Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 1 — Boston leads series, 1-0
[Box Score] – [Full Series Coverage] – [Game Page] – [Boston Reaction]
[Shift Charts] – [Head-to-Head TOI] – [Corsi and Fenwick] – [5-on-5 Faceoffs]
PHILADELPHIA — Peter Laviolette is a very good hockey coach. Without him, the Flyers do not make the Stanley Cup Final last year and they’re likely not the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference this season. Hell, without him, there’s a very good chance that the Flyers could be a completely different team — broken up by management after a horrible 2009-10 season.
At the same time, some of the moves Laviolette has made in this postseason have been questionable at best, mind-numbing and liable to induce mass balcony-jumping at worst. They started with some of the reactionary goaltending switches in the Conference Quarterfinals against Buffalo, and they’ve continued into the Conference Semifinals against Boston with odd match-up decisions.
For most of the game, if not all of it, Laviolette opted to match the Flyers best scoring line up with the Bruins top scoring line. That might sound like it makes sense, but considering Ville Leino, Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell are generally terrible at defense, it left plenty of room for the David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic to do substantial damage without having to go against their toughest defensive trio — Mike Richards, Kris Versteeg and Dan Carcillo.
Add that to the fact that the Bruins top defensive pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg — the only truly dominate defensive pairing Claude Julien has at his disposal — was able to match-up with the Briere line and it just adds to the confusion. Oh, and as a cherry on top, Zac Rinaldo played today. He was on the ice for a defensive zone face off with Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. Guess how long it took the Bruins to score off that face off.
There’s no excuse for matchup issues on home ice. It’s a huge part of the home ice advantage that you play all year for, which the Flyers quickly pissed away in just a few hours here today. Let’s not place all the blame on Laviolette, of course. The players deserve a lot of it for, frankly, playing like utter crap.
From Brian Boucher to just about every defenseman (okay, they were all atrocious) to most of the forwards to the coaching staff to the pathetic fans who seemed more interested in the gum on the floor than actually cheering on their team, it was a day to forget at Wells Fargo Center.
The Bruins lead the series, 1-0, and we’d better hope a different Flyers team shows up on Monday night for Game 2.
- Sergei Bobrovsky played today. Don’t try to analyze his play because by the time he was involved, the game was all but over.
- Actually, the Flyers had a glimpse of hope when Mike Richards scored on the power play at the 13:02 mark of the third, cutting the Boston lead to 5-3. But a little less than two minutes later, a crazy bounce wound up hitting the stick of Brad Marchand. Back of the net, ball game over.
- The game wasn’t really Boucher’s fault, despite the fact that every single pundit on the face of the hockey planet will be making HAHA FLYERS GOALTENDING jokes tonight, tomorrow and for the rest of time. The third goal was probably his fault, but his defense was freakin’ atrocious at clearing rebounds, picking up Bruins in front of the net and doing all the other things that defensemen are supposed to do.
- There are a million reasons the Flyers lost today, and picking out one player is not constructive. The entire team was absolutely horrible. No other way to put it.
- That said, Rinaldo needs to never play a game in these playoffs again. He’s completely useless.
- The Bruins power play lived up to the hype. It’s unbelievably bad. Then again, the Flyers aren’t much better in that department.
- The Flyers are 0-6 all time in Game 1′s vs. Boston. This is just par for the course. The Flyers have won three of the previous five series, including last year’s comeback and the 1974 Stanley Cup Final.
Post-Game Video: Mike Richards
Post-Game Video: Brian Boucher
Post-Game Video: Kimmo Timonen
Post-Game Video: Claude Giroux
Post-Game Video: Peter Laviolette
Questions with Answers
- The Flyers flew out of the gate in Game 7 on Tuesday after slow starts in many of the other games in the ECQF. Can they get out to a strong start in Game 1? Shut up with your stupid questions.
