Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Happy American St. Patrick’s Day!

On a day when we celebrate the independence of this fine nation by illegally shooting off rockets, I thought it would be appropriate to honor all of the Americans on the Flyers roster for the 13-14 season. The minor issue preventing me from doing this is that we don’t have any (just cause you're born in Phoenix doesn't mean you're AN ACTIVE AMERICAN).

But as this is a holiday steeped in history and tradition, why don’t we take a look back at some of the most prominent former Flyers that might be having one drink dressed as an American flag too many - just like you! And to honor the most American team in the most American city in the most American way possible, we’ve come up with a Flyers 4th of July Water Drinking Game. So, hit Circle Liquors (& Water), load the cooler with ice, and head off to the 18th street beach to celebrate the rock, eagle, flag and puck.

One drink: All-in-all, the Flyers have had American players come from 23 states. MN is in the lead with 12, MI has had 11, and MA has had 8 and 1 coked up Kevin Stevens zombie.

One drink: Obviously the most well-remembered American to don the Orange & Black is Johnny “.23” Leclair who played 649 games over 10 seasons in The Ill. His 643 points and 333 goals are far and away the most by any American to serve under our Supreme Leader Mister Ed Snider.

One drink: The ‘Merican with the most assists as a Flyer is Mark Howe, who represented the US in both the Olympics and Canada Cup. Howe was so GD American that when the Summit Series came calling in 1974 he lent his services to Canada just so he could get in on the Soviet bashing that was to take place. Note: A cornerstone of being American is hating everything that moshes down on your freedom, and the willingness to do anything, including whoring yourself out to Canada, to ensure continued life, liberty and the pursuit of a reality TV show. (As an aside, 12 Russians have played for the Flyers and none of them have won the Vezina during their tenure in Philadelphia.)

One drink: The only other American to reach the 500 game plateau besides Leclair and Howe is none other than current Flyers Manager General Paul “Homer, Not From the Simpsons” Holmgren. He also has over 1,200 PIM more than any other American Flyer, so even though he’s like 85 I’m pretty sure he could make me dance for him, if that's what he wanted.

Two drinks: This was slightly surprising: Matt Carle is the American with the 4th most games as a Flyer under his Tackla belt. Not so surprising is that JR has the 4th most points. (If you're young and dumb, before there was JVR there was just JR. Look it up.)

One drink: The most American American to ever have Americaed the ice in the winged P was, of course, New Jersey's Jim Dowd.

Four drinks: 4 Americans have tended goal for the Flyers (really). Boosh started 174 games, Bobby Esche had 128, Beezer was in between the pipes for 112, and Garth Snow and 3 goalies worth of equipment started 90 games.

Four drinks: American Flyers with the best names not previously mentioned are Dave Snuggerud, Aris Brimanis (Shaker Heights, OH baby!), Bob Corkum, and Moe Mantha.

Two drinks: First round selections RJ Umberger (VAN) and JVR were both dealt after notching about .50 points per game.

Three drinks: Players that just need to be mentioned because America: Joel Otto, Shjon Podein, and Paul Ranheim.

One drink, One pour: A player that also needs to be mentioned, but deserves a moment to himself  – Trent the Klatt, Breathe-Rite Spokesperson, MN Hockey God

One drink: I bet you didn’t know that Donald Brashear was born in Indiana and despite giving off an extremely French-Canadian vibe played in two World Championships for the USA in the late 90’s.

You win! Congratulations!!

And now your questions...

From Matt: What is the worst place for Briere to end up? Pittsburgh?
You have to look at this from a couple of angles:

1. Which actual jersey produces the most bile, just as a visceral reaction? For some reason seeing that #48 on the back of a Devils jersey, sometimes out on the ice on the with Patrick Elias and Danius Zubrus, makes me want to puke up the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate the Devils, I hate their colors, I hate that they represent Newark, I hate their everything.

2. Where would it sting the most when he had a Merlot-covered hand in a Flyers loss? While all teams in the new Kyle Calder Memorial Division have an equal opportunity to steal 2 points from the Flyers during the season, for some reason picturing Danny Briere getting a couple GWG for the Rangers, celebrating with Marty Biron in MSG, just makes me want to diarrhea the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate when the Rangers win, and I hate when an ex-Flyer tastes sweet, sweet revenge at our expense, but most of all I hate when people from New York are happy; and they would be happier than a subway rat finding a dead hobo if Briere was taking us down after we bought him out.

