Flyers’ secondary scorers need to step up

Flyers’ secondary scorers need to step up

Jake Voracek: zero goals. Sean Couturier: zero goals. Matt Read: zero goals. Scott Hartnell: zero goals (and injured). Claude Giroux: zero goals. Greg Paone: zero goals. Enrico Campitelli Jr: zero goals. Nick Menta: zero goals.

Ok, so the last three people on that list write for this website and do not play for the Flyers so that should get the point across that the Orange and Black’s offense has struggled immensely so far during the young NHL season.

Through the new campaign’s first eight games, the Flyers have netted just 11 goals, which ties them with Thursday’s opponent, the New York Rangers, for the lowest total in the league.

It should come as no surprise that the Flyers’ record stands at 1-7 and they have a league-worst two points.

It’s pretty safe to say that Philadelphia’s offense needs some type of spark to finally get going. And that spark needs to come from the team’s secondary scorers. Pronto.

You’re probably thinking, “No one is scoring. How can anyone be a secondary scorer?”

Touché. But I’m referring to the guys that were considered secondary scorers heading into the season. I’m talking about the Reads, Couturiers, Brayden Schenns and Wayne Simmonds of the world.

These guys have to get their respective offensive games going to not only get the team some goals, but to relieve some of the immense pressure off the Flyers’ supposed-to-be premier scorers Giroux and whoever plays alongside him, which, heading into Thursday’s visit from the Rangers, looks to now be Vincent Lecavalier and rookie Michael Raffl, and Voracek.

Even though he hasn’t really showed it much through eight games and may or may not still be feeling the effects of offseason hand surgery, Giroux is an elite NHL player. Voracek also hasn’t played like he’s capable of and may still be dealing with a back injury. They will still have to go up against the opponent’s top defensemen throughout the majority of a game. That’s not great news for guys that have been struggling out of the gate.

Take tonight's Rangers game for example. Even though they sit at minus-7 and minus-8 respectively because of New York’s similarly slow start, Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal will likely be on the ice most of the time against Giroux and Voracek. Ryan McDonagh, who isn’t having as bad a start as his fellow New York defensemen, will also likely see time against Giroux and Voracek. Those Rangers blue-liners are still capable of playing like top-level shutdown defensemen despite their slow starts to the season.

The fact is Giroux and Voracek are going to get a ton of attention even if they are struggling. That’s where the secondary scorers have to step up, especially with those guys struggling.

Schenn has two goals but one was a gift into wide-open net after Florida goalie Tim Thomas misplayed a bounce off the boards on a dump in. Simmonds scored his first goal of the season last week against the Penguins but he’s fanned and whiffed on a season’s worth of passes and shots through eight games. Read has come close with a few posts hit but still hasn’t found paydirt. And Couturier really hasn’t done anything noticeable thus far.

Let’s face it. Through eight games, Tye McGinn leads the Flyers with three goals. McGinn has played in just three of those eight games. Good for McGinn but… Oof, Flyers. Oof.

With the Flyers’ top guys not playing the way they’re capable of, it’s time for these secondary scorers to get going and give the team the offensive punch and spark it so desperately needs.  They are going to get their chances as teams continue to focus on Giroux and Voracek.

Schenn, Simmonds, Read and Couturier have all shown in the past that they’re capable of putting the puck in the net somewhat consistently and have shown they can get on hot streaks. Now is the time for one or two or all of them to do so and spark the Flyers’ sleepy offense. The talent is there to do so.

Maybe a visit from the almost-equally lousy Rangers is just what the doctor ordered.

This was a guest post by Greg Paone

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Stephen Tulloch walked out of the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday afternoon chatting with new teammate Brandon Graham, while wearing a crisp white No. 54 jersey for his first practice.

Jim Schwartz wasn’t sure if Tulloch would make it onto the field Tuesday because of all the “administration stuff” the linebacker needed to do, including putting ink to paper. But as the Eagles took the field at around 1:30 p.m., Tulloch joined them. He wouldn’t miss it.

After all, practice is where the 31-year-old feels most comfortable.

Schwartz on Tuesday morning recalled a story from training camp several years ago, when, as the head coach of the Lions, he wanted to give Tulloch a veteran day off. The coaches even told the training staff that Tulloch wouldn’t be participating that day.

“He came in my office mad as a hornet and was ready to practice,” Schwartz said.

Tulloch then told his head coach that he was ruining his streak. Forget games — dating back to high school, the linebacker hadn’t missed a practice.

