Flyers’ secondary scorers need to step up

Flyers’ secondary scorers need to step up

Jake Voracek: zero goals. Sean Couturier: zero goals. Matt Read: zero goals. Scott Hartnell: zero goals (and injured). Claude Giroux: zero goals. Greg Paone: zero goals. Enrico Campitelli Jr: zero goals. Nick Menta: zero goals.

Ok, so the last three people on that list write for this website and do not play for the Flyers so that should get the point across that the Orange and Black’s offense has struggled immensely so far during the young NHL season.

Through the new campaign’s first eight games, the Flyers have netted just 11 goals, which ties them with Thursday’s opponent, the New York Rangers, for the lowest total in the league.

It should come as no surprise that the Flyers’ record stands at 1-7 and they have a league-worst two points.

It’s pretty safe to say that Philadelphia’s offense needs some type of spark to finally get going. And that spark needs to come from the team’s secondary scorers. Pronto.

You’re probably thinking, “No one is scoring. How can anyone be a secondary scorer?”

Touché. But I’m referring to the guys that were considered secondary scorers heading into the season. I’m talking about the Reads, Couturiers, Brayden Schenns and Wayne Simmonds of the world.

These guys have to get their respective offensive games going to not only get the team some goals, but to relieve some of the immense pressure off the Flyers’ supposed-to-be premier scorers Giroux and whoever plays alongside him, which, heading into Thursday’s visit from the Rangers, looks to now be Vincent Lecavalier and rookie Michael Raffl, and Voracek.

Even though he hasn’t really showed it much through eight games and may or may not still be feeling the effects of offseason hand surgery, Giroux is an elite NHL player. Voracek also hasn’t played like he’s capable of and may still be dealing with a back injury. They will still have to go up against the opponent’s top defensemen throughout the majority of a game. That’s not great news for guys that have been struggling out of the gate.

Take tonight's Rangers game for example. Even though they sit at minus-7 and minus-8 respectively because of New York’s similarly slow start, Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal will likely be on the ice most of the time against Giroux and Voracek. Ryan McDonagh, who isn’t having as bad a start as his fellow New York defensemen, will also likely see time against Giroux and Voracek. Those Rangers blue-liners are still capable of playing like top-level shutdown defensemen despite their slow starts to the season.

The fact is Giroux and Voracek are going to get a ton of attention even if they are struggling. That’s where the secondary scorers have to step up, especially with those guys struggling.

Schenn has two goals but one was a gift into wide-open net after Florida goalie Tim Thomas misplayed a bounce off the boards on a dump in. Simmonds scored his first goal of the season last week against the Penguins but he’s fanned and whiffed on a season’s worth of passes and shots through eight games. Read has come close with a few posts hit but still hasn’t found paydirt. And Couturier really hasn’t done anything noticeable thus far.

Let’s face it. Through eight games, Tye McGinn leads the Flyers with three goals. McGinn has played in just three of those eight games. Good for McGinn but… Oof, Flyers. Oof.

With the Flyers’ top guys not playing the way they’re capable of, it’s time for these secondary scorers to get going and give the team the offensive punch and spark it so desperately needs.  They are going to get their chances as teams continue to focus on Giroux and Voracek.

Schenn, Simmonds, Read and Couturier have all shown in the past that they’re capable of putting the puck in the net somewhat consistently and have shown they can get on hot streaks. Now is the time for one or two or all of them to do so and spark the Flyers’ sleepy offense. The talent is there to do so.

Maybe a visit from the almost-equally lousy Rangers is just what the doctor ordered.

This was a guest post by Greg Paone

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Aaron Altherr, activated by the Phillies Thursday afternoon, bats fifth and plays right field in his season debut in Atlanta. 

Sometimes one hitter can make a lineup look much different. Altherr's presence in the middle of the Phillies order provides them with three power hitters, something they've seldom had this season. He provides some protection out of the five-hole for Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco, who precede him.

Cesar Hernandez remains in the leadoff spot for the Phillies after going 3 for 4 with a walk Wednesday to raise his batting average to .290. 

Cody Asche may soon lose playing time as the Phils' outfield picture gets more crowded, but for now his lineup spot appears safe. With Peter Bourjos on the DL, Asche gets the start in left field and bats eighth.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Carlos Ruiz, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Cody Asche, LF
9. Aaron Nola, P

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

The player who was projected to be the Phillies' opening day rightfielder and No. 5 hitter is finally ready to play. The Phils on Thursday reinstated outfielder Aaron Altherr from the disabled list after he missed the season's first 103 games with a wrist injury.

Altherr takes the 25-man roster spot of Peter Bourjos, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder sprain.

Altherr, 25, impressed with power late last season, hitting .241/.338/.489 for the Phillies with 11 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 22 RBIs in 161 plate appearances. 

He tore a tendon sheath in his wrist on a diving catch attempt early in spring training, had surgery and missed about four months in total. The Phils were patient with Altherr during his rehab assignment, giving him the full 20 days before making the decision to add him to the active roster. In 13 games at four different levels during the rehab stint, Altherr went 14 for 41 (.341) with two doubles, a homer and seven walks.

Bourjos injured his shoulder running into the wall at Marlins Park earlier this week. The injury will keep him from being traded ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, but Bourjos could be moved in August. He hit .410 in June but was slumping before the injury, hitting .148 over his last 14 games.

Marlins reinstate 2B Dee Gordon after 80-game drug ban

Marlins reinstate 2B Dee Gordon after 80-game drug ban

MIAMI — Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon issued an apology on Twitter addressed primarily to his young fans as he returned from an 80-game suspension for a positive drug test.

"I know I let you down, and I'm sorry," Gordon said in a video. "Complacency led me to this, and I'm hurt. I urge you guys to be more responsible than I am about what goes into your body. I wouldn't wish this on anyone."

Gordon, who won the NL batting and stolen base titles last year, was reinstated before Thursday's game against St. Louis.

Gordon tested positive for two performance-enhancing substances and was suspended in late April. Gordon acknowledged in April that he unknowingly took the banned substances.

Marlins president David Samson said then that the second baseman had betrayed the team and its fans. On Wednesday, Samson said the Marlins are glad to have Gordon back.

"I believe that America and our fans and our players and us, we're a pretty forgiving society," Samson said. "It's important Dee ask for that forgiveness, and he has, and he'll receive that. He's got to continue to work to get himself back in with his teammates and the fans and my son."

In his video, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Gordon said he learned from his mistake.

"I thought being the smallest guy I would never fail a drug test," he said. "I didn't pay attention at all and I didn't meet the standards. That's my fault and no one else's. But don't give up on me."

To make room on the roster for Gordon, the Marlins designated for assignment infielder Don Kelly, who had two triples in Sunday's victory. Even without Gordon, the Marlins have remained in contention for their first playoff berth since 2003.

Last year Gordon batted .333, stole 58 bases, became an All-Star for the second time and won his first Gold Glove. The season earned him a $50 million, five-year contract in January.