Pens-Flyers Game 2: Philly Goes for the Home-Ice Jugular

Pens-Flyers Game 2: Philly Goes for the Home-Ice Jugular

The Flyers' resilience isn't exactly news at this point. Including playoffs, they've won 21 games this season when their opponent scores first, and eight when trailing by two or more goals.

What's interesting about that is comeback victories are becoming par for the course against the Penguins in particular.

In each of Philadelphia's last three wins over Pittsburgh -- and really the last three games against them that mattered -- the Flyers have fought back from 2-0 deficits. Two of those were at the Consol Energy Center while we're at it, where the Flyers have won six of seven since the building opened in 2010.

So they're not just beating the Pens. They're starting to demoralize them. But the Penguins don't strike anybody as a team that's going to get a head start on setting up tee times, do they?

There's no denying Sidney Crosby and mates have experienced their share of high-pressure situations, and if you're still not convinced Pittsburgh is dangerous, re-watch the first period from Wednesday night. Rest assured, they'll throw everything they've got at the Flyers to avoid tumbling into a 2-0 hole.

Speaking of 2-0 holes, the white sweaters might want to avoid digging themselves into one on the scoreboard yet again, however unlikely that may be. One way Philly can avoid falling behind right off the bat is by using the familiarity of this opponent to their advantage to jump start their own offense started early.

If the Flyers can pick up where they left off in game 1 from the opening whistle tonight -- dumping the puck deep inside Pittsburgh territory, controlling the board play, and letting their forwards out-physical Penguin defenders in front of the net -- hell, they might just be able to light the lamp first for a change.

An early lead would help set the tone for Ilya Bryzgalov as well, who figures to be in for 60 minutes against a firing squad. These are the moments Bryz was brought here for though, and should he rise to the occasion the way we are coming to expect, it could pave the way to Flyers victory -- as long as they still have Marc-Andre Fleury solved.

One note in front of Bryzgalov: Marc-Andre Bourdon is out with an upper-body injury, reentering Pavel Kubina into the lineup. The veteran and '04 Cup Champion was a healthy scratch in favor of the rookie for game 1, so we'll see how he responds to watching a tilt from the press box. 

We're being told the men in bear costumes are back in the building (no word on pretty, naked women), but pretty sure nobody is scared, not even Bryz now. Can the Flyers come home with a stranglehold on this series, or will the Penguins figure out how to play a full 60 against their cross-state rivals?

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp sit

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, both struggling mightily through the first month of the season, will get Saturday night off when the Phillies take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Joseph is hitting .190 with one homer and 18 strikeouts in 18 games, while Rupp is batting .180 with one homer and 20 strikeouts through 15 games. Last season, Joseph had 21 home runs and Rupp 16.

Brock Stassi will spell Joseph at first base and bat seventh. Andrew Knapp takes over for Rupp behind the plate and will bat eighth.

Daniel Nava also receives a start, playing left field. The first-year Phillie is hitting .346 with a pair of homers and as many walks as strikeouts (seven).

Zach Eflin takes the mound in a meaningful start for the right-hander (see story). He opposes resurgent Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy (see game notes).

Here are tonight's lineups:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Brock Stassi, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Zach Eflin, P

Dodgers
1. Andrew Toles, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Yasmani Grandal, C
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Cody Bellinger, LF
7. Chase Utley, 2B
8. Chris Taylor, 3B
9. Brandon McCarthy, P

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

With their final pick of the 2017 draft, the Eagles selected 6-foot-1, 313-pound Washington defensive tackle Elijah Qualls in the sixth round on Saturday.

He's the second Washington player the Eagles took in this year's draft. They selected injured cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round (see story).

Qualls had 77 tackles, 11½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks in 30 career games (see bio).

"I for sure stop the run well," Qualls said at the NFL Draft Scouting Combine. "And I'm actually a lot better pass rusher than a lot of people think. Typically a lot of our game plan as far as pass rushing was to keep the quarterback contained, so I really couldn't get after him like I'm capable of.

"I'm not going to say I'm one of the best pass rushers ever or anything like that — I've only been playing defensive line since I got to college. I'm still learning, but I'm a lot better than people do think."

Qualls was actually a running back in high school, but he said he got bored scoring touchdowns.

"I was 260 playing running back in high school," he said. "I had 1,300 rushing yards, though. It honestly became too easy, that's why I switched to defensive line. Scoring touchdowns wasn't exciting to me anymore, it was just something I expected.

"Then my last year, my coach came to me and said, 'Hey, would you be willing to play some defense?' My mindset was that if I played defense, I could get the ball back. So I played some defensive line, middle linebacker. I was recruited at both of those positions.

"I kind of just did a little research project trying to see what the long term was like for both running backs and defensive linemen, and defensive linemen tend to last longer, have less severe injuries, and honestly on average probably make more money, so I decided to be a defensive lineman. Plus I like the challenge."

With Bennie Logan leaving as a free agent, the Eagles have Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen and now Qualls in the mix on the interior of the defensive line.

"I feel like I can fit into any scheme," Qualls said. "I can do anything you ask me to, I played everything from zero to outside linebacker, so there's not much I can't do. It's just whether or not someone can accept me being a couple inches shorter than the person they prefer playing there.

"But I'm stronger than a lot of people, and my football intelligence is top notch."