Flyers in Sunrise for One Last Pre-All-Star Tilt

Flyers in Sunrise for One Last Pre-All-Star Tilt

The NHL All-Star Game and its associated break seem to be coming at just the right time for the Flyers, who have a few key forwards missing time due to injuries. Tonight's matchup in The Middle of Nowhere, Florida, is the final stop before most of the team gets a week off. Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, Matt Read, and Sean Couturier all head to Ottawa, where they'll be part of the festivities.

It's nearing the end of January, and to be honest, I wouldn't have believed you if you told me the Florida Panthers would be leading the Southeast Division at this point in the season. Part of that is the Washington Capitals not living up to the high expectations everyone had after they only seemed to get better in the off-season, but the work the Panthers have done can't be tossed aside even though they'd be in fifth place were they in the Atlantic Division. Riiiiight? [/masking bias against Southeast Division...]

However, the Panthers have fallen on hard times recently, enduring a slump that makes the Flyers win some-lose some January look a lot better in comparison. A few more notes on the game below, including a look at the familiar face leading the Panthers' attack.

Since December 20th, Florida has won just four games, while losing 10. They did win their last game, taking the extra point off the Winnipeg Jets in a shootout. Hopefully we won't see tonight's game go to that distance. After Sunday, a game in which we saw some of the most entertaining and electric hockey settled in an event better suited for the coming weekend, I don't think I can take another shootout so soon.

The Panthers do lead the league in mercy points, with their slot in the standings owed in part to 10 overtime losses.

Fans were excited when Kris Versteeg came to Philly at last year's trade deadline. His production wasn't quite what everyone expected, and without getting into why (we're not actually sure why), he was part of the jettison this past summer. Kris has found a friendly landing in Florida, where he leads the team in goals (19) and points (42). I never had any problem with Versteeg, almost a little happy to see him doing well.

Versteeg was a key contributor in the Panthers' win over Winnipeg, credited with a pair of goals and an assist. But, before that, he hadn't scored a goal since December 27th, and had only one point since then. Hopefully he didn't just find a groove that continues tonight.

The vibes coming out of the Flyers' loss to Boston were somewhat sour, particularly toward Ilya Bryzgalov, who couldn't stop a single shot in the shootout. But the team proved it could hang with an elite conference foe; it was just one of those endings that deflates all that came just before it.

Sergei Bobrovsky gets the road start tonight. Puck drop is at 7:30.

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

The Phillies were beaten, 4-0, by the Washington Nationals on Monday night, but wins and losses don’t matter as much as development in a rebuilding season, so there was a bright spot: Rookie right-hander Jake Thompson finally broke through with a good start in holding the Nats to two runs over seven innings.
 
The Phillies’ offense was not good. It produced just four hits on the night.
 
Washington got all the offense it needed when Jayson Werth, the second batter of the game, homered off Thompson in the first inning.

The Nats lead the NL East at 76-55. The Phils are 60-71.
 
The crowd of 16,056 was the smallest of the season at Citizens Bank Park.
 
Starting pitching report
Thompson had struggled in four starts — 9.78 ERA — since arriving from Triple A and there were questions whether he’d even make this start. But he put together a nice outing. After giving up two runs in the first inning, he pitched six straight scoreless innings, finishing his outing with three strikeouts, the last of which came on his 111th pitch when he froze Trea Turner with a breaking ball with two men on base. Thompson allowed seven hits — four in the first three innings — and walked one.
 
Washington right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings to improve to 14-7. He held the Phils to four hits and a walk and struck out five.

Roark is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA (two earned runs in 28 innings) in four starts against the Phillies this season. The Nats are 15-4 in his last 19 starts.

Bullpen report
Frank Herrmann gave up two runs in the ninth.
 
At the plate
Odubel Herrera had two of the Phillies’ four hits.
 
Werth’s homer in the top of the first was his 19th. Anthony Rendon drove in a run with a two-out single in that inning. Clint Robinson and Turner had RBI singles in the ninth to push the Nats’ lead to 4-0.
 
ICYMI
Herrera is staying in center field for the remainder of the season, Pete Mackanin said (see story).
 
Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Jerad Eickhoff (9-12, 3.87) pitches against Washington right-hander Max Scherzer (14-7, 2.92).

Eagles sign Soul DT Jake Metz following workout

Eagles sign Soul DT Jake Metz following workout

Jake Metz has gone from the Soul to the Eagles.

Soul majority owner Ron Jaworski on Monday night tweeted a congratulatory message about the defensive tackle signing with the Eagles.

Metz and Soul wide receiver Darius Reynolds, fresh off an ArenaBowl title last Friday, worked out for the Eagles this afternoon before practice. Metz is the 74th player on the roster, which means the team is still below the next cut line — which is Tuesday at 4 p.m. — of 75. The Eagles' roster has to be at 53 by 4 p.m. on Sept. 3.

Metz, 25, graduated from Souderton Area High School and played his college ball at Shippensburg University. For the Arena Football League champions, Metz posted Soul highs in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (10).

Pete Mackanin says Odubel Herrera will stay in CF this season — but beyond?

Pete Mackanin says Odubel Herrera will stay in CF this season — but beyond?

A couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said there was a chance he could look at Odubel Herrera in a corner outfield spot over the final weeks of the season.

Scrub that idea.

“Not this year,” Mackanin said Monday. “If we decide we're going to do that, we'll encourage him to play a corner in winter ball and then in spring training, if that's what we decide to do.

“I thought about doing that. But I don't know if we want to do that now. We’ll just let him get back on track offensively. I won't say it won't happen here or there. But we're not going to make that move right now.

“Let's try to keep his mind as uncluttered as possible right now. It looks a little cluttered.”

The Phillies have thought about moving Herrera to a corner spot because they have a top center field prospect in Roman Quinn. Also, Aaron Altherr is an excellent defender in center.

Quinn seemed to be on target for a call up after the Eastern League playoffs, but that could be in doubt now that he’s on the disabled list with a concussion.

Still, Quinn may be this club’s centerfielder of the future. And behind him is Mickey Moniak, this year’s top draft pick. He’s a ways away. But it’s worth wondering if the Phillies believe Herrera’s future is at a corner outfield spot. Or whether Herrera will be wintertime trade bait.

Mackanin was asked if he believed Herrera’s future would be in a corner spot.

“You know, I'd rather not really even comment on that,” he said. “I don't want him to think that we're not pleased with him. I just want to keep him confident the rest of the season.”

Herrera’s defense in center field has slipped this season.

“He was better last year defensively,” Mackanin said. “He's made a lot of mistakes this year. I think we've all seen that. But that doesn't mean he's not going to play center field anymore. There's another month left to see what happens.”

Herrera was the Phillies’ lone representative in the All-Star Game. He hit .294 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage before the All-Star break. Since then, however, he was hitting .252 with a .314 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage entering play Monday night.