NHL Realignment Closer to Reality: Long Live the Patrick Division

NHL Realignment Closer to Reality: Long Live the Patrick Division

According to a report by TSN, the NHL has approved a realignment of its teams, moving to a four-conference format pending approval by the NHLPA. We were happy enough to see the "Atlanta Thrashers" franchise move to Winnipeg to become the second NHL incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. The fact that this movement made it necessary for the league to reincarnate the Patrick Division* of our youths is the next benefit to be reaped. 

Let's take a look at the new NHL, from its likely new divisions to a potentially punishing playoff format...

*Of course, it's not exactly the Patrick Division, because the Carolina Hurricanes didn't exist at the time. Give us back the Hartford Whalers and we'll have it all... Well, almost. We probably won't get the great names of the divisions/conferences back either, if for no other reason than the new system gets rid of both divisions and conferences as we know them. The new proposed realignment will be a hybrid of the old and the recent—with four "conferences" representing some sort of middle ground between a pair of conferences with multiple divisions in each.

The Flyers' new conference foes, beginning as soon as next season, are the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and Carolina Hurricanes. That's the Patrick Division from 1982-1993, plus the Hurricanes. Fans who cringed when the league traded in its history-based titles to follow in the NBA's region-based-nomenclature footsteps aren't restraining breaths in hopes of names with a bit more character, but hey, it's good to have the Caps back, at least from a rivalry standpoint. If their recent success is a sign of things to come—and we think it is—the Flyers just got back a great rival, only with a whole lot more at stake. This particular rival won enough games to meet the President last season (albeit in a weaker division).

The currently marketable Penguins also get to play within their rivalries—the Caps, the Rangers, and the Flyers. Hate them or hate them, the Pens are one of the most marketable teams in the game, a characteristic they share with three other clubs in their conference.

And hey, we've seen some success against Hurricanes, so… welcome aboard, Carolina.

The "conference" to the "north" has the weirdest adopted-team situation, with Tampa Bay and Florida joining a grouping that includes the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, and Buffalo Sabres.

The Jets will join the Flyover Conference (Blackhawks, Red Wings, Wild, Blue Jackets, Blues, Predators, and Stars—nice to see the Stars out of the "Pacific"). Out west, we'll see the three California teams—Sharks, Kings, Ducks along with the Coyotes, Avalanche, Canucks, Flames, and Oilers.

Counting on our fingers, that's two conferences that have seven teams (including the one the Flyers are in) and two that have eight. The TSN report says seven-teamers will play each other six times per season (splitting home duties), and the eight-teamers will alternate home-friendly seasons. Here's how the playoff situation could break down:

The top four teams in each Conference would qualify for the playoffs.
The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place
team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference
champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the
survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.

NHL general managers will determine the playoff structure after round two in the proposed realignment.

A strong conference like the one the Flyers play in could pose more challenge to making the playoffs, particularly for the teams that aren't perennially good. Advancing may also prove more challenging, and teams with higher point totals could lose postseason slots to teams with lower totals in weaker conferences. If a team makes the playoffs, the likelihood that it will see a rival in the first round is high, but it could be less likely they'll make the postseason at all.

Nothing's set in concrete yet, and the reports have changed with each passing hour tonight. There are still some significant playoff questions to be answered. But it looks like a solid foundation has been poured for the league's immediate structural future.

What are your thoughts?

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.

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Underdog, huh? Eagles headed to Super Bowl

Underdog, huh? Eagles headed to Super Bowl

BOX SCORE

The Eagles have been dead for weeks, right? The only problem is that no one ever told them. 

They're more alive than ever. 

And now, without their franchise quarterback, their Hall of Fame left tackle, their starting middle linebacker, their most dynamic offensive weapon, their special teams captain and their original kicker, the Eagles did it again. 

As improbable as it sounds … the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. 

The Birds got off to a rough start, but clamped down and absolutely demolished the Vikings, 38-7, at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday in the NFC Championship Game (see Roob's observations). They'll see the Patriots in Minnesota in two weeks for Super Bowl LII (see story).  

The fourth quarter became a party as fans were doing the Skol chant — they changed it to "Foles" — mockingly and the entire Eagles' sideline danced along to a Meek Mill song. 

This is the Eagles' first trip back to the Super Bowl since the 2004 season, when they lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. 

They'll get another crack at Tom Brady and the Patriots, who beat the Jaguars, 24-20, earlier in the day. The Patriots won the game but didn't look invincible. They needed to stage a late comeback to take down the Jaguars. 

