Flyers Playoff Notes & Video: Pronger, Lappy, and Ghosts of Series Past

Flyers Playoff Notes & Video: Pronger, Lappy, and Ghosts of Series Past

As is usually the case with injuries during the NHL playoffs, the Flyers are keeping us guessing on Chris Pronger's availability for the opening round. We could type up each development here (Briere's radio comments, coach's demeanor, Pronger's own words, etc.), but I really don't think any of them are giving us anything more than smoke given how the story keeps changing and never seems to be anything solid. With a player that impacts as many minutes of a game as Pronger does, opposing coaches could factor his presence (or lack thereof) into strategies, and the Flyers aren't giving Lindy Ruff much to go on at the moment. [Frank Seravalli

Obviously #20 would be a huge addition to the Flyers' blue line, which Keith Jones says is better than that of the Sabres with or without Big Pronga. [Dan Roche talks with Keith Jones]

This week's opening round series against the Sabres marks the eighth time the two teams have met each other in the postseason. The Flyers won the first, which was the Stanley Cup Finals matchup in 1975 and featured the Fog/Bat game:

Lisa Hillary takes us through a few more of the highlights of the storied Flyers-Sabres series: 

The beats were atweet with the news that Ian Laperriere was skating with the team today, although not as a player. Panotch says he will assist the coaches with the scratches throughout the playoffs. Sounds like great news to me. When I heard the local hockey writers had nominated Lappy for the Masterton Trophy, of course I was happy for him, but it also reminded me that this team has been lacking a certain Lappiness lately. Goddamn I miss that guy. Hopefully just having him around on the ice will remind everyone, but especially the role players, what is expected of them. [@tpanotch]

The Flyers depth in the forward lines and defense pairings is a well-known obstacle for opposing teams in a seven-game series, even though they haven't all played to their potential lately. But the Sabres aren't as top-heavy as they may seem, with a strong second line that may not have the name recognition of their top line, but they are dangerous. [Broad Street Hockey

Interested in seeing how previous Eastern Conference playoff matchups have gone, and whether that has predictive value for the Flyers going forward? [The Checking Line]

How about a no-nonsense, just the facts interview with a Sabres blog, with no sarcasm of any kind? [Flyers Goal Scored By]

Finally, some more great work by Mr Flyer Guy, who brings us this pump-up video:

Joel Embiid doubtful Tuesday vs. Clippers with left knee injury

Joel Embiid doubtful Tuesday vs. Clippers with left knee injury

Joel Embiid did not practice on Monday and is listed as doubtful for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Clippers.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee in the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Blazers Friday. He said after the game that the knee was fine, but the Sixers are clearly exercising caution with their young star center. Embiid will also rest on Wednesday against the Bucks.

"I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way," Embiid said Friday. "I'm great. The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good."

The Sixers are calling it a left knee contusion. They're 13-17 when Embiid plays and 2-10 without him.

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) was limited at Monday's practice but is probable to play the Clippers.

Okafor had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes in Saturday's 110-93 loss at Atlanta.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Eagles’ Taylor Hart excited about switch from defensive to offensive tackle

Eagles’ Taylor Hart excited about switch from defensive to offensive tackle

As the Eagles’ 2016 season was nearing its end, the offensive line was limping toward the finish line. 

Thanks to Lane Johnson’s suspension and several injuries across the line, the Eagles needed someone to take scout team reps at offensive tackle. So they asked reserve defensive tackle Taylor Hart. 

“They needed a little bit of help,” Hart told CSNPhilly.com on Monday. “That’s where the whole idea grew from.” 

The idea Hart talked about is a pretty big move in his career. When the spring rolls around, Hart will no longer be a defensive lineman. Instead, he’ll try to prolong his career by switching to offensive tackle. 

At first, the idea wasn’t to make Hart switch positions permanently, but the 25-year-old was impressive during practice. And still, it wasn’t until after the season that the decision to permanently switch positions was made. Hart said he talked it over with the team, his family and agent and came to the conclusion it was a good idea. 

“We all decided that this was a great route to prolong my career with the Eagles,” Hart said. “I’m really excited about it.” 

Hart came to the Eagles as a fifth-round pick in 2014 but has played minimally during the first three years of his NFL career. He's played in 15 games with one start. Fourteen of those games came in 2015 in a 3-4 defense under then-defensive coordinator Billy Davis. 

Before the 2016 season, Hart made the Eagles' original 53-man roster but was then cut as the team claimed three players. From there, he went to join his old coach Chip Kelly in San Francisco. The 49ers waived him on Oct. 22 and the Eagles claimed him but kept him inactive the rest of the way. 

The writing was on the wall: Without this decision, it’s very possible Hart’s days with the Eagles were numbered. They might still be. But at least he’s giving it a shot. 

At 6-foot-6, 305 pounds and with pretty good athleticism, it seems like Hart has the right makeup to be an offensive tackle. 

It took some prodding, but eventually, Hart admitted he was “pretty good” as an offensive lineman in high school; according to the Eagles, he was an all-state tackle. When he went to Oregon, he was given the choice to play offense or defense. He chose defense. 

Recently, Hart has been thinking a lot about why he landed on defense back then. He liked the aggressive, attacking nature of being a defensive player, but says he really enjoyed both. 

“Maybe looking back at it,” he said, “maybe I should have chosen offensive line.” 

This time last year, Hart was worried about a different switch, from Davis’ two-gapping 3-4 defense to Jim Schwartz’s attacking 4-3. At the time, Hart said he thought it was a good thing to get out of his comfort zone. Now, he really is. 

The biggest challenges he’ll face relearning to play offensive tackle, according to Hart, will be moving backwards and staying flat-footed. But Hart thinks his knowledge of playing defensive line will help him as he now tries to stop other defensive linemen. 

While Hart used to wear No. 97 with the Eagles, when he returned from San Francisco, rookie Destiny Vaeao had already snatched it, so Hart was given 77. That will work — 77 is an offensive lineman-eligible number. 

While it’s not common for a defensive lineman to switch to the other side of the ball, it’s not unprecedented either. In fact, Alejandro Villanueva was once with the Eagles in the summer of 2014 (Hart’s rookie year) as a defensive lineman. The former Army captain was cut by the Eagles but latched on with the Steelers and has become Pittsburgh’s starting left tackle. 

Hart said that he and Villanueva have remained in contact and have talked about the switch. Seeing Villanueva’s success has made Hart more confident that he can do it too. 

“In the NFL, you want to make yourself as valuable as possible,” Hart said. “It really kind of clicked for me. This is a shot for me to really be productive.”