And We're Back G-Line Dominates Hurricanes, Bryzgalov Nearly Perfect

And We're Back G-Line Dominates Hurricanes, Bryzgalov Nearly Perfect

We
waited the entire remainder of the Sopranos series to find out what
happened to the Russian who was lost in the woods, to no avail, as he
never resurfaced. We only had to wait one game to see the Flyers own
lost Russian re-emerge.

The home side gave their fans and themselves a huge injection of
confidence on Saturday, dominating all facets of play en route to a 5-1
win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Confidence is what Ilya Bryzgalov
emphatically said he was lacking after getting shelled in his two
previous outings, but you'd never know it watching this one. The only
goal scored on Bryz came when Scott Hartnell slid into him and plowed
him out of the crease, leaving the cage wide open for Jussi Jokinen to
put one in.

Hartnell was easily forgiven, however, as his crashing of the
opposing net resulted in the first goal of the game, and it was the
Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line that collectively did nearly all the scoring
for the Flyers.

Giroux worked his ass off all night and was on the ice for every
goal. He assisted the first three and scored the fourth, then narrowly
missed getting an assist on the fifth, though his work did help lead to
it.

The only goal that wasn't scored by this line still managed to include a
Girouxian masterpiece. Down a man due to a crappy call on Jagr in the
third, Max Talbot blocked a shot, and he and Giroux skated down the ice
to net the Flyers' first shorthanded goal. As if the Flyers needed more
of a karmic refund, Jagr scored on his next shift after leaving the box.

Bryzgalov didn't have the busiest night, but he was sharp with his
stick and his pads, making only one mistake that I can remember (poorly
playing a puck behind the net). Great to see him looking plenty
confident for 60 minutes, and he would have had a shutout had it not
been for the accidental takeout by Hartnell.

The Flyers have a clear-cut #1 line, an explosive mixture of speed,
talent, and grit. Giroux and Jagr are just unstoppable with the puck.
Hartnell had one of the best games of his career. G's two-way play
continues to be great (although he's still making a few too many risky
passes), and Jagr's patience with the puck can drop jaws.

The rest of the team didn't get their names on the sheet, but
really, it was a very good all around effort. The game wasn't fully
dominated by the Flyers until about the halfway point, and certainly in
the third, but their work early on was a great sign of a team that is
way better than it's played recently. They were sharp all night, patient
when opportunities weren't there and aggressive when they were.

Notes:
Final tallies for the G Line: Giroux (1 G, 3 A), Hartnell (1 G, 2 A), Jagr (2 G).

Two Flyers scored on their very next shifts after sitting in the box—Hartnell in the first period and Jagr in the third.

Tough night for Brian Boucher, who made some big saves but was just
overwhelmed by the pressure of the G Line and increasingly shaky defense
in front of him.

Zac Rinaldo had another HUGE hit in this one. Great to see that out of a fourth line winger.

One place the Flyers did not fare well was the face-off circle, where they lost 39 while winning just 23.

Talbot
wore one of the A's tonight, with Briere out. One game after taking a
painful shot to the foot, he scored after blocking an identical attempt
in the third. He skated the night centering the third line, with Sean
Couturier on the fourth.

US Presswire photos

Flyers fans -- even living dead ones -- are happy on Saturday night.

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Phillies

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Phillies

All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 

Today, we take a look at the Phillies.

How did we get here?
The Phillies pretty clearly got here by holding onto the 2008 championship core several years too long, but they've also arrived at this point because of an inability to develop difference-making talent.

The Phils have some pieces, but they don't have a star or two to expedite the rebuild, nor do they have multiple solid, complete players like the Royals did.

Maikel Franco is a piece. Odubel Herrera is a piece. Aaron Altherr is a piece. But are any of them going to make multiple All-Star teams? Will any of them bat .300 or hit 30 homers in the middle of the order for a playoff team?

That's the big problem right now. Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff are valuable pitchers to have, but you're not going to make the playoffs if they're two of your top five players.

This season, 2017, was supposed to be the year the Phillies inched closer to .500. Pete Mackanin went out on a limb before the season saying he thought they could get there. Right now, they're on pace to win 58 games.

However, the thing to remember here is that teams don't necessarily improve in a straight line, going from 63 wins to 71 to 80 to 85 to 90-plus.

The 2014-15 Cubs jumped from 73 wins to 97.

The 2012-13 Pirates went from 79 to 94.

The 2012-13 Royals increased from 72 to 86.

So it can change in a year with the right mix of development, spending and luck. The Phillies have money to spend. Development and luck just haven't been on their side the last five years.

Are the Phillies on the right path back to prosperity?
It doesn't seem so, but the right things are happening below the major-league level. 

They're happening with first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher Jorge Alfaro, who could be batting fourth and fifth next opening day.

They're happening with Dylan Cozens, who looks like he'll provide 30-plus home run power, even if it might come with a .220 batting average and a ton of strikeouts.

And they're happening at the lower levels, where pitchers Sixto Sanchez and Seranthony Dominguez, outfielder Mickey Moniak and second baseman Scott Kingery all have an upside ranging from "very good" to "star."

The question is just: How much more of this waiting can Phillies fans take? That 2018 free-agent class is fun to think about, but it also means waiting out one more season with a team in the bottom 10 in terms of true talent.

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Like when sporting events finish in a tie? Of course you do. That’s why the NHL scrapped ties in favor of a skills competition back in 2005, or why Major League Baseball awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning side of an exhibition game for 14 years. Yeah, folks love ties.

Well, if you’re the type who enjoys a good tie or a long smooch with your sister, the NFL has a rule change made just for you. Because the end result of reducing overtime from 15 minutes to 10 during the regular season will inevitably be more contests that end without deciding a winner.

Why? The league offered some hollow-sounding excuse built around player safety and competitive balance. Teams that play an additional five minutes in the extra period, then turn around and play again on a short week -- think Monday to Sunday, or worse, Sunday to Thursday -- are at a disadvantage, while the health of the players are at greater risk.

Whether there was any tangible evidence five more minutes can really have a serious effect on the following week is unclear. It sure doesn’t seem like that would make a world of difference. The only thing we can say for certain is the end result will be more ties.

Even under the previous rule, the NFL managed to have two games end in ties in 2016, which are two more than anybody would prefer. Yet, four more games went deeper than 10 minutes into overtime, according to Jonathan Jones for Sports Illustrated, and while not all were necessarily guaranteed to finish in a tie under the change, the likelihood obviously increases.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say there were two more ties in ’16, bringing the total to four. That still isn’t a huge number, but even two is atypical. Most years, there are one, or none at all. Now, the frequency is guaranteed to increase.

Does that matter? Maybe not. A few extra ties are unlikely to turn off viewers. In fact, a case can be made overtime will be more exciting with the clock coming into play more often. Ties also lead to some interesting situations in the standings, and can inject slightly more intrigue into playoff races late in the year.

None of which is going to change the fact that ties are inherently a bad thing and people despise them. The NHL and MLB both came up with rule changes that would avoid ties, each of which had a major impact on the very landscape of the sports. Yet, while competitors are getting away from ties, the NFL has decided to invite more.

Again, it’s worth pointing out the reasoning seems bogus. If competitive balance and player safety are issues, teams wouldn’t have to turn around and play on Thursday four days after a Sunday game in the first place.

The NFL’s overtime rules were already imperfect. Shortening the length of the period is unlikely to fix inherent problems with the sudden-death system -- namely a team winning the game on the possession immediately following the coin flip. Instead, we simply have another round of valid complaints to look forward to on the horizon.