3. Where does he realistically have a chance of winning a Cup that would also kill me a little inside? If he were to join the Penguins the possibility of this happening would haunt me until it didn’t. Watching Richards, Carter, Gagne, Handzus, Emery, and Carcillo, all guys I liked, hoist the Cup as members of Western Conference teams over the past two seasons has been confusing enough. The thought of Briere, wearing The Pig Man’s old number, winning the Cup as a member of the Penguins makes me want to both ends the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate.

From Ryan: Is it weird that McGinn and Newbury kicked the butt out of each other last year and might be teammates this year?
That was quite the fight:

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/hkmZPH331Bw?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=332]

I think when your job involves the possibility of punching someone in the face, and you live all year with that kind of mentality, you might not even really remember a specific fight as anything more than a win or loss. I think even if they did specifically remember this bout it would be because it was a solid fight, and that's something that seems to often cause a mutual respect to develop between the combatants. Now, the interesting relationship in my mind is going to be between Rinaldo and Newbury.

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/RY5BtDco2n4?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=443]

These guys seemed seriously pissed at each other. Like, they may have said some things that you can't take back like I HATE YOUR COOKING or I THINK YOU DRINK TOO MUCH. The way Newbury went to gloat in Rinaldo’s face after scoring a game tying goal near the end of the third (not the time for it), and the jawing that goes on after, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some bad blood there. Obviously you put that stuff aside in the name of professionalism (read: money) but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes at least one training camp bout to bury the hatchet.

From @NickDobo : Why is Braydon Coburn still a Flyer? Do you think they can win with him despite not having a no. 1 dman?

Watching Coburn skate is like watching a crew race in the Olympics – it’s just so smooth. That’s the main thing that frustrates me about Coburn. I don’t care that he doesn’t destroy people at 6’5 225 lbs. I don’t care that his “rough play” in the defensive zone seems forced and reluctant. What I do care about is that he makes so many forced break out passes, or blind wraparounds to where the winger should be, but never seems to be, when I honestly think that if he was a more confident player he would just take the puck from behind his own goal line and skate it out. For whatever reason I don’t think he has the confidence that his skill level should afford him. I think he’s still a Flyer because, as you can see by this week’s draft, the Flyers want big, fast defensemen. I think they can win without putting a Shea Weber or Chris Pronger ahead of him, but I don’t think playing 46% of his time with Grossmannnnnn and 33% with Gervais helped him last year.

If it has to be him or Meszaros that goes in The Name of Vinny I think most people would vote Big Mesz off the island. Unfortunately, and I say that because I think this will be a big year for him, we might find out what life without the longest tenured Flyer is like this fall.

From @vile_mennis: with all the french influence in the locker room, how soon until #hartnelldown is selling berets?

I've seen this a couple places and I have to tell you, The Flyers are actually pretty light in the Provence de Quebec department. As of this writing, and God knows whose rights they've traded for since I hit "publish," Vinny L. joins only Max Talbot in the "French-Canadian Dudes Likely To Be On The Opening Night Roster Club." With the log jam on D Bruno Gervais should be looking for Craigslist roommates in Glen Falls and it doesn't seem like Simon fits into the Flyers plans next year (although Jay Rosehill somehow does). Unless you count Coots, which I didn't earlier out of respect to Real Americans, but am here because no one is probably reading anymore and it suits my point, the Flyboys only have 2 guys who live for the poutine. At their core the Flyers are  a hybrid of different sorts - forwards brought to you by Ontario and back end sponsored by The Euro.

YinzTweet Breakdown of the Week

What this Twitter user, with over 60k followers to his 264 tweets, is saying is that Sidney Crosby, who he is some form of (like a Horcrux?) tried to enter the draft on Sunday in Newark  but was banned by NHL Security because “everybody” tried to draft him first overall. This is mildly confusing because:
a) Crosby’s contract with the Penguins runs through 2025, something I would think most GMs know
b) only the Avalanche had the first overall pick, so I imagine they received 29 offers from teams hoping to move up to the first spot because Crosby entered The Prudential Center
c) Unless eligibility rules have changed and you can draft players from other teams if they happen to be in the building where the draft is occurring, I believe that this is against the CBA.
d) Sidney Crosby was just walking around Newark looking for something to do on Sunday? Does he do that a lot? Is he a crackhead? Why wouldn't he have been with the Penguins executives if he wanted to go to the draft? Because they knew everyone was going to try to draft him?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, DT: What will it cost to re-sign Bennie Logan?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, DT: What will it cost to re-sign Bennie Logan?

