Game 32Flyers Out to Get Past Bruins Loss, But Not Forget It

Game 32Flyers Out to Get Past Bruins Loss, But Not Forget It

There's probably not a whole lot of small details or minor lessons the Flyers or any of us fans want to remember about Saturday's absolute ass-kicking at the hands of the Boston Bruins. One thing's for sure though, while they need to move on and play as if that game didn't happen, it was a good wake-up call that they're not quite where they need to be. Right now, they're good enough to have a fun regular season ride with all the usual ups and downs. But are they good enough to make a deep playoff run, or go all the way to a Cup?

While it was only one game, that 6-0 loss to last year's champs was indeed a measuring stick, and the Flyers came up very short. Of course, they were without some key players, including their top forward and top defenseman, and it appears we'll get the former back soon. But the latter may never be, and Saturday should show the Flyers the level they need to aspire for between now and, way down the road, the playoffs.

The road continues in Denver tonight, where the Flyers begin a five-game road trip with a 9PM start against the Avalanche. A former Cup-winning goalie tandem highlights the storylines.

Goalies
Ilya Bryzgalov will try to put a five-goal performance behind him and get back to his winning ways. He'll face JS Giguere, the man he once served as a backup to when both played for the Anaheim Ducks. Remember the degree to which Giggy's star was on the rise back then?

Beat Boxing
One of the many things that went wrong for the Flyers on Saturday was a woeful performance on the penalty kill (although it's not easy when you're down two men). They'll have to either stay out of the box (preferred) or improve in that regard, because despite not having much in the way of a dangerous even strength attack, the Avalanche are among the league's best on the power play.

The Flyers' PP wasn't too hot against the Bruins either, failing to score on six opportunities. It's somewhat understandable, as the roster has been shaken up without Pronger and Giroux, who each play PP, SH, and even strength.

Fortunately, it sounds like the Flyers could be closer to getting Giroux back, perhaps in time for this weekend. We just hope he's 100%, or else there's really no sense in risking it at this still-early stage of the season.

Who's Up?
Before last game, we had some thoughts as to who should step up with Giroux out. Now, Sean Couturier has joined him on the shelf for a bit, and Danny Briere is likely to skate with former lineman Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr. Considering that Briere and Hartnell got each other back on track in a big way when paired up for the 2010 playoffs and continued a good run last season, they should be pretty familiar with what each other can do. In fact, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see this line be Lavvy's first choice, swapping Ville Leino for Jagr. There could be some nice chemistry here…

Still hoping JVR steps up and dominates a game soon…

Wayne Simmonds saw a career-long goal-scoring streak snapped in the shutout, but he remained active around the crease. Maybe he starts a new one tonight.

Ben Holmstrom gets a cup of coffee tonight as well, possibly on an all-youngin fourth line with some combination of Harry Z, Tom Sestito, and Zac Rinaldo. Hard to say exactly what the lines will be after the top unit, and Lavvy could move some guys around, trying to find something that clicks with a very makeshift lineup that is missing centers Giroux, Couturier, and also Brayden Schenn.

Good read from Frank Seravalli on the current roster situation, plus Marc-Andre Bourdon's nickname: [Daily News]

Fortunately, the 'Lanche haven't been particularly noteworthy this season. They're 15-17-1, and they've lost four of their last six. Two of their four December wins came in the shootout (hopefully we'll be spared that). The Flyers have fared much better over their past handful of games, but that one loss really stands out. Time to show some resiliency, bounce back and beat an inferior team, even with a pretty Phantom'd up set of lower lines.

Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US Presswire

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule. 

College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).