- The Bruins top line of Lucic, Krejci and Horton was atrocious in the first round, save two OT goals from Horton. Can the Flyers successfully keep them down and out to start this series? lol
- Brian Boucher was solid for all but about three minutes against the Sabres in Round 1. More of the same? Nope.
- Both teams have had horrible power plays in the playoffs so far. Are there any signs to the contrary today? Nah, they’re both still complete jokes.
- Can the Flyers get to Tim Thomas successfully, or does he look just as scary (or scarier) as Ryan Miller did for Buffalo? Thomas was beatable. Brilliant on a few saves, but he looked closer to Drew Carey than Jesus.
Comment of the Night
Silver lining: We got 3 pucks past Tim Thomas
>> Justin F.
Well, if there was any question as to whether the Bruins were capable of banging home five-footers all day we now know the answer. The Bruins walked into the Wells Fargo Center and showed off their short game en route to a convincing 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
If you simply looked at the boxscore you’d think that yet another Flyers starting goalie blew a game. You’d be wrong. Giving up a seven spot in a playoff game is a total team effort. Other than a deflected shot from the point, which beat Boucher, the Bruins simply beat the Flyers to the puck and scored garbage goals from within close.
The Bruins were first to every puck. They got their forwards in deep and pressured the Flyers defense into some awful turnovers all afternoon. Give the Bruins full marks, they came in and dictated the tempo. Tim Thomas was solid, but beyond an early save on James Van Riemsdyk wasn’t really called on to make the spectacular save.
The Flyers never got their forecheck going, never maintained sustained pressure on the B’s defense, and never recovered from giving up the first goal less than two minutes into the game. Bottom line, Boston outplayed them in every which way.
David Krejci put the Bruins ahead after picking a shot from the point out of mid-air and beating Boucher. Danny Briere tied it at one, showing incredible hands in close as he won a puck just outside the crease to put the Flyers on the board.
In a game full of egregious Flyers mistakes perhaps the most egregious was conceding a goal in the final minute of the first period.
The game-changer was a Nathan Horton goal with just 36 seconds left in the first period. Former Flyer Dennis Seidenberg did the heavy lifting as he pinched from the point and made a neat move in the corner to elude Braydon Coburn. Seidenberg threw the puck in front, where Krejci fanned on the shot, but not before the puck found its way to Nathan Horton, who redirected a shot on net. Boosh had a chance with his glove-hand, but was unable to catch it clean before deflecting it into the net (the puck was likely over the line at that point, but Boosh removed any doubt when he batted it in).
From there the Bruins simply poured it on. At one point they went ahead 5-1, before JVR pulled the Flyers to within 5-2 at the end of the second. Mike Richards picked up his first goal of the playoffs (a powerplay tally), giving the Flyers a false sense of hope at 5-3, before Boston closed out the scoring with two unanswered goals, which provided the final margin of victory.
If you’re looking for the good news it’s that the Flyers problems are easily correctable. They need to do a better of job of closing out Bruins forwards charging to the net. They need to limit turnovers. They need to get pucks deep and get into their cycle game. Finally, they need to play with greater urgency and win pucks.
Call me crazy, but I am not too distraught over dropping Game 1. Amazing how on the heels of their best game of the postseason (Game 7 against Buffalo) they played their worst game this afternoon. Lord knows they can’t play much worse in their own zone then they did today.
Game 2 at the WFC on Monday.
Just when teams began allowing the players to use their facilities again, and amid whispers the league year could start as early as Monday, the court of appeals granted the NFL a stay on the Judge Nelson ruling that supposedly reopened the league for business. For the time being, everything will immediately return to square one: lockout. No player trades or free agent signings are coming any time soon. Boo.
The draft continued as planned on Saturday, with rounds four through seven concluding the third and final day of the reading of names. Despite the lottery nature of the back end of the selection process, the Eagles actually made some waves this afternoon, adding the brother of Packers’ star Clay Matthews, LeSean McCoy’s successor in the backfieldat Pitt, and a kicker who potentially could be David Akers’ replacement.
