Flyers-Thrashers: Presidents, Starters, and Captains edition

Flyers-Thrashers: Presidents, Starters, and Captains edition

A home game against the Atlanta Thrashers
coming off of a solid road win at Pittsburgh with another road game
tomorrow in Jersey could be plenty challenging for the Flyers, who have
struggled against Atlanta recently. After the Thrashers won both of the
previous meetings between these teams in March, the three games don't
look quite as enticing as they did heading into the final full month of
the regular season. A clunker of a third period resulted in a big
Atlanta comeback and OT win in the first of the March matchups, which
was followed by a shootout loss in Atlanta five days later. Although
both games ended with a sympathy point, the Flyers lacked the ability to
finish off an inferior opponent, albeit one that was fighting for its
playoff chances.

Tonight, the Thrashers trail the playoffs by 11 points and at least
three teams—a rather large hill to climb with only six games remaining.
They either need to play with a win-out mentality tonight, or they'll be
golfing before they know it. Will the Flyers match that intensity if
the Thrashers can conjure it? 

A few more notes after the jump. Richie, Bob, Briere, and the President's Trophy... 

•Atlanta has had a March not unlike the Flyers' own, trading wins for
losses and a fair amount of OT games. They're coming off a loss at
Montreal, but they haven't lost back-to-back games since the first and
third of the month.

•Chris Mason will be in net for Atlanta, facing presumed playoff
starter Sergei Bobrovsky, who is coming off of his third victory over
the Penguins this season and an impressive 37-save performance on Long
Island. Another confidence booster at home tonight wouldn't hurt. 

•Glad to see the Briere line had a great game last time out,
reminding the Flyers' potential playoff opponents that they'll have
three (3) bona fide scoring lines to counter over a seven (7) game
series. Last time the Thrashers were in town, Ville Leino netted a hat
trick (pictured above, though it should be noted that Mason was only in
goal for the third, and of course Atlanta did still win that one). 

•I just returned from some time out of town, where I was able to
mostly ignore the latest white noise over the Mike Richards
captaincy/strained media relations. I guess, like the goaltending
situation, we have little chance of hearing the end of this until the
Flyers hoist a Cup, but I'm not even holding out much hope for after
that either. My opinion? Nothing to see here.  

•Vancouver can lock up the President's Trophy with a win tonight and a
Flyers loss. This would be the least effective motivational tool in
Peter Laviolette's arsenal tonight. 

•It's Bill Barber's turn to be honored at home tonight, with his number banner from the Spectrum handed to him before the game. 

•It's time to put this lousy Smarch weather behind us, ending a
dreary month with consecutive wins and looking ahead to what could be a
pretty amazing spring in Philly.

NBA Playoffs: Warriors sweep their way to 3rd straight NBA Finals

NBA Playoffs: Warriors sweep their way to 3rd straight NBA Finals

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Stephen Curry scored 36 points as the Golden State Warriors closed out the Western Conference Final against the injury-ravaged San Antonio Spurs with a 129-115 victory Monday night, becoming the first team in league history to start the playoffs 12-0.

Golden State led by as many as 22 points in cruising to its third straight NBA Finals. The Warriors await a possible third straight championship matchup with Cleveland, which leads Boston 2-1 in the East finals.

"It's great to be one of the last two teams standing, we'll see how it goes," said Kevin Durant, who had 29 points and 12 rebounds.

San Antonio's only lead came on the opening possession when Manu Ginobili tossed in a left-handed scoop shot. The Spurs started Ginobili in what could be his final game with the team. The 39-year-old had maintained he will not ponder whether to retire or return until after the season.

Unsure if the beloved veteran will return, the crowd serenaded Ginobili with "Manu, Manu" chants as the game came to a close.

"An amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him," Durant said of Ginobili. "He was phenomenal this series."

Kyle Anderson scored 20 points to lead the Spurs, who were without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and David Lee. San Antonio didn't go down without a fight despite the injuries.

Anderson dove on the court for a loose ball that the Spurs had tipped away defensively, pushing the ball upcourt to Patty Mills who fed Ginobili for a 3-pointer that pulled San Antonio to 108-94 with 7 minutes remaining.

The effort made Spurs coach Gregg Popovich smile and clap at times, but the Warriors' depth and talent proved too much for short-handed San Antonio.

Golden State shot 56 percent and were 14 for 39 on 3-pointers.

Draymond Green had 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Warriors.

Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge closed out a disappointing series with his second eight-point effort against the Warriors.

Ginobili finished with 15 points in 32 minutes.

Phillies held to 3 hits again, pounded by Rockies in return home

Phillies held to 3 hits again, pounded by Rockies in return home

BOX SCORE

The loudest noise made by the Phillies' offense on Monday night was the thud — clearly audible above the small crowd — that Odubel Herrera created when he smashed his batting helmet on the dirt infield after grounding out to third base to end the seventh inning.

Herrera's frustration spoke for an entire team. The Phillies were hammered, 8-1, by the Colorado Rockies (see Instant Replay). They were out-hit, 13-3. The loss was the Phils' 18th in the last 22 games and they have been outscored 126-89 over that span.

The loss left the Phils at 15-27 for the season, matching their worst 42-game start since 2000 when they finished 65-97 in front of tiny crowds at Veterans Stadium in Terry Francona's last season as skipper.

Over the last two games, both losses, the Phils have just six hits.

"Three hits today, three hits yesterday," manager Pete Mackanin said. "You're not going to win a lot of games getting three hits."

Aaron Altherr had two of the Phillies' hits, both doubles against Colorado rookie Jeff Hoffman, who was very impressive with seven walk-free innings and seven strikeouts.

Herrera went hitless in three at-bats and is hitting just .200 in the month of May and .232 overall — not what the front office expected when it signed him to a five-year, $30.5 million contract extension in the offseason.

"It's very frustrating because I feel like I am being selective and waiting for my pitch, but when I make contact things don't happen," Herrera said. "I feel like I'm swinging the bat well, but I'm just missing."

Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff gave up nine hits, seven of which were singles, and four runs over six innings. Four of the hits that Eickhoff allowed came in the third inning when the Rockies scored three times. Two of the runs scored on a flare double and the other on a groundball through a drawn-in infield.

"I executed a lot of good pitches," Eickhoff said. "I got a lot of the contact I wanted. The ball just didn't land in the gloves."

Eickhoff did not walk a batter. He struck out four.

Despite being 0-5 with a 4.70 ERA in nine starts, the right-hander believes he has made strides his last two outings. He gave up three runs (two earned) over six innings in his previous outing at Texas. Prior to that start, he worked on fixing a mechanical flaw in his delivery.

"These past two have been night-and-day different," he said. "I felt great today and in Texas and I'm going to keep that positivity going."

Finding other things to be positive about with this team is becoming difficult.

This Phillies team was not expected to contend; it is still in a rebuild. But things weren't supposed to be this bad, either.

"I'll tell you what, I'm getting frustrated, too," general manager Matt Klentak said before the game. "This team is better … there is more talent on this team than we've shown in terms of our record.

"We'll pull out of it. We will. That's what talented players will do. I'm not going to tell the fans they shouldn't be frustrated. We've gone through a tough stretch.

"But I'm not ready to call it regression. I think there's been a lack of consistency on our team in general, with some players more than others. There's been a lack of consistency, but especially for young players, two months is a relatively small sample size to categorize it as regression."

At 29-17, the Rockies have the best record in the National League. They have 16 road wins, which is one more than the Phillies have overall. The Rockies are in town for three more days. This ugly start could get even uglier.