Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Happy American St. Patrick’s Day!

On a day when we celebrate the independence of this fine nation by illegally shooting off rockets, I thought it would be appropriate to honor all of the Americans on the Flyers roster for the 13-14 season. The minor issue preventing me from doing this is that we don’t have any (just cause you're born in Phoenix doesn't mean you're AN ACTIVE AMERICAN).

But as this is a holiday steeped in history and tradition, why don’t we take a look back at some of the most prominent former Flyers that might be having one drink dressed as an American flag too many - just like you! And to honor the most American team in the most American city in the most American way possible, we’ve come up with a Flyers 4th of July Water Drinking Game. So, hit Circle Liquors (& Water), load the cooler with ice, and head off to the 18th street beach to celebrate the rock, eagle, flag and puck.

One drink: All-in-all, the Flyers have had American players come from 23 states. MN is in the lead with 12, MI has had 11, and MA has had 8 and 1 coked up Kevin Stevens zombie.

One drink: Obviously the most well-remembered American to don the Orange & Black is Johnny “.23” Leclair who played 649 games over 10 seasons in The Ill. His 643 points and 333 goals are far and away the most by any American to serve under our Supreme Leader Mister Ed Snider.

One drink: The ‘Merican with the most assists as a Flyer is Mark Howe, who represented the US in both the Olympics and Canada Cup. Howe was so GD American that when the Summit Series came calling in 1974 he lent his services to Canada just so he could get in on the Soviet bashing that was to take place. Note: A cornerstone of being American is hating everything that moshes down on your freedom, and the willingness to do anything, including whoring yourself out to Canada, to ensure continued life, liberty and the pursuit of a reality TV show. (As an aside, 12 Russians have played for the Flyers and none of them have won the Vezina during their tenure in Philadelphia.)

One drink: The only other American to reach the 500 game plateau besides Leclair and Howe is none other than current Flyers Manager General Paul “Homer, Not From the Simpsons” Holmgren. He also has over 1,200 PIM more than any other American Flyer, so even though he’s like 85 I’m pretty sure he could make me dance for him, if that's what he wanted.

Two drinks: This was slightly surprising: Matt Carle is the American with the 4th most games as a Flyer under his Tackla belt. Not so surprising is that JR has the 4th most points. (If you're young and dumb, before there was JVR there was just JR. Look it up.)

One drink: The most American American to ever have Americaed the ice in the winged P was, of course, New Jersey's Jim Dowd.

Four drinks: 4 Americans have tended goal for the Flyers (really). Boosh started 174 games, Bobby Esche had 128, Beezer was in between the pipes for 112, and Garth Snow and 3 goalies worth of equipment started 90 games.

Four drinks: American Flyers with the best names not previously mentioned are Dave Snuggerud, Aris Brimanis (Shaker Heights, OH baby!), Bob Corkum, and Moe Mantha.

Two drinks: First round selections RJ Umberger (VAN) and JVR were both dealt after notching about .50 points per game.

Three drinks: Players that just need to be mentioned because America: Joel Otto, Shjon Podein, and Paul Ranheim.

One drink, One pour: A player that also needs to be mentioned, but deserves a moment to himself  – Trent the Klatt, Breathe-Rite Spokesperson, MN Hockey God

One drink: I bet you didn’t know that Donald Brashear was born in Indiana and despite giving off an extremely French-Canadian vibe played in two World Championships for the USA in the late 90’s.

You win! Congratulations!!

And now your questions...

From Matt: What is the worst place for Briere to end up? Pittsburgh?
You have to look at this from a couple of angles:

1. Which actual jersey produces the most bile, just as a visceral reaction? For some reason seeing that #48 on the back of a Devils jersey, sometimes out on the ice on the with Patrick Elias and Danius Zubrus, makes me want to puke up the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate the Devils, I hate their colors, I hate that they represent Newark, I hate their everything.

2. Where would it sting the most when he had a Merlot-covered hand in a Flyers loss? While all teams in the new Kyle Calder Memorial Division have an equal opportunity to steal 2 points from the Flyers during the season, for some reason picturing Danny Briere getting a couple GWG for the Rangers, celebrating with Marty Biron in MSG, just makes me want to diarrhea the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate when the Rangers win, and I hate when an ex-Flyer tastes sweet, sweet revenge at our expense, but most of all I hate when people from New York are happy; and they would be happier than a subway rat finding a dead hobo if Briere was taking us down after we bought him out.

