Game 32Flyers Out to Get Past Bruins Loss, But Not Forget It

Game 32Flyers Out to Get Past Bruins Loss, But Not Forget It

There's probably not a whole lot of small details or minor lessons the Flyers or any of us fans want to remember about Saturday's absolute ass-kicking at the hands of the Boston Bruins. One thing's for sure though, while they need to move on and play as if that game didn't happen, it was a good wake-up call that they're not quite where they need to be. Right now, they're good enough to have a fun regular season ride with all the usual ups and downs. But are they good enough to make a deep playoff run, or go all the way to a Cup?

While it was only one game, that 6-0 loss to last year's champs was indeed a measuring stick, and the Flyers came up very short. Of course, they were without some key players, including their top forward and top defenseman, and it appears we'll get the former back soon. But the latter may never be, and Saturday should show the Flyers the level they need to aspire for between now and, way down the road, the playoffs.

The road continues in Denver tonight, where the Flyers begin a five-game road trip with a 9PM start against the Avalanche. A former Cup-winning goalie tandem highlights the storylines.

Goalies
Ilya Bryzgalov will try to put a five-goal performance behind him and get back to his winning ways. He'll face JS Giguere, the man he once served as a backup to when both played for the Anaheim Ducks. Remember the degree to which Giggy's star was on the rise back then?

Beat Boxing
One of the many things that went wrong for the Flyers on Saturday was a woeful performance on the penalty kill (although it's not easy when you're down two men). They'll have to either stay out of the box (preferred) or improve in that regard, because despite not having much in the way of a dangerous even strength attack, the Avalanche are among the league's best on the power play.

The Flyers' PP wasn't too hot against the Bruins either, failing to score on six opportunities. It's somewhat understandable, as the roster has been shaken up without Pronger and Giroux, who each play PP, SH, and even strength.

Fortunately, it sounds like the Flyers could be closer to getting Giroux back, perhaps in time for this weekend. We just hope he's 100%, or else there's really no sense in risking it at this still-early stage of the season.

Who's Up?
Before last game, we had some thoughts as to who should step up with Giroux out. Now, Sean Couturier has joined him on the shelf for a bit, and Danny Briere is likely to skate with former lineman Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr. Considering that Briere and Hartnell got each other back on track in a big way when paired up for the 2010 playoffs and continued a good run last season, they should be pretty familiar with what each other can do. In fact, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see this line be Lavvy's first choice, swapping Ville Leino for Jagr. There could be some nice chemistry here…

Still hoping JVR steps up and dominates a game soon…

Wayne Simmonds saw a career-long goal-scoring streak snapped in the shutout, but he remained active around the crease. Maybe he starts a new one tonight.

Ben Holmstrom gets a cup of coffee tonight as well, possibly on an all-youngin fourth line with some combination of Harry Z, Tom Sestito, and Zac Rinaldo. Hard to say exactly what the lines will be after the top unit, and Lavvy could move some guys around, trying to find something that clicks with a very makeshift lineup that is missing centers Giroux, Couturier, and also Brayden Schenn.

Good read from Frank Seravalli on the current roster situation, plus Marc-Andre Bourdon's nickname: [Daily News]

Fortunately, the 'Lanche haven't been particularly noteworthy this season. They're 15-17-1, and they've lost four of their last six. Two of their four December wins came in the shootout (hopefully we'll be spared that). The Flyers have fared much better over their past handful of games, but that one loss really stands out. Time to show some resiliency, bounce back and beat an inferior team, even with a pretty Phantom'd up set of lower lines.

Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US Presswire

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

The Colorado Rockies laid the wood to the Phillies again Tuesday night. The Rockies hit three home runs en route to an 8-2 win at Citizens Bank Park. The Rockies beat the Phillies, 8-1, on Monday night.

The Phillies have lost four in a row, eight of their last nine and 19 of their last 23 to fall to 15-28.

Two games into this four-game series, the Phillies have been held to just two runs in 13 innings against a pair of rookie Colorado starting pitchers.

Starting pitching report
Zach Eflin had his second straight poor outing. He was tagged for 10 hits and eight runs in six innings. He gave up three home runs.

Eflin has given up 21 hits and 15 runs in his last two starts.

The Rockies got another good start from a rookie. This time it was German Marquez, who held the Phillies to a run over six innings. Rookie Jeff Hoffman held the Phillies to a run over seven innings in the series opener on Monday night.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. stopped the bleeding with two scoreless innings.

The Rockies' bullpen has given up just one run in five innings in the series.

At the plate
The Phillies scored their first run on a bases-loaded walk in the third inning. Andrew Knapp homered in the ninth to make it a six-run game.

Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon hit a pair of two-run homers against Eflin. He leads the majors with 62 hits. Blackmon has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. He hit five in a three-game series last season.

Gerardo Parra also homered for the Rockies, who have the best record in the National League at 30-17.

Transactions
The Phillies placed outfielder Daniel Nava on the 10-day disabled list with a slight hamstring strain. He is expected to return sometime next week. The team opted for an extra bullpen arm and recalled reliever Adam Morgan from Triple A to take Nava's roster spot.

Health check
Howie Kendrick took outdoor batting practice Tuesday for the first time since suffering an abdominal strain on April 15. He could head out on minor-league rehab later this week and be ready to return sometime next week. Kendrick can play corner infield and corner outfield, so he could take away at-bats from Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders if they don't get going. Both were benched Tuesday night (see story).

Up next
The series continues Wednesday night. Jeremy Hellickson (5-1, 3.44) will pitch against Colorado right-hander Tyler Chatwood (3-6. 5.09).

More WRs, more buzz, but Jordan Matthews unfazed with Eagles

More WRs, more buzz, but Jordan Matthews unfazed with Eagles

After leading the Eagles in passing targets for the past two seasons, Jordan Matthews suddenly became an afterthought when the club signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency. There's even speculation Matthews might be available in a trade if a solid offer comes along.

The Eagles' investments at the wide receiver position this offseason would certainly appear to put Matthews' future with the team in question. In addition to Jeffery and Smith, Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson were brought aboard in the draft, all as Matthews enters the final year of his rookie contract.

None of which seems to concern Matthews, who described the trade rumors as "fake news" on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex, where Phase 3 of Eagles OTAs was underway.

"I don't care about any of that stuff," Matthews said. "I feel like it's the NFL, if you think about it, everybody has a price. Those talks, they happen, so it really doesn't faze me."

To be clear, there has been very little noise to suggest the Eagles were at any point actively shopping Matthews or the fourth-year veteran is on the trade block. A reporter merely stated a belief the Eagles would be open to moving Matthews in the right deal. It was enough to get people talking, and once Jeffery and Smith signed days later, the rumors weren't going away.

Matthews' contract situation has a lot do with the reaction. Apart from all the new faces in the receivers room, this offseason was the first he was eligible to sign a contract extension.

There is absolutely nothing to report on that front. Instead, the Eagles directed funds toward Jeffery and Smith — who are viewed by some as his potential replacements.

"I haven't really talked to anybody about that," Matthews said. "I really don't focus on that too much, to be honest.

"I think you all know me by now. That's not really what fuels me, so it's like one of the last things I actually really think about. Whatever is going to happen is going to end up happening, so I just try to come out here and play hard and do what I need to do for my team."

Matthews turns 25 in July and has impressive numbers for the Eagles, recording 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. Only six players in NFL history amassed more in all three categories their first three seasons.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Matthews will reprise his role as the Eagles' primary slot receiver in 2017, downplaying the possibility of a reduced role. Pederson also noted Matthews' tight bond with quarterback Carson Wentz.

Pederson also declined to make mention of Matthews' standing with the club beyond '17, nor is it really this coach's place to say.

"Jordan has been a big part of this offense, and he is still a big part of this offense," Pederson said on Tuesday. "He's got a great relationship and a great rapport with Carson, and Carson feels very comfortable with him."

Despite trade rumors, his contract situation and the simple fact the Eagles brought in a bunch of players who would gladly take his targets and his job, Matthews remains positive. In fact, he sees Jeffery and Smith making life easier for the rest of the offense.

"I'm glad, to be honest," Matthews said. "I'm glad to have Torrey, glad to have Alshon, the rookies.

"Obviously, having more guys on the field that have that type of production over a long period of time, they're going to garner attention. That's going to help me get free."

Matthews is coming off of his worst season, posting 73 receptions for 804 yards and three touchdowns. Much of his problems seemed to stem from the lack of options in the passing attack, particularly at receiver, allowing defenses to hone in on Matthews.

Furthermore, Matthews was plagued by an ankle injury for much of the season, from which he is still recovering.

"Still getting there," Matthews said. "An ankle messes up the whole chain. It's not like an upper-body extremity injury. When you're dealing with an ankle, there's a lot more stuff that you have to continue to get right from the back down."

Despite the increasing competition at the Eagles' receiver position, Matthews doesn't sound very worried about his ankle, either. Like trade rumors and concerns about his contract, that too will pass in time.

"We've got a lot of time," Matthews said. "I know I'll be good when it's time to roll."