Flyers Out for Revenge, First Win in New Jersey

Flyers Out for Revenge, First Win in New Jersey

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Everybody knew there was no way the Flyers could carry over the
frenetic pace from last season’s first-round playoff series against the
Pittsburgh Penguins into round two. Sure enough, that energy would only last
for all of one more game.

The Orange & Black would go on to take a 1-0 series lead
via an overtime thriller before the New Jersey Devils went about their usual
business of smothering the life out of an opponent. Philadelphia had averaged
nearly five goals during its first seven postseason games, but was held to less
than two per over their next – and final – four.

Just like that, the Flyers were eliminated from the
postseason in what was the equivalent of an elongated sweep. The Devils went
all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tonight they’ll hold a ceremony and raise another banner in
Newark before hosting the winless Flyers, with an offense still searching to
regain its form after Marty Brodeur and company drained the team of its
vitality. So far this season they have just the three goals in two games,
although the refs have played a part in some of the frustration.

Back in May, the officials didn’t have a damn thing to do
with it. The Devils simply had all the answers. Where the Flyers won most of
the battles for the puck versus Pittsburgh, New Jersey was able to turn the
tables on them. And Brodeur had a magnificent series, not only in net, but also
behind, expertly playing every puck to his teammates that Philly wanted to dump
and chase.

The Devils wore them down at the other end as well, taking
advantage of head coach Peter Laviolette’s aggressive system. Ilya Bryzgalov
could not have been 100% in net either, having sustained a stress fracture in
his foot. New Jersey posted at least three tallies to the scoreboard in all
five contests.

It was a thorough beating, one that does not necessarily
give hope that the Flyers can pick up their first points of the season tonight.

Having said that, Jersey is certainly going through a
transition after losing Zach Parise in free agency. That’s 31 goals and 38
assists subtracted from the lineup, not to mention a league-leading eight goals
in the postseason this past summer, and Adam Henrique’s 16 and 35 are currently
missing as well due to a thumb injury.

Then again, the more things change in Newark, the more they
stay the same. The Devils are still capable of stifling opponents the way they
did to Philly in that series last season, and if the 40-year-old Brodeur is
rusty at all following the lockout, it didn’t show in his first game back.
Marty limited the New York Islanders to one goal in a 2-1 victory.

The Flyers did have some success against their rivals last
year however prior to the playoffs, in particular Bryz, who was 3-0 in starts
against New Jersey last season, only allowing one goal in the process. He’s
looked sharp in the earlygoings this year despite the losing, so we’ll see if he can keep
the momentum going.

Game starts at 7:30 due to pre-game ceremonies. Is it too early to say the Flyers need a win tonight given the shortened season?

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Phillies prospect Andrew Knapp is determined to win a job in the majors

Phillies prospect Andrew Knapp is determined to win a job in the majors

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The dew on the infield grass had barely dried when Andrew Knapp was marched out to the firing squad at Phillies camp early Sunday morning.
 
He took his position at first base and looked across the diamond where Phillies instructors Doug Mansolino, Chris Truby and Larry Bowa were lined up at third base, shortstop and second base, respectively. Armed with fungo bats and a dozens baseballs each, the trio of sharpshooters proceeded to smash bullet one- and two-hoppers at Knapp, who was tasked with pulling them out of the dirt to complete the putout.
 
“Good job,” shouted Bowa, a tough grader when it comes to infield work, as Knapp finished up the hellacious early-morning drill.
 
Knapp is a catcher by trade, but he will continue these intense individual sessions at first base throughout the spring — in addition to his regular defensive work behind the plate.
 
A 25-year-old switch-hitter, Knapp was the Phillies’ second-round selection in the 2013 draft. He’s getting a lot attention in this camp because he has a shot to make the club as a reserve player. The Phils are in need of a backup catcher and a backup first baseman and Knapp, in big-league camp for the second time, is trying to show he can handle both assignments in one package.
 
“Last year it was more of a happy-to-be-here thing,” he said. “I was just trying to pick as many brains as I could and take in as much knowledge as I could.
 
“But this year it’s more of a let’s-go-win-a-job kind of deal.”
 
General manager Matt Klentak and manager Pete Mackanin first floated the idea of carrying Knapp as a two-position reserve at the winter meetings.
 
