Flyers-Sabres Game 6: Leighton In, Flyers Must Win

Flyers-Sabres Game 6: Leighton In, Flyers Must Win

With no single right or wrong answer in net today, we're reminded that this Flyers team was built for that question not to be a dire concern. The depth at every skating position is designed to obviate the need for a true #1. Whether that's actually true or not (especially with recent injuries), we'll have all summer to reflect on it. Today, the forwards and defensmen need to play as though there's a trash can in net. The goalie needs to play like his team may only score a single goal. No more softies. No bad rebounds. The softie allotment has been expended this series. All eyes are on the man in the Flyers' crease.


Just before game time, CSN is reporting that Michael Leighton will start the Flyers, meaning the team will start three different goalies in six games. You couldn't have written this story in training camp, but growing up a Flyers fan, it's not exactly science fiction either...

No matter who's on the ice today from the forwards to the crease, the  Flyers need to play an exceptional game in all facets. The Sabres have  shown us that they will win if given any opening. If they don't come  home with a win, the criticism will be heavy on players and coaching  staff alike. There is no time left to get anything figured out. They  need to win today on their strengths, despite the weaknesses we know  they have.

Perhaps the biggest question is whether the power play can get its act together when it matters most. Tim Panaccio reports that JVR was taking the front-of-the-net role in the limited practice they ran yesterday. He was out with Giroux and Briere, with Richie and Kimmo at the points. I like it. Although JVR's not a garbage goal man, he has the size to protect the real estate and the hands to do the deflection and shovel work the position demands. But more than that, he's been the best player on the ice for the Flyers this series, and I like that Lavvy is saddling him with a big part of the responsibility to get the power play on the board when the team needs it most.

At various points over the past calendar year, the team has played very well in front of each of the goalies. However, it likely wasn't easy for Lavvy to sleep last night, because if the Flyers are downed by the Sabres and his goalie of choice allows even one questionable goal, the decisions throughout the series and especially today will be pointed to as the primary reason.

History may not recall that this has been a very tight series, with each game being very close and very good. Both teams are playing some great hockey, making each other pay for mistakes. But there's no comfort in that if the Flyers do not advance out of this series. For the first time all season, the Flyers face a must-win game. Their fight to come back from a 3-0 deficit on Friday reminded us of what we saw last season, which is that they can't be counted out. They're absolutely good enough to hang a few on Ryan Miller and shut the Sabres' offense out.

As of this writing, we're still waiting on the Chris Pronger status update. Pronger was on the first bus over to the arena, and they'll probably need to tie him down to something if he is not going to play. [Update: Looks like Pronger is indeed going to play. Ben Holmstrom will try to fill Zac Rinaldo's big shoes in taking the Jeff Carter roster spot.]

It's time to pull out all the stops if he can play, and every player on the ice needs to play like the Stanley Cup is waiting in the tunnel. If not, they won't get anywhere near the hardware this spring.

Canada wins World Cup, rallying to beat Europe 2-1

Canada wins World Cup, rallying to beat Europe 2-1

TORONTO -- Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal with 43.1 seconds left and Canada beat Team Europe 2-1 on Thursday night to win the World Cup of Hockey.

The Canadians won the best-of-three finals 2-0.

Patrice Bergeron tied it with a power-play goal with 2:53 left in the third, and Marchand won it with a shot from the slot.

Canada has won 16 straight games, including two Olympic gold medals, since losing to the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics.

Carey Price made 32 saves for the Canadians, who started slow before ending the tournament with a furious rally that fired up a once-quiet crowd.

Zdeno Chara scored early for Europe, and Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for the eight-nation team.

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament with three goals and a World Cup-high 10 points.

After getting that award, he was presented with a silver World Cup of Hockey trophy and he skated with it around the ice just months after hosting the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career.

He set up the tying goal, passing the puck off the boards to Brent Burns, whose shot just inside the blue line was redirected by Bergeron's raised stick.

Crosby was stewing after each of the first two periods.

When the game was over, he was sporting an ear-to-ear smile.

The Canadians closed the game in impressive fashion after a lackluster start.

In front of an unenthusiastic crowd and a lot of empty seats in the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canadians started flat and the Europeans made them pay for their apparent apathy.

