” said Union left back Fabinho, who assisted on Alberg's goal. “He came on and changed the game. I saw him and I know what he likes. I give the ball to him and he scores. He has nine goals. It’s nice for him. I hope he scores more.” 

That type of impact hasn’t been irregular for Alberg. With nine goals on the season in just 925 minutes played, the 26-year-old leads MLS in goals-per-90 minutes with 0.88. Only New York City FC’s Frank Lampard is close with .85.

“He’s far and away the leader in our league,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, who originally cited Alberg’s goals-per-90 stat. “He has a special quality.”

Yet, despite that “special quality,” Alberg remains a super sub, buried behind Tranquillo Barnetta at the center attacking midfield spot. He has two goals in his last four games — all coming off the bench.

“I have to show it every training, and then it’s the coach’s decision,” he said. “If [Curtin] uses me as a sub, I’ll do 100 percent my best. And if it’s as a starter, it’s the same thing for me. Of course every player wants to play as a starter, and me too. But it’s a long season. Playoffs, they are coming. So I’m patient.”

Alberg’s potency isn’t lost on Curtin, even if the manager doesn’t switch his winning formula. Though Alberg is pushing for a starting spot, the Union might just be more dangerous with him off the bench.

“He’s a starter on most MLS teams,” Curtin said. “It’s just a matter of having depth at that spot. He’s a very valuable player to our team and shows we have a deep squad. I can’t say enough about how well he’s played in any role. As a starter for us, he’s won us a bunch of games, and his role off the bench, he’s won us some games now, too.”