Schwartz admitted he’s not one for compromising, but did make a compromise that summer day. Tulloch was allowed to practice, but his reps were cut down some.

“He knows how I am. I prepare,” said Tulloch, who remembered the story. “To me, practice is more important than that game. When you miss a rep, you miss something and you can’t make it up. I try to be present every day that I’m out here on this field. We’re playing a kid’s game. I’m 31 years old and to be able to come out here and play this game, it’s pretty fun.”

Tulloch was 28 during the 2013 training camp and went on to play and start all 16 games in the 2013 season. In 2014, he played just three before tearing his ACL, but returned to play in all 16 last year.

Tulloch told Schwartz he has been working out twice per day while unemployed this summer. “Guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready,” Schwartz said.

“I have tremendous respect for guys that get 10 years in the NFL because you can’t make 10 years on talent alone,” Schwartz said. “You can’t make 10 years by being a try-hard guy. You gotta have a great combination of things and also in 10 years, you’re going to be working with different coaching staffs in 10 years. You gotta have the ability to work in a lot of different schemes, whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player. I’ll bow down to guys who play 10 years in this league because that’s tough business.”

Tulloch has been a starter in the NFL for years but likely won’t have that role in Philly. The Eagles have a starting linebacker group of Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham. Doug Pederson said Tulloch will compete at the middle linebacker spot, but Hicks is still the starter for now (see story).

For a long time, Tulloch was very good. He's one of just nine players in the league to have five interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries since 2006. And he’s played six of his 10 NFL seasons under Schwartz, who already has three of his former players in prominent roles this year.

Schwartz said Tulloch is “not here to replace anybody,” but added that a rotation isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The defensive coordinator, citing an analogy in which everyone brings something different to a party, said it’s important to accentuate each of his players' strengths.

Despite starting for most of his career, Tulloch in 2016 will likely be a backup, which includes playing special teams. Earlier in the week, Pederson said he wants to get Tulloch on at least one special teams unit. The veteran linebacker on Tuesday said he hasn’t played special teams since 2006 or 2007.

“Whatever’s asked of me, I’ll do,” Tulloch said.

Tulloch was informed of his release from Detroit in February, but he wasn’t officially cut by the Lions until July, after he healed completely from a minor ankle surgery. He said he felt good a long time ago, and had a couple other teams interested in him. Ultimately, though, he decided to join the Eagles and reunite with Schwartz, for whom he has great respect and whose defense he feels most comfortable in.

Even if Schwartz tries to make him take a day off.

“I just love football,” Tulloch said. “I think this is my 26th, 27th year of playing football. I started back in 1991 when I was five years old. It’s just a way of life for me. It’s something I do. I have a passion for practice, I have a passion for the game. I play hard, I work hard, I take care of my body. I do what I have to do.”

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

The Phillies are loading up with right-handed hitters for Tuesday's series opener at U.S. Cellular Field against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon.

Odubel Herrera is out of the lineup and Aaron Altherr takes his place in center field. Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel are in the outfield corners. 

Carlos Ruiz serves as the designated hitter against Rodon, who has huge platoon splits. Righties have hit .305/.365/.484 against Rodon; lefties have hit .220/.268/.286.

Rodon has a changeup to stave off right-handed hitters, but he's used it only eight percent of the time this season. He's thrown his 94 mph fastball, sinker or slider with 92 percent frequency (see game notes).

Emmanuel Burris gets a start at second base.

Ryan Howard is out of the lineup. U.S. Cellular Field is the only active stadium in which he's never played. The Phillies haven't been there since 2004.

1. Peter Bourjos, RF
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Carlos Ruiz, DH
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Emmanuel Burris, 2B

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia will host the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Nov. 30.

USA Hockey on Tuesday announced that the Flyers will host the event for the first time.

The 2016 Hall of Fame class includes legendary high school coach Bill Belisle, former NHL forward Craig Janney, and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team. 

That team featured Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Abington native Mike Richter. It also has a special connection with Philly. The 1996 World Cup of Hockey was the first sporting event played at the CoreStates Center (now the Wells Fargo Center). The U.S. would go on to win the tournament.

“We’re excited to bring the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration to Philadelphia,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “It’s one of our nation’s very top hockey cities, thanks in large part to the decades-long efforts of the late Ed Snider, and fans in the area will enjoy being part of enshrining the Class of 2016. This is always one of the most anticipated events on the calendar each year and we’re grateful for the advance support we’ve received from the Flyers and our Atlantic Affiliate.”

Tuesday also marks 50 days until the Flyers begin their 50th anniversary season.