The Birds made two picks in the fourth round, first grabbing linebacker Casey Matthews of the famous Matthews bloodline. The Oregon product doesn’t have the same size (6-1, 231) or athletic ability as his All Pro sibling, but if his family’s success is any indication, he could enjoy a long, successful career in the NFL.
Four picks later, the Eagles made one of the more surprising selections in the draft, taking kicker/punter Alex Henery (6-2, 177) out of Nebraska. David Akers did not sign his transition tag tender before the league entered a work stoppage, and he was not thrilled with the designation in the first place. This will lead many to jump to the conclusion Akers’ career in Philadelphia is finished, but it’s worth noting Sav Rocca’s time could also be up.
In the fifth, the pick was running back Dion Lewis. Lewis was a redshirt freshman during Shady’s final year with the Panthers, and the heir was every bit as productive. Lewis ran for over 2800 yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons of college ball, though he was not as prolific a receiver. He’s short, but stout at 5’7″, 197, and should be a nice complement in the Birds’ backfield, likely spelling the end of Jerome Harrison.
The Eagles added offensive linemen with picks in the fifth and sixth rounds, grabbing Iowa’s Julian Vandervelde (6-2, 301) and Cincinnati’s Jason Kelce (6-3, 280). Both are expected to add depth to interior. They nabbed another linebacker with their second pick in the sixth, Brian Rolle (5-10, 229) from Ohio St. As of this writing, they have two compensation picks remaining in the seventh round.
On a side note, the Eagles and Patriots once again made a draft day trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out the two franchises have swapped picks every year going all the way back to 2000. As ammusing as that may sound, this time the Eagles traded up from 194 all the way to… 193. The deal was presumably for a catered lunch from Panera Bread.
We’ll have more draft analysis in the days to come. Any early thoughts on their performance?
ECSF GAME 1: BRUINS AT FLYERS THIRD PERIOD THREAD
While not much is going well right now, let’s all take some time to think about how nice it is to have these two around.
The Bruins’ multi-goal lead is cut into by JVR just before the period ends. Ah, memories.
ECSF GAME 1, BRUINS AT FLYERS: SECOND PERIOD THREAD
2-1 after 20 minutes. Come on, Flyers.
Both clubs needed seven games to clear the first round, but that’s not really a bad thing so much as a reflection of how great the opening series were, and how good these two teams are to have won them. The Flyers enter the second round on a high, having played their most dominant game in months to close out the previous series. The team that won that game can beat anyone.
To outlast the Bruins, they’ll need to successfully get to Tim Thomas, the second straight dominant goalie they’re facing this postseason. Despite the fact that these are very different goalies, I’m assuming the plan will be the same. Get to the crease, throw some snow at the guy in the mask, and see if you can get him thinking about taking a swing. It’s a great possibility that Thomas will steal a game or two this series, just as Ryan Miller did, but I wouldn’t put it past Brian Boucher to do the same. He established himself as the man against the Sabres, making it look like he should have played nearly every minute when all was said and done. He’ll likely have that opportunity this time around; we’ll see what he does with it.
The Bruins will bring a physical game with them, as did the Sabres, and Zdeno Chara will log a ton of minutes. We should see the Flyers be able to take advantage of their forward line depth though, even without Jeff Carter (who also missed last year’s series against Boston, but has no return timetable at the moment). Danny Briere is playing at his usual playoff best, and James van Riemsdyk is stepping up his game just in time to be a major difference maker. G loaded up 9 points in 7 games and had a physical series. I’m not gonna go over all the things the Flyers can do. You know it all already.
