Voracek and Couturier Shine as Flyers Top Blue Jackets in Jeff Carter Bowl, 9-2

Voracek and Couturier Shine as Flyers Top Blue Jackets in Jeff Carter Bowl, 9-2

The talk heading into Saturday night's matchup between the Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets naturally focused on the big off-season trade that sent Jeff Carter to Ohio in exchange for winger Jakub Voracek and a pair of draft picks, one of which was the eighth overall. Sean Couturier was selected with that high pick, and he made the club out of training camp. Voracek was off to a quiet start heading into the game, which Jeff Carter would watch from a suite, still recovering from a broken foot.

Trades aren't won and lost based solely on what each set of players does for their new team, and they especially aren't won based on a single head-to-head matchup. But damn if this didn't at least feel like a statement game as to which side is currently holding the better cards. Voracek, who was criticized by his former coach upon his exit from Columbus, took advantage of the opportunity to not only prove Scott Arniel wrong, but also put a few nails in his coffin. With the Blue Jackets now 2-11-1 after being throttled 9-2 by the Flyers, Arniel might not make it out of the Wells Fargo Center with a job.

Voracek was joined in the scoring by Couturier and a full six other Flyers. Fifteen Philadelphia players would register points in this summary ass kicking.

Below, a look at what went so right for the Flyers, complete with video highlights. So much awesome...

JVRtwork
The home team got off to a fast start, scoring a pair of goals before the 3:10 mark, then added three more to enter the intermission up 5-0. The game had gotten off to a staccato start, with a near goal by Scott Hartnell and three whistles in the first minute of play. Both teams were down a man when James van Riemsdyk, subject of a reported—and emphatically disputed—benching earlier in the week, opened the scoring. The Flyers cycled well with the puck, using the space opened up with two men off the ice, and rookie Erik Gustafsson found JVR with a sneaky pass.

JVR commented after the game that whatever lower-body injury is affecting him is something he'll have to deal with for awhile. The mystery continues, but after watching him play 13:30, scoring a goal and assisting two others, I don't remember seeing it affecting him.

SO CYUT
After the opening goal, Columbus was clearly reeling, and they took another penalty. With the Flyers on the powerplay, Hartnell camped out in front of the net, and Jaromir Jagr threw a pass toward his feet. It didn't make it through to Hartnell, but it did still find the net, as it deflected off of Fedor Tyutin's stick and past a hapless Steve Mason.

MAXIMUS
Max Talbot claimed the Flyers third goal, scoring on a sweet exchange with Voracek. With both forwards coming into the zone hot, Talbot found Voracek with a pass across the slot, and Jake returned the favor with a perfect pass through the defense. Notching his fifth of the season and fourth in five games, Talbot put a nice move on Mason, and temporarily ended the goalie's night.

JAGRESSIVE
The Flyers' fourth goal of the first period came on the strength of some great forechecking by Jagr, who again made Tyutin his bitch, stealing the puck away from him in the corner before throwing it to an open Claude Giroux. G made a fast turn toward the net and put a laser past Allen York.

FIGHTS!
With no legal answer at either end of the ice, the Blue Jackets tried to swing the momentum by dropping the gloves. Derek Dorsett was picking at JVR, and on his next shift, Wayne Simmonds answered the call and gave Dorsett a pretty good beat. A moment later, Cody Bass asked Zac Rinaldo for a go, and the two battled briefly before Bass slammed a half-nekkid Rinaldo to the ice and skated around like he'd just taken down George Foreman.

VORACEK'S REVENGE
Once everyone had their clothes back on, the Flyers put out any fire the Blue Jackets thought they'd ignited with the pair of fights, with Voracek scoring their fifth goal of the period. He sent a floater on goal from the point and it snuck by a screening Eric Wellwood.

Had to feel good to light the lamp and put another nail in the coffin of the coach who had some unflattering words for him after last season. I for one would like to thank Scott Arniel for any fire he may have lit under Voracek's ass. Especially if what we saw tonight ends up being exactly what the Czech winger needed to get going this season.

COOTER TOO
The second period was much like the first, only without quite as much scoring. Couturier scored the Flyers' 6th goal of the night 7 minutes into the frame. Skating up the right circle on a 3-on-1—during a penalty kill—Cooter unselfishly fed the puck back to the trailer Braydon Coburn, who one-touched it right back for the rookie to deposit one past Mason, who had returned for the second period. Amazing finish by Couturier, who had very little angle but played the puck perfectly.

