Flyers-Oilers: Pick Up the Pieces edition

Flyers-Oilers: Pick Up the Pieces edition

I don't care about the last four games. For that matter, I don't care about the better part of the last month. I honestly don't. I care about the next four games, and the next several months. 

Coming off their worst loss of the season, the Flyers were given the day off yesterday by coach Peter Laviolette. They were gassed on Sunday, he said. A grueling day of practice would have done them no good. They just needed a break. Lavvy took responsibility for that loss, but I read as much into that as I do every time Andy Reid takes responsibility after the Eagles lose. A 7-0 loss is no single person's fault. But each player and coach better be taking responsibility for tonight's game right now, before it starts. If players are out of sync with the system, I'm guessing they've heard about it from the law offices of Lavs, Richards, and Pronger. 

I think this team has the leadership and the experience to halt a slump, and that's part of why I think we'll see them pull out sooner rather than later. Perhaps even tonight against the Oilers, who are no slouches these days. 

The Oil have won their last three games and scored a combined nine goals in their last two. They're not currently the cupcake they've been for much of the season. Look at all this red. The Flyers no doubt know the Oilers are playing better than that right now though, and more like the teams that have been beating them over the past two weeks. The Oilers will have seen the tape of how the Rangers made the Flyers look like they were standing still in the defensive zone and clueless on offense. But Lavvy was right—they did look tired. Tonight, after a day off, we'll see if fatigue was the biggest issue, or if there are more lasting concerns to be addressed. Probably a combination of both?

Early word is that Bob will be in net, and Zherdev and Nodl will be scratched. Nodl's production has tapered off considerably, but he's still been a solid two-way forward. Jody Shelley and Dan Carcillo will suit up if those scratches come true, which will annoy some fans who don't see those two helping with the whole "got shut the hell out" problem from Sunday. True enough, but Shelley was a positive force that day, drawing two minor penalties and winning a fight. He can't be expected to then score on the power plays he drew... I can't speak to Zherdev, who hasn't responded well to being scratched, but Nodl did earlier in the season, as did James van Riemsdyk. I'm more than willing to let Lavvy work his scratch magic again and see if it pans out. 

Which Flyers do you think should be scratched, if not the ones Lavvy has picked? There's been talk of getting Nick Boynton some ice time, so we could see Sean O'Donnell rested. I think he's been scapegoated a bit by fans, although he's not playing quite as well as he had been earlier in the season. The Briere line really needs to have a big game soon though. They've been non-existant offensively, and victimized at times in their own end. Lavvy has appeared patient with them so far though, indicating he'd like to wait out their slump within a slump rather than break them up:

"I think the easy thing to do sometimes is to blow those things up. I want to try to remain patient and help these guys get through it. I believe in that line. I believe in Danny Briere, Ville Leino, and Scott Hartnell. Instead of dismantling it, I want to try to see what I can do to help it."

Good enough for you, or is it time to shake things up?

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

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P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

Thirty-five years is more than enough time to get a sense of who a person is and how they do their job. That is how long Brett Brown has known P.J. Carlesimo, which made it easy for the Sixers' head coach to have interest in adding him to the staff. 

With Mike D’Antoni leaving to coach the Rockets, the Sixers had a vacancy at the associate head coach position. On Sunday, though, Carlesimo decided not to join the Sixers’ staff and remain a television analyst.

“He was a natural fit for me,” Brown said Monday following a pre-draft workout. “For family reasons, he just couldn’t do it. We talked a lot and it was an emotional thing from P.J.’s perspective. 

“P.J. is a very close friend of mine and he made that decision for family reasons and I understand it. The phone call really didn’t surprise me knowing what I know of him and how he views his family, having to travel across the country the whole time.”

Like D’Antoni, Carlesimo has a lengthy résumé on the NBA sidelines. He was a head coach for parts of nine seasons and worked five as an assistant coach. Brown called working with D’Antoni “a real learning experience,” and an ideal candidate would have similar experience to help both the staff and the young roster.

“That role will be filled with maybe that type of flavor,” Brown said. “I know this, we are still in a complete development mode. We still have a bunch of 20 year olds, guys that could be with us for a long time, but they’re not old, that we have to make sure that the city and me, we remember that. We still need people and teachers that can teach and coach and establish relationships. 

“So you tick boxes on relationships, teaching, development, those still rule the day. If you can do that with some veteran wisdom and some type of experiences like Mike’s, say, or P.J. had, well then you’re really knocking it out of the park.”

Coaching vacancies are coveted at this level. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, a revamped front office, and a 125,000-square foot training facility under construction, the Sixers have enhanced the appeal of the role. 

"My phone is very active, as you can imagine," Brown said. "I think it’s a highly attractive position. … Like our draft picks, I too spend a lot of time studying who will be the best fit for me and our program."

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

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Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

So much for trimming Ryan Howard's playing time.

One day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans on giving 24-year-old Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitchers, Mackanin flipped the switch Monday.

Howard is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Phils' series-opener against the Nationals on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71).

After the Phillies were clobbered by the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on Sunday — and the weekend, really — Mackanin said the Phils have to get a longer look at Joseph.

"We brought up Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him," the manager said after the Phillies' 7-2 on Sunday afternoon (see story). "I can't let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing."

Joseph will have to wait another day to get in the lineup. To be fair, Joseph did face five righties last week, but three of those came with the designated hitter in play.

For Howard, however, the club icon is in a major rut that has had many outsiders calling for him to retire or for the team to release him. He's hitting .154 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats and is 6 for 62 (.097) with 25 strikeouts in May.

Here's the silver lining, however. Howard is a career .333 hitter in 12 at-bats against Roark, who he's taken deep once and has six RBIs against.

The Phillies turn to Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97) to snap their three-game skid. He's faced the Nationals twice this season, allowing six — five earned — runs over 10⅓ innings.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Jeremy Hellickson, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

For more on tonight's game, check out Steven Tyding's game notes.

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

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MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York's captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

White Sox: Shuck called up with Jackson injured
NEW YORK -- With Austin Jackson bothered by turf toe, the Chicago White Sox recalled outfielder J.B. Shuck from Charlotte and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to the Triple-A farm team.

Jackson left Sunday's game in the eighth inning because of his left foot.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Monday's series opener against the New York Mets that he doesn't think Jackson's injury at this point merits a move to the disabled list. He adds that the team does not "necessarily want to lose him for two weeks right away."

Shuck was batting fifth and playing center field Monday. He was 0 for 9 with the White Sox before he was sent down April 18 when Chicago needed to add a pitcher. He is hitting .299 at Charlotte with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Kahnle is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four games over three stints with Chicago this season.