One Final Goodbye to Danny Briere

One Final Goodbye to Danny Briere

By rule, compliance buyouts are allowed to be filed 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, which means Ilya Bryzgalov’s and Danny Briere’s walking papers are surely official by now. The two of them are no longer Flyers, and cannot re-sign with the club even though they become free agents along with everybody else on July 5.

Bryz won’t be missed. People will forget that he set the franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes in 2012, his only lasting legacy on the ice in two seasons of dressing in Orange & Black. Instead he’ll be remembered most of all for being a space cadet on HBO’s ‘24/7,’ his constant feuding with the Philadelphia media, and the insane buyout it took to dump him.

Briere is a different story. He spent six seasons with the Flyers, racking up 283 points in 364 regular season games. True, he could be a liability at times in his own end, but he was always a threat to score or create chances for teammates. By all accounts Briere was a gentleman off the ice as well, and somehow always knew the right thing to say whether it was after a tough loss or in general.

But where Danny Briere really built his Flyers legacy was in the postseason. We know this because when we asked you to share your favorite Briere moments, time and time again they were from the playoffs. There was the time he gave Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller a “love tap” on the head after beating him in a Game 7 in 2011. There was his goal to tie the score in Game 7 in Boston when they were coming back to win the series from down 3-0. That was in 2010 during their run to the Cup Finals, where he found twine to temporarily give Philly the lead in Game 6, although that didn’t quite have a fairy-tale ending.

Briere led the NHL in postseason points that year with a whopping 30, and he might have done so a few more times had the Flyers been able to go deeper more often. In all, No. 48 logged 37 goals and 35 assists in 68 playoff games here – better than a point per game. The man really knew how to turn it on when it counted most.

Not just turn it on, but take over. The Bullies posted a 21-10 record in playoff games where Briere lit the lamp at least once, 5-1 when he found the back of the net twice. They were 13-24 when Briere failed to get on the board. In the 2011 postseason, the Flyers didn’t win a single game where he wasn’t able to score. That’s the sign of a true difference maker right there.

Those were the best Danny Briere moments – any time he was scoring big goals in big games – because that’s what he does best. October through the beginning of April, Briere was a nice player. He always saved the best for last though, when the Stanley Cup was on the line.

That’s when Briere will be missed. With a $6.5 million cap hit that was the highest on the team, his numbers in steep decline and injuries on the rise as he closes in on 36 years of age, amnestying Briere made total sense. The Flyers had to do it. But man, what you wouldn’t give to have him on your side for one last Cup run, because if you could count on one thing from Briere, you were going to see a whole lot of that trademark fist pump along the way.

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.

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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).