Inside the Standings: Welcome to the Crowded Wild Card Race

Inside the Standings: Welcome to the Crowded Wild Card Race

The NL East standings can be found later on, but we've focused so much attention on that already, and little has changed. Let's shift gears, and talk about the hurdles the Phillies will have to leap in order to earn a Wild Card.

It goes without saying that everything hinges on the team playing better going forward, but you start to get a sense for how dire the situation is when you look at that list. I mean, that's practically the entire National League who hold at least a couple of games over the Phils at the moment. In fact, only four teams are further out of a playoff spot than the reigning NL East champions.

Of course there will be a lot of movement in these standings between now and September. Some of these clubs will fall out of the hunt as others separate themselves from the pack. The way things stand, it would still be a shock to the senses if Pittsburgh was there until the end,

But the point is, there are a lot of obstacles climb over even to grasp that extra ticket to October. I think the Phillies have a ton of work to do before the words "postseason" and "2012" should come up again, unless some variation of the word "miss" is in the mix as well.

vs. Colorado (25-40)

One of the few teams not above the Philadelphia for a WC spot, the Rockies should help jump start the home team. The Phils are 10-5 against the other three NL clubs below them in the standings, and 14-7 overall over teams presently under .500. And as bad as the Fightins have been recently, Colorado arguably has been worse, dropping 10 of their last 11, including a pair of home sweeps at the hands of the Angels and A's.

Not surprisingly, the Rocks own one of the top offenses in the league, thanks in part at least to Coors Field, but also not surprisingly, they are far better at home than on the road. Only the Marlins score fewer runs than Colorado in their opponents' buildings. They're also saddled with the worst team-ERA in baseball, having pretty much no effective starters in their rotation. You'd like the Phillies to sweep this team, but if they can't take two of three here, they're really in trouble.

vs. Tampa Bay (37-29)

One last interleague series on the slate, and it's a doozy. The Rays are hanging tough in the AL East, currently four back of the Yankees, and thanks to that second WC, they would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

Tampa Bay wins games on the mound, their staff in possession of the second-lowest ERA in the league. 42 times this season, they've held their opponent to four or fewer runs, with a 33-9 record in those games. We'll save you the math: that's 4-20 when they give up five-plus. TB is a middling club at the plate, so if the Phillies can build a decent lead, theoretically they should be safe -- although they've already blown 18 leads this season.

vs. Pittsburgh (34-31)

The Pirates have the second-least productive offense per game in baseball, behind only San Diego, yet they are in second place in the Central Division, and only 0.5 behind the second WC. Their pitching is keeping them in games, particularly the bullpen, which ranks second in the league.

The Phillies know all about the Pitt's pen, unfortunately. The Bucs picked up the series win in April, including a pair of walk-offs, as their relief pitching stymied the Fightins bats late in games. They allowed zero earned runs and five hits over nine innings of work in those three games. The Phils have improved a bit at the dish since then, finding ways to mix and match their lineup, but they are still lacking a bit in the clutch hits department.

vs. Miami (33-33)

The Phils welcome the Marlins to Citizens Bank Park for the third and final time this season, and are currently 3-3 against the Fish. Right now, it sets up for Cole Hamels to open the series, and while he's struggled in general of late, Miami was his kryptonite twice already this year. Cole is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA facing the division rivals, his last outing against them on June 2 kicking off his current winless streak.

We know more or less what we're going to with the Marlins. They're an incredibly streaky team -- 8-14 in April, 21-8 in May, 4-11 so far in June, and 2-10 over their last 12. Giancarlo Stanton has cooled off considerably since their last visit, and the rest of the lineup along with him. Stanton was batting .304 with 13 HR and 39 RBI when the month began. Now he's down to .272, with one home run and three RBI over his last 15 games.

On Deck: @ New York Mets, vs. Atlanta, All-Star Break

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

There are good penalties. And bad penalties. And penalties which aren’t even penalties.

The last one would perfectly describe Radko Gudas’ hip check on Miles Wood that was whistled as clipping by referee Dan O’Halloran in the second period.

Even Wood was laughing as Gudas went to the box, realizing what a break he had gotten – a power play for nothing.

“He’s a pretty quick D-man,” Wood said. “I don’t think it should have been a call, but it was a good hit by him.”

That gave the Devils a power play. Then, when Wayne Simmond argued the call with O'Halloran, Simmonds drew two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting 5-on-3 New Jersey power play saw the Devils score to break a 1-1 tie.

Minutes later, the Flyers had a bad line change and it was 3-1. Game over. The Devils would go on to win, 4-1 (see game story).

Bottom line? The Gudas call changed everything.

“I was really surprised,” Gudas said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty at all.”

Is this oversimplifying the game to say everything changed with that one call?

“Are we really simplifying it?” Gudas asked. “I think that after those calls we have to get together as a group and make sure we kill these off. Unfortunately, we let them score on that power play. It was just unlucky.”

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol called it “an excellent hit” by Gudas. He wouldn’t go deeper than that.

The six muffed power plays gave him enough reason to believe the Flyers could have gotten back in it. His Flyers are 3-9-3 since winning 10 games.

You can’t underestimate how those two calls turned the tables on the Flyers in this game.

“Everyone has their own opinion on the hit and we were obviously frustrated on the hit,” Travis Konecny said. “We thought it was a clean hit and we reacted to it. We have everyone’s backs.

“We have all had the one’s where we are angry with the ref and the one who made a hit like that. There is a time for that moment there.”

Goalie Michal Neuvirth thought it was a difference maker.

“Oh, absolutely, we were playing better in the second period,” he said. “I thought we had a momentum. You know stuff like that 5-on-3 for two minutes, it’s tough to defend.

“I think it’s taking way too many penalties lately and you got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders are on quite a nice roll.

Anders Lee scored two power-play goals to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, giving New York its third straight win and fourth in the last five games.

"We've been keeping it simple of late," said Lee, who has four goals in two games against the Kings this season. "We've been getting shots on net and being more effective. I'll do my thing down low."

John Tavares had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored and Jean-Francois Berube stopped 34 shots to earn his first win in his third start of the season (see full recap).

Hartnell snaps tie as Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets would just as soon forget the second period of Saturday's game, when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it.

Columbus didn't play much better in the third but withstood 15 shots and killed three penalties. Midway through, Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game , and the Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2.

Columbus got the win despite being outshot 37-20.

Hartnell scored in the first period and then netted the tiebreaker, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a horrendous second period - in which they managed only two shots on goal - to beat Carolina for the second time this week (see full recap).

Beagle scores in overtime, Capitals beat Stars 4-3
DALLAS -- Jay Beagle scored 19 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated behind the net and put the puck in front to Beagle. His wrist shot beat goalie Kari Lehtonen, who got tangled with a defender and lost his footing.

The Stars led 3-1 and didn't allow Washington a power play until the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored with the man advantage in the first 5:26 of the period.

Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn scored for Dallas on plays that originally were ruled no goal. Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist for the Stars (see full recap).

Bogosian scores in overtime, Sabres edge Canadiens 3-2
MONTREAL -- The Sabres couldn't score from in close on All-Star goalie Carey Price late in regulation Saturday night.

So Zach Bogosian teed it up from a ways out in overtime to lift Buffalo.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season in overtime and the Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Buffalo nearly broke through against Price near the end of the third period. Price made a pad save on Matt Moulson on a breakaway at 19:40, and then with six seconds remaining, he robbed Rasmus Ristolainen with a windmill glove save (see full recap).