Of course, it came with a lot of qualifiers. Knapp is still considered a developing player and team decision-makers would have to consider what impact a reserve role would have on his development. Also, the prototypical backup catcher in the majors is a plus defender who has experience handling a big-league pitching staff. Knapp has never played in the majors and his defense is considered a work in progress. Later in the winter, the Phillies signed two big-league veteran catchers (Bryan Holaday and Ryan Hanigan) to minor-league deals and they are very much in the mix for the job.
 
“I kind of understand there’s a definite value in having a veteran guy as a backup, but I think I can do the job on the field,” Knapp said.
 
A potential separator for Knapp could be his bat and his versatility if he can continue to develop it. He is not a novice at first base. He played there as a sophomore at the University of California. Knapp also has this going for him: He’s on the 40-man roster and with so many young prospects on it and the probable need to add an outfielder like Chris Coughlan later in camp, that could work in Knapp’s favor.
 
Another factor that could held Knapp’s chances: The Phillies’ development blueprint calls for Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro to get the bulk of the playing time at first base and catcher, respectively, at Triple A.
 
“You’d like to see him get 500 at-bats, but it’s not a perfect world,” Bowa said. “Our Triple A team is loaded. He might find himself in the same role at Triple A. if that’s the case, it might be best if he came here if he swings the bat like he can and he can provide versatility.
 
“A guy like him can give you some options and flexibility. When you face the Mets and they have three stud right-handers throwing 95, it might be nice to have a guy like that to give (first baseman) Tommy Joseph a blow.”
 
Knapp had a brilliant season with the bat at Double A in 2015. He hit .360 with 11 homers, 56 RBIs and a 1.050 OPS in 55 games, earning him the franchise’s Paul Owens Award as minor-league player of the year.
 
Knapp tapered off at Triple A last season. He hit .266 with eight homers, 46 RBIs and a .719 OPS over a full season. Knapp’s day last summer typically started with defensive work at 1:30 in the afternoon.
 
“I would get my hitting in, but I don’t think there was as much of a focus on it as there was the year before,” he said. “I do think last year I took a real step forward defensively, especially in the second half of the year. I kind of had a tough first half, but the second half I really honed in on the defensive part, blocking and throwing mostly, just kind of keeping everything in front and shutting down the running game.”

A lot of eyes will be on Knapp when the exhibition games start next week.
 
“We need to find out if he’s capable of doing it,” Mackanin said. “Catching is a defensive-oriented position. We need good defense. We need good game calling, a catcher who can handle pitchers, and that’s what we’re going to be looking at from a guy like Knapp as well as the other guys. We’re going to take a good long look at that.
 
“He’s definitely in the mix. I want to play him a lot to see him. We all want to see what he can do offensively and defensively. From what I’ve been told he’s shown a lot of improvement and we’re going to look for that. We’re looking for the 25 best men. There’s a good chance he might be one of them.”
 
Knapp is determined to show that he is.
 
“It’s open for someone to go take it and I want to be that guy,” he said.

Penn beats Yale for 4th straight win, moves into Ivy League Tournament picture

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Penn beats Yale for 4th straight win, moves into Ivy League Tournament picture

BOX SCORE

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Darnell Foreman scored 15 points with four assists, Matt Howard added 14 points, including three 3-pointers, and Penn used a big second-half run to beat Yale 71-55 on Sunday for its fourth straight win.

AJ Brodeur had 12 points with nine rebounds, Ryan Betley also scored 12, and Devon Goodman had 11 for the Quakers (11-12, 4-6 Ivy League), who won their fourth straight game and moved into a fourth-place tie with Columbia in the conference standings. The top four teams will play in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, March 11-12, at The Palestra.

Goodman's layup off a steal capped a 17-3 run as Penn extended a 31-30 halftime lead to 48-33 at 14:39 in the second half. Howard hit two 3s in the run and Foreman added a third. Goodman hit a 3, Foreman followed with a layup and the Quakers led by 20, 62-42, with 6:17 left and held on.

Penn shot 50.9 percent from the field to Yale's 32.8 percent and made 9 of 23 from behind the arc to the Bulldogs' 6 of 28.

Miye Oni scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Yale (14-9, 6-4), which entered the game in third place behind Harvard and Princeton.