Links: Conlin's Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

Links: Conlin's Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

We're a little slow/busy today.  It's just so nice out, I could drop this right here...

Anyway, how about some general discussion from around town today?

- How do you like the Phils chances to repeat?  Bill Conlin likes them a lot in today's piece for the Daily News, saying they have a "better than even chance" of at least winning the pennant again.  How can you not like their odds? 

And let's tally up the assets that Manuel will carry into the most anticipated season in the history of the franchise.

Three-fourths of the infield represented by recent MVPs Jimmy
Rollins and Ryan Howard and MVP contender Chase Utley can stand with
any like trio in the history of the game.

I agree with the assessment of Paul Hagen that Manuel's outfield of
Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth is the best in the East
Division.

And everyone else is back.  Hamels, while not scheduled to pitch the opener against the Braves, still isn't slated to miss a start at the moment.  He's penciled in for April 10 against the Rockies, and just pitched a fantastic minor league outing, going 3 2/3 and allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and striking out 5.  If they stay healthy, yes, they should be right back in it again.

It's almost baseball season.  What a relief!

- Apparently the Bengals are pissed at Stacy Andrews.  According to head coach Marvin Lewis, the club was under the impression the right tackle intended on returning.  Obviously, it didn't turn out that way.

“I was disappointed because Stacy led us to believe that he wanted to
stay [in Cincinnati], so it was up to his representative to get a
contract done.  We felt like we had a deal done and then, all of a
sudden, he walked away and that disappointed me.”

First of all, as any Eagles fan knows after the Dawkins fiasco, if you want to keep somebody, you don't let them reach free agency.  When the clock strikes midnight and those deals come pouring in, there's no telling what can happen.

Furthermore, Stacy's particular scenario is a bit more special than ordinary free agency circumstances.  Not only was he offered a big time deal from an excellent franchise, he had the chance to be with family, a brother who could really use a support system at this stage of his career and life.  For Lewis and the Bengals to view that as just another business deal seems selfish.  If they were serious about keeping their player, he would have been there.

- Congrats to the Sixers for sorting themselves out somewhat on their five-game road swing, finishing 3-2 including that huge buzzer-beater win over the Lakers. It's been such an up-and-down campaign, but much like the Flyers, they are choosing a good time to get right, as long as it's not a mirage.

My question, which I've posed on a few occasions throughout the season, is where you think this team is headed?  They've been so difficult to read.  At times, it seems they're crashing and would be lucky to take a team to six games in the playoffs.  Right now, depending on who they draw, they could make a run at the second round, though that's optimistic.  Does anyone share that enthusiasm?

Now 22/1 to win Super Bowl, Eagles also the NFC East favorite

Now 22/1 to win Super Bowl, Eagles also the NFC East favorite

The Eagles crushed a Super Bowl contender on Sunday at the Linc. And Vegas took notice.

According to Bovada, the Eagles' odds to win the Super Bowl went from 33/1 to 22/1. Just nine teams have shorter odds to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are tops at 15/4, followed by the Packers (8/1) and the team the Eagles beat, the Steelers (9/1).

With the win, the Eagles also became the favorite to win the NFC East, going from 11/4 to 2/1. They're followed by the Cowboys and Giants (both at 11/5) and last year's division champs, Washington, is at 6/1.

The Eagles are also 12/1 to win the NFC.

Of course, the biggest story for the Eagles this season has been the emergence of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. He had his first 300-yard passing game Sunday and was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week. His odds to win MVP went from 50/1 to 33/1. Those are the same odds as Drew Brees and Eli Manning.

Meanwhile, former Eagles quarterback and current Minnesota Viking Sam Bradford went from 50/1 to 25/1 to win MVP.

While Wentz's MVP odds shortened, his odds to win Rookie of the Year actually got longer, going from 8/5 to 7/4. That could have something to do with the odds of Ezekiel Elliot (7/4), Dak Prescott (5/1) and Sterling Shepard (7/1) all improving.