What’s most important is that they continue to play like they did against Buffalo, and not just in the game 7 ass-kicking. They were very good thoughout that series, even in the losses. Chris Pronger’s minutes will be increasing, and that should help the critical special teams battle that will go on in what will likely be a rough series. As we’ve already discussed, the Bruins’ powerplay comes in ice cold, having failed to score a single goal over an entire playoff series. Joe Haggerty of CSN New England pointed out that the powerplay woes date back further than the start of the playoffs, with a 93% failure rate since the team traded for Thomas Kaberle. Part of me worries that the floodgates will open against the Flyers, who will take more penalties than the 21 opportunities Montreal allowed, but that stat isn’t just a blip based ont the numbers Haggerty shared. Our own powerplay could use a little help itself, although it’s looked better over the last two games, and Pronger is now back with the team.
It’s hard not to feel good about the Flyers’ chances as this series opens, despite the fact that Boston is a very tough team. They played their asses off against Buffalo, and they’ll presumably have some stability in net and the presence of Pronger throughout the series. It really should be a great series, Philly vs. Boston, the references to last year’s battle, and a lot of talent on both sides—the perfect recipe for complete overreactions after every game regardless of outcome.
Photo by reader/commenter Scurvy5
Game 1, Eastern Conference Semifinals — Series tied, 0-0
3:00 p.m. today at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia
Catch the action on NBC, CBC, RDS and 610 WIP
Lineups, questions to answer and our in-game discussion after the jump.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Hartnell – Briere – Leino
van Riemsdyk – Giroux – Zherdev
Carcillo – Richards – Versteeg
Shelley – Betts – Powe
Carle – Pronger
Timonen – Coburn
Meszaros – SOD
Healthy Scratches: Danny Syvret, Nick Boynton, Matt Walker, Kevin Marshall, Erik Gustafsson, Zac Rinaldo, Ben Holmstrom, Eric Wellwood, Michael Ryan, Mike Testwuide, Johan Backlund
Injuries: Jeff Carter (knee), Andreas Nodl (eye), Michael Leighton (bruised ego), Oskars Bartulis (shoulder)
Boston Projected Lineup
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Recchi
Kelly – Peverley – Ryder
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Chara – Seidenberg
Kaberle – McQuaid
Ference – Boychuk
Healthy Scratches: Tyler Seguin, Trent Whitfield, Kirk Macdonald, Jordan Caron, Zach Hamill, Lane Macdermid, Jamie Arniel, Shane Hnidy, Colby Cohen, Yury Alexandrov, Matt Bartowski, Steven Kampfer, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Anton Khudobin, Michael Hutchinson
Injuries: Marc Savard (concussion)
Questions to Answer
- The Flyers flew out of the gate in Game 7 on Tuesday after slow starts in many of the other games in the ECQF. Can they get out to a strong start in Game 1?
- The Bruins top line of Lucic, Krejci and Horton was atrocious in the first round, save two OT goals from Horton. Can the Flyers successfully keep them down and out to start this series?
- Brian Boucher was solid for all but about three minutes against the Sabres in Round 1. More of the same?
- Both teams have had horrible power plays in the playoffs so far. Are there any signs to the contrary today?
- Can the Flyers get to Tim Thomas successfully, or does he look just as scary (or scarier) as Ryan Miller did for Buffalo?
NBC, WIP, right here. Let’s go, Flyers.
Roy Halladay (3-1, 2.41) takes on Jonathon Niese (1-3, 5.10) in day baseball at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon. If you’re looking for an encouraging trend for today’s game, the Doc has won his last six starts against the Mets, good for 6-0 with a 2.54 ERA dating all the way back to 2006. If you’re looking for even more fun Roy trends? Halladay has won his last 11 starts against NL East opponents. The beast of the East to be sure.
As for the bats, John Mayberry Jr. will get the start in left and Dane Sardinha will handle the catching duties with Chooch banged up and Schneider seeing a lot of work over the past week.
First pitch scheduled for 1:10 from CBP. Forecasts call for an influx of sun and jorts.
The Union are finally back in action today after agreeing to reschedule last week’s match with Real Salt Lake (who lost a heartbreaking CONCACAF Champions League Final to Monterrey). San Jose visits PPL Park (4PM/6ABC), where they picked up a 2-1 win last season.
