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?

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.