3. Where does he realistically have a chance of winning a Cup that would also kill me a little inside? If he were to join the Penguins the possibility of this happening would haunt me until it didn’t. Watching Richards, Carter, Gagne, Handzus, Emery, and Carcillo, all guys I liked, hoist the Cup as members of Western Conference teams over the past two seasons has been confusing enough. The thought of Briere, wearing The Pig Man’s old number, winning the Cup as a member of the Penguins makes me want to both ends the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate.

From Ryan: Is it weird that McGinn and Newbury kicked the butt out of each other last year and might be teammates this year?
That was quite the fight:

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/hkmZPH331Bw?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=332]

I think when your job involves the possibility of punching someone in the face, and you live all year with that kind of mentality, you might not even really remember a specific fight as anything more than a win or loss. I think even if they did specifically remember this bout it would be because it was a solid fight, and that's something that seems to often cause a mutual respect to develop between the combatants. Now, the interesting relationship in my mind is going to be between Rinaldo and Newbury.

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/RY5BtDco2n4?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=443]

These guys seemed seriously pissed at each other. Like, they may have said some things that you can't take back like I HATE YOUR COOKING or I THINK YOU DRINK TOO MUCH. The way Newbury went to gloat in Rinaldo’s face after scoring a game tying goal near the end of the third (not the time for it), and the jawing that goes on after, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some bad blood there. Obviously you put that stuff aside in the name of professionalism (read: money) but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes at least one training camp bout to bury the hatchet.

From @NickDobo : Why is Braydon Coburn still a Flyer? Do you think they can win with him despite not having a no. 1 dman?

Watching Coburn skate is like watching a crew race in the Olympics – it’s just so smooth. That’s the main thing that frustrates me about Coburn. I don’t care that he doesn’t destroy people at 6’5 225 lbs. I don’t care that his “rough play” in the defensive zone seems forced and reluctant. What I do care about is that he makes so many forced break out passes, or blind wraparounds to where the winger should be, but never seems to be, when I honestly think that if he was a more confident player he would just take the puck from behind his own goal line and skate it out. For whatever reason I don’t think he has the confidence that his skill level should afford him. I think he’s still a Flyer because, as you can see by this week’s draft, the Flyers want big, fast defensemen. I think they can win without putting a Shea Weber or Chris Pronger ahead of him, but I don’t think playing 46% of his time with Grossmannnnnn and 33% with Gervais helped him last year.

If it has to be him or Meszaros that goes in The Name of Vinny I think most people would vote Big Mesz off the island. Unfortunately, and I say that because I think this will be a big year for him, we might find out what life without the longest tenured Flyer is like this fall.

From @vile_mennis: with all the french influence in the locker room, how soon until #hartnelldown is selling berets?

I've seen this a couple places and I have to tell you, The Flyers are actually pretty light in the Provence de Quebec department. As of this writing, and God knows whose rights they've traded for since I hit "publish," Vinny L. joins only Max Talbot in the "French-Canadian Dudes Likely To Be On The Opening Night Roster Club." With the log jam on D Bruno Gervais should be looking for Craigslist roommates in Glen Falls and it doesn't seem like Simon fits into the Flyers plans next year (although Jay Rosehill somehow does). Unless you count Coots, which I didn't earlier out of respect to Real Americans, but am here because no one is probably reading anymore and it suits my point, the Flyboys only have 2 guys who live for the poutine. At their core the Flyers are  a hybrid of different sorts - forwards brought to you by Ontario and back end sponsored by The Euro.

YinzTweet Breakdown of the Week

What this Twitter user, with over 60k followers to his 264 tweets, is saying is that Sidney Crosby, who he is some form of (like a Horcrux?) tried to enter the draft on Sunday in Newark  but was banned by NHL Security because “everybody” tried to draft him first overall. This is mildly confusing because:
a) Crosby’s contract with the Penguins runs through 2025, something I would think most GMs know
b) only the Avalanche had the first overall pick, so I imagine they received 29 offers from teams hoping to move up to the first spot because Crosby entered The Prudential Center
c) Unless eligibility rules have changed and you can draft players from other teams if they happen to be in the building where the draft is occurring, I believe that this is against the CBA.
d) Sidney Crosby was just walking around Newark looking for something to do on Sunday? Does he do that a lot? Is he a crackhead? Why wouldn't he have been with the Penguins executives if he wanted to go to the draft? Because they knew everyone was going to try to draft him?