The time off provided Peter Nowak’s club a chance to get healthy and to hopefully figure out a way to jump-start their struggling offense. Brian Carroll, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, is listed as probable and should return to the starting lineup. Whether the offense can finally get things going remains to be seen.
San Jose sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with just five points from six matches (1-3-2). The Earthquakes have dropped two straight, including a 2-1 loss to Chivas last week.
Chris Wondolowski, who won the 2010 Golden Boot, has scored three of San Jose’s six goals this season. Wondo scored San Jose’s lone goal last week, a header from a difficult angle following a corner kick.
Penn Charter product Bobby Convey returns to his hometown fully fit, having played in every minute of every game this season. Convey picked up 10 assists last season, good enough for fifth in MLS, en route to winning the 2010 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award. His ability to provide service from the wing will pose a challenge for Sheanon Williams on the outside.
San Jose, which is in the midst of a four game winless streak, may mix things up a bit today. Head coach Frank Yallop promised changed following their loss to Chivas, saying “… I need to shake it up now, because that ain’t good enough. Not even close. … There might be a few [new] guys starting. We’ll see.”
The Union, who after the week off sit in third place in the East with ten points (3-1-1), need to figure out a way to generate more offense. To date they’ve gotten results thanks to a vastly improved defense. However, plodding along at a goal a game pace is not going to cut it if they hope to make the playoffs.
How can they improve the attack? Well, playing Roger Torres a bit more would certainly help. He’s really the only creative midfield presence on the roster (which is one of the reason I was clamoring for them to claim Benny Feilhaber). Torres has bailed them out off of the substitutes bench all too often thus far. Why not plug him into the starting lineup? Whatever deficiencies he has defensively should be covered up by the return of Carroll.
It would also help if Carlos Ruiz, Sebastien Le Toux, and Danny Mwanga could figure out a way to play together. They’ve combined to score just two goals this season, and Ruiz has both of them. Now, if you would have told me before the season started that the Union would be 3-1-1 with neither Le Toux nor Mwanga scoring a goal I’d of said no shot. It’s a obviously a credit to their defense, but they need to get those two going.
Unlike San Jose I can’t imagine Peter Nowak will tinker with his starting lineup too much. I expect we’ll see Mondragon, Harvey, Califf (aka “The Sheriff”), Valdes, Williams, Mapp, Carroll, Miglioranzi (although I wish Torres would start here), Daniel, Le Toux, and Ruiz.
Final Score Prediction: The Union miraculously score two (count ‘em two!) goals and take home the three points with a 2-1 win.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: Thanks to the Union being all “disciplined” (air quotes) I am fearing it may be time to retire this bit, but I’ll go with Justin Mapp, who is the most likely player on the team to hit the fourth official with a wayward cross and be sent off for making contact with an official.
Photo Credit: Some really dedicated Califf fans who sat near me at the Union/NYRB game. Oh, and Califf tossed them his sweaty jersey. Cheers!
All is relatively quiet on the Flyers front as they get ready to open their second round series with the Boston Bruins today. The past few days have been filled with references to last postseason’s matchup that saw the Flyers stage a historic comeback that no one reading site this needs further reminding about. But, the players themselves aren’t too focused on 2010, which despite its unforgettable place in team history, is only a footnote in the current series once the first puck drops. Fans can and should enjoy The Comeback at any opportunity though, particularly when the trash talk gets going. It’s hard to imagine the players won’t be chirping about it too.
Here’s a look at some of the other storylines heading into the series, including the odds the Flyers are being given to advance, and win the Cup.
Simon Gagne factored heavily into the Flyers’ last series win over the Bruins, but his second round has begun on a very scary note. Gags was hit hard into the boards and tossed to the ice, with his head bouncing on impact. He was alert and talking in the locker room after refusing the stretcher, but with Gags’ concussion history there’s certainly added concern. Hell, watch the impact. He didn’t need to have history for this to be a worry. [Puck Daddy]
The Lightning did still win that game, beating the Capitals, 4-2.
