Frustrated With Refs, Giroux Goes High on Zubrus

Frustrated With Refs, Giroux Goes High on Zubrus

Marginalized for much of the series after gaining the world stage against the Penguins, Claude Giroux was clearly agitated and playing with an edge in game 4 against the Devils. Unfortunately, it wasn't always the helpful brand of agitation.

Although G scored on a shorthanded opportunity in the first period, he was upset over the lack of a slashing call on the play, and rightfully so. Marek Zidlicky made contact several times with Giroux's gloves/midsection, yet the arm didn't go up. We'll take the goal, but considering the Flyers were killing a penalty, getting a call back would have been key.

With the Devils power play still alive, Zidlicky scored the tying goal.
In the second period, G lost his cool in a big way, taking out his frustrations on another missed call. After he felt Martin Brodeur played the puck outside of the trapezoid, G called for a penalty but didn't get one. Seemingly incensed, he skated up the ice and zeroed in on the next possible target. After Dainius Zubrus pushed the puck forward in the Flyers' zone, Giroux hit him hard, with contact to the head. 
Despite Zubrus having a clear size advantage (listed at 6'5 to Giroux's 5'11) and Giroux not leaving the ice with his skates, meaning Zubrus' head was lowered considerably, G's shoulder did meet Zubrus' head. 

Accordingly, he was assessed a 2-minute penalty for contact to the head.

Almost as immediate, the discussion as to whether Giroux could or would be suspended began. We say no. He'll have his clear anger working against him though.

Your assessment?

Not that it would or should be a factor, but Zubrus also happens to wear a modified welder's shield. 

MLB Notes: Bag of signed Jose Fernandez baseballs wash up near site of fatal crash

MLB Notes: Bag of signed Jose Fernandez baseballs wash up near site of fatal crash

MIAMI — As the baseball world mourned the death of Jose Fernandez, a beachgoer found a bag containing four baseballs signed by the Marlins 24-year-old pitcher.

WSVN-TV reports a black bag containing Jose Fernandez's checkbook and four autographed baseballs apparently washed ashore on Miami Beach not far from the site the pitcher's boat slammed into a jetty early Sunday. Fernandez and two friends were killed.

Ocean Rescue Division Chief Vincent Canosa tells WSVN the bag was given to a lifeguard and that it apparently came from the boat.

Fernandez had been scheduled to start Monday night's game against the New York Mets. Instead, his teammates honored him in an emotional pre-game ceremony. The players took the field, tears in their eyes, wearing black jerseys with the number 16 and Fernandez's name on back.

Rangers: Brother of Yu Darvish convicted on gambling charges
TOKYO — A Japanese court on Tuesday convicted the brother of Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish of gambling on baseball games, handing him a suspended prison sentence.

The Osaka District Court found Sho Darvish guilty of taking hundreds of bets on Major League Baseball and on professional baseball games in Japan last year.

The court said the 27-year-old younger brother of Yu Darvish was sentenced to two years and four months in prison, but it was suspended for five years. The court said the defendant's gambling was limited to his group of friends and was not linked to organized crime, according to local media reports.

The younger Darvish took bets of 10,000 yen ($100) on Japanese and American professional baseball games, accepting wagers totaling about 110 million yen ($1.1 million) through the LINE social networking application, Kyodo News reported.

Sho Davsish himself bet roughly 220 million yen ($2.2 million) on the games, Kyodo said.

His arrest last year led to an investigation of his brother, Yu Darvish, but the authorities found no involvement by the Rangers star.

Sho Darvish reportedly said during his trial that he regretted causing trouble to his family and that he planned to change his surname to make their relationship less obvious.

But on Tuesday, judge Hajime Hashimoto reportedly advised Darvish that what should change are his actions, not his name.

Pouring a little cold water on Eagles' big win over Steelers


Pouring a little cold water on Eagles' big win over Steelers

Now that everybody has had a day to enjoy the Eagles' shocking 34-3 victory over the Steelers, it's time to pour a little cold water on the celebration.