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

BOX SCORE

MIAMI -- For struggling pitchers, facing the Phillies has become like a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
 
Another rival pitcher searching for a cure got it Monday night when the Phillies suffered their 23rd loss in the last 29 games. This time it was Miami Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just three hits in leading his club to a 4-1 win over the Phillies, who fell to 6-20 in May (see Instant Replay).

Volquez had gone 16 starts between wins.
 
"Every loss stings, I don’t care who's pitching," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're just in a rut. We've got to battle our way out of it. We have to show up tomorrow and get after it. We've got to get more than three or four hits in the game."
 
The Phillies had just four hits in the game. It was the fifth time in the last nine games that they've had four or fewer hits. Only one of the hits was for extra bases and one of the singles was an infield hit.
 
"Once again, we need more offense," Mackanin said.
 
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson completed a difficult month of May by allowing six hits, including a two-run homer, and four runs over six innings.
 
Hellickson surrendered a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich with two outs in the sixth and that was basically the ball game. Dietrich hit a high changeup. Back in April, that pitch would have been at the knees. But Hellickson has misplaced the pitch command that he needs to succeed.
 
Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. In May, however, he went 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts. He was tagged for 35 hits, including nine homers, in 30 2/3 innings.
 
"Command in general," said Hellickson, describing his problem this month. "The biggest thing is not getting strike one, falling behind too much. I'm not getting the quick easy outs I was getting early in the season. I'm trying to get ahead, just missing."
 
Volquez signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Marlins over the winter, but it wasn't until this game that he delivered his first win. He entered the game 0-7 with a 4.82 ERA in nine starts.
 
The win was Volquez's first since Aug. 25, 2016, when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Volquez isn't the first struggling pitcher to shine against the Phils recently. Eight days earlier, Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl took a 6.69 ERA into a start against the Phils and pitched five shutout innings. In the series against Colorado, the Phillies were dominated by a pair of rookies. In the only game they won (in a late rally), they were held to one run over six innings by Tyler Anderson, who had entered that game with an ERA of 6.00. On Friday night, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Tim Adleman pitched eight shutout innings against the Phils and gave up just one hit in the best start of his life. He had come into that game with an ERA of 6.19.
 
So Volquez had to be heartened when he saw the Phillies on the schedule.
 
They are the get-well team for pitchers in need of a pick-me-up.
 
It's actually kind of sad.
 
With Odubel Herrera locked in the throes of the worst slump of his life and on the bench and Maikel Franco mired in a 2 for 21 slump and hitting .209, Mackanin is trying to push things a little. He gave Aaron Altherr the green light to steal with one out and runners on the corners in a one-run game in the sixth inning. Altherr was out at second on a close play and Tommy Joseph struck out to leave the runner at third.
 
The Marlins salted the game away in the bottom of the inning on Dietrich's homer.
 
"With our offense, I have to take chances," Mackanin said. "I can't sit around and wait for three hits in a row. We haven't been doing that."
 
The Phils have the worst record in the majors at 17-32.
 
They have lost eight of their last 10 and scored just 15 runs in the losses.
 
"It sucks," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "There's really no other way to put it. It's frustrating. But the only people that are going to help us are ourselves. Nobody's going to go out there and play for us, swing the bats, pitch, play defense. That's on us and we have to do a better job all around.
 
"We all want to be successful and get the job done. We just haven't been hitting the ball. There's no other way to put it. But the good thing about baseball is we play every day so we turn the page and come back tomorrow and try to get it done."

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins rarely tested the hottest goaltender in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville.

They beat Pekka Rinne anyway.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired the puck past Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a back-and-forth 5-3 victory on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Matt Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in Final history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37 minutes at one point without a shot.

"I think at the end of the day we're up 1-0," Bonino said. "We had a good first, we had a terrible second and we were terrible in the third. I don't think it's Xs and Os. We've got to work harder, compete a little harder, but we got some timely goals."

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions, trying to become the first repeat winner since Detroit in 1998.

All the guys from "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

"The impact of that moment and then the chain of events that happened after that with the penalty kills I think changed the course of the game," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.

The decision gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge. Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead, they rallied and took over the game.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second and Nashville kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history -- and the first such period by any team in a Final game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1958.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

"We didn't do a great job of (shooting), but we made them count," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "But it was a good finish there to get that one from Jake."