Sports Tonight: Flyers need goals from more than usual suspects

The Flyers starting lineup against the Minnesota Wild (from left to right): defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, center Sean Couturier, center Claude Giroux, defenseman Brandon Manning and right wing Jakub Voracek on Saturday, November 11, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

It’s not the typical way we think of a home-and-home, but since the Flyers have not played since losing to Minnesota on Saturday in Philadelphia, the rematch against the Wild at 8 tonight (TV: NBCSP+; radio: 97.5 The Fanatic) technically is the second half of a back-to-back.

Let’s hope that the Orange and Black will show a bit more firepower than they did in the 1-0 loss to Minnesota.

Through 17 games, the Flyers have already been shut out four times. They are on a pace to be shut out 19 times, eight more than the team record of 11 set in 2014-15.

The odd thing is, with a goals-per-game average of 2.94, the Flyers actually are tied for 13th in the NHL. Center Sean Couturier is tied for sixth in the league with 10 goals, and captain Claude Giroux is tied for 11th with nine. The problem is that those 19 goals account for 38 percent of the 50 goals the team has scored.

Add in four goals from winger Jake Voracek, and nearly half the Flyers’ goals are from the first line.

Obviously, they need production from other players more consistently.

 

Camera icon Ben McKeown / AP
Duke’s Marvin Bagley III shoots over Elon’s Tyler Seibring during the second half Friday.

One-and-done: not the only way to win

Perhaps it’s just a matter of circumstance, but when No.1 Duke and No.2 Michigan State play at 7 on ESPN, it will be a case of two coaches handling the “one-and-done” situation in different ways.

Despite the reverence that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski still gets, he has sold out his program as a one-year pit stop to the NBA just as the oft-criticized John Calipari has at No. 7 Kentucky, which will play No. 4 Kansas at 9:30 on ESPN.

Since 2011, Coach K has had 10 freshmen declare for the NBA draft. Blue Devils freshmen Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr. are potential lottery picks in 2018.

Senior Grayson Allen was the only non-freshman to average more than 17 minutes in Duke’s first two games. Conversely, Jaren Jackson Jr. was the only freshman to log more than 11 minutes in Michigan State’s opening win.

It’s not as if Spartans coach Tom Izzo would turn away one-and-done players if they came to MSU, but he has shown that you can still sustain a top program without losing a freshman to the NBA draft each year.

 

Camera icon CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan celebrates his tackle for a loss on Cardinals running back Chris Johnson in the third quarter Oct. 8 at Lincoln Financial Field.

What I’m reading

Sometimes a guy plays so well that short-term ideas become long-term solutions. Staff writer Paul Domowitch says that’s what happened in the Eagles’ recent extension of defensive lineman Tim Jernigan.

It’s amazing how an 8-1 start can change the perceptions about a head coach. Staff writer Jeff McLane says that next year, the first branch on the coaching tree of Doug Pederson could emerge.

I stayed up for the Sixers’ late victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, but for those of you who did not, staff writer Keith Pompey gives his observations.

The joke used to be that only North Carolina coach Dean Smith could stop Michael Jordan from scoring. Jesse Reed at Sportsnaut writes that only Penn State coach James Franklin could have kept the Heisman Trophy from running back Saquon Barkley and likely has.

Who cares where Waldo is? The bigger question is where’s Ezekiel? Dallas Cowboys executive Stephen Jones knows, but he’s not saying.

If Lavar Ball is not a Republican, he might want to consider joining the GOP. The White House is saying that President Trump intervened on behalf of three UCLA basketball players arrested in China, including LiAngelo Ball. The trio is on its way back to the USA.

Camera icon Rebecca Blackwell / AP
The United States’ Christian Pulisic, left, fights for the ball with Trinidad and Tobago’s Nathan Lewis during a World Cup qualifying soccer match in Couva, Trinidad, on Oct. 10.

The riff

USA soccer star Christian Pulisic is correct when he says the top American teenagers need to be challenged more if the program is going to bounce back and then evolve from failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“In the U.S. system, too often the best player on an under-17 team will be treated like a ‘star’ — not having to work for the ball, being the focus of the offense at all times, etc. — at a time when they should be having to fight tooth and nail for their spot,” said Pulisic, 19, who was able to join German club Borussia Dortmund when he was 16 because he was able to obtain dual citizenship because his grandfather was born in Croatia.

FIFA rules designed to stop exploitation prevent American players without dual citizenship from playing professionally overseas until they are 18.

At home, pampering young American soccer talent the same way that young basketball and football players are pampered doesn’t work because we are not the best in the world in soccer. The development of the American soccer player is already slowed because the overall top-to-bottom quality is not there.

The results of deferring to top talent instead of challenging it shows up when the USA doesn’t qualify for a World Cup because it can’t beat Trinidad & Tobago.

Today’s schedule

TV/Radio

NHL
Flyers at Wild, 8 p.m. (NBCSP+; WPEN-FM 97.5)
Capitals at Predators, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

NBA
Raptors at Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)

College Football
Central Michigan at Kent State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Ohio at Akron, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Soccer
Friendly: Germany vs. France, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Friendly: Portugal vs. United States, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)

Men’s College Basketball
Nicholls State at Villanova, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
Duke vs. Michigan State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Purdue at Marquette, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
Kansas vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Local Events

Men’s College Basketball
Villanova vs. Nicholls State, 6:30 p.m., Wells Fargo Center

Horse Racing
Parx Racing, 12:25 p.m., Bensalem

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments