This Rangers/Kings Stanley Cup Final is just going to be pure torture for Flyers fans

This Rangers/Kings Stanley Cup Final is just going to be pure torture for Flyers fans


ALERT: All Philadelphia hockey fans and 700 Level readers should remove salt from their homes for the next two weeks or so because the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are going to pour it into those fans’ and readers’ wounds via a television screen while vying for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a classic Game 7 last night in the Windy City to set the stage for a tortuous Stanley Cup Final for Flyers fans that begins Wednesday evening in Hollywood.

On one hand, you have the Kings, aka “Flyers West,” with former Flyers Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams, who are all looking for their second Stanley Cup with the Kings in the past three seasons. Williams is attempting to win his third Cup overall as he also won with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

On the other hand, you have the hated New York Rangers, longtime rivals who eliminated the Flyers in a seven-game, first-round series earlier this spring. (Before we go any further, stop with the whole “the-Flyers-should-be-in-this-spot-and-not-the-Rangers theory. The teams’ series went to a seventh game but the Rangers were the better team and deserved to win.)

That’s one big, giant bowl of yuck right there.

Who to root for?

Neither, obviously

But the Kings sure look like the better team.

Carter is having an excellent postseason with nine goals and 13 assists. Trade deadline acquisition forward Marian Gaborik leads the playoffs with 12 goals. Center Anze Kopitar would probably win the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP if the playoffs ended today as he leads the postseason with 24 points.

Los Angeles’ defense is stacked and led by superstar Drew Doughty. And goalie Jonathan Quick isn’t too bad himself.

Though they may seem like one of those “teams of destiny,” the Rangers just don’t have the kind of firepower the Kings do. A few days of extra rest and goalie Henrik Lundqvist seem to be the real bright spots for the Rangers when comparing them to the Kings.

For as average he played against the Flyers in the first round, Lundqvist has been all that and more for the Rangers since as they dispatched the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens in the following rounds and he sports a slim 2.03 goals-against average through 20 playoff games.

Granted he didn’t have to be great against the Flyers since the Rangers controlled the puck so much, that series loss hurts even more now that we see the Flyers didn’t get Lundqvist at his best and still couldn’t steal the series.

But so is life.

Anyway, the prediction here is Kings in five games and even more hurt and bitter feelings around these parts.

Our tears must taste so good to the hockey gods.

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

It appears that Carson Wentz' fanbase in North Dakota is still pretty strong. Before North Dakota State’s game against Illinois State Saturday afternoon, fans were seen walking around the parking lot in Carson Wentz Eagles’ jerseys. 

Wearing Eagles gear at the tailgate was not all, however. A large group of people begun chanting “Carson” over and over to show their love and support for the Eagles quarterback. 

This is not the first time we have seen North Dakota State fans showing how much they adore Carson Wentz. Going back to the NFL Draft, fans were seen on the red carpet wearing North Dakota State Wentz jersey’s and waving flags.

On Sept. 19, when the Eagles played the Bears, North Dakotans traveled to see Wentz play in person.

Clearly, Wentz has a lot of love from his fans back at home, but it is safe to say that Eagles fans love him just as much after he has led them to a 3-0 start.  

It doesn't hurt that Wentz' cousin, Connor, plays for North Dakota State. Connor is a redshirt junior tight end.

John Clark with Connor Wentz

A photo posted by Rob Kuestner (@rkuestner23) on

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect the Sixers to take a cautious approach when determining Ben Simmons’ return to the court.

Simmons will undergo surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot, according to a league source. No date has been set for the surgery. On Friday, Simmons rolled his ankle during the final training camp scrimmage. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Sixers believe Simmons has an acute injury that is not related to his weight, which is up to 250 pounds.

The Sixers placed a heavy emphasis on maintaining health and preventing re-injuries during camp. That focus will continue into the regular season. They implemented load management, in which they allocate the best use of a player’s designated minutes. 

The approach was applied to Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, as they entered the preseason coming off of injuries. Embiid, who is nearing his NBA debut, had been sidelined the past two years with foot injuries. Okafor underwent season-ending right knee surgery last March. Both are slated to play Oct. 4 in the preseason opener. Gerald Henderson also followed load management for rest.  

“There are more variables going on pre-practice,” Brett Brown said Friday. “Before we design our practices and figure out how we’re going to maneuver through the day, the first thing we always do is we put on a digital projector a depth chart and we have the medical staff behind us talking about the circumstances of each player and the restrictions that each player has. 

“Once you understand that world, then you go over to the practice plan and you say, ‘How do you want to spend your money?’ I don’t want to use Joel’s minutes up in a lot of small drills when I could spend it easily and more wisely playing.”

Following this plan, Embiid, Okafor and Henderson did not participate in all of the scrimmages. When they did, Brown utilized Embiid and Okafor in spurts instead of long stretches. 

“Four-minute clumps and really trying to test themselves,” Brown said. “Let’s learn a little bit before we play the Celtics. Let’s just go as hard as you possibly can, let’s see what that means.”

The mapped-out formula allows the players to gauge how they assert their energy on the court. The Celtics took a similar approach with Kevin Garnett during the 2011-12 season. Doc Rivers implemented a “5-5-5” plan in which Garnett played in three five-minute spurts. 

“You kind of know the rhythm you are going to have,” Okafor said. “I think that’ll make it easier for myself and I’m sure for Jo as well knowing that we have four minutes to go as hard as we can, to make an impact on the game, and then we have a sub.” 

The Sixers assessed the length of these segments by comparing them to real-game situations. They want the scrimmage setting to simulate the flow regular season contest. The Sixers are looking to feature an uptempo this season and ranked first in the NBA last season with a total of 1,427.4 miles run. 

“With our sports science program, we’re designing our practice on trips,” Brown said. “How many trips does a normal NBA game have before there’s a stoppage in play? You see, it’s about six, seven trips. You’ve got to go for that … We’re very calculated on how we design our practice to reflect the true pace of a game.”

While there is the eagerness of players to make a comeback as quickly as possible, following the team’s carefully constructed recovery timeline is critical to prevent the reoccurance of injuries. Embiid better understands the importance of waiting after undergoing two surgeries. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab … the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor told me you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to people have to say.”

The Sixers drafted Simmons to be a centerpiece of their team for the future, not just this season. It is worth being careful early on to help him be healthy down the road.