Shut 'Em Up and Send 'Em Home: Flyers Top Jets in Amazing OT Finish

Shut 'Em Up and Send 'Em Home: Flyers Top Jets in Amazing OT Finish

Have any area bartenders invented a drink that involves something like a palm full of Tums followed by three consecutive belts of bourbon? Because that'd be perfect after watching any of the games between the Flyers and the Winnipeg Jets this season. Damn shame that's the last we'll see of them unless they meet in the playoffs. Not that it's necessarily heart-friendly hockey, and neither coach can be happy with the quality of cleanups in front of their own net, but Tuesday night's was no doubt wildly entertaining. In the end, the Flyers would silence a building that had been raucous since before the opening faceoff, first scoring the game-tying goal with less than 10 seconds in regulation, then the winner with 46 seconds left in OT.

The boys would pepper Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 55 shots (tying a franchise record for shots on the road), and despite the ultimate outcome, Pavelec may have been the best individual player on the ice. Fortunately, the Flyers overcame lapses on the penalty kill and in goal, maintained their frenzied attack all night, and finally broke him for the 5-4 win.

Hell of a hockey experience for those of us watching at home, can't imagine how it must have felt for the orange-clad Flyers fans strewn around the building. While we're all waiting around for them to play that perfect game at every level, there's something to be said for the nailbiters, and not just for their entertainment value. Check out all the action below.

It says a lot about the Flyers that they weathered a complete inability to stop the Jets' power play, as well as some shakiness in net. Even the haters can't pin more than a goal or two on Bryz, but that's a lot in a game this close, and one of them in particular could have sent a lesser team's momentum into the ground. Instead, they bailed him out, and he had the opportunity to do the same in return.

As we've come to expect from these teams so far this season, the action came early and didn't stop until the final horn. Still pissed that Ilya Bryzgalov publicly spurned the idea of playing in Winnipeg, the Manitobans let him have it all night. It's probably wrong to admit, but it was hard not to grin and acknowledge that despite it being in part at our goalie's expense, the fan presence at MTS Centre is pretty awesome. Any lifelong fan of the sport should at least be happy to see an NHL franchise reborn after returning to Canada.

Even Ilya Bryzgalov joked after the game about the reception he received. Don't let anyone tell ya different either. He was kidding... [Video here]

POINTS IN THE PAINT. LOTS OF 'EM.
The game opened like a tennis match, back and forth action and little in the way of efforts to slow things down. No surprise from opponents who combined to score 27 goals in their first two meetings of the season.

Unfortunately, a leaky Flyers penalty kill surrendered the first goal, a screened blast from Dustin Byfuglien. Goals due to traffic or shooters being very close were easy to come by at both ends though. Scott Hartnell and particularly Wayne Simmonds may as well have been banging cymbals in front of Pavelec for all the noise they brought to the crease area. Neither team could effectively clear for their respective goalies, and there were a lot of dirty markers to show for it.

Claude Giroux tossed a nice shot into a relatively open net (though the window was only open a second) off a backhand pass from Hartnell.

G would later say to Coatsey that Hartnell would claim he saw him on the back door, but there's no way he did when he threw a blind pass across the crease. Great to see how comfortable these guys are with each other on and off the ice. Probably why there was somehow gas left in the tank late in a game that began to look unwinnable.

Harts scored the first goal of the second period, a play absolutely gorgeous in its dirtiness. With Pavelec locked in, it was going to take some screening and redirection to beat him. On an early power play, they employed both. Hartnell and Simmonds have had some great success working a high-low screen on power plays lately, but this time they both stayed low, well under the Jets' defensive square. Kimmo fired a shot through down the pike, and Simmonds put the perfect angle on a deflection that would carom off of Pavelec's pads to Hartnell, who buried it with relative ease.
Was it stoppable? Sure. But sometimes you have to credit the playmaker
and the shooter, and they deserve it on this one.

Lavvy took a timeout to give his skaters a break after the goal and an icing call, but in a surprising twist… the Jets came out and immediately scored. Again, it was Ladd. Winnipeg had great traffic in front, swatting down a point shot, then pushing it past Bryzgalov.

Thankfully Max Talbot chipped home a rebound into an open net not unlike an opportunity he'd narrowly missed earlier. Talbot's 17th(!) of the season tied it at 3.

The third period brought some insane action, which despite a bad early goal by Evander Kane, heavily favored the Flyers. Bryzgalov was fooled by some English on a Kane wrister that, yes, seemed to knuckle or curve, but really shouldn't have beaten an NHL goalie.
Bryz would likely tell you the same.

After that, to their credit, the Flyers kept attacking in waves, rather than wilting. Pavelec was on fire at the other end. Nothing shaky was going to beat him. For a while, it looked like nothing at all, particularly this save on Jake Voracek.