Beyond last year’s matchup, here’s a look at how teams have fared in the second round in a historical sense. [The Checking Line]
How glad are you that Flyers hometown broadcasts aren’t dominated by the egos of their broadcasters. Can you imagine having to listen to Jack Edwards on a regular basis? [Broad Street Hockey]
Ryan gets a few shots in before the opening faceoff. [Flyers Goal Scored By]
Perhaps the biggest difference between last year’s series and this one is that the Flyers will face Tim Thomas instead of Tuukka Rask. Meanwhile, two current Flyers who played on opposing sides in the Stanley Cup Finals no longer have lockers at the Skate Zone. [CSNPhilly]
Thinking about heading down to the game today? The Flyers have released some of the NHL’s unused tickets, which are available here, or call 215-218-PUCK.
Finally, the odds for the series and the Stanley Cup. We have these courtesy of www.Bodog.com.
Odds to win the 2011 Stanley Cup
Vancouver Canucks 11/4
Washington Capitals 4/1
San Jose Sharks 5/1
Detroit Red Wings 11/2
Boston Bruins 8/1
Philadelphia Flyers 8/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 12/1
Nashville Predators 14/1
Odds to win the 2011 Eastern Conference
Washington Capitals 7/5
Philadelphia Flyers 7/2
Boston Bruins 11/4
Tampa Bay Lightning 9/2
Odds to win the 2011 Western Conference
Vancouver Canucks 7/5
San Jose Sharks 5/2
Detroit Red Wings 5/2
Nashville Predators 7/1
What will be the Matchup in the Stanley Cup Final?
Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks 9/2
Washington Capitals vs. San Jose Sharks 6/1
Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings 13/2
Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators 17/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vancouver Canucks 10/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. San Jose Sharks 13/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings 14/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Nashville Predators 35/1
Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks 9/1
Boston Bruins vs. San Jose Sharks 12/1
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings 13/1
Boston Bruins vs. Nashville Predators 30/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Vancouver Canucks 12/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. San Jose Sharks 16/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings 18/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators 42/1
Washington Capitals -190
Tampa Bay Lightning +165
Philadelphia Flyers -110
Boston Bruins -110
Vancouver Canucks -255
Nashville Predators +215
San Jose Sharks -110
Detroit Red Wings -110
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins Player Props
Claude Giroux 2nd Round Points vs. Boston Bruins
Over/ Under 5
Danny Briere 2nd Round Points vs. Boston Bruins
Over/ Under 5
Mike Richards 2nd Round Points vs. Boston Bruins
Over/ Under 4
David Krejci 2nd Round Points vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Over/ Under 4.5
Milan Lucic 2nd Round Points vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Over/ Under 4
Patrice Bergeron 2nd Round Points vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Over/ Under 4
Zdeno Chara 2nd Round Points vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Over/ Under 3
We’ll be back with a gamethread a little closer to puck drop. Until then, an oldie but a goodie, Bruins Escalator Girl.
Not a bad start to the homestand… The Phillies opened up the Mets’ pitching and bled it for 10 runs while Vance Worley threw six shutout innings on their way to a 10-3 win. The Phils have now scored double-digit runs against the Mets in three straight contests and lead the season series, 3-1.
Ryan Howard homered twice, including a grand slam, which both tied him with Del Ennis for second on the all-time Phillies home run list at 259 and extended his record for most grand slams as a Phillie (10). Howard also now holds the team record for RBI in the month of April (27), which is pretty amazing considering how well he slugs later in the season (he already owns the Phillies’ RBI records for August  and September ), and the fact that Chase Utley hasn’t played a single game.
Placido Polanco scratched an April record of his own, notching his 39th hit in the month, most ever by a Phillie in April. Polly raised his average to .390. Three. Ninety.
