The Flyers open the front end of back-to-back games this weekend this afternoon, hosting the Ottawa Senators at 1PM before heading to Pittsburgh for a possible first-round preview tomorrow. The Senators currently hold the seventh seed, having fallen off the Northeast-setting pace of the Bruins, who appear locked into the 2-slot. Ottawa can still be caught from below though, with Washington and Buffalo each only 2 points behind them and battling for the final spots in the East. Unlike the recent games against Tampa, Montreal, and Toronto, today's opponent has something huge to play for.
The Flyers can hit the 100-point mark with a win, but they'll have to do it without Ilya Bryzgalov, who will also likely miss tomorrow's game.
No Bryz Kid This WeekendThe Flyers say Ilya Bryzgalov is doubtful for this weekend, but he did put in a practice yesterday and could return for Tuesday night's game against the Rangers. With little to play for outside of momentum and a shot at home ice, I'm pretty sure no one in any Flyers circle is interested in rushing Bryz back. It would be nice to get a win against the Rangers though, and keep him sharp for what's bound to be a tough opening round.
Sergei Bobrovsky was solid in the 7-1 win over the Maple Leafs on Thursday, but he wasn't tested much. The Flyers have been effective in sealing off opposing shots, a fine goalie-independent trend heading into the playoffs. But, they did also allow some dangerous chances on turnovers and found their way behind the defense a few times. Jason Bac-a-chihuahua will likely be the backup again today.
Kimmo Ready?Homer also said Kimmo should be good to go after getting some rest. Comes a time in every player's career where he'll need a break here and there to mend, and we're there for Kimmo. Fortunately, that's all for now.
Offense Is Alive and WellTrue it was only the Maple Leafs, but the Flyers were downright menacing in their attack on Thursday. Danny Briere's goalless drought is over, and the combination of the attention he's drawing and his slick puckhandling/passing meant great things for his linemates.
It also allowed the top line to log fewer minutes. Scott Hartnell took a shot in the lower body and winced hard in pain, so we're not sure if that factored into his paltry playing time. But, his linemates also saw little of the ice as the game wore on, so it's probably nothing to worry about.
I Kinda Hate the SenatorsMaybe it dates back to the epic line brawl in 2004, but there seems to be a fair amount of bad blood between these teams despite no real reason for rivalry. Let's take a break and watch those, shall we?
Their games almost always get chippy, so today's should be interesting. Will the Sens be conservative in their quest to stay out of the box (the Flyers are 5/15 in power plays in the season series), while the Flyers try to stay healthy and not take the bait of a lesser team?
Those things may be planned for, but plans have a way of disintegrating after a few facewashes and slashes.
G vs. HartsEA Sports is pitting teammates against each other in their voting for cover of NHL 13. For the Flyers, that means Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell... Hartnell has a pretty funny twitter campaign going for fans creating covers (mostly #hartnelldown's), but he has some stiff competition with G in his bracket. Who you voting for?
We'll be at the Union and Sixers tonight, so you guys can be in charge of the recap. Cool?
Four … three … two …
Good thing the Phillies aren’t scheduled to play Thursday night or they might get one hit.
The Phils capped off three pathetic offensive performances in as many nights by being two-hit in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
The Phils were swept in the three-game series and they wasted three solid starts from Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan as they were held to four, three and two hits, respectively, in the three games.
Stay tuned Friday night to see if the Phils get one-hit by the Braves.
The National League East-leading Nationals have beaten the Phillies nine straight games since May.
The Phillies’ woeful showing at the plate in the series dropped their team batting average to .238, second-worst in the majors. Their on-base percentage is .296, worst in the majors.
“Nine hits in a three-game series just isn’t going to cut it,” manager Pete Mackanin said after Wednesday night’s loss, the Phillies’ seventh in the last nine games. "We’re not hitting the ball. We need more offense.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how general manager Matt Klentak addresses that in the offseason. The Phils have the money to add free agents, but the team is committed to building from within and using the free-agent market to find a finishing piece or two. The way things are right now, the Phils aren’t close enough to being good where a finishing piece would make a huge difference. They need some of the players that are here now – at least the ones that are staying – to make improvements and some of the talent that is in the minors to get to the majors and start making a difference before they’re ready for that put-them-over-the-top free agent.
The Phils were within striking distance to turn Wednesday’s game around. Cesar Hernandez walked in a one-run game to lead off the bottom of the ninth. That brought Odubel Herrera, the Phillies’ only All-Star in July, to the plate.
