Florida Panthers

Would it make sense for Ron Rivera to return to Philly?

Would it make sense for Ron Rivera to return to Philly?

An intriguing name just hit the open market.

A guy who played under Buddy Ryan and coached under Jim Johnson.

Ron Rivera, head coach of the Panthers since 2011, was fired Tuesday. The Panthers have lost four straight games, falling to 5-7 after a 4-2 start. They haven’t won a playoff game since the 2015 Super Bowl season.

Rivera and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson are very close, and Rivera is a good name to keep in mind in case the Eagles make changes on their defensive coaching staff this offseason. Or before this offseason.

Rivera, a member of the legendary 1985 Bears Super Bowl defense under Ryan, was the Eagles’ linebackers coach under Johnson from 1999 through 2003. Pederson was the Eagles’ opening-day quarterback in 1999, and the two remained close.

“Just overall he’s a genuine human being,” Pederson said of Rivera in a conference call with Panthers writers last year, according to the Charlotte Observer. “A lot of respect for him and what he’s done not only on the field but off the field. His wife and my wife are old friends, as well.”

After he left Philadelphia, Rivera served as the Bears’ defensive coordinator from 2004 through 2006 and the Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2008 through 2010. The Bears were third-best in the NFL under Rivera at 17.0 points per game.

The Panthers hired Rivera in 2011 and reached the playoffs four out of five years from 2013 through 2017, including a 15-1 record and Super Bowl loss to the Broncos in 2015.

Rivera had a 76-63-1 record in eight-plus seasons with the Panthers. Sean McDermott, who coached with Rivera here, was Rivera’s defensive coordinator from 2011 through 2016 before becoming head coach of the Bills.

It’s still probably more likely than unlikely that Jim Schwartz will be back as defensive coordinator. The Eagles did have a catastrophic day on defense Sunday in Miami, but the Eagles have allowed the 7th-fewest points in the NFL in four years under Schwartz and had the NFL's No. 4 defense in 2017, when the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

But if Sunday’s game winds up being the start of a late-season defensive collapse, there will be changes in the NovaCare Complex this offseason, and the Pederson-Rivera connection is too strong to ignore.

It’s possible Rivera gets another head coaching job, but if he doesn’t and Schwartz is out, he’d instantly be a leading candidate to return to Philadelphia.

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Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

BOX SCORE

Morgan Frost offered a snapshot of what the Flyers hope is a prosperous future for the skillful playmaker.

The present on Tuesday night did not depict as pretty of a picture.

The Flyers fell behind 4-1 during the second period, Carter Hart was yanked and a 5-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center marked the final result.

Frost gave the Flyers a highlight on a night that didn't feature many for Alain Vigneault's club. The 2017 first-round pick deposited a dazzling goal in his NHL debut but the Flyers (10-7-4) dropped their fourth straight game, a losing skid that has come directly after a season-best four-game winning streak.

The Panthers (11-5-5) can score goals with the best teams in the NHL. They were also allowing 3.55 per game, fourth worst in the league, but kept the Flyers at bay.

• Hart had been so good in November. When he's not on his game, the Flyers can be exposed, which is exactly what happened against Florida.

The 21-year-old goalie entered 4-1-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .934 save percentage this month. He wasn't good Tuesday, the Flyers didn't help him and things unraveled.

The first period set the tone when the Panthers' first goal went off Andy Andreoff's stick. Then Hart allowed Brett Connolly to score from a crazy angle off the netminder's back.

Hart had allowed only one first-period goal over his previous five starts. Florida got him twice in the opening frame and ended his night midway through the second period with its fourth goal.

• The Flyers have now allowed more goals (61) than they've scored (60). During the four-game losing streak, they've scored 1.75 goals per game.

Vigneault continues to plead for more from his veterans. They simply have not answered his call and the Flyers are more than a quarter way into the season. The Flyers' record is very indicative of what they've received from their big boys.

Kevin Hayes recorded his first point in 10 games with a first-period assist on Travis Sanheim's goal. He played 19:01 minutes, four-plus at shorthanded. James van Riemsdyk went scoreless and played 12:56, his second-lowest ice time of the season. Jakub Voracek went scoreless, as well, in 15:31 minutes.

That trio has combined for 30 points in 21 games. The Flyers have to find a way to spark those three, along with Claude Giroux.

• Frost was a nice positive. He played with pace, he was active and was consistently a threat. His goal was very Frost-like.

Expect Vigneault to give him another game with Giroux and Travis Konecny.

• Joel Farabee made a costly turnover that led to Aleksander Barkov's second-period goal, which put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole. The Flyers were also slow to get back on the play. Bad all the way around (see highlights).

The 19-year-old was a minus-2 with three giveaways. He's a kid and there will be growing pains. Farabee snapped his stick in frustration when he went to the bench. Now it's a matter of seeing if he can play his way out of some struggles.

• Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen were a combined minus-5. Shayne Gostisbehere played only 14:33. While the Panthers pounced on mistakes, the Flyers couldn't fend them off or get much going at 5-on-5.

The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the power play.

• The Flyers stay on the road and visit the Hurricanes Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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Flyers at Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

It's time for Morgan Frost.

The 20-year-old center will make his highly anticipated NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers (10-6-4) visit the Panthers (10-5-5).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: BB&T Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Following the Flyers' third-period collapse in which they blew a 3-0 lead to the Islanders Saturday, head coach Alain Vigneault didn't seem overly angry or perplexed.

It's probably because he easily identified what led to the Flyers' 4-3 shootout loss. As jarring as that defeat was for the Flyers in front of the home fans, Vigneault wasn't concerned on Monday about any problematic trend.

Coming off that last game, I’ve looked at the game, I’ve analyzed it. Even though it’s our third game in four nights, we’re in good shape. We made three bad changes that changed the whole dynamic, the whole complexion of that game. It’s something that is very fixable, very easy, it doesn’t worry me at all.

If that's the case, the Flyers should start wrapping up third-period leads, something they haven't done of late and it has been costly.

• What makes Frost's debut even more exciting is where the Flyers are placing the 2017 first-round pick in the lineup. He will center the first line between Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.

It couldn't be a better chance to show what we can do. Right now, the entire lineup needs Frost's impact and his play could dictate how long this call-up lasts with the big club

• Philippe Myers was surprisingly scratched last Saturday. After a real promising seven games, the Flyers were not happy with the 22-year-old's performance last Friday during a 2-1 loss to the Senators in which he played only 14:12 minutes.

The Flyers love his upside but want to see him be consistently smarter.

“He could have been responsible for nine scoring chances against with some of those turnovers," Vigneault said Monday. "Not everybody played great, but that was one above. Sometimes it’s just a reset. Phil is going to get back in there, maybe [Tuesday], reset. He has an opportunity, we’ve watched some tape with him, he’s a good young player. We’ve got a lot of belief that he can be a regular, a good player in this league."

• The Panthers are scoring 3.55 goals per game, fifth best in the NHL, but are also allowing 3.55 goals per game, fourth worst in the league.

Florida will test the Flyers in the third period as it has scored the NHL's second-most goals in the final frame with 29.

Sergei Bobrovsky is not off to the best start in South Florida at 7-4-4 with a 3.53 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. The two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender signed a seven-year, $70 million contract on July 1.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Morgan Frost-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Andy Andreoff-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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