Pandemonium in area living rooms. Silence in The 'Peg.

Notes:
Simmonds is as hard-working an NHL forward as I've seen. His game is intensely physical, with momentum that puts defenders and goalies on their heels and forces them into making physical mistakes. In addition to yet again adding to his career-best goal total (22), Simmonds now leads all NHL'ers in February goal scoring with nine tallies.

Scott Hartnell leads the league in power play goals with 14.(<—Sentences I never thought I'd write before the season.)

Brayden Schenn wasn't among the night's scorers, but he made a very impressive save with Bryz down and out on a dangerous Jets scoring opportunity. [Video]

Nick Grossman had another solid game, including a great play cleaning up a dangerous turnover by Andrej Meszaros. In the Flyers' style of play, that's huge. Kubina had some promising shows and looked fine overall, but did get burnt by Kane pretty badly, though Bryz came up with a big save.

Giroux had a career-high 10 shots on goal.

Still a lot of work to be done by that PK unit… Three WPG PP opps, three goals.

Again, huge props to Pavelec. His defense was no help for long stretches, and he made 50 saves, including 17 in the third period alone.

Best of MLB: Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians 4-1

Best of MLB: Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians 4-1

CLEVELAND -- Stephen Strasburg shut down Cleveland for seven innings and bounced back from his only loss this season, leading the Washington Nationals to a 4-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.

Strasburg (14-1) began the season with 13 straight wins before he was beaten by the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 21. The powerful right-hander shook off that blemish, holding the Indians to only three hits as the Nationals recovered after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth and losing on Tuesday night.

Washington rookie Trea Turner drove in three runs and Daniel Murphy hit his 20th homer off Carlos Carrasco (7-4), who nearly matched Strasburg but was done in by one bad inning.

Nationals reliever Blake Treinen stopped Cleveland's threat in the ninth, getting a game-ending double play for his major league save.

Strasburg walked one and struck out seven (see full recap). 

Cardinals snap Familia's saves streak, rally past Mets 5-4
NEW YORK -- Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong each stroked an RBI double in the ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended Jeurys Familia's streak of 52 straight saves in rallying past the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer off Adam Wainwright to cap a three-run comeback in the seventh that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. But then Familia, who hadn't blown a regular-season save opportunity since July 30 last year, finally faltered.

Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Randal Grichuk. Molina hit the next pitch to deep center field, and Grichuk scored standing up to tie it.

Molina was thrown out at third by Familia (2-2) on pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker's comebacker, but Hazelbaker stole second and scored when Wong lined a double just inside the left-field line.

Familia's franchise-record saves streak was the third-longest in major league history behind Tom Gordon (54) and Eric Gagne (84).

Jonathan Broxton (3-2) tossed a scoreless eighth and Seung Hwan Oh got three quick outs for his sixth save (see full recap). 

Padres hit 3 HRs to extend streak, beat Blue Jays 8-4
TORONTO -- Adam Rosales hit a two-run home run, Alex Dickerson and Brett Wallace each hit solo shots and the San Diego Padres beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 on Wednesday, avoiding a three-game sweep.

San Diego extended its club-record streak of games with at least one home run to 25. It's the longest run since the 2002 Texas Rangers set a major league record by homering in 27 straight.

Luis Perdomo (5-4) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings to win back-to-back starts.

Wallace reached base three times. He was hit by a pitch and scored on Rosales' homer in the third, connected off R.A. Dickey in the fifth and hit an RBI single off Joe Biagini in the sixth.

Dickerson homered for the fourth time in four games when he connected off Franklin Morales in the eighth. He is first Padres rookie to homer in four straight games.

Dickey (7-12) allowed seven runs, six earned, and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. The knuckleballer is winless in three starts and has allowed six home runs in that span (see full recap).

Eric Rowe explains 'hiccups,' ready for fresh start in pads

Eric Rowe explains 'hiccups,' ready for fresh start in pads

Earlier this week, Doug Pederson admitted cornerback Eric Rowe had some “hiccups” during the spring, and seemed to indicate they stemmed from learning a new defense. 

Rowe says that wasn’t the problem at all.

“It wasn’t the new defense that was giving me whatever hiccups [Pederson] was talking about,” Rowe said on Wednesday as he reported for his second training camp (see Day 3 observations). “It was just, I was having trouble breaking on top of the routes, specifically the curl routes. But fade ball, deep post, digs, I didn’t have any trouble there. It was just curl routes. I just knew I had to work on it after the OTAs.”

Rowe, 23, said the problem was technical; he just needed to get his feet down quicker.

Whatever the problem, whatever the hiccups, it seems as though Rowe’s standing within the organization and on the depth chart isn’t what it once was.