Flyers Notes: Ivan Provorov not in ‘younger’ lineup; Travis Konecny gets chance with NHLers

Flyers Notes: Ivan Provorov not in ‘younger’ lineup; Travis Konecny gets chance with NHLers

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers’ morning skate Wednesday came with youthful flavor.
 
Ivan Provorov was no part of it.
 
The 19-year-old was with the big-boy contingent on the opposite ice, a group of mostly NHL players that will not play in tonight’s preseason game against the Devils at the PPL Center, home of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.
 
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said a younger lineup is set for the team’s fourth preseason game.
 
“Every game is a little different,” Hakstol said. “[Tuesday] night we had a more veteran group dress, so not only are we looking at individual performances but we would expect to see a little more of our structure come into play. Tonight’s roster is a little more younger, so we’re still obviously looking to build some of the concept and some of the systems and detail.”
 
Provorov, the Flyers’ prized blue-line prospect and No. 1 roster hopeful of training camp, was featured in the NHL-heavy lineup Tuesday night, playing 21:43 with key minutes on the power play and penalty kill. This followed a night of 28:48 ice time in the Flyers’ split-squad preseason opener Monday.
 
So it was highly unlikely Provorov would play Wednesday, but the fact he was saved for a veteran-laden game instead of a prospect-filled one is telling.
 
Then again, Provorov is far from your typical 19-year-old hockey player.
 
“Right from day one, I think we’ve all saw that early,” Hakstol said. “A year ago, the focus, the ability to be detailed and to handle himself like a pro, albeit a young pro. Ivan has a great level of maturity to him.”
 
Provorov has done his work thus far. It’s his time to watch for a game.
 
“You look for him to be able to go out and do things consistently and efficiently,” Hakstol said. “I think for the most part, Ivan was able to do that [Tuesday] night.
 
Konecny with Schenn, Raffl
While one 19-year-old sits, another gets his chance.
 
Although prospect Travis Konecny — also looking to make the NHL jump — did not play Tuesday, he’ll still have a chance to open eyes with NHL forwards tonight.
 
The talented winger will be paired with Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl, both of whom were clearly especially selected to play tonight with Konecny.
 
“They see the ice real well, I’ve just got to move my feet and get in the good areas and I’m sure they’re going to find the spots,” Konecny said. “I’m going to try to not do too much tonight and just let the game kind of take care of itself — and take care of the little things I can control.”
 
The 24th overall pick of the 2015 draft amassed 101 points at the junior level last season. Putting NHL talent around him should only help and it serves as an amplified audition of sorts.
 
“It gives him an opportunity to play with two veteran players,” Hakstol said. “Travis is no different than anyone else, just go out and play his game. Every player, it’s one of the challenges coming into camp, to go out and make an impression. Every player needs to do that from Day 1. We’re getting into our fourth exhibition game here now, so it’s an opportunity for Travis to go out and play the way he plays. He has an opportunity to do that with two veteran players.”
 
Konecny, 5-foot-10 with speed and skill, is keeping things simple in his second NHL camp.
 
“I think this year I’m trying to approach it and play the game the right way,” he said. “Last year, I came in excited and I had my feet going, my energy, but I was kind of all over the place. I’m trying to follow the system and play the right way this year.
 
“My first game a couple days ago, it was quick pace, I wasn’t really expecting it — it’s been a long time since I was in that kind of speed. So I think tonight’s game I’ll be a little more relaxed and ready to go.”

Roster moves
The Flyers on Wednesday assigned Mark Dekanich, Chris McCarthy, Maxim Lamarche, Martin Ouellette, Jesper Pettersson, Steve Swavely and Kevin Sundher to Lehigh Valley, which opens its training camp Friday. The Flyers' roster now stands at 49.
 
Loose pucks
Other NHLers expected to play tonight: Defenseman Brandon Manning and center Boyd Gordon. “Boyd has had a good camp,” Hakstol said. “He got in game action the first time [Tuesday]. As you’d expect, he did a real good job within his role of starting with faceoffs and the responsible style of play he has.” … Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz will be the goalies. Both will compete for starting time with the Phantoms this season.