Rainout Monday Morning Headlines: Phils Signings, Juan Pablo Angel, Flyers Prospects, Kalas Statue, and the Eagles Bubble

Rainout Monday Morning Headlines: Phils Signings, Juan Pablo Angel, Flyers Prospects, Kalas Statue, and the Eagles Bubble

Good morning, and welcome to the working week. To get us started, a look at some stories coming out of the weekend to meet us this delugional Monday morning.

The Phillies and Washington Nationals were rained out yesterday, and they have a scheduled off day today, giving them a much-needed extended rest period after a long stretch of playing every day. Despite the rainout, the Phils picked up a half-game in the NL East lead, with the Atlanta Braves slipping to nine games back after losing to the Chicago Cubs. Even better than the division implications were that the Braves blew a 4-0 lead and Dan Uggla's freak hitting streak ended at 33. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

After signing struggling slugger Jack Cust to a minor league deal heading into the weekend, the Phillies yesterday inked local product Dave Bush. Bush, who played most recently with the Texas Rangers after five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and two with the Toronto Blