Defense Optional, Flyers Drop Game 1, 7-3

Defense Optional, Flyers Drop Game 1, 7-3

Well, if there was any question as to whether the Bruins were capable of banging home five-footers all day we now know the answer. The Bruins walked into the Wells Fargo Center and showed off their short game en route to a convincing 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

If you simply looked at the boxscore you'd think that yet another Flyers starting goalie blew a game. You'd be wrong. Giving up a seven spot in a playoff game is a total team effort. Other than a deflected shot from the point, which beat Boucher, the Bruins simply beat the Flyers to the puck and scored garbage goals from within close.

The Bruins were first to every puck. They got their forwards in deep and pressured the Flyers defense into some awful turnovers all afternoon. Give the Bruins full marks, they came in and dictated the tempo. Tim Thomas was solid, but beyond an early save on James Van Riemsdyk wasn't really called on to make the spectacular save.

The Flyers never got their forecheck going, never maintained sustained pressure on the B's defense, and never recovered from giving up the first goal less than two minutes into the game. Bottom line, Boston outplayed them in every which way.

David Krejci put the Bruins ahead after picking a shot from the point out of mid-air and beating Boucher. Danny Briere tied it at one, showing incredible hands in close as he won a puck just outside the crease to put the Flyers on the board.

In a game full of egregious Flyers mistakes perhaps the most egregious  was conceding a goal in the final minute of the first period.

The game-changer was a Nathan Horton goal with just 36 seconds left in the first period. Former Flyer Dennis Seidenberg did the heavy lifting as he pinched from the point and made a neat move in the corner to elude Braydon Coburn. Seidenberg threw the puck in front, where Krejci fanned on the shot, but not before the puck found its way to Nathan Horton, who redirected a shot on net. Boosh had a chance with his glove-hand, but was unable to catch it clean before deflecting it into the net (the puck was likely over the line at that point, but Boosh removed any doubt when he batted it in).

From there the Bruins simply poured it on. At one point they went ahead 5-1, before JVR pulled the Flyers to within 5-2 at the end of the second. Mike Richards picked up his first goal of the playoffs (a powerplay tally), giving the Flyers a false sense of hope at 5-3, before Boston closed out the scoring with two unanswered goals, which provided the final margin of victory.

If you're looking for the good news it's that the Flyers problems are easily correctable. They need to do a better of job of closing out Bruins forwards charging to the net. They need to limit turnovers. They need to get pucks deep and get into their cycle game. Finally, they need to play with greater urgency and win pucks.

Call me crazy, but I am not too distraught over dropping Game 1. Amazing how on the heels of their best game of the postseason (Game 7 against Buffalo) they played their worst game this afternoon. Lord knows they can't play much worse in their own zone then they did today.

Game 2 at the WFC on Monday.

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

We're all looking forward to the free-agent class of 2018.

If Maikel Franco doesn't shape up, the Phillies could make a hard push for Manny Machado. Franco after a two-game benching is back in the lineup for this afternoon's game against the Rockies (see story).

Then, of course, there's Bryce Harper, who earlier this month agreed to a one-year, $21,625,000 deal for next season. 

And guess what? If Harper becomes a free agent after next season, the Phillies would be interested in signing him.

Really?

According to a FanRagSportsNetwork, citing a Phillies source, the Phils would be interested luring Harper to Philly.

Shocker. 

It'd be big news if a Phillies source said the team wasn't interested in signing Harper. 

Anyway, the story also quotes a National League scout.

“Could you imagine what he could do in that ballpark playing 81 games a year in that bandbox?” the scout said.

Chances are every Phillies fan has already imagined it. Harper this season alone is hitting .351/.400/.784 with five homers and 12 RBIs in nine games against the Phils. In three games at the Bank, he's hitting just .250 with a homer and two RBIs.

But in 38 career games at CBP, he's hitting .296/.361/.627 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

In 89 career games against the Phillies, he's hitting .282 with 20 homers and 54 RBIs.

At the risk of stating the obvious, here's one thing to remember: If the Phils sign Harper, then he'd no longer benefit from facing them.

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Well, this hasn't gone well. 

Coming into Thursday afternoon's game against the Rockies, the Phillies have lost five straight. They've lost nine of their last 10. They've lost 20 of their last 24. 

At 15-29, they're not just the worst team in the NL East. They're not just the worst team in the National League. 

Through 44 games, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. 

Just to make it to a .500 record this season, they would need to go 66-52 (.559) the rest of the way. 

Their four-game series against the Rockies will mercifully come to a close on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In the first three games of the series -- all losses -- the Phils have been outscored 23-5. 

Maikel Franco returns to the four-hole as the Phillies try to snap out of their funk.

The Phillies on Thursday also activated right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez from the disabled list. Gomez takes Adam Morgan's spot on the roster. Morgan was reassigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after throwing three scoreless innings during the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

Gomez hasn't pitched since May 4 because of an elbow injury. He began the season as the Phillies' closer but was demoted after blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his first five innings. In 11 1/3 innings this season, Gomez has a 7.94 ERA.

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P