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Postseason wins for Eagles against Vikings in 3 meetings

Sunday’s Royal Rumble at Wells Fargo Center will take place exactly 11 years after the only other Royal Rumble in Philadelphia. The 2004 Royal Rumble is one of the best in history, but it has largely been forgotten. Achilles Heel brings the 2004 Royal Rumble back to life with a detailed recap.

The 76ers have agreed to extend center Joel Embiid’s contract for five years at a total cost of $148 million, according to multiple reports. Injuries limited Embiid to 31 games last season after he sat out his first two NBA seasons with injuries.

The Greek God of Wrestling examines a multitude of storylines for WWE’s Survivor Series. Achilles Heel also previews the card for NXT Takeover: War Games and next Saturday’s Starcade, reveals matches for Ring of Honor’s Final Battle and questions the booking for this past week’s Impact Wrestling.

Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

Flyers Notebook: The Great 88

Posted by Eric Fisher On January - 17 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Thursday night is a night many thought would never come. Eric Lindros’ No. 88 will take its rightful place in the rafters of Wells Fargo Center.

Hanging Lindros’ jersey in the rafters is appropriate for several reasons. First, his presence on the Flyers was a major selling point when Wells Fargo Center first opened in 1996 (several bank-affiliated names ago). Without Lindros, it would have been more difficult to get that arena built, and it certainly would have been more difficult to sell the luxury suites that were a huge revenue enhancer in the switch from the Spectrum.

The more important reason, though, is that Lindros is one of the best players ever to wear a Flyers uniform.

Lindros ranks fifth in points (659) in team history despite playing just 486 games for the Flyers, 214 fewer than Claude Giroux, who is currently in 10th place in games played. Lindros ranks eighth in franchise history in goals (290) and sixth in assists (369), remarkable numbers not only because of how relatively few games he played, but also because he played in the neutral-zone trap era, which reduced scoring.

Few players have ever dominated games like Lindros. His unique blend of speed, power and skill made him an incredible force. He could beat teams with his blistering shot, gorgeous passes and thundering checks.

Lindros should have been a lifetime Flyers. But his concussion issues and the feud between his family and the Flyers, primarily with franchise icon and then-general manager Bob Clarke, brought his career in orange-and-black to an end.

Fortunately, with a huge assist to Flyers president Paul Holmgren, relations Lindros and the organization have thawed in recent years. The first major step was Lindros playing in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park, receiving a rousing ovation from the sellout crowd. Since that time, he has appeared at other functions and been inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame.

The ultimate honor, however, is to have your jersey retired. Thursday night, prior to a game the Maple Leafs, Lindros’ No. 88 will be hoisted to the rafters, where the retired numbers of Barry Ashbee (4) and Hall of Famers Bernie Parent (1), Mark Howe (2), Bill Barber (7) and Clarke (16) hang.

It’s a well-deserved honor for Lindros.

And it’s a wonderful opportunity for Flyers fans to pay tribute to Lindros for his remarkable career.

*****

STAR GAZING: Claude Giroux was the only Flyers chose to represent the Metropolitan Division at the NHL All-Star Game, which takes place Sun., Jan. 28 in Tampa. Entering Wednesday’s games, Giroux is tied for 2nd in the NHL in points (54) and ranks second in assists (40), behind only teammate Jakub Voracek (45).

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BUDDING STAR: NHL assists leader Jakub Voracek and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere can make a case that each belongs in the All-Star Game, but no Flyer left off the All-Star Game roster has a better argument to play in the game than Sean Couturier. He is fourth in the NHL (through Tuesday’s games) in goals with 25, three behind leader Alex Ovechkin. Before being held scoreless Tuesday against the Rangers, Couturier had seven goals in his previous four games.

Couturier is also a terrific defensive player. He has a plus/minus rating of plus-14 for a team that has allowed one more goal than it has scored.

It’s a shame that Couturier’s reputation hasn’t progressed enough for him to accompany Flyers captain Claude Giroux to the All-Star Game. If he continues to score goals, raising his name recognition, it could help him raise his profile enough to win the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.

*****

FROST WARNING: Center Morgan Frost, selected by the Flyers with the 27th overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft, is tearing up the Ontario Hockey League. The 18-year-old Frost leads the OHL with 71 points in 42 games. He leads the league in assists and has a nine-point edge over the second-leading scorer. Frost’s production takes some of the sting off seeing Brayden Schenn excel for the Blues this season after being traded for forward Jori Lehtera and the first-round pick with which the Flyers selected Frost.

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CARTER’S COMEBACK: Former Flyer Jeff Carter skated on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first time he’s done so since suffer a lacerated ankle tendon on Oct. 18. Carter was cut on the back of his left leg by the skate of Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, and had surgery the following day. Carter, who led the Kings in goals and points last season, can’t return soon enough for the Kings. They have lost four straight games and dropped to the final wild card position in the Western Conference.

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LOOKAHEAD: After Thursday’s game (7 p.m.) with the Maple Leafs, the Flyers will host the Devils on Saturday (1 p.m.) before traveling to face the Capitals (12:30 p.m.) in the Philly sports fan’s television preliminary to the NFC Championship game. The Flyers will remain on the road on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) against the Red Wings before hosting the Lightning on Thurs., Jan. 25 in their final game before the All-Star break.

