Bryz, Flyers Remember to Spay and Neuter Their Panthers in Shutout Rout

Bryz, Flyers Remember to Spay and Neuter Their Panthers in Shutout Rout

Thursday night's game against the Florida Panthers marked the third straight game the Flyers would have to play without defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros. Shortly before the teams took the ice, the team announced that Pavel Kubina would miss the game with an injury as well, which explained the mid-day call-up of Brandon Manning.

[full photo gallery from the game here]

Already without Chris Pronger, this would seem to spell disaster for a team in the bottom third of the NHL for goals against. Or, an unlikely recipe for a pair of shutouts and three straight wins, four dating back to the last time the defense corps was intact. The Flyers makeshift blue line put in a stellar effort, as did Ilya Bryzgalov, who backstopped his fourth shutout of the season en route to a 5-0 Flyers win. A few notes and a look at the goals, below. 
As we said in the pre-game, the Panthers aren't very good, and they came to town shorthanded. But man did they get blown off the ice in this one. 
The Flyers managed to weather the dangerous seas of the early first period, where more often than not lately, they've been conceding rather than scoring goals. 
They opened the scoring on the power play, when a 1-3-1 look had its way with the Panthers' PK unit and Brayden Schenn scored on a goal that probably drew some laughs. The play was designed to find Scott Hartnell in the slot, where he's done a ton of damage this season. The Panthers were keen to him, but he was still open when Claude Giroux sent a pass through the middle. But, as if drawn up this way, Harts fanned on the shot, and the pass went straight to Schenn, who put it past Jose Theodore. 
Theodore appeared to bite on the belief that Harts' shot was coming his way, and Schenn didn't miss on his one-timer opp. Don't worry, Hartnell would get his too. 
The defense was pretty tight early despite missing some key players, and they kept the quality opportunities to a minimum. Matt Carle showed how much the D is in tune with doing their part for their goalie, attacking Jack Skille for running into Bryz. Definitely arguable that maybe Skille didn't have much choice with Carle riding him pretty hard, which almost makes it even better that Carle objected so much. 
Matt Read tagged his name on the rookie wall again, picking up his 19th of the season on a dirty rebound in tight to open up a second period the Flyers flat out dominated. They'd only score once more in the frame, but they held the edge most of the way. Hartnell tallied his 32nd of the season on a strip-steal and breakaway where he showed speed I'm not sure I've ever seen from him, then leaned on a hard wrister that flew over Theodore's glove hand.
The third period was much of the same, as the Flyers continued to pull away. Blocked shots aplenty, big saves by Bryzgalov, and two more goals. Jaromir Jagr was said to be unlikely to play in this one, and he had limited minutes early, skating with the fourth line and second power play unit while Schenn flanked on the G line. But Jags had energy in reserve, and he blazed a wrist shot past Theodore. The weight of his shots can be amazing, scoring despite hitting the goalie, and then the bare-hand salute comes out… 
Eric Wellwood continues to play well when given the opportunity, and he picked up his third goal of the season and fifth point in just seven games. This guy's just begging for some playing time. 
Notes:Not sure what Danny Briere did to piss off the hockey gods, but they're still holding a grudge. The good news is, despite staying on the snakebite, Briere played a great game, generating opportunities and picking up a pair of assists.&nb
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Brandon Manning had a solid NHL debut, minimizing mistakes and cashing in with a plus-2 evening. He was even Bryz's LOL of the night, when the Russian goalie made reference to his being released by the Colts earlier today. 
The Flyers were 2/4 on the power play and perfect on four kills. 
Carle had four of the Flyers' 18 blocked shots. 
That's 10 straight starts for Bryz. Will he sit one of the two games this weekend? Timing's right...
Highlights:

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.