Flyers v. Red Wings Gamethread: Trading places edition

Flyers v. Red Wings Gamethread: Trading places edition


(after the jump, a photo-chop experiment)

A few Sundays ago, I sat at a gate in JFK waiting for a plane to take me on my two week Italian honeymoon... aaand also a text-score update of the Flyers/Rangers game.  The afternoon prior, Philly had used some late game heroics to tie and eventually win with seconds to spare against a very good B'hawks squad.  A statement game?  Only if they could build upon it.  My phone vibrated with the bad news: 3-1 Rangers, have a good trip.  I would be lying if I said that I thought about the Orange and Black often overseas.  How could they compete  with Michelangelo's David, or the Coliseum, or my wife?   Upon calling home late in our 2nd week from Rome, my mother answered the phone and immediately asked, "Did you hear about the Flyers?"  And as you already know, the news was not good.

In my absence, the Flyers lost (including the Rangers game) 6 out of 7 games.  Their leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter... broke his foot.  Their (2nd) starting goaltender, Michael Leighton, is done for season after suffering a high ankle sprain.  I returned to see them lose to the Pens, tease us  with a win against the Devils, and suffer two more loses to the Isles and Canadiens.  

A few months ago, the Detroit Red Wings were in trouble.  Whispers around the league were going back and worth, wondering if this would be the year that glorious post-season streak would come to an end.  But now, they are becoming some sort of bizzarro version of the Flyers.  They have their star players, Zetterberg and Datsyuk producing, and saw the return of Tomas Holmstrom.  Their goalie, Jimmy Howard, is a rookie sensation that is stealing games for them.  And they currently just ended a 7 game winning streak that took them from outside the playoff picture to nipping at the Predlies' heels in 5th place.  Isn't hockey funny?

Today, the Red Wings could put some serious hurting on the Flyers' playoff hopes.  Couple that with the home and home against the Rangers, the team we are currently tied for 8th with... and I feel for all those south Philly ulcers that will be flaring up over the next week.  To think that the Flyers could go from being "paper" crowned Stanley Cup champions to not even making the playoffs is just mind boggling.  That they are heading into the playoffs with a consummate back up goalie and "insert college goalie name here" just seems surreal.  Go Flyers.

An experiment

A few weeks ago, I was talking to MattP about how the Flyers have such a good uniform and logo (ironic after reading Andrew's prev. post) that its a bit hard to envision them wearing anything but what they currently have.  So I took on the task of experimenting with stock NHL photos and trying to photo-chop them to make a new look for the Flyers.  The all solid scheme is one that is p'wned by the Detroit Red Wings, and most recently used by the Phoenix Coyotes.  The Red Wings also have a very similar logo, only facing in the opposite direction.

I began with a photo of Nic Lidstrom in the solid Detroit red.  It started off a bit rough.  As I changed the main colors to orange, I still hadn't touched the white detail and it created a  a very "creamsicle" look that was jarring.  But as the simple white of the Wings changed over to the bold black of the Flyers, the look grew on me.  I don't get "pumpkin" or "traffic cone" from what's shown here.    What do you think...?  Is this something you could legitimately see the Flyers wearing in a future game?

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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USA Today Images

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.