Many thought he would be a starter in 2016, like he was at the end of 2015, but that wasn’t the way things were in the spring. Instead, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks took those positions, and it looks like Nolan Carroll, returning from an injury, and rookie Jalen Mills, who hasn’t yet practiced in pads, are vying for playing time, too.

In back-to-back days earlier this week, Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz failed to mention Rowe’s name while listing players at the cornerback spot. Coincidental omissions or a vocalized unofficial depth chart?

Rowe could possibly go from starter to deep bench player, but that’s not what he’s planning on.

“I know I had a little ups and downs in OTAs, but now the pads are coming on,” Rowe said. “I feel like it’s a fresh start for me and I’m just ready to get out here.”

Pads go on Saturday.

“Right now, I think I still stand in a good position (with the team),” Rowe said. “Football is about the game with pads on. Now we’re really about to see in a couple days when we put the pads on.”

Small in stature, Wendell Smallwood likes to play big

Small in stature, Wendell Smallwood likes to play big

He looks like a small back. He's built like a small back. He wants to play like a big back.

Wendell Smallwood, trying to make the Eagles as a reserve tailback, stands 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, but he said he’s got a surprise for defenders that think he’s one of those itty-bitty backs that dances around looking pretty … until they get hit.

“I think that’s what most people expect,” he said Tuesday. “But when I actually put my head down and fight for those extra yards and get under guys, guys start to say, ‘Hey!’ They start to feel me a little bit.

“So I definitely think that started to show my last year in college, and I started becoming more of an inside zone type of runner instead of an outside runner.”

None of this should be a surprise considering Smallwood’s position coach is Duce Staley, who during his 10-year NFL career was much more interested in running over people than around them.

Smallwood is nowhere near as big as Staley, who played at about 235 to 240. But that’s the kind of back he wants to be.

“It’s definitely important to me and it’s definitely what Duce wants me to do,” Smallwood said. “He wants me to hit the holes and hit ‘em hard and that’s the reason he got me here.

“Duce, he doesn’t like small backs. He doesn’t. I don’t think he believes in those guys. He was a big boy. Running dudes over left and right. That’s what he wants.”

Smallwood played sparingly as a freshman at West Virginia, shared time with Rushel Shell as a sophomore, then took over last year when he led the Big 12 with 1,519 rushing yards and added nine touchdowns, 26 catches and a 6.4 rushing average.

The Eagles plucked him out of Morgantown in the fifth round, and in an uncertain running back picture, he’s got a realistic chance to not just make the team but also play a role.

Just don’t expect him to play like a typical guy his size.

“I don’t consider myself a small back anymore,” he said. “People have always said that and I kind of started to agree, but then I looked at some of the guys who are around and I’m not a small back at all.

“I’m not little and the running style I like to do is suited for a big back, and my catching kind of throws people off. I definitely think I’m a mixture of both.”

Smallwood ranked 13th in Division I in rushing yards last year, and his 6.4 average was tied for ninth among backs with at least 200 carries.

He said a lot of defenders expect him to be a finesse back, a guy who likes to juke safeties and linebackers instead of bowling them over.

“Get me going downhill and I’ll get you what I can get you,” he said. “A lot of [defenders] kind of take the easy route and think it’s going to be easy and then the rest of the game they’re going low and trying to take my legs out.”

Look at the Eagles’ running back picture.

The starter is Ryan Mathews, who is talented but injury-prone. The backup right now probably is Kenjon Barner, who has 34 career carries. Then there’s Darren Sproles, whose 3.8 average last year was his lowest since 2009 and second lowest of his 11-year career.

With a strong camp, there’s no reason Smallwood can’t work himself into that picture.

The last frontier for the Northern Delaware native is blitz pickup. Something he was never asked to do at WVU.

“I don’t think I did basically any in college,” he said. “They didn’t ask me to block at all. I was mainly running routes.

“But as soon as I got here, Duce emphasized, ‘If you want to get on the field, you’re going to block. If you’re not going to block, you’re not going to play.'”

Staley’s No. 22 wasn’t available, but Smallwood is happy to wear the jersey number of another one of his favorite backs growing up, Correll Buckhalter’s No. 28, who he seems quite similar to.

It’s not fair to compare Smallwood to Staley, Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook or any other former Eagles back until the pads go on and we see what he’s really made of.

But Smallwood said he’s thrilled Staley is his coach and said there’s nobody he’d rather be playing for.

“I think he’s a great fit for me as a coach,” Smallwood said. “I need a kind of guy who drives me, tough guy, who’s not going to let up, who’s going to keep his foot on my back. I definitely need that kind of coaching.

“Just being around him growing up and seeing what he did when he was here and how he runs and him being one of my favorite backs, I was kind of star-struck to be around him, and now he’s my coach. It’s definitely a great situation for me.”