Peter Laviolette will not be fired this year so get used to it

Peter Laviolette will not be fired this year so get used to it

There are a lot of things that hockey analysts and announcers say that I think is just pure poppycock. They’re often too quick to run and hide behind their trusted clichés to try and explain things that deserve more in-depth attention. But one thing I do agree with is that a group of guys can take some time to become a team. Analysts will refer to this as gelling.

Did you honestly think a “successful” trip to Lake Placid was all that a group of 20+ guys needed to magically become a cohesive unit? Come on, brah.

Last night the Flyers were inconsistent to be sure, but it was a new kind of inconsistency. There were parts of the 1st and 2nd periods that the Flyers absolutely dominated the Leafs in a way that I can’t remember seeing for years. They just looked like a superior team. They were all over the Leafs. They were everywhere. It was just a matter of time before that second goal went in because the Leafs couldn’t even get the puck. It was like watching a real power house playing a team looking to get more balls in the draft lottery. And then, of course, there was the usual shit we’re used to – bad passes, no forecheck, not even putting two guys on the puck with the goalie pulled. But those highs were so high.

A big part of that top tier performance was the play of Vinny LeCavalier and Mark Streit. These guys are going to be difference makers. They play a brand of game we haven’t seen in Philly for some time outside of Claude Giroux and at times Danny Briere. They’re creative, hard-working, willing to take risks and very, very skilled. They’re also two new pieces of a team that had its head screwed on backwards last season. It’s going to take these two guys, former captains as you know, some time to adjust to this new environment. Actually, that’s wrong. It’s going to take this environment some time to adjust to these new pieces. Once that happens this team will without a doubt become more consistent. And when they’re consistent within the system the wins will start coming like unemployment checks, baby.

And that’s why I don’t think there is even a seed of doubt in Paul Holmgren’s or Senor Snider’s heads in regards to the coaching situation. Even if this team was 21-21 halfway through the season (which it won’t be) the hierarchy has been established, the king has spoken. Sure some players might move, some lines and pairings might change, but the repeated declarations by Homer and Snider that Laviolette is not on the hot seat weren’t meant merely to answer the media’s questions, they were also almost surely to let the players know that they’re not in an unstable environment where they can choose to opt out – they are playing for this coach, this GM and this owner all year so they better work through the rough spots because there is no one to blame and fire a quarter of the way through the season.

This helps Laviolette to keep the room. As will the presence of Lecavalier and Streit in addition to a pretty well-rounded leadership group that was already established.

Now the best Flyers Mailbag in the world not run by Dave Isaac!

@sbaicker…if you could grab any Flyer from history at their career best and plop them on this team, who'd it be?
I wanted to be clever and say Pronger during his Blues/Oilers/Ducks years (which might be true) or someone like Bill Barber that could score 60 playing with Claude Giroux, but I think I’m going to have to go with the layup and say Bernie Parent. Now, I’m young and sexy and as a matter of fact just swagged my YOLO this morning so I never saw Parent play, but from what I read he was a legend – like in the conversation for best goalie ever. That, and the fact that goalie is such an important position in hockey makes this a no brainer. It’s like, would you want Mike Schmidt in his prime or to compile the best starting rotation plucked from their prime. A goalie can win games all by his lonesome, even if Andrej Meszaros is “playing defense” in front of him.

Note: There was a 3 game stretch, right after he adopted the Breath-Rite, that Trent Klatt was possibly the best hockey player on the planet.

@Treblaw What Should The Goal Song Be?
Oh God, are you trying to get me e-murdered? One time in 2008 I named some songs I thought the Flyers should listen to in warm ups, keep in mind this is just warm ups, and some metal dudes came to my apartment and locked me in my refrigerator. If the Flyers wanted a throwback I think they could have done better with Black Betty. It’s gotta be something that’s a) intense for a short period of time and b) repeatable. I’m not sure TNT or Black Betty fits that criteria as they’re like classic rock intense, which is like beer when you need a shot of whiskey. Banana Phone and Mambo #5 fit the bill, but if I had my druthers they would play the National Anthem after every goal in honor of the troops. And if you disagree with that you should move to Mexico.

Greg H: You think Bryz can really play in the ECHL?
This is ludicrous. I really don’t understand why he would do this to himself. Surely there has to be some European team that he could play for and stay out of the North American limelight. I only say this because I actually like Bryz. I think it’s a shame that he’s been dragged through the streets for (oh my God!) having a personality! I think it sucks that it’s going serve as a lesson to all current and future NHLers to not tell the media that you like to read (gasp!) or that you have any interests outside of hockey besides eating chicken and pasta or sometimes fish and pasta. I’m assuming this is part of some attempt to make it back to the NHL so he can stick it up everyone’s ass and I’m rooting for him. He’s surely learned his lesson about how to act in the locker room and I’m sure he’ll keep his mouth shut or give hockey answers when he has to participate at all going forward. The guy has certainly been broken if this is where he’s at. Bryz for Masterson 2014.

Jack P: How effective is a 4th line that has jay rosehill on it?
That was a stupid decision. I’m all for fighting even though I know it’s dangerous but I am not all for wasting freaking roster spots. When you start making hockey decisions based on whether or not Colton Orr is in the lineup you’re screwed.

Billy L: Who is your favorite former Flyer still in the NHL?

I think I have an underdog fetish. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Steve Downie do well since he left Philly. The Downie/Carle trade worked out well for everyone involved but at the time I felt like they were giving up on a player they drafted too early for questionable reasons. A couple years removed from a 46 point year and some injury plagued seasons and now playing on the Avalanches 1st line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Rielly…good for him.

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).