Flyers Extras: Danny's Return, Goalies, New Lines, Trade Deadline, and the Cap

Flyers Extras: Danny's Return, Goalies, New Lines, Trade Deadline, and the Cap

It's a busy week for the Flyers, who play in Washington Tuesday, host LA on Wednesday, then host the thug-life Canadiens on Friday night.

There are plenty of interesting news briefs surrounding the team right now, as you may have seen.

  • For starters, Danny Briere is likely to return this Friday against the Habs. He's been practicing and is almost at full speed, but the question remains as to whether he'll re-injure his abdominal strain like he did the last time he came off the IR. As the NHL nears the trade deadline, the Flyers need to know what Danny's status will be before game time, because they'll need to create about $2.5 million of cap room. And no, Darroll Powe doesn't make quite that much ($520k all season).
  • Tim Panaccio reports that Jeff Carter is the latest Flyer to catch a bug, but he's unlikely to miss any game time. Good news, considering the Caps are up next. Could be a fire fight.
    Also, John Stevens is juggling his lines. The Richards line will stay intact, but Scottie Upshall, who has been playing with a lot of energy lately (even for him), will move up to take Joffrey Lupul's spot on the second line. Lupul will skate with Claude Giroux and Powe. Either way, that's a hell of a set of second and third lines.
  • Niitty starts Tuesday, Marty on Wednesday.
  • Other than Sunday's Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival, the week didn't end so well for the Flyers. A poor decision by Marty Biron resulted in a Sidney Crosby goal that broke a tie late in Saturday's game. But after the loss, Mike Richards took the blame, citing two giveaways that resulted in goals. Fans won't likely hold him too accountable though, considering he'd scored a goal—his NHL-best seventh shorthanded—and added two assists. Just a game before, he had two goals and three assists, and he has three shorties in his last three games. Fittingly, the NHL named him the week's first star
  • Speaking of Marty's gaffe... after the Pens game, the speculation regarding the Flyers goalie situation heated up again. It's unlikely there will be any change in the goaltending personnel, but it's always interesting to look at what's out there. You may remember David Foley from The Kids in the Hall his great fan reports here at the Level, and now we're happy to see he's started a blog. David F. takes a good look at some of the goalies that might be available if the Flyers are buyers at the trade deadline. We're not fans of the Khabibulin rumor; he's old, and he's just shown why that's a factor, landing on the IR. Plus, he makes too much money for the cash-strapped Flyers to take on. Ditto the Kari Lehtonen rumor. Head-to-head, Niitty has owned him, but of course Kari's awful team has to be taken intro consideration. Still, he's not worth JVR, who isn't under contract or accounted for in the current cap numbers. Someone else would have to go if the Flyers picked up any of these goalies, most likely Biron. That's a huge price to pay for a modest upgrade at best. The one guy we like is Nik Backstrom, but his "availability" is speculative only. Can Homer pull off another rights-acquisition trade? With Minnesota hovering in the 8/9 spots out west, it's a long shot at this point, but pending UFA Backstrom would look great here next season, if not sooner.
  • Bob Ford reports that it will likely be a pretty quiet trade deadline for the Flyers, at least in terms of big name moves. With the cap situation, he's probably right.
  • Don't look for any head coaches to volunteer to start their teams' seasons in Europe any time soon. The Rangers were the fourth club to fire their head coach this season. Oddly, the four teams were the same ones who started '08-'09 in Europe. Axing Tom Renney after the Rangers fell like a rock from the top of the Atlantic Division standings wasn't much of a surprise, and neither is Glen Sather's choice to replace himJohn Tortorella, former head coach of the Lightning and no big fan of the Flyers. This oughtta be good.
  • Finally, it appears Dancing Shawn might have some competition for jumbotron dance party glory up in Beantown.

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

BOX SCORE

BOSTON -- LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA's all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

Cleveland's 4-1 series' win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise's first championship.

It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James.

Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.

The Cavaliers basically conceded the East's top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest its starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.

After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them the chance in Game 5.

Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.

Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed, tomahawk dunks.

It was a very welcomed sight in Irving's case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Cleveland's Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver all helped spread out Boston's defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities.

Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.

The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland's 13 games this postseason. ... Improved to 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs since 2015. ... The 43 points Cleveland scored in the first quarter set a team postseason record for points in a quarter.

Celtics: Injured point guard Isaiah Thomas led his teammates in a pregame huddle before they took the court for warmups. Thomas sat out the rest of the series after aggravating a hip injury in Game 2. ... Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing. ... Were whistled for 16 fouls in the first half.

Best of MLB: Solo homers power Cubs to win over Giants

Best of MLB: Solo homers power Cubs to win over Giants

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist hit solo homers, spot starter Eddie Butler pitched five effective innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 5-1 on Thursday for their third straight win.

Mike Montgomery followed with four scoreless innings and allowed one hit in his first save.

Heyward went deep for the second time in three games and Zobrist added two singles as the Cubs took three of four games in a set with the Giants and finished a homestand at 7-2 (see full recap).

Cruz blast helps Mariners top Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Nelson Cruz greeted reliever Jacob Turner with a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Thursday to stop a five-game losing streak.

Gio Gonzalez took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, when Jean Segura singled leading off and Guillermo Heredia took a called third strike. That prompted Seattle manager Scott Servais to complain from the dugout, which led to his ejection by plate umpire Adam Hamari.

Robinson Cano singled, and Washington manager Dusty Baker brought in Turner (2-3), despite Cruz having just one hit in 15 at-bats against Gonzalez. Cruz drove a belt-high slider over the fence in left-center for his 12th homer this season and a 3-2 lead. Cruz leads the AL with 40 RBIs.

Cano added an RBI single off Turner in the seventh. Seattle scored multiple runs for the first time since May 18 (see full recap).

Andriese, Rasmus help Rays blank Angels
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Matt Andriese allowed six hits over eight innings, Colby Rasmus drove in four runs and the Tampa Bay Rays salvaged a split of a four-game series with Los Angeles by beating the Angels 4-0 on Thursday.

Andriese (5-1) improved to 4-0 over his last five starts, holding the Angels to 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Los Angeles threatened in five innings against the right-hander.

Rasmus had a pair of key two-out hits with the bases loaded: a two-run single in the first and a fifth-inning double that made it 4-0.

Tommy Hunter got three outs to complete a six-hitter (see full recap).