The Flyers and their third period woes

The Flyers and their third period woes

If any of you out there were able stay awake for the entirety of what NBCSN analyst Mike Mulbury reportedly called “one of the top five worst hockey games he’s ever seen,” you saw the continuation of a trend that has helped drag the Flyers down near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Sure, there are plenty of negative trends attached to the Flyers right now – lack of offense, goonery and culture questions, just to name a few. But the one I’m referring to is just how badly the Orange and Black have been outplayed in the third period this season.

It came back to bite them again Tuesday night in Carolina.

After 56 minutes, 2 seconds of the NHL version of Nyquil, the Flyers finally opened the scoring on a power-play goal (!) by Scott Hartnell (!) and took a 1-0 lead over the Hurricanes. But the Hurricanes struck back with just under a minutes left and their netminder pulled as Jordan Staal redirected a pass past Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason to knot the game.

The Flyers then committed a brutal turnover in overtime that sprung Carolina’s Manny Malholtra on a breakaway and he proceeded to beat Mason with a backhander for the 2-1 Carolina victory.

For those that have followed the Flyers this season, last night’s result should have come as no surprise. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that it could have been expected.

Through 14 games played on the season, the Flyers have been outscored 16-6 in the third period. Those 16 goals scored against are seventh-most in the league and those six goals scored are tied with New Jersey for fewest in the league. All tolled, the Flyers minus-10 third-period goal differential is the worst in the NHL.

There have been four times this season where the Flyers either held a lead or were tied heading into the third period and gave up multiple goals in the period and overtime to lose a game (Oct. 2 vs. Toronto, Oct. 15 vs. Vancouver, Oct. 29 vs. Anaheim and Tuesday night at Carolina).

To further accentuate the Flyers’ struggles in the final stanza, there have been three games where the Flyers trailed by just a single goal heading into the third period with a real chance to still tie or win the game only to give up multiple goals in the third and lose (Oct. 5 at Montreal, Oct 12. at Detroit and Oct. 17 vs. Pittsburgh).

Tuesday’s disappointment in Raleigh, N.C. was the only time Philadelphia managed to extend the game into overtime and gain a point in the standings.

Chew on that for a moment.

A case can be made that the Flyers have had a legitimate chance to earn 14 points in those seven games mentioned above and came out with just one of those 14 points. And that one point came Tuesday at PNC Arena.

That’s 13 points that Flyers have had a legitimate shot at earning that they’ve left just sitting there at the proverbial table through just 14 games this season. Did I expect the Flyers to earn all of those 13 points even if they were playing well? Not at all. But they most definitely should have earned more than just one of those 13 points.

Third-period letdowns happen over the course of an 82-game season. I get that.

But why are they struggling so badly in the third period so often so early in the season?

There are a few reasons.

First, foremost and most glaring is the lack of offense. Six goals in 14 third periods is good for just .43 goals per third period. .43 goals per any period isn’t going to cut it, let alone in the most important period of the game. Good teams will tighten up their defense, especially in the neutral zone, and clog up any open space when they have a lead. For as bad as the Flyers’ offense is at even gaining the offensive zone, that’s basically a death sentence.

For whatever reason, the Flyers have gone into a defensive shell at times in the third period when they’ve had a lead. They take their collective foot off the pedal and sit on whatever the score is whether they try to or not. For example, the Flyers were outshot 16-6 in the third period of the loss to Anaheim and 16-7 in the third period and overtime of last night’s loss at Carolina. Though it worked against the New York Rangers, the success rate of that option isn’t high.

The defensive shell is not the best idea considering this team’s strong point isn’t, you know, defense. To prove that point, one the team’s supposed top defenders, 24-year-old Luke Schenn, has been a healthy scratch the last two games.

It puts unfair pressure on Mason, who has done everything in his power to keep the Flyers in some of these games. For as spectacular as he’s been, he can’t stop everything.

Turnovers are another huge reason the Flyers have struggled in the final period and overtime. The Flyers are in the top 10 in the league with 123 giveaways on the season. But they seem to come at the most in opportune times. In the Pittsburgh game, Braydon Coburn threw a blind pass out in front of his own net, which hung Mason out to dry and led to a Sidney Crosby goal to give the Pens a 3-1 lead with just under 3 minutes to go. Mark Streit’s gaffe last night in overtime was inexplicable.  Those are just two examples.

Is it any coincidence the Flyers didn’t turn the puck over in third period – and the entire game, for that matter – last Saturday in New Jersey and held on for a 1-0 win?

The last main reason is attention to detail on the defensive end. So many times this season have the Flyers broken down defensively in the third period to allow other teams to score huge, momentum-shifting goals.

