Will Flyers Answer the 'Wakeup Call' in Calgary?

Will Flyers Answer the 'Wakeup Call' in Calgary?

Thursday night's
2-0 loss to a lowly Edmonton Oilers team marked an 18-game stretch in
which the Flyers haven't won two straight. While that points to a slew
of questions facing the team as they look down the barrels of the trade
deadline, something we'll get into in more detail tomorrow, the loss
itself seemed to be particularly alarming. We don't have to look much
further than Peter Laviolette's reaction to see that.

But while blasting his team's effort in conceding two Edmonton goals
in a flat second period, Lavvy quickly grasped for the positive
straw—hoping the loss was a wakeup call for a playoff-bound team. In
other words, Lavvy is with the rest of us in hoping that in a few weeks,
we'll be looking at Thursday night as the team's rock bottom. Only time
will tell, but their effort needs to improve dramatically, starting
tonight against the Calgary Flames.

For the Flames, every game could mean the difference between making
or missing the playoffs. They're currently among three Western
Conference teams with 66 points, all of which are two points behind the
eight-seeded Dallas Stars. The Los Angeles Kings are among them, and as
you probably heard, they just made a deal aiming to spark their offense
enough to pull ahead of that pack.

Calgary is coming off a pair of home losses including a 6-1
trouncing by the Oilers and a shootout against the Phoenix Coyotes. They
too are in need of a wakeup call if they hope to avoid an early date
with the tee box.

The Flames are basically an unremarkable team, on the low end of the
goals-per-game table at 26th in the league, while only 12th in goals
against. Their power play is currently 15th (17.1%), though they have a
top-10 killing unit (83.5%).

Like the Oilers, we don't often see the Flames. However, they do
sport some familiar faces. Olli Jokinen leads the team in points and
being weird-looking, and he's dangerous in his ability to score and get
the Flyers to make mistakes including taking penalties. Jarome Iginla
once again leads the team in goals, sitting on 23. Both players have
four points in their last five games. Mikka Kiprusoff holds down the
fort in net, currently posting a 2.31 GAA and .922 save percentage, both
quite a bit better than his career marks. He's allowed eight goals over
his previous two starts, including five in 40 minutes against Edmonton,
but he shut out the Kings the game before that. Not that the Kings are
tearing up scoresheets lately, but after the Flyers were blanked by Some
Guy, here's hoping for better luck tonight.

The Flyers beats are tweeting about a possible Braydon Coburn
absence from the lineup tonight. No other lineup notes available just
yet, and we're headed out for some chili and beers before settling in
for the west-coast start. 

Late 10:00 pm start from Calgary this evening.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

NEW YORK -- Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received a majority of votes for the first time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell , on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

"Anxiety was very, very high," Bagwell said. "I wrote it on a ball tonight. It was kind of cool."

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Lee Smith, who had 478 saves, got 34 percent in his final time on the ballot. Jorge Posada, Tim Wakefield and Magglio Ordonez were among the players who got under 5 percent and fell off future ballots.

Brown: 'No chance' Ben Simmons plays vs. Rockets next week

Brown: 'No chance' Ben Simmons plays vs. Rockets next week

Brett Brown squashed any chatter of Ben Simmons playing in the Sixers’ Jan. 27 nationally televised game against the Rockets.

“There is no chance,” Brown said Wednesday before the Sixers took on the Raptors.

On Tuesday the NBA announced the Sixers' matchup with the Rockets was added to the ESPN lineup while the Heat at Bulls game was dropped. 

That night, Simmons posted two photos on Instagram: a picture of him in Sixers warmup gear at the Wells Fargo Center with the staring eyes emoji and later a post of himself working out at the training complex. 

“I am a social media hermit. I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Brown said. “But I do know that there is no chance that he will play then.”

Simmons has been sidelined the entire season since suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot during training camp. The team has reiterated there is no timetable for his return.