Nick Foles claimed he was calm and confident all week and he certainly looked like it in the NFC Championship Game. Sure, the play-calling helped, but Foles had a simply incredible game. He played loose and demolished the best defense in the NFL. 

Foles turned in an all-time performance. He completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He had a passer rating of 141.4. 

With the loss, the Vikings missed a chance to become the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl it's hosting. Oh well. 

The Eagles actually got off to a terrible start Sunday. All three phases chipped in. First, the defense gave up a touchdown drive to start the game. Then the offense missed chances and had to punt. Then, they got a fair catch interference call on special teams. 

Things were going badly until that Patrick Robinson pick-six. Chris Long forced the pressure and during the 50-yard return, the Linc got so loud the press box shook. 

After last week's divisional round win over the Falcons, head coach Doug Pederson called another masterful game. He put on a clinic against the Vikings, pushing all the right buttons as the Eagles began to push around the NFL's best defense. 

Turning point
Long turned that corner and affected Case Keenum's throw enough to allow the ball to hang in the air for Robinson. After Robinson picked off the pass, he took it 50 yards to the house and momentum had officially swung the other way. 

Key stat
The Eagles' 38 points are their second most in playoff history and their margin of victory (31 points) is the biggest in franchise history. 

The 38 points the Eagles scored are the most the Vikings have allowed all season. They had allowed 34 in their last three games combined. 

Offensive stud
For all the questions about Foles over the last few weeks, he answered them Sunday. Foles was incredible. He got into a rhythm early and is now leading the Eagles into the Super Bowl (see report card)

Offensive dud
This was about to go to Torrey Smith for dropping a deep pass early, but he totally redeemed himself when he caught that deep touchdown pass on the flea flicker. 

Defensive stud
Long is 32 years old, but he isn't playing like it. He's rejuvenated and made some huge plays Sunday. None were bigger than the one that led to Robinson's pick-six. 

Defensive dud
Najee Goode gave up that early touchdown to Kyle Rudolph that gave the Vikings an early lead. It looked like he didn't know what was going on. 

Key plays 
• Foles threw his third touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to cap off a 92-yard drive and give the Eagles a 38-7 lead. 

• On 4th-and-goal in the third quarter, it looked like Adam Thielen caught a ball in the end zone, but the replay showed it clearly hit the ground. The Vikings turned the ball over on downs. 

• Pederson dialed up a flea flicker on his first drive of the second half and it worked perfectly. Corey Clement took the handoff, tossed it back to Foles, who hit Smith down the field for a 41-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 31-7 lead. 

• The Eagles got the ball back with just 29 seconds in the half, but Pederson didn't play it scared. Instead, the Eagles attacked and were able to get down the field and kick a 38-yarder to take a 24-7 lead into the locker room. 

• On 3rd-and-10 from their own 47-yard line with under two minutes left in the first half, Foles avoided pressure and threw a 53-yard bomb for a touchdown to Alshon Jeffery to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead. 

• In the second quarter, the Vikings took the ball from their own 15-yard line and got all the way down to the Eagles' 16 before rookie Derek Barnett came around the left tackle and stripped the ball from Keenum. The Vikings' six-minute drive didn't get them any points. 

• Jim Schwartz dialed up a safety blitz on 3rd-and-2 and Malcolm Jenkins came free to force a quick throw from Keenum, who seemed bothered by the pressure. 

• LeGarrette Blount ran over safety Andrew Sendejo on an 11-yard run to get into the end zone early in the second quarter. That gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead. Just before that, Pederson dialed up a little quick pass to Zach Ertz on 3rd-and-short to convert. The Blount touchdown capped off a 75-yard drive. 

• Long got to Keenum to provide pressure and alter his throw that hung up in the air. Robinson picked it off and had an incredible return of 50 yards for a pick-six to tie the game at 7-7. It was the second-longest pick-six in Eagles postseason history. 

• On the Eagles' first drive, Smith dropped a ball he should have had deep and then Trey Burton couldn't get his feet down on a key third-down pass. For some reason, Burton left his feet and jumped to make the catch. 

• Keenum hit Rudolph for a 25-yard touchdown to cap the opening drive of the game. Goode, starting in place of Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), looked lost before the play and didn't seem ready. Rudolph blew past him and was wide open for a touchdown.

Injuries
Linebacker Ellerbe (hamstring) was inactive after being listed as questionable coming into the weekend. Ellerbe was questionable last week, too, but was able to play against the Falcons. Goode started in his place Sunday. 

Up next
The Eagles are heading to Minnesota. They'll face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in two weeks.