Posting Up: Briere Pipes in Game Winner for Flyers in Overtime

Posting Up: Briere Pipes in Game Winner for Flyers in Overtime

The post to Carolina goaltender Cam Ward’s right rang out
not once, but twice in denial of the Flyers’ advances, its shrill “ping”
erasing a pair of golden opportunities in the first period. Ward’s luck would not
carry the day however.

Danny Briere’s snipe found cold steel yet again in overtime,
only the Flyers finally got the benefit of the bounce. The puck hit the
netminder from behind off of the rebound, then finally crossed the goal line to
give Philadelphia the 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes – and the two points.

Briere rushed up the left boards carrying an outlet pass
from Nick Grossmann, but Hurricanes Jay Harrison was back to cut off his path
to the net. No problem for Danny, who hit the brakes and made his way to the
slot. Briere’s agility proved too much for Harrison, who was perhaps screened
ever so slightly by teammate Jussi Jokinen joining the play. Whatever the case,
Briere got off the clean snap shot, and the puck’s journey ended in Carolina’s
net.

It’s a good thing, too. Nobody was looking forward to the
prospect of another shootout to settle up.

While the finish was certainly exciting, the Flyers had to
play one of their most complete games of the season to fend off the Canes. The
offense put 32 shots on Ward, getting goals from Brayden Schenn (2), Matt Read
(5 – team high), and Jakub Voracek (3) in regulation. Despite allowing three
goals, they also gave a nice, physical defensive effort, scoring twice as many
hits (32 to 16) and almost twice as many blocked shots (20 to 11), with Luke
Schenn leading the charge (8 and 6).

The Hurricanes opened up the scoring just 17 seconds into
the tilt. Sean Couturier lost a faceoff in the Flyers’ zone, and Joe Corvo
immediately sent a blast on Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryz seemed fooled by the puck’s trajectory,
kicking a rebound right in front of his net. Jiri Tlusty skated in unattended
and found twine with relative ease.

The Flyers answered later in the period with Brayden Schenn’s
sweet redirection of Kimmo Timonen’s launch to knot the score at one a piece.
You’ve got to see this one.

Then they took the lead coming out of the first intermission,
capitalizing on a big mistake by the Hurricanes. Eric Staal came away with
possession of the puck following a battle in his zone, but tried to make a
quick dish up the ice before he was out of trouble. Mike Knuble was in perfect
position, deflecting the disc back to center ice, setting up this walk in the
park for Read. Too easy.

A questionable call midway through the frame resulted in
some 4-on-4 hockey, setting up a frantic back-and-forth. Impressive youngster
Jeff Skinner came away with a bouncing puck in the Flyers’ zone and fired a
quick shot on Bryzgalov. He recovered his own rebound, and with two fewer men
on the ice, found plenty of room to skate. Skinner got back in front, wheeled
around and fired the puck over the netminder’s shoulder on the short side to
make it a 2-2 game.

Aside from breakaways, Bryz has been very consistent, but we
have seen him get beat over his left shoulder like that before.

Voracek returned fire a mere 15 seconds later though.
Brayden Schenn simply skated the biscuit into the Carolina zone, then fed it to
the middle for a hungry Voracek, who slammed it home. We’ve seen Voracek make
plays with his speed before, and that was certainly the case here, but the
Hurricanes’ vulnerability defensively was on full display as well. They’ve got
to get a better effort than this.

Carolina was able to force overtime via a dirty goal in the
third. The Flyers were simply unable to clear the puck, and the Hurricanes just
kept on ripping shots from the point. One of them was bound to go eventually,
and it did when Corvo’s hammer from the blue line hit Kurtis Foster up front –
part of a massive tangle of bodies in front of the net – and fluttered past a
blind goalie. Bryz had no chance.

Otherwise Bryzgalov played well yet again, making some great
saves in the process. There was a healthy contribution from the offense, and
the Flyers were flat out the more physical team on the ice in this one. They
deserved the win.

That puts Philadelphia’s record at 5-6-1 with 11 points for
the season. 7 of those points have come in their last four games. You can feel
the momentum growing.

Notes

Hurricanes center Tim Wallace was given a game misconduct and ejected for a boarding penalty on Tye McGinn early in the first period. McGinn slipped a little, and Wallace ended up hitting him up high, sending the rookie's skull into the glass. McGinn would stay on the ice for awhile, but returned to the game quickly and show no ill effects.

We'll see if any discipline is coming for Wallace. The collision was unquestionably a penalty, but there did not appear to be a malicious intent. Again, McGinn slipped, so Wallace likely did not expect his target to be in such a prone position.

The Flyers only wound up with about two-and-a-half minutes of 5-on-4 time out of the possible five. Braydon Coburn received a minor when he tried to come to his teammate's aid, and Mike Knuble picked up an interference toward the end of the advantage.

Philladelphia's power play conversion rate is down to 18.4% for the season.

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Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.