Flyers Deserve to Lose, Do So

Flyers Deserve to Lose, Do So

Last spring, a couple of broads who had too much to drink decided it would be more convenient to walk through my patio screen door rather than open it--same night, isolated incidents. The resulting quick fixes performed in the dark of night never quite got the sliding door back on its tracks, and within a day or two, the entire house was infested with flies. I chased the flies around the house for a few days, swatting wildly at every one I saw, but it was a losing battle. It always seemed like there were more.

Until finally I stumbled upon their lair. When the sun was out, those nasty buggers would congregate behind a tapestry that hung in front of the glass patio doors, perhaps to keep warm from the cruel central air. Well from that point on, every morning when I woke up, or whenever I returned home from work, I would grab the nearest copy of Wine & Spirits Quarterly, carefully peel away the tapestry, and begin gleefully smashing flies. It was gruesome, but I hate flies, and eventually the entire population was eradicated.

Roughly one year later, the Bruins are exorcising some demons of their own, gleefully smashing the Flyers with their bodies and swatting pucks by their goaltenders with the same level of ease.

Trying to recap this game seriously or in any amount of detail is about as pointless as that rambling lede. If you witnessed it, you don't really want to talk about it. If you didn't... lucky you. Most likely, you can look at the 5-1 final, and the fact that the Flyers have fallen behind 3-0 in a series with Boston for the second post-season in a row, and determine things went decidedly poor on Wednesday night.

Before a minute could even tick off the clock in the first period, Philly was already behind 2-0. Well before the second frame concluded, the lead was four, and Brian Boucher was heading to the bench once again. Sergei Bobrovsky settled things down somewhat, not allowing another score until the final minutes, while Andrej Meszaros tacked on a goal in the second, but it was all so very little, so very, very late.

The story of the game wasn't just in net though, despite that being the sixth goaltender change mid-game during the post-season. Matt broke it down plain enough in the game preview.

Boosh let up a goal he should have had. There were forward lapses on coverages and bad decisions with the puck on defense. Any on their own can be accepted if all else goes well. But on Monday, in a 1-goal OT loss, the single mistakes become amplified. We should expect just as close a game tonight. If not, it isn't safe to assume we'll be on the winning end of a lopsided game.

Tonight, all three occurred once again, and the the home team wound up on the wrong side of a crooked number.

Of course, it doesn't help the Flyers appear to have run into the proverbial hot goalie. If they hope to have any shot at defying the odds with another historical run in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will first have to solve Tim Thomas. Thomas didn't put on quite the show he did in Game 2--and didn't have to--but he's made it look far more simple than it actually is thus far.

As if that weren't enough, Boston won in practically every other aspect of this contest, not just in the final score column, or netminder confidence. They were clearly the more physical of the two clubs. The Flyers are hitting, but the Bruins were flat out steamrolling them tonight. They also destroyed the orange and black in the faceoff dot by an astounding 43-12, making the B's control on the pace of the game that much tighter. Again, that's 43-12. Might as well have been 100-0.

Honestly, looking at what happened tonight, what has gone down this entire series, it's hard to imagine the Flyers can pull four consecutive wins on this club again. And that, I'm afraid, is being kind. What more can we say?

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.