POOR CARTER...
Voracek to end the first, Couturier to start the second… annnnd pan to Carter in a smart suit up in the suite. I don't wish Carter anything but the best, and it was honestly a little painful to see him sitting there watching this. He truly was traded out of a hockey haven to a terrible franchise that could finish with the league's worst record this year. Only a decade left on that deal, too.  

RAPID SUCCESSION
Simmonds joined the scoring party on a brilliant play in tight, going forehand to backhand to beat Mason despite having defensive pressure and not much space.

Moments later, with Lou Nolan still announcing the Simmonds goal, JVR slipped a pass to Matt Carle, who put a shot high over Mason's opposite shoulder. 8-0 Flyers through 40 minutes of play. Riots in the streets of Columbus.

PARADISE LOST, REGAINED
Columbus would unfortunately erase the Flyers' bid for a perfect game, narrowing their lead to a mere touchdown on a Derek Dorsett goal 13 minutes into the third period. That seemed to wake the Flyers out of grind-out-the-game mode for a bit, and Couturier netted his second of the game, fifth of the season, three minutes later. The goal came on a deflected pass from none other than Voracek.

Grant Clitsome (yes, actual real name) was credited with a late Columbus goal, but there wasn't much Bryzgalov could do, as the shot deflected off the stick of Andrej Meszaros and in.

All in all, quite the decisive victory for the Flyers, who thrashed an inferior team for 60 minutes. It as a great response to a lackluster effort against the Devils on Thursday, and everyone contributed.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

NOTES

  • Jake Voracek was named the Bud Light Player of the Game by the CSN telecast, and he certainly had a great night with a goal and two assists. But, with 9 goals on the board for the good guys, you could've thrown a dart at the roster to pick the POG.
  • This was the second time in the last five games that the Flyers have scored eight goals. Fortunately, they weren't woefully bad on defense this time and we got to celebrate the total.
  • Hard to believe, but five of the Flyers skaters were rookies. And, neither were named Brayden Schenn or Matt Read. 
  • One of those rookies, defenseman Erik Gustafsson, was a +6 on the night. Flyers PR notes that the last time a Flyers rookie was plus-6 or ether was in 1984, when both Rich and Ron Sutter were +6 and Thomas Ericsson was a +8. That had to be a hell of a game. Matt Carle narrowly missed equalling Gustafsson's +6, but he was on the ice for the game's final goal.
  • Gus also led all Flyers in ice time with 23 minutes.
  • Jagr's goal in the first increased his streak of seven straight games with a point.
  • Does it seem like I'm frequently apologizing for Bryzgalov on his goals allowed? With all the bounces, deflections, etc. that get on those pucks before they cross the line, it's hard not to.
  • Despite the lopsided score, the Flyers were actually outshot in this one by a 35-33 count. Chalk that up to a similar effect to an NFL team's passing attempts going up when they're down in the second half.
  • In the intro, we mentioned Voracek possibly playing with something to prove. It should be noted that in interviews before and after the game, he dismissed the idea of his harboring ill feelings toward Arniel. He had no interest in addressing the comments, but he was respectful in his words toward the Columbus coach. Stand-up guy.
  • The schedule is quiet this week, which stinks because we want to see some more hockey very soon after that tilt, but with all the injuries, the Flyers could use some recovery time. Next up is the Lightning in Tampa on Wednesday, followed by a trip up to Sunrise, Florida, where they'll play the Panthers on Sunday. I expect those Movember mustaches might be accompanied by a solid tan.

Best of NFL: Redskins notch 1st win vs. Giants; Cowboys rout Bears

Best of NFL: Redskins notch 1st win vs. Giants; Cowboys rout Bears

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter for his fifth of the game and the Washington Redskins avoid a near-disastrous 0-3 start with a 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone New York Giants on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as the banged-up Redskins (1-2) handed new coach Ben McAdoo his first loss with the Giants (2-1).

Su'a Cravens ended the Giants' final drive with an interception in New York territory. It was Eli Manning's second pick of the quarter, with the other coming in the end zone by Quinton Dunbar after New York got to the Redskins 15 on a big play by Odell Beckham Jr.

This was a wild NFC East matchup that see-sawed the entire second half after Washington rallied from a 21-9 deficit (see full recap).