There was actually a lot working in the Eagles' favor on Sunday. We're all so conditioned to look at the Steelers as legitimate Super Bowl contenders — and they are — that it's easy to overlook some of the obvious warning signs an upset might be brewing.

None of this is to say the Eagles aren't a better team than many people expected or Carson Wentz and the defense aren't the real deal. It's clear even some of the more optimistic projections underrated the talent on this roster or didn't account for a rookie quarterback playing like a 10-year veteran.

Are the Eagles now Super Bowl contenders themselves though? I'm not sold. Everything seemed to align just right this week, and that's not always going to be the case as this season progresses.

Steelers' 31st-ranked pass defense

To begin with, Pittsburgh's pass defense is atrocious. The Steelers have just one sack through three games, while the secondary consists of two first-year starters and had two rookies playing key roles on Sunday as well.

We can discuss at length how they were playing more zone, tried to disguise their coverages and used exotic blitzes. The truth is, from a talent and experience standpoint, the Steelers pass defense wasn't any better than that of the Bears or Browns. If Wentz was able to carve up those defenses, why not Pittsburgh? Turns out he did with little trouble, which probably says just as much about the opponent as it does this kid.

Big Ben plays small on the road

As great as Ben Roethlisberger is, he's been a different quarterback in road games throughout his career, especially in the last year-and-a-half. In eight starts since 2015, the 13th-year veteran has now thrown just eight touchdowns to 11 interceptions while guiding the Steelers to a 4-4 record. Over his career, Roethlisberger has posted starkly different home/away splits in touchdown-to-interception ratio (2.3:1 to 1.5:1) and win percentage (.759 to .575).

Any win over Roethlisberger is a good one, but it's not quite the same as if the Eagles had gone into Pittsburgh and done it. He from being incredible at Heinz Field to merely good as a visitor, particularly recently.

Injuries, injuries and more injuries

Every team has to deal with injuries in the NFL. Yet as much as pointing to injuries could be construed as making excuses for the Steelers, the fact is they lost a lot of bodies as the game went on.

Left guard Ramon Foster exited with a chest injury, and the Steelers' top two interior reserves were already out. Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons was sent to the hospital with a shin injury, while fellow interior linebacker Ryan Shazier played with a bum knee. Starting safety Robert Golden departed with a hamstring injury, and complementary receiver Eli Rogers was taken out by a toe.

With Le'veon Bell already inactive due to suspension, the Steelers were incredibly shorthanded by the time the clock hit zero. Sure, the Eagles were without a pair of starters in Zach Ertz and Leodis McKelvin, but that was nothing compared to heavy losses sustained by the other side. That was a depleted team on Sunday.

The Steelers got away from their game plan

You can't help but think the Steelers probably abandoned the ground attack far too early in the game. Pittsburgh running backs only carried nine times on Sunday, and four of those came on the opening possession. That means the offense only handed the ball off five more times in a contest that was still only 13-3 at halftime. That could not have been the plan.

To the Eagles' credit, they did a good job of stopping the run. However, once the Steelers became one-dimensional, that allowed the defensive linemen to pin their ears back and really get after Roethlisberger, and they did exactly that.

So why should that be held against the Eagles? Because you have to believe other teams will be more patient with the run in the future after watching this front four tee off on Roethlisberger. A more balanced approach will make future opponents a lot less predictable and harder to defend, even if it's not exactly Big Ben under center.

Bye bye, Lane

Any day now, we're expected to hear the final result of Lane Johnson's appeal for his PED suspension, and while there's a chance it might be reduced from 10 games, the expectation is the right tackle will not be uniform after the bye and will miss significant time.

A big part of the reason the Eagles have been so successful thus far is they're winning the battle up front. They're protecting Wentz reasonably well and running the ball effectively. Now what happens when Johnson is out, Alleb Barbre has to take his place and either Stefan Wisniewski or rookie Isaac Seumalo steps in at left guard for Barbre? What happens if there's an injury or two along the line beyond that?

That's pure conjecture, other than the part where Johnson is probably going to miss a minimum of a month. Once that news is handed down, there's no telling if the offensive line will be as good as it has, which could have a domino effect of sorts for the Eagles.