Worley looked very good in his season debut, getting out of an error-induced jam in the first and staying settled through six shutout innings. Dating back to last season, he hasn’t given up a run in 16 innings, per John Clark on the postgame show. Vance Refrigeration!
Worley walked four, but struck out five and allowed just two hits. He even notched his first MLB hit. Mike Stutes and Danys Baez each picked up a scoreless relief inning, but David Herndon shat the shutout bed, allowing a pair of homers and three total runs in the ninth. Herndon’s April reminds me of the Padres reliever that Barney Coopersmith’s wife leaves him for in My Blue Heaven. Fans, what are we going to do about David Herndon?
Jimmy and Benny each contributed a pair of hits, with Francisco knocking in a pair of runs in the fifth. One of Polanco’s two hits on the night also plated a pair.
Always good to see the Mets get trounced, but regardless of the opponent, it’s encouraging to see the runs piling up again and the Phils take a series opener.
With the 54th pick in the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles have selected Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, making him the highest drafted Philadelphia college athlete the Birds have taken since Villanova quarterback Jim Grazione in 1959. A four year starter for the Owls, Jarrett is capable of playing either safety position, bringing valuable versatility to an undermanned Eagles secondary.
Coming into the draft, the organization was expected to make moves intent on suring up the defensive side of the ball. While picks set to fill holes at cornerback, linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle were all expected, the Eagles have exited the second round with the only position not popularly labeled a pressing “need.” Still, even though there are these real needs at other positions, it should be remembered that this draft is highly irregular given the absence of free agency. For the Eagles, this may simply be a case of taking the best player they feel available, while hoping to fill their other holes once free agency is reinstated. Sure, it’s a gamble, but it’s also the reality of professional football in 2011.
As for Jarrett himself, he is a plenty impressive talent, and his selection to stay around in Philly isn’t all that surprising. There have been a slew of reports over the last few weeks that the Eagles were “extremely interested” in the 6’2, 205-pound safety. Plus, it’s not as though scouting the kid has been much of a challenge. He’s played the last four years in the Eagles’ (literal) back yard. Or maybe the front yard. You get the point.
Plenty of analysis and a hard-hitting highlight package after the jump…
So, what can we look forward to from our new second rounder? Jaiquawn is excellent in defending the run, and can stuff a play in short yardage without the need of a head start blitz. In pass coverage, Jarrett played a good deal of zone at Temple, but possesses the speed to hold his own in man coverage, at least within reason. The “at least within reason” comes as a result of his mediocre combine numbers, which may indicate some issues in coverage against quick slot recievers with downfield intentions. Consequently, it’s worth noting that Jarrett was projected at least a round, possibly even two rounds, later than the Eagles’ grabbed him.
For those of you a little uneasy with what you’ve read so far, the good news is that above all Jarrett is a sure tackler. Season after season of blown attempts in the Eagles’ backfield no doubt played a part in this selection, and will now hopefully be somewhat rectified. Moreover, combine numbers, while great for judging raw athelticism, don’t necessarily translate to how well someone actually plays football. In tune with such a philosophy, this comes from CSNPhilly’s Eagles Insider Reuben Frank:
His 4.62 time in the 40 most likely hurt his draft status, but he’s also run as fast as 4.54.
“I think a lot of teams shied away from me because of my 40,” Jarrett said from his home in Brooklyn Friday evening. “But all a 40 measures is how fast you run a 40. Coach [Andy] Reid didn’t really focus on my testing, just focused on what kind of football player I can become.”
Jarrett said people who judge him by his 40 time aren’t getting the full picture of what sort of player he is.
“I’m going to bring physical, toughness and a smart player,” he said. “I’m real disciplined, and coach Andy Reid likes disciplined guys who are going to go out there and do whatever it takes to help the team win, and that’s what I’m all about.”
