3 Stars: Jeff Carter feels at home as Kings snap Flyers’ winning streak

3 Stars: Jeff Carter feels at home as Kings snap Flyers’ winning streak

The Philadelphia Flyers’ 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday from the perspective of three players and/or inanimate objects.


3. Ray Emery

On one hand, there was at least one goal Emery would like to have back. Then again, if it weren’t for the Flyers’ No. 2 netminder, the orange and black are probably never in this game in the first place.

Emery helped Philadelphia survive blistering first and second periods where the Kings nearly doubled up the home team in shots, 33-18. The Flyers were trailing 2-0 after two, but would briefly come back and tie the contest during the last frame before Dwight King potted the game-winner for LA on a two-on-one rush—not much the goaltender could’ve done about that.

Overall, Emery was solid while stopping 38 of 41 shots on goal. If only the Flyers had not been so thoroughly outplayed over the first 40 minutes, maybe the effort between the pipes wouldn’t have been wasted.

Emery’s record fell to 8-10-1 on the season as Philly’s winning streak was snapped at five.


2. Iron

Sure, Jonathan Quick played well in the opposite crease, halting 30 of 32 Flyers shots in victory. That being said, he can thank Vincent Lecavalier, both posts and the crossbar for bailing him out of at least one potential disaster.

The orange and black caught Iron a number of times throughout the contest, but none were more heartbreaking and unbelievable than Lecavalier’s chance that ricocheted around the entire mouth of the goal and ultimately stayed out somehow. The worst part: with Quick caught out of position, Vinny had what amounted to an empty net to shoot at.

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Despite the laws of physics seemingly being broken here, Iron’s atomic number remains at 26 for the season.


1. Jeff Carter

Difficult as this may be to believe, Monday marked the first time Jeff Carter played a game at the Wells Fargo Center since the Flyers traded him to Columbus in 2011. If his play was any indication, the former Flyers first-round pick had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Carter got the scoring started in the second period, although Kings defenseman Alec Martinez’s cross-ice pass did the bulk of the work. It was elementary by the time Carter received the puck in the faceoff circle, snapping a shot past Emery arriving on to the scene late. The marker was Carter’s 25th of the season.

On top of lighting the lamp, the guy seemed to be everywhere, ripping a game-high seven shots on Emery and registering a couple of hits over 18 minutes of ice time. Carter came to play.

Sending Philadelphia a message? Perhaps, but there was always the potential Carter was going to take over a game on any given night. Not sure I’d go that far in describing his performance here, but he certainly was a force.

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After 'soul searching,' Jaylen Watkins in line for major role with Eagles

After 'soul searching,' Jaylen Watkins in line for major role with Eagles

Every morning on his way to work, Jaylen Watkins drives down Broad Street toward the NovaCare Complex and thinks back to his three months on the Bills' practice squad.

The former fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2014 joined the Bills' practice squad after the Eagles cut him last Sept. 5 in what he has previously referred to as a “humbling” experience.

“I try to never forget that moment because it was definitely a soul-searching moment,” Watkins said on Wednesday. “Anyone who is released or fired from their job, you have to do some soul-searching.

“Every day that I drive down Broad Street, I think about Buffalo and how far I’ve come and just not wanting to be on a practice squad again. Nothing’s wrong with the practice squad, but my goal is to be on the 53 and making contributions to the team.”

Watkins isn’t just on the Eagles’ 53 after rejoining them late in 2015. For the rest of the 2016 season, he’s also expected to have a major role.

After Ron Brooks was lost for the season when he tore his quad tendon against the Vikings, Malcolm Jenkins is the Eagles’ new slot cornerback. That means that Watkins, 23, will be the second safety on the field in the team’s nickel package.

That meant that he played 46 snaps against the Vikings after Brooks went out. And with how much teams pass in the current NFL, he’ll probably play a considerable amount the rest of the season.

“It’s something that I’ve been waiting for and I’ve just been patient,” Watkins said. “I’ve been waiting for this experience, so I’m just excited. This week was amazing for me. ... It was good for me this past week to be in the game plan and putting yourself in position that this could possibly be me on the first play of the game.”

Jenkins has said multiple times that he enjoys playing as the slot corner, but until Brooks went down, the team thought it was better off with him staying at safety.

With the secondary shuffle, what’s different with Watkins at safety instead of Jenkins?

“Nothing really man,” the Eagles’ other starting safety, Rodney McLeod, said. “It’s been a next-man-up mentality this whole year. ... Guys have a lot of experience back there. I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat. It’s obviously an unfortunate situation with Ron playing great. But Jenkins is ready and so is (Jalen) Mills and Watkins.”

Watkins was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 2014 and played just four games as a rookie before he was cut at the start of his sophomore season. He spent three months in Buffalo, where his younger brother Sammy is a star receiver.

When Jim Schwartz became the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Watkins was moved to safety. He quickly asserted himself as the first option off the bench at that position.

And just like McLeod and Jenkins, he’s a safety with a history and knowledge of every position in the secondary.

“He’s kind of our Tyrann Mathieu a little bit as far as being able to play safety, being able to play nickel, being able to play corner, being able to play all those positions,” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “A swiss-army knife if you want to call it that. For him, it’s just about continuing to get reps, continuing to be confident.”

Jenkins, McLeod and Watkins are so interchangeable, Watkins joked that sometimes they get confused because they forget which position they’re playing. According to McLeod, there haven’t been any communication issues between him at Watkins when Jenkins moves down into his role as the nickel corner.

Watkins still thinks about his time in Buffalo, but he also thinks he’s a much better player now than he was before he went there.

“Just more confident player, I would say,” Watkins said. “My coaches believe in me. My teammates believe in me. Now, I’m just confident and relaxed when I go out and play, making plays, doing what I did in college. I think I’m a much better player than before.”

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.

The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1). 

Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.

Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.

As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.

Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week. 

The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).

Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.