Bennie Logan set new career highs for the Eagles in 2016 with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, although clearly the bar was low in those particular categories. But while the four-year veteran maybe made a few more big plays than in years past, he was less active overall after making the switch from the nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme to a defensive tackle in a wide-nine, 4-3 alignment.

After racking up at least 55 tackles in his first full two seasons as a starter, Logan managed only 24 in his new role. And while he doubled his quarterback hits from three over 2014-15 to six, his tackles for loss were cut almost in half, from eight, then nine, to five.

Logan did miss three games with a hip injury, which who knows how that might've affected him over the final eight games. In the four contests prior to getting hurt, he already had 2.0 sacks, a forced fumble, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss, so there was a marked difference in impact beforehand.

Regardless, that must make it difficult for the Eagles to evaluate his performance, which is kind of a problem, because Logan is due to become a free agent. How does the front office go about determining his value in this defense?

It's not an easy question, and the first thing you have to ask is who takes Logan's place in the starting lineup? In terms of an in-house replacement, the individual numbers don't indicate a huge drop-off with Beau Allen. Allen only recorded a 0.5 sack and failed to force a fumble in '16, but finished with five more tackles, the same number of tackles for loss and one less quarterback hit than Logan in 55 fewer snaps.

The Eagles would need to address depth at the position if they went with Allen, but that path wouldn't necessarily cost as much money as retaining Logan. A proven disruptor up the middle — especially in the right scheme — can command a lot on the open market.

Take a look at the contract fellow LSU product Michael Brockers got from the Rams back in September. Brockers received a three-year extension worth over $33 million with $18 million guaranteed. Granted, a lot of that is tied to a roster bonus he doesn't seem poised to be with the club to earn in 2017, but even just his salary for last season totalled nearly $7 million.

That was coming off a season in which Brockers posted 44 tackles, 3.0 sacks, zero forced fumbles, eight tackles for loss and six quarterback hits. Those are a step up from Logan's totals in '16, but not necessarily better than some of his previous campaigns.

Again, it's difficult to determine Logan's exact value, but to the right team, he could certainly be worth upwards of $5-6 million per year. Tough to say whether the Eagles would be willing to go there, especially given their tight cap situation.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES UNDER CONTRACT

Fletcher Cox
Age: 27*
Cap Number: $9,400,000

Cox probably didn't live up to the expectations that come with a contract worth $100 million — the second-highest total for his position — but he's still one of the most dominant interior linemen in the league. The five-year veteran better get used to the fact that he's going to face constant double-teams the next few years, because the Eagles don't have a pure pass-rush specialist on the edge who can take over games. With that in mind, 6.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits probably aren't enough from Cox, although when he's at his best, he can carry the Eagles to victory. Just look at his first three games of the season, all wins: 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Either way, $63 million in guarantees says he isn't going anywhere for awhile.

Beau Allen
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $705,562

Allen proved to a perfectly serviceable rotational player in 2016, plus added another position to his resume. He can play fullback in a pinch, which is impressive in itself for a 327-pound man. Hard to say whether Allen is starter material. According to Pro Football Focus, Logan still charted better against the run among qualifying interior linemen — although Allen was above average — but the Wisconsin product was the more productive of the two when it came to rushing the passer. If the goal here is primarily to save money, the Eagles should be able to get away with Allen and a cheaper veteran or early draft pick aside of Cox, who makes sure everybody else across the line is getting one-on-one treatment anyway.

Taylor Hart
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $690,000

Not going to lie, I was a little surprised to see Hart is still on the roster. Depth issues led to the Eagles bringing him back, although he never suited up. The former fifth-round draft pick has now been active for a grand total of 15 games in three seasons. Scouting reports suggested Hart would be better off in a 3-4 alignment, but even that is suspect at this point.

Destiny Vaeao
Age: 23*
Cap Number: $540,000

An undrafted rookie out of Washington State, Vaeao had his moments. His strip-sack against the Bears in Week 2 was a big play, and he got the quarterback again in the first meeting against the Giants. Otherwise, Vaeao was pretty quiet. He figures to be competing for his spot on the roster in 2017, although if Logan leaves, it might be difficult finding enough bodies to rendering a prospect with a full season's worth of experience expendable.

