Flyers-Sabres Game 2: Split 'Em Up

Flyers-Sabres Game 2: Split 'Em Up

The Flyers may have yielded a chunk of their home ice advantage with their loss on Thursday night, but with a win today and a split in the first pair, the Eastern Conference's top road team should still be in plenty good shape. Despite the frustrating 1-0 result, the Flyers showed some great things in the opener. There's certainly room for some very specific improvements though, and no room for regression in any areas. 

 

Image by Fresh Design/Doug Zenzel

For instance, they can't afford not to come out hungry and ready to hit and grind out puck battles. That was something they did well early in the opener and can't dial back at all. If anything, they need to ratchet it up, and they have to keep it going whether they falter or not. The Sabres showed that they can exploit a mistake, and to be honest, I don't think we saw the best of what they have to offer either. The Flyers need to prepare for an even better Buffalo effort today. And, as just about everyone has rightly suggested, they need to do a better job of making Ryan Miller uncomfortable. 

They appeared to be well on their way to executing that strategy in game 1, when before the five-minute mark, they already had Miller throwing his catching glove into Mike Richards' face. They seemed to let up though, and after their power play's futility climaxed with a failed half-minute of 5-on-3 action and the Sabres found the net, the Flyers were pressing in the wrong ways. Carrying the puck into traffic. Shooting at defenders (although credit the Sabres for some masterful shot blocking). I'm all for confidence, but not if it's going to lead to turnovers. 

Today, it's gotta be somebody's job to trespass, if not vandalize, that crease. Scottie Hartnell, you know your talents. Of course, it doesn't have to be any one guy, and the other edge of the sword is the need to stay out of the box to the degree possible. Hartnell is a known goalie antagonist, and he and the others will be watched for exactly this strategy. 

On the right side of the law, the Flyers need to generate more traffic out in front, with any luck doubling up the screen width by keeping a defender busy in tight as well. The problem is, Ryan Miller is pretty good at picking up shots through screens, as he showed on Thursday. The Flyers actually did a lot of the stuff they need to do today, it just didn't happen for them due to a combination of missed targets, great goalie positioning, and blocked shots. 

Defensively, the Flyers were very good overall. If they replicate that effort, and Sergei Bobrovsky can be as solid as he was on Thursday, that should be enough to support an offensive showing of two or three goals. 

A few of us will be at the game today, so it may be a while before you hear anything further. 

LET'S GO FLYERS

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Following a day off, the Phillies continue their roadtrip with the start of a three-game set with the New York Mets.

Ryan Howard will bat in the heart of the Phillies order with Cameron Rupp at catcher following the trade of Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup remains mostly the same as it was prior to a brief two-game series with American League rules.

With Ruiz's trade, Howard is the last remaining member of the Phillies' 2008 World Series team. He'll try to throw back to that time against the ageless Bartolo Colon. 

Howard has good power numbers against Colon. He has just six hits in 28 at-bats, but has drawn three walks and has three home runs against the 43-year-old starter. There are only 18 pitchers he has faced more often than Colon.

At catcher, Rupp had already inherited the starting job from Ruiz, but he is now the backstop with more experience in Philadelphia. The Phillies called up prospect Jorge Alfaro for now, but he will likely remain on the bench and be sent down when A.J. Ellis reports this weekend. 

Rupp has five hits in 14 at-bats against Colon. He has faced only the Braves' Julio Teheran more times than Colon in his four-year career. The five hits are tied for his most against any one pitcher (Teheran).

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Colon and the Mets. 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Adam Morgan, P

Awwwwe: Chooch leaves his Phillies teammates a love note on clubhouse white board

chooch.jpg

Awwwwe: Chooch leaves his Phillies teammates a love note on clubhouse white board

As if you didn't think you could love Carlos Ruiz any more...

Chooch was traded on Thursday afternoon and he's since departed for the potentially playoff-bound pastures with his new-again teammate Chase Utley and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But not before he left his Phillies teammates a loving note in the clubhouse.

Courtesy of Phillies beat reporter Jim Salisbury.

It reads:

"I will miss all of you guys. Good luck the rest of the season. Love you all, Chooch! (Gracias)"

Awwwwwwwwe.

NHL Notes: Brandon Pirri, Rangers agree to terms on one-year deal

NHL Notes: Brandon Pirri, Rangers agree to terms on one-year deal

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Brandon Pirri on a $1.1 million, one-year deal.

The 25-year-old Pirri spent last season with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks, recording 14 goals and 15 assists in 61 games. His 29 points were a career high.

A second-round pick, 59th overall, in the 2009 draft, Pirri has been traded twice and was considered a potential bargain in NHL free agency. Pirri is something of a shootout specialist, scoring on five of his six attempts last season, and that 83.3 percent success rate ranked first among players with at least five attempts.

In 166 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Panthers and Ducks, Pirri has 49 goals and 31 assists for 90 points.

Enroth replaces injured Lerner for Sweden at World Cup
NEW YORK -- With goaltender Robin Lehner still not fully healthy, Sweden replaced him on its World Cup of Hockey roster with Jhonas Enroth.

The Buffalo Sabres' starting goalie was bothered by a right ankle injury for much of last season that limited him to 21 NHL games. Lehner underwent surgery in March and had been working to get ready for the World Cup, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.

"We really wanted to give Robin the opportunity to recover from his injury from last year, but unfortunately it wasn't enough time for him to feel 100 percent recovered," coach Rikard Gronborg said in a statement released by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

Concussion problems held Lehner to 23 games in 2014-15, and he looked to be over those after the Ottawa Senators traded him to Buffalo at the 2015 draft. The 25-year-old injured his ankle early in the season opener and aggravated it in March.

It was not immediately clear when the Sabres expect Lehner to be back to 100 percent.

"As Robin continues to progress during the offseason in his rehab from last season's ankle injury, he felt that it was best to withdraw from Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup," Buffalo general manager Tim Murray said in a statement. "Robin felt it was important to continue his rehab in Buffalo to prepare for training camp. He has been working out both on and off the ice and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with our team next month."

Enroth, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, recently signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden's roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game. He started for Sweden at the 2013 and 2015 world hockey championships, winning gold in 2013 with a 1.15 GAA and .956 save percentage (see full story).