Against Vancouver, Flyers’ defenders focused on the puck carrier behind the cage and left Chris Higgins wide open in front of the net for the slam dunk to tie the game. Against Anaheim, two Flyers went to one Duck created a mini 2-on-1 for Anaheim where Kyle Palmieri cashed in for the game-winner. And then there was Claude Giroux leaving Carolina’s younger Staal in front of the net and allowing Staal to tip the puck past Mason to tie the game on Tuesday night.

The Flyers obviously need to start scoring goals. But unless they start tightening up and playing an all-around game in the third period, scoring goals won’t matter all that much.

Someone please give Mason a hug or bake him some cupcakes or something.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

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NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: NBC Sports Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Eagles 34, Redskins 24: Studs, duds, turning point and more

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Eagles 34, Redskins 24: Studs, duds, turning point and more

The Eagles didn't look like the best team in the NFL. Not even close.

For most of the first half on Monday Night Football, the Eagles were a mess. They were committing penalties, giving up big plays and floundering on offense.

Then things changed.

Then Carson Wentz started to look like an MVP. And then the Eagles started to look like the team fans in Philadelphia have become used to seeing over the first half of the season.

They started to look like the best team in the NFL again.

The Eagles recovered from their early missteps to beat Washington 34-24 at the Linc on Monday night to remain in control of the division and the conference.

With the win, the Eagles are 6-1 and are all alone with the best record in the NFL. They also gained more ground, sweeping the season series with Washington, which fell to 3-3.

While the Eagles picked up a big win, they did suffer a couple losses. Jason Peters (knee) and Jordan Hicks (ankle) both left the game and did not return. The Eagles have lost important players before but these will be hard to overcome. 

Wentz was dynamic on Monday Night Football. In a second straight nationally televised game, Wentz dazzled and showed why his name is at the forefront of the NFL MVP discussion.

Wentz completed 17 of 25 passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His four touchdowns went to four different receivers. Wentz finished the game with a passer rating of 126.3. It's the third game in a row he's had a passer rating over 100 and it's just the sixth such game of his career.

Turning point
The Eagles looked awful early in the game but then they broke out of a funk when Wentz hit Mack Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown bomb. That changed the game and brought some life back into the Linc.

Key stat
Before the Arizona game, Wentz had never had a three-touchdown game. He has three in a row now and 11 in three games.

Wentz has more touchdown passes in the last three games (11) than 19 teams have all season.

Offensive stud
Wentz is the real deal. After a bad start, he made some spectacular plays and carried the team. He's a legitimate MVP candidate.

Offensive dud
Torrey Smith didn't have much of an impact. He didn't have a catch and was targeted just once.

Defensive stud
Malcolm Jenkins played a great game on Monday night. He was everywhere. He stopped Jordan Reed on a key third down before Wentz hit Hollins on the deep touchdown pass.

Defensive dud
We'll give this to Najee Goode but that's probably unfair. It looked like Chris Thompson was his responsibility on the touchdown. Hard duty, as Jim Schwartz would say.

Key plays
•Corey Graham picked off a Kirk Cousins pass to give the Eagles great field position and Jake Elliott drilled a 42-yarder to add three more points.

•On 3rd-and-8, Wentz somehow pulled off a magic trick and escaped a sure sack. He was able to escape and scramble for 17 yards. He capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. It was Wentz's fourth TD pass of the game and it put the Eagles up 31-17.

•Cousins hit Reed on a short touchdown pass to cut into the Eagles' lead. It made the score 24-17.

•Wentz threw a ridiculous pass while getting hit by two guys and hit Corey Clement in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown. Clement tapped both feet in to put the Eagles up 24-10.

•After a Washington three-and-out, Wentz and the Eagles got the ball with 1:52 left in the half and drove down to score another touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 46-yarder to Zach Ertz, who then caught a four-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles up 17-10.

•Wentz hit Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown bomb in the second quarter to tie the game at 10-10. It was Wentz's fourth 50-yard pass of the season. He had just three all last season.

•Cousins found Thompson for a seven-yard touchdown to put Washington up 10-3. Thompson was wide open in the flat and the Eagles were missing Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks.

•Elliott drilled a 50-yarder to start the second-quarter scoring. It was his 11th straight make.

•Derek Barnett picked up his first solo sack to end a Washington drive in the first quarter. It came at a good time.

•After Washington kicked a field goal on their opening drive, the Eagles' first offensive drive was a disaster. They had four penalties and gained just five yards. It ended when Wentz threw a deep interception that was basically an interception.

Injuries
Ronald Darby (ankle) might return next week but was inactive against Washington. So was Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), who popped up on the Eagles' injury report during the week.

The Eagles lost Hicks (ankle) on the second play of the game and Peters (knee) on the first drive of the second half (see story).

Up next
The Eagles have two more home games before their bye week. Next Sunday, they'll face the winless 49ers and then face the Broncos before their week off.