Flyers to Host the Suddenly Powerhouse Nashville Predators

Flyers to Host the Suddenly Powerhouse Nashville Predators

Let's face it: more than a decade after the Predators' inaugural season, the words "Nashville" and "hockey" still don't make a ton of sense. Add in those mustard yellow jerseys and it becomes increasingly difficult not to ask the, "So is this really the same league with the Red Wings and Maple Leafs and Canadiens?" question.

But yes, apparently it is, because the Nashville Predators are outplaying and outscoring just about everyone right now.

Tied with Vancouver for the second most points in the Western Conference (66), Nashville is a remarkable 13-2-0 in their last 15 games.

And according to CSNPhilly's Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baiker, things aren't going to bode well for the Flyers should they surrender the first goal this evening:

Perhaps even more daunting for the Flyers, who are notoriously s-l-o-w starters at home this season, Nashville’s record says much when it scores first – 21-2-3.

Allow the Preds the first goal tonight, and well, the Flyers will likely finish 0-2 against them this season.

The first loss to which they're referring came just 19 days ago when the Flyers were downed 4-2 in Nashville. Goaltender Pekka Rinne turned aside 28 of the Flyers 30 shots in the Predators win, a game that no doubt helped him record his brilliant 1.92 GAA and .935 SV% in the month of January. Thankfully for the Flyers, Rinne will not be in goal this evening.  Rather, the Flyers will attempt to do damage against backup netminder Anders Lindback, who will be making just his sixth start of the season. In an e-mail earlier this afternoon, our own Matt P. labeled this turn of events as "good."

As for the Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov will continue his quest to right the ship with his second straight post-All Star start this evening.

On the injury front, both Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk were held out of practice yesterday and remain sidelined indefinitely with concussions. Forward Zac Rinaldo, meanwhile, has been cleared to play, necessitating Ben Holmstrom's re-shipping to Adirondack.

Of note, after Tuesday's OT loss to Winnipeg, the Flyers are just 11-7-4 at home this year (so, functionally 11-11) as compared to 18-7-2 on the road. They have dropped their last three straight at the Wells Fargo Center. Can the Orange & Black give the people something to cheer about tonight, or is the pressure of sending the fans home happy perhaps getting to this young team?

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Video of coach Peter Laviolette discussing tonight's matchup and Danny Briere on his head injury below:

Shady McCoy hung up on the Pittsburgh media after party question

Shady McCoy hung up on the Pittsburgh media after party question

Eagles fans likely yearn for LeSean McCoy's days in Philadelphia. Not only is Shady still beasting on the field for the Buffalo Bills this season, he's also entertaining per usual off of it.

The latest instance comes thanks to the Bills matchup this week with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the pro team in the city where Shady spent his formative years.

A Pittsburgh reporter on Wednesday's conference call, for some reason, decided to ask Shady about that infamous "females only" party he was going to host. You remember that one, don't you? The "no weird orgy thing" one?

Shady would eventually go on to cancel that party and plan another one DJ'd by Donald Trump -- the dude was ahead of his time.

But that doesn't mean he wants to talk about it all.

To be fair, who really wants to talk to the media anyway?

Phils lose LHP in Rule 5 draft, exit winter meetings balancing present with future

Phils lose LHP in Rule 5 draft, exit winter meetings balancing present with future

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The winter meetings ended Thursday morning with the Phillies sitting out the Rule 5 draft. The Phillies’ roster was at the 40-man limit and that prohibited the team from making a pick.

The Phils did lose one player in the draft as reliever Hoby Milner was selected by the Cleveland Indians. 

Milner, who turns 26 in January, is a left-hander who recently switched to a side-arm delivery. He had a 2.49 ERA in 49 games at Double A and Triple A in 2016.

Milner was eligible for the draft because he was not protected on the 40-man roster last month. The Indians selected him for $50,000. He must stay in the big leagues all season or be offered back to the Phillies for $25,000.

Andrew Pullin was a player the Phillies feared losing, but they hung on to the lefty-hitting outfielder. Pullin, 23, hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

The Phillies selected one player, infielder Jorge Flores, in the minor-league phase of the draft. Flores had been in the Toronto system.

The Phils lost one player, 25-year-old pitcher Jairo Munoz, to Tampa Bay in the minor-league phase. Munoz pitched in the low minors in 2016.

With the winter meetings behind them, Phillies officials will head back to Citizens Bank Park to complete the construction of their 2017 roster. So far this winter, the Phils have re-signed starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and added outfielder Howie Kendrick and relievers Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek and David Rollins.

Remaining on the Phillies’ to-do list is adding a backup infielder – Andres Blanco could return – and deciding whether to pursue a veteran hitter to play a corner outfield spot or give an opportunity to a young tandem such as Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr. 

General manager Matt Klentak spoke often during the week about that balance he is trying to strike between improving the 2017 club while keeping intact long-range goals.

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside – that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

Time will tell which way the Phillies go on this matter.