Flyers Goalie Watch 2011 Is in Full Swing

Flyers Goalie Watch 2011 Is in Full Swing

You don't have to have been a Flyers fan since the mid-80s to know that hockey off seasons in Philadelphia almost always include waves of speculation and conjecture as to who will be in net the next season. After the team rode three goalies to an early playoff exit that included a sweep, we are in for quite a storm this spring and summer, with even more information to sift through than ever.

Fans and media alike have never been more tapped in than they are now (although not always with correct information). With a multitude of blogs, twitter, and easier access to player information than ever—including international players—we're bound to see the Flyers linked to more than a few trades and signings in the coming months, and people want to know more about that possible next #1 out there.

Making Sense (and Nonsense) of the Unknown
Some of the stories we'll cover, others we won't. Some we'll take seriously, while others we may poke fun at. As we've said in previous off-seasons and trade periods, it's always a time filled with misinformation. Even some of the stuff that means well ends up being off-the-mark, but a lot of it really seems to be written just to get a click or some cheap links. When the team actually does make the big move and/or the FA period ends, if you look back at all the names that were electronically stitched onto the back of a Flyers jersey, you will probably have enough guys to play against the actual team.

This was certainly true last year, when the Flyers reminded us that we won't always know what to expect from them. The other thing we learned (hopefully) is that we can't predict what many goalies will do from one season to the next.

We spent last FA period going through names of guys who ran the gamut of productivity in 2010-2011. Evgeni Nabokov went to Russia, then... the Islanders. Dan Ellis' biggest headlines were that he was a twitter phenomenon-turned-fiasco (and then he got traded). Tim Thomas, as it turns out, is not washed up or "the second best goalie on his team." Antii Niemi is actually alive and trying to make his second Stanley Cup run in as many seasons. I won't keep trotting out all the names that were linked to the Flyers last season, mostly because there are too many to remember and I don't feel like looking them all up.

Point is, I don't remember many (any?) stories that predicted Sergei Bobrovsky would start the majority of the Flyers' games on their way to being a first-place team for most of the season. From the experts to the fans, no one pegged the actual outcome of Goalie Watch 2010 until it was already happening. Part of that was due to the Michael Leighton injury, but "the unknown" is a big part of all of this—for GMs and fans alike.

Goalie Watch will be intense this year. The Bruins are barely into their third round series with the Lightning after dispatching the Flyers, and we've already witnessed a very busy week of The Next Flyers Goalie coverage. It kinda feels like seeing Christmas commercials the day after Halloween or back-to-school savings in early August.

But it's understandable. People want to know where this Flyers team is headed.

And it's not just media, fans, bloggers, and the chatter on Twitter. The Flyers' own Chairman made the rounds and expressed his own displeasure at the current goaltending situation, officially ushering in goalie hunting season. He did say that Bob is still the goalie of the future, but the bell had been rung. Ed Snider obviously wants more success than we saw this season, but he also doesn't want his organization publicly flogged the way it was in the wake of trotting out three goalies in a single series, then getting swept in the next.

Ship 'Em Out!
Dovetailing with the always well-fueled goalie talk is quite a bit of speculation over which players might be traded in order to create space under the salary cap. If the team is to add a new mask to the ranks, he likely won't come cheap, requiring the team to free up some money. How much, we don't yet know. If they are truly after a big name goalie, the market will be high. We'll probably steer clear of this topic for the most part until there is actually something to report.

But with the warmer weather here and shore houses booked for the summer, Goalie Watch 2011 is underway in Philly. As usual.

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.