Prescott, Cowboys rout Bears on SNF
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without injured quarterback Tony Romo over three seasons before the rookie fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia rookie Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals in NFL history.

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox (see full recap).

Vikings stop Newton, snap Panthers' home win streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- The Minnesota Vikings keep finding ways to overcome injuries --and keep finding ways to win football games.

Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a score and the Vikings snapped the Carolina Panthers' 14-game home winning streak 22-10 on Sunday.

The Vikings put the clamps on Cam Newton, intercepting the league's reigning MVP three times and getting eight sacks, one of those resulting in a safety by Danielle Hunter. The eight sacks were the second-most ever against Newton.

"We have a great team -- the best team I have been a part of," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. "We come from every area on the field and we get sacks."

Said Newton: "They were dictating to us after they got the momentum."

The Vikings improved 3-0 despite losing running back Adrian Peterson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil to injuries last week. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason (see full recap).

Bills bounce back with win over Cardinals
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.  -- LeSean McCoy scored twice and safety Aaron Williams returned a botched field-goal snap 53 yards for a touchdown in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 20-yard run at a time the Rex Ryan-coached Bills spent the past week taking the brunt of criticism after opening the season 0-2.

The win also came on the heels of Ryan firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replacing him with running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

McCoy scored on 24- and 5-yard runs, and finished with 110 yards rushing after combining for just 117 in his first two games. Taylor had 76 yards rushing, including a 49-yarder, the longest by a quarterback in team history (see full recap).

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Doug Pederson: For the Eagles, 'this was a good benchmark'

Doug Pederson: For the Eagles, 'this was a good benchmark'

On his way to the locker room following his team's stunning 34-3 victory over the Steelers, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson reacted, well, like you probably did.

Pederson had to be surprised by what had just transpired. After all, this wasn't the Browns or the Bears. This was the Steelers, who entered the game with the second-best odds behind New England, per Bovada, of winning the Super Bowl (the Patriots were first). 

And the Eagles didn't just beat them. They clobbered them.

But minutes later, when Pederson met the media for his postgame press conference, he tried his best to act like it was no big thing.

“I told the team way back in OTAs that it just takes a little bit of belief," Pederson said. "Belief in themselves. Trust the process. Believe in the coaches and the coaches believe in one another. That’s what they did tonight. 

"Am I surprised? A little. But at the same time, I know that locker room, I know those guys and I know what they are building. By no means have we accomplished anything yet. The season is still extremely young. But what they did tonight just proves that they are coming together as a football team.”

Yeah, yeah. Sorry, Doug. It's OK to be surprised. Scratch that. Make that stunned. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. But now? Forget that. 

At least for the next two weeks. The Eagles are on their bye week and don't play again until Oct. 9 at Detroit. 

“It is still a young season, only three games. This was a good benchmark," Pederson said. "That’s a good football team, the Steelers are a great football team. They are going to be there at the end, they always are. Coach (Mike) Tomlin always has those guys ready to play. 

"But for our guys, it is just a little glimpse of that belief that I have been saying since the spring and summer. If they just do their jobs, I just feel that good things can happen. We just protect each other in that dressing room in there and keep coming to work everyday.”

Pederson is the only head coach in team history to win each of his first three games. It's only the ninth time the Eagles have started 3-0.

And of course, a big reason they've done so is their prodigy quarterback Carson Wentz, who became only the second rookie in team history to record a 300-yard passing game (Nick Foles is the other).

More impressively, Wentz now has attempted 102 straight passes without an interception, the longest streak ever begin an NFL career (per ESPN). Dallas'  Dak Prescott is at 99 after the Cowboys beat up the Bears.

But don't ask Pederson to admit he's amazed by Wentz or the fact he had the presence of mind to make plays like the riveting 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles (much more on that here).

“You know, you just put on his college film. Just watch him," Pederson said. "We exhausted his college tape and those were the plays that he made at North Dakota State. That play tonight was just a tremendous play by both he and Darren Sproles. Those are the types of things that we know he can do. He just keeps gaining confidence every single week.”

As does the defense, which kept one of the league's most potent offenses out of the end zone

"They just weren’t going to be denied," Pederson said. "They just weren’t going to bow their necks. They weren’t going to let them in the endzone. It just came down to our will versus theirs and I was just so happy with the way the guys played. Just a great team effort.”