Game 34: About as 'Winter Classic Preview' as It Gets

Game 34: About as 'Winter Classic Preview' as It Gets

It's Friday night, the eve of Christmas Eve, and the NHL scheduling gods have given us the exact matchup we'll see on January 2 at Citizens Bank Park. The Flyers are in New York to face the Rangers, surely a big storyline for the next installment of HBO's 24/7.

Holiday hockey and YOU!

Ilya Bryzgalov is in net for the Flyers, who will be without Danny Briere for the night. Briere is day-to-day with a bum hand after taking a shot to the glove last game.

One game after getting a center back in Claude Giroux, the Flyers are once again shallow up the middle. At least they'll have some time to heal up between tonight and their next game, which is on Tuesday in Tampa.

The Rangers played last night, with Martin Biron in goal for a 4-2 win over the Islanders. That slots Henrik Lundqvist for tonight, and who would have it any other way.

The Flyers haven't scored at MSG in their last two outings there. They'll probably be looking to improve on that mark.

On top of the Winter Classic stuff, these two teams are battling for the division lead. If the Flyers win, they'll also grab a momentary share of the league's best point total.

We're well into our Christmas already, so we may or may not be around with some updates on the game later. I wouldn't scrutinize for typos too closely though.

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

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

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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Howie Roseman makes complete 180 with latest roster move

Howie Roseman makes complete 180 with latest roster move

Howie Roseman solidified his hold on Executive of the Year Tuesday when he re-signed guard Darrell Greene to the practice squad and released JaCorey Shepherd from the practice squad. Shepherd was signed on Wednesday when Greene was previously released.

The Eagles were undefeated with Shepherd on the practice squad this year.

But they're also undefeated with Greene on the practice squad.

Roseman did not return messages requesting comment about Shepherd's seven-day stint with the Eagles.

Once Roseman realized he had actually NOT signed Lito Sheppard, the deal was voided.

The Eagles don't play this coming weekend so we were hard-pressed for any actual news.