Bryzgalov Posts Third Straight Shutout, Danny Finally Lights the Lamp

Bryzgalov Posts Third Straight Shutout, Danny Finally Lights the Lamp

Well, the Flyers finally put it all together—creating pressure, capitalizing on offensive opportunities, stifling opposing attacks, and of course, getting stellar goaltending. Ilya Bryzgalov earned his third consecutive shutout and his fourth in five games. En route to a 3-0 Flyers win, Bryz had some great support, but the Devils also sent some dangerous shots his way, and he needed to be sharp. 
The boys in front of him gave full effort, killing what could have been some devastating penalties. Gone was the lethargy that characterized their entire Sunday night performance against this same Devils team, replaced with end-to-end skating, hard checking, and some great teamwork that resulted in one goal scorer breaking a hell of a cold snap. 
Despite playing his ass off, Danny Briere needed to be a little lucky to score his first goal in 23 games. Not only did it come with Martin Brodeur pulled, but Danny's first attempt on the empty cage was also blocked. It bounced right back to him though, and he wasn't going to be denied twice. I think everyone in the building shared in his jubilation as he skated over to the boards and tried to hug the entire arena at once. 
Sean Couturier opened the scoring in the second period with a tally that was a nice encapsulation of the Flyers' night. The fourth line was out for an offensive zone faceoff against the Devils' top line, won the faceoff, then scored an opportunistic goal. Braydon Coburn banked a shot off the rear boards, and your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell happened to Brodeur on this one. 
That's not the hardest goal Cooter will score, but it was a huge one. 
Danny Briere's snakebitten streak has gotten plenty of attention, and rightfully so. But, especially lately, he's been making noticeable contributions without scoring, working hard along the boards and generating some strong opportunities. Tonight, that hard work resulted in the Flyers' second goal, with Danny controlling the puck behind the net under pressure, then getting it out front for Jake Voracek, who popped it home. 
Voracek was of course making his return from a few games off after getting absolutely trucked by Nicklas Kronwall. There was no evidence of any cobwebs or rust, as Vorch was one of the top players on the ice from start to finish. 
And of course, Danny finished it off, with a little help from Voracek, who could have kept the shot for himself and had his way with the empty net. Instead, he passed it off to a teammate who needed a goal infusion. 
Watching it live, I couldn't figure out where the puck went on the first one. It seemed to disappear, then reappear on Danny's stick before bulging the net. 
The shutout streak was upheld despite some tough minutes on the penalty kill, including a 4-minute Devils man advantage for a high stick by Nick Grossmann. 
New Jersey managed only one shot on goal during the entire kill. 
There were also a pair of terrible interference calls on Scott Hartnell, but the first mostly just wiped out a Flyers' power play, and the second saw him take Eric Boulton off with him. Check out the video on those calls here. 
Another great moment came when Bryz had lost his stick and had to use—and make a save with—Erik Gustafsson's twig. His overall game is locked in, with perfect positioning on first efforts and quick resets in preparation for seconds. During his struggles at other times in the season, Bryz seemed to under- or overreact to shots, the latter taking him out of position. Now, he is playing within the pipes, and snapping back any time he comes out for a save. He didn't have to make a massive amount of saves—just 17—but he just about all of them look easy with his positioning. 
No Flyers goalie has posted three straight shutouts since John Vanbiesbrouck in 1999. At 196:13 of scoreless time, Bryz is still behind Beezer's two such streaks as a Flyer, which came in at 227:40 and 218:42, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (via the Flyers). 
After turning in an absolute dud in Jersey, the Flyers played one of their best, most complete games of the season. Everyone had a good night, some even better than that. 

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.