(Eric Lindros photo by Eric Fisher. Any use of this photo must credit Eric Fisher/PhillyPhanatics.com)

Flyers Notebook: Elliott has been dependable

Posted by Eric Fisher On December - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

A lot of things changed for the Flyers during their recent three-game road trip. The biggest change is that they won all three games after enduring a 10-game losing streak. But there has been one constant: Brian Elliott.

Elliott played in 12 of the last 13 games, starting 11 times and entering one game in relief of Michal Neuvirth. In four of his eight starts during the 10-game losing streak, Elliott only allowed one of two goals. He did the same thing during the Flyers’ three-game swing through Western Canada this week. The difference is the Flyers won all three of those games.

Elliott has played better than his 9-6-6 record and 2.79 goals-against-average indicate. He has been a steady presence between the pipes this season.  There are a few goals he might want back, but goaltending wasn’t the problem for the Flyers during their 10-game losing streak. There wasn’t a game during the streak that the Flyers lost because of goaltending.

Steady, dependable play is what the Flyers were seeking when they signed the 32-year-old Elliott. And that’s what they’ve received.

Elliott clearly was the No. 1 goalie even before the often-injured Neuvirth was placed on injured reserve this past week with a “lower body” injury. He hasn’t been spectacular too often, although he was pretty darn good while starting three times in four nights during the Western Canada trip. Elliott made 43 saves Monday against the Flames as the Flyers ended their 10-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory. He made 24 save during a 4-2 win over the Oilers on Wednesday, and then made 36 saves during Thursday’s 4-1 triumph over the Canucks.

Whatever struggles the Flyers have experienced this season, goaltending hasn’t been one of them. For that, you can thank Brian Elliott.

*****

RAFFL WINNER: Michael Raffl, who didn’t register a point during his first 21 games this season, has five goals in his last eight games, including the game-winner during each victory on the Flyers’ three-game Western Canada trip. Raffl didn’t play badly during his pointless drought, but he has turned it up a notch since being moved up to the second line. Raffl compiled a plus-minus rating of plus-6 during the three-game road trip.

*****

LINE SHUFFLING: Head coach Dave Hakstol clearly didn’t want to break up a good thing, but he finally broke up the Flyers’ excellent top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Hakstol moved Wayne Simmonds to the top line, shifting Voracek to a reconstituted second line with Valtteri Filppula and Michael Raffl.

Simmonds has joined Raffl in scoring in three straight games, although two of them were into an empty net. Voracek responded with seven assists during the three-game road trip, giving him an NHL-leading 30 assists. It’s nice to see Voracek, who made several mistakes at crucial moments during the 10-game losing streak, get his game back on track.

*****

LEARNING CURVE: One change head coach Dave Hakstol made during the Flyers’ current three-game winning streak was to reduce the ice time of some of his younger players, particularly during the third period. Second-year forward Travis Konecny, rookie center Nolan Patrick and defenseman Travis Sanheim are among the players whose ice time has been reduced.

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GUDAS RETURNING: Defenseman Radko Gudas is slated to return from his 10-game suspension Tuesday (7 p.m.) as the Flyers open a homestand against the Maple Leafs. The Flyers should benefit from the experience Gudas brings to the defense. The challenge for Gudas will be to continue to be a physical presence without crossing the line, which will get him suspended again.

*****

PHANTOM CALL: The decision to reverse the call on the ice and overturn Claude Giroux’s power-play goal against the Bruins last Saturday due to alleged goaltender interference on Wayne Simmonds was ridiculous. Replays showed that Simmonds, who was stationed outside of the crease, may have – may have – brushed the goalie’s mask as he turned around. I’ve seen goals stand despite a lot more contact, but that’s what happens when you’re in the 10th game of a 10-game losing streak.

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PHANTOMS CALLUP: With defenseman Brandon Manning (finger/hand) and goalie Michal Neuvirth (“lower body”) placed on injured reserve, the Flyers called up veteran defenseman T.J. Brennan and goalie Alex Lyon from the Phantoms. Neither is expected to see much playing time.

*****

SCHENN EXCELS: With a nod toward PhillyPhanatics.com contributor Gordon Glantz, Brayden Schenn is having a fantastic first half of the season with the Blues. Schenn, traded to the Blues at the NHL Draft, is tied for sixth in the NHL in points (36), tied for ninth in assists (21) and tied for sixth in goals (15) (all statistics entering Saturday’s night games). Most surprising is that Schenn, an uneven defensive player, leads the NHL in plus/minus ranking at plus-24.

There’s no guarantee that Schenn would have approached those numbers with the Flyers. He certainly had plenty of opportunities to try different roles with the Flyers. Perhaps a chance of scenery benefited Schenn – or maybe the trade was the wakeup call he needed.

*****

WILL HOME BE SWEET? The Flyers probably didn’t want to leave the road after stringing together three straight wins in Western Canada, but they open a five-game homestand Tuesday (7 p.m.) against the Maple Leafs. The homestand continues Thursday (7 p.m.) against the Sabres, with the remaining games against the Stars (Saturday, 7 p.m.), the Kings (Dec. 18, 7 p.m.) and Red Wings (Dec. 20, 8 p.m.).

Believing in Nick Foles