Not For Nothing, But Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov Really Dig the Maple Leafs

Not For Nothing, But Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov Really Dig the Maple Leafs

Not trying to jinx anything, but the Flyers have a few solid trends on their side this evening in Toronto.

Starting with Danny Briere, the Maple Leafs are one of five teams Briere has averaged better than a point per game against in his career.

Kings: 22 G, 25 Pts, 1.14 PPG
Flyers (go figure): 16 G, 18 Pts, 1.13 PPG
Jets/Thrashers: 30 G, 33 Pts, 1.1 PPG
Maple Leafs: 40 G, 43 Pts, 1.08 PPG
Blue Jackets: 13 G, 13 Pts, 1 PPG

Against no team has Briere scored more points in his career.

Then there's Iyla Bryzgalov. In six games against the Maple Leafs (four starts), Bryz is 5-0 with a 1.21 GAA and a .956 save percentage. Against no team does Bryzgalov have a lower GAA nor a higher save percentage.

The Flyers won their last meeting with the Leafs 7-1, and as CSNPhilly's Tim Riday points out, won all four meetings last season by a combined 16-6 margin. Actually, the Flyers haven't lost to Toronto since March 3, 2011 and haven't lost in Toronto since Jan. 14, 2010. They're 7-1 over the last two seasons against the Leafs. For reference, here's the Canadian Press' lead from the last time these two teams met:

TORONTO — At last there is nothing left to say.

With their exasperated fans chanting "Let's Go Blue Jays!" and their home losing streak having plunged to a new low, the Toronto Maple Leafs were completely out of answers.

This picture from that same evening also warmed our hearts.

But that's all in the past, as is the draft-day trade that swapped James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn. Tonight will be L. Schenn's first trip back to Air Canada Centre and Reemer's first game against his old mates.

Finally, despite all the good news above, the Flyers haven't been so good on the road so far this season. They're just 1-5 away from Wells Fargo Center and tonight kicks off a season-long, six-game road trip that will Peter Laviolette's team to Winnipeg, New Jersey, Montreal, Long Island and Pittsburgh.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m., can be seen on CSN and heard on WMMR.

How do you feel? Reemer has "mixed emotions." Maybe give this guy a call and pick his brain, Evan?

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Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

The Phillies made a couple quiet additions as the winter meetings ended, signing veteran outfielder Daniel Nava and lefty reliever Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts.

Nava, 34 in February, is a left-handed hitter who can play the outfield corners and first base. He came up with the Red Sox and became a fan favorite in Boston in 2010 as a 27-year-old rookie. Some Phillies fans will remember him for hitting a grand slam off Joe Blanton in his first major-league plate appearance.

Nava had a few decent years in Boston, the best of which was 2013, when he had 536 plate appearances and hit .303/.385/.445 with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 66 RBIs. 

Nava's numbers and opportunities have dropped every year since. He was designated for assignment by Boston in 2015, latched on with the Rays, signed the next year with the Angels and was traded late in the season to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons, Nava has hit just .208, albeit with an on-base percentage 99 points higher because of his 30 walks and 10 hit by pitches.

Burnett, 34, has spent five of the last seven seasons in the Nationals' bullpen. He had a 2.85 ERA in 283 appearances from 2009-12 and parlayed that success into a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Angels. However, he barely pitched in 2013 and 2014 for the Halos because of an elbow tear. He returned to the Nats last season and allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings.

Burnett, perhaps more so than Nava, has a chance to fill a role with the Phillies if he can stay healthy. He's shown he can get outs at the highest level, posting a 2.38 ERA in 2012 with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.14 ERA with 8.9 K/9 in 2010. That was a long time ago now, and Burnett's fastball has dipped from averaging 90-91 mph to 88.

According to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Burnett will receive a $1.25 million salary if he makes the team and can earn another $1.75 million in incentives based on his number of appearances.

Burnett has an opt-out date of March 26, meaning he can become a free agent a week before the regular season begins if it looks to him like he isn't in the Phils' plans.

Nava's chances at cracking the opening-day roster seem longer because the Phillies are expected to make more depth signings between now and the start of camp. They've prioritized finding some offense in the corner outfield and that could come in the form of more minor-league deals, a guaranteed contract or trade. One potential fit I examined last week was Mariners outfielder Seth Smith, a hitter more proven than Nava (see story).

These minor-league deals were commonplace for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak last offseason, when the only free agent he signed to a major-league deal was reliever David Hernandez. 

Last season, three players who were signed to minor-league deals with invites to spring training made the team on opening day: outfielder Cedric Hunter, utilityman Emmanuel Burriss and reliever James Russell.

Others, such as former closers Edward Mujica, Ernesto Frieri and Andrew Bailey, failed to make the team out of camp. Bailey eventually earned a call-up; the other two didn't.

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixers point guard and Meek Mill collaborator Lou Williams is enjoying quite the run off the bench for the Lakers recently.

Over Los Angeles' last four games, Williams has posted totals of 40, 38, 24, and 35 points. 

The six-man is averaging 34.5 points per game over the stretch, and his 137 points are the most off the bench in a four-game span by any player since 1970-71, when stats were first recorded, per Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN. Williams is now averaging 19.3 points this season, which is 4.4 more than his highest average with the Sixers.

Williams isn’t the only player who used to play for the Sixers that is playing well for the Lakers this year. Nick “Swaggy P” Young, who also comes off the bench, is averaging 13.3 points per game. Just a few weeks ago, Swaggy P stole a pass intended for Lou Williams, and then proceeded to hit a game winner against the Thunder. Swaggy P, however, is currently sidelined with a right calf strain, but is getting closer to a return.

"Lou Will" was also talked about last April during Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game, when he was beefing on Twitter with another former Philadelphia athlete, LeSean McCoy.