Backing up his new safety, coach Reid is calling Jarrett “the most intimidating hitter in the draft.” The video posted below certainly seems to back up the head coach’s evaluvation.
Though substantive personnel decisions aren’t exactly allowed at the moment, Jaiquawn’s future with the team, assuming he can step in right away, will obviously have meaningful ramifications for the career of free agent Quintin Mikell. While it’s still a little early to tell the immediate standing of either, the long term future of the Eagles safeties could very well lie in the potential combination of JJ and an eventually rehabilitated Nate Allen.
Returning to Temple, Jarrett’s selection comes on the heels of fellow Owl Muhammad Wilkerson making an opening night splash and heading to the New York Jets. This is a pretty cool feeling for Philly-born Temple grads like Matt P. and I. After typing this less than twenty-four hours ago, the whole things feels just a little surreal.
Without question, these draft selections are a testament to Al Golden. Though he’s recently traded in North Philly for South Beach, Temple fans, adminstrators and players still owe Golden a massive debt for rescuing their program. Even after his departure, the coach’s legacy is still being felt, with Wilkerson and Jarrett garnering the program substantial national press. To quote Chris Berman, “Wow, can you believe it? Two Temple kids in the first two rounds!”
Good for Al. Good for Temple. Good for the Eagles.
But, hey, my opinion on this is clearly a bit colored. How’s everyone else feeling? As Matt P. was able to dig up, Brian Dawkins seems like a fan. How ’bout you?
Update: After trading down to the 90th pick and gaining a selection in the sixth round, the Philadelphia Eagles have selected Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh. The Aggie stands about 6’1 and weighs in right around 200 pounds, which is pretty good size for a corner and a substantially larger option than the Birds have had in recent years. A 4.4 40-speed doesn’t hurt either. So, for those of you in search of a corner, here’s your corner—Mr. Curtis Marsh. Let’s call this an apropos finish to a day manned by Eagles’ Draft representative Troy Vincent.
Your open thread for tonight’s playoff games.
Lightning at Capitals is up first
Red Wings at Sharks is your late game
A western swing that began with a promising 4-0 start came to a 5-2 end, with a pair of Phillies arms landing on the DL and the Phillies briefly sliding to second place in the East before edging ahead of the Marlins again. The road trip is over, with the Phils back in town to host the last place Mets this weekend. High five. Vance Worley will get the start in place of the injured Joe Blanton, countering New York’s Mike Pelfrey.
Big Pelf (1-2) is coming off his only appearance in which the Mets ultimately won. He let up just one run against Arizona after allowing 18 in his previous four starts. Apparently he’s been sick all week too, even losing some weight. So ya know, everyone take it easy on him down at the park tonight and be sure to share your get-well wishes if you’re within shouting distance.
Vance Refrigeration makes his first start of the season for the Phils. He’s looked very good with the Iron Pigs so far, with 25 Ks versus 6 walks in 22.2 innings. In 13 innings with the big club last season, Worley struck out 12, while allowing 8 hits and 4 walks. It sucks to lose Blanton right after he turned in a pair of 2-ER outings and looked to be getting on track, but it’s not a bad time of year to get a look at Worley against some Major League bats.
Chooch is out tonight with the back issue that struck him from the lineup in Arizona, but the Internet’s Ryan Lawrence doesn’t seem to think he’ll be out long. Brian Schneider will catch Worley.
Enjoy your Friday night, and have a great weekend. Wouldn’t hurt if the Phils were to help out with that with a stomping of the Mets…
So last week wasn’t our last show of the season, after all. The Flyers are still alive and we’re still here breaking down the postseason. We obviously turn our focus this week on BSH Radio to the Boston Bruins and the obscenely paid men who try to win hockey games for them.
We also get to our second round predictions, and of course, we brag about how good our first round predictions were. Oh, and Geoff makes excuses for why he finished off with a worse record in the first round than Ben and myself did. We put him in his place.
Get the show after the jump.
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