Would Mackanin ask Herrera to move Hernandez into scoring position with a bunt, or give him a shot to shoot one in the gap and possibly score Hernandez from first?
“I thought about bunting Herrera,” Mackanin said. “The fact that we’re not hitting and he’s one of our top average hitters, I decided not to bunt him, took a chance.”
Herrera, who has struggled since the All-Star Game, bounced into a double play on the first pitch he saw from lefty Marc Rzepczynski. Maikel Franco then grounded out to end the game. And the series.
Herrera, who has been doubled-up just twice this season, said he would have bunted if asked. But he was happy to swing away.
“I was ready to hit and do some damage,” he said.
The Phils didn’t do much damage in the series. But the Nationals did. And they did it early. They scored five first-inning runs in the series. Jayson Werth hit first-inning home runs in the first and third games.
Werth’s first-inning bomb Wednesday night was just that – a 453-foot shot into the camera well high above the wall in dead center against Morgan.
Even Werth was impressed with how far he hit the ball.
“I’ve been in some pretty cool places in this ballpark but never there,” he said.
Freddy Galvis tied the game with a homer against Gio Gonzalez in the fifth, but the Nats went ahead in the seventh when they rallied for a two-out run against Morgan. The lefty allowed a two-out double to Anthony Rendon to extend the inning and an RBI single to Wilson Ramos on a full-count pitch.
“I’ve got to be able to finish,” Morgan said.
Morgan did have the best of his 16 starts in the majors this season, giving up just the two runs and three hits. He enjoyed working with new catcher A.J. Ellis and Mackanin said he liked the way Ellis called the game.
Morgan pitched well enough that he could have had a different fate. The same could be said for Thompson and Eickhoff the previous two nights.
Four hits. Three hits. Two hits.
As Mackanin said, “Nine hits in a three-game series just isn’t going to cut it.”
Jon Dorenbos' magic run continues.
The Eagles' long snapper on Wednesday was voted into the finals of NBC's America's Got Talent.
Dorenbos performed this incredible trick Tuesday night to advance.
Shortly after receiving the results, Dorenbos expressed his gratitude.
Dorenbos will play in the Eagles' preseason finale on Thursday night. He'll get some time off from the show, as he was part of the first semifinals. The second semis round starts next week.
This is all super cool. Dorenbos' magic has lots of meaning. If you don't know about his story, read it here.
The Phillies’ losing streak against the Washington Nationals this season rose to nine games in a 2-1 loss Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phils gave up five first-inning runs and had just nine hits in being swept in the three-game series. They had four hits Monday night, three on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.
The Phils entered the game hitting .239 as a team. Only San Diego was worse in the majors.
The Phillies have lost three in a row and seven of their last nine.
Starting pitching report
Adam Morgan absorbed his ninth loss but had the best of his 16 starts in the majors this season. The lefty gave up a first-inning home run to Jayson Werth then did not allow another run until there were two outs in the seventh. He was one strike away from getting out of the frame with a 1-1 tie when he gave up a full-count RBI single to Wilson Ramos.
In all, Morgan gave up just three hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out five. He had entered the game with a 6.50 ERA and lowered it to 6.21.
Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (10-9) held the Phillies to two hits and a run over six innings.
Blake Treinen, Marc Rzepczynski and Shawn Kelley closed it out for the Nats. Manager Pete Mackanin pinch-hit Ryan Howard against the lefty Rzepczynski with two outs in the eighth. Howard, hitting .138 against lefties, struck out. Rzepczynski stayed on for the ninth. He walked Cesar Hernandez to lead off the frame then got Odubel Herrera to bounce into a double play before handing off to the righty Kelly. Herrera has two sacrifice bunts this season, but was not asked to get one down on this occasion.
At the plate
Freddy Galvis clubbed his 15th homer, a solo shot in the fifth, for the Phillies’ only run.
Werth’s homer in the first inning was his 20th of the season. It was a bomb to dead center. It came off the bat at 107 mph and traveled 453 feet. Werth also homered in the first inning of Monday night’s game. He has reached base safely in 55 of his last 57 games.
Ramos’ tie-breaking hit against Morgan came one batter after Anthony Rendon extended the seventh inning with a two-out double.
Ramos leads major-league catchers with 71 RBIs.
The Phillies will add three players from the minors on Friday (see story).
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
Friday night — RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 3.80) vs. RHP Joel De La Cruz (0-7, 4.66)
Saturday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.21) vs. TBA
Sunday afternoon — RHP Jake Thompson (1-4, 7.86) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (4-9, 3.12).