Aziz Shittu
Age: 23*

Shittu had a standout preseason, racking up six tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. That was enough to land the undrafted rookie out of Standford on the Eagles practice squad, though it might be telling that they liked Vaeao and even Hart more. Nonetheless, Shittu signed a futures contract at the conclusion of the season and will be an interesting name to keep an eye on come training camp.

EXPIRING CONTRACTS

Bennie Logan
Age: 28*
2016 Cap Number: $1,842,023

To be fair, Logan probably made more of an impact than the numbers indicate. The Eagles' wide-nine just doesn't feel like the ideal fit. A case could be made Logan was transforming into arguably the best nose tackle in the NFL prior to the switch. Filling a gap and building a wall at the line of scrimmage seem to be his strengths, not so much getting upfiekd and attacking quarterbacks. Again, we'll allow for the possibility Logan wasn't 100 percent all season, and he could certainly continue to develop with more experience in this role. If it were my money, it would be all about price. If we're talking the lower end of the spectrum, maybe $4.5 million, it's easy to justify bringing him back. Once that price tag soars — and it certainly may — it simply may not make much sense for the Eagles anymore.

Dario Saric hitting his stride, altering games on Sixers' second unit

Dario Saric hitting his stride, altering games on Sixers' second unit

There was skepticism as to whether or not Dario Saric would ever play for the Sixers. He spent two years overseas after the team acquired him on draft night 2014, and as each month passed, more and more uncertainty grew around his future in the NBA.

Saric told the Sixers all along that he would come to Philadelphia. He urged them, I will play for your team.

The 22-year-old rookie (and that term should be used loosely given his lengthy professional career) is proving the wait was worth it.

“They said he was never coming back,” Joel Embiid said. “But Dario’s here and he’s making big plays for us.”

Saric is averaging 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in 24.1 minutes this season. That includes a transitional period wherein Saric was moved in and out of the starting lineup and shifted from power forward and small forward as the Sixers experimented with different rotations. Saric looked out of sorts and frustrated with himself at times. The newness of the league, team and system took its toll on the player who is his own toughest critic. 

Saric's numbers are up since Brett Brown locked him in to the second unit. He is averaging 11.0 points and 6.7 boards during the Sixers' 7-2 stretch. 

“If Joel Embiid weren’t in the league, you’d have to talk about him in consideration for Rookie of the Year,” Brown said. “There is an appeal that he has developed, I feel, from our fans. They respect him. How can you not? He is so blue collar. I think the plays he makes, the effort-based plays, the physical plays just count for everything. ... I hope that he recognizes we appreciate his passion and we appreciate how he plays.”

Saric put on a show in the fourth quarter of the Sixers' statement win over the Raptors Wednesday. He had a pair of blocks in under a minute, including one against Jared Sullinger which sent Embiid into a frenzy on the bench (video here)

“Dario never blocks shots and he had two in a row,” Embiid said. “Especially at the rim like that, blocking Sullinger, that’s the type of play we need. The crowd obviously got into it. I’m just glad he’s here with us like he promised he was going to be after two years.”

Saric followed up the blocks with an offensive rebound and layup that pushed the Sixers' lead back up to six points. He topped off his fourth-quarter spurt with a three-pointer from T.J. McConnell to put his team up seven. 

“Every guy has their own job,” Saric said. “Sometimes you can do it better but always you need effort. You've to give 100 percent, try to fight, try to win. Give everything that you have in that moment. Your whole body, just move it. ... I had a good game. Sometimes the game gives you open shots. Sometimes it gives you a situation where you cannot do nothing. I tried to come and bring some energy. I tried to change the game in that way.”

Saric finished with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes off the bench. He hadn’t recorded two blocks since Nov. 9 against the Pacers. 

“I think Dario is the key to helping us secure that win, big-time,” Nerlens Noel said. “I think he really took that game more toward our favor.”

There were bound to be growing pains for Saric with all the massive challenges involved in playing in the new league. His basketball world has been flipped upside down in less than a year, not to mention his adjusting to life outside of Europe. It took some time but Saric is hitting his stride, and it is led by his disciplined mindset.

“Sometimes when you're doing bad and you don't have an opportunity to do something, (you have to) give the team its energy," Saric said. "I tried to bring some kind of energy and I did that good. I don't know. Maybe it's because I want to win the game. That's the easy answer."