Unlike the last two times Canada trailed briefly to the U.S. and Russia, it could not come back against Europe quickly.

It looked as if it wasn't going to be Canada's night when John Tavares had a wide-open net to shoot into, but hit the right post from the bottom of the right circle. Earlier in the same shift, the New York Islanders forward missed the net on a one-timer opportunity.

Canada averaged 4.4 goals over the first five games of the tournament, giving Price plenty of support. It didn't score as much in the final game of the tournament, but two goals were enough to win thanks to Price.

Chara, a Slovakian and Boston Bruins defenseman, scored from the left circle with a wrist shot through traffic two teammates created in front of the net off a short, soft pass from Andrej Sekera in the slot.

Crosby was part of a scrum at the end of the first period in which his helmet was knocked off near Europe's net at the end of the first period. After the horn sounded to end the second, Crosby lingered on the ice to shot at Swiss defenseman Roman Josi.

Crosby was clearly frustrated, playing with a pair of Boston Bruins, Marchand and Bergeron, who had combined for 22 points through the first five games.

Europe outshot the Canadians 12-8 after the first period and 27-21 after the second.

The Canadians had three power plays over the first two periods and failed to take advantage, falling to 2 for 17 with an extra skater. On one of their power plays, they needed Price to make stops on breakaways.

Canada had a man advantage again early in the third period, but only got one shot on Halak, a Slovak and Islanders standout, on the possibly pivotal power play.

Crosby had a chance to score with 7-plus minutes left, but Halak kicked the shot away with his right skate.

Europe seemed as if it had a chance to score late when Drew Doughty was called for high-sticking with just under 2 minutes left, but Canada was the team that took advantage when Marchand got the puck into open space and beat Halak with a shot to win the first World Cup since 2004.

Instant Replay: Braves 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Braves 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Jeremy Hellickson’s final start of the season — and possibly his final one with the Phillies — was cut short by a sprained right knee Thursday night (see story).

Hellickson left the game against the Atlanta Braves after 3 1/3 innings.

The Phillies ended up losing, 5-2, in their final game at Turner Field. The Braves swept the three-game series. The Phillies have lost six of their last seven and are 70-89.

The Phillies went 82-91 over 20 years of visiting Turner Field. The Braves will move into a new stadium next season.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson gave up just one hit and no runs in his 3 1/3 innings. He walked none.

The right-hander finished the season 12-10 in a career-high 32 starts. He tied a career high with 189 innings. His final ERA of 3.71 was his best since he recorded a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts for Tampa Bay in 2012.

Hellickson is eligible for free agency this winter. The Phillies would like to get draft-pick compensation if Hellickson signs elsewhere, but they must extend him a $17 million qualifying offer for 2017 and he must reject the offer in order for the club to get that pick.

Atlanta’s Josh Collmenter pitched seven innings and held the Phillies to one run. He gave up six hits, walked none and struck out four.

Bullpen report
Struggling Jeanmar Gomez entered a tie game in the bottom of the eighth inning. He gave up a walk and a tie-breaking double as the Braves took the lead. The Braves scored three more times against Gomez in the frame to put the game away.

At the plate
Odubel Herrera’s RBI single in the third inning gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was the Phillies’ 600th run of the season. They were the last team in the majors to get there.

Aaron Altherr cut the Braves' lead to three with a two-out RBI single in the ninth.

Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson tied the game at 1-1 with a solo homer against Colton Murray in the sixth.

Swanson walked and scored the go-ahead run on Matt Kemp’s double against Gomez in the bottom of the eighth.

Up next
The Phillies return home Friday night for the final three-game series of the season. They will play the New York Mets, who are battling for the National League wild card. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday night — RHP Alec Asher (2-0, 1.66) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (3-2, 2.56)

Saturday afternoon — RHP Phil Klein (0-0, 12.15) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (14-8, 3.42)

Sunday afternoon — RHP Jerad Eickhoff (11-14, 3.72) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60)

Sunday afternoon’s season finale starts at 3:05 p.m. The team will make a special on-field presentation to Ryan Howard at 2:30.

Howard did not play Thursday night. He is expected to start all three games against the Mets. The Phillies will not pick up Howard’s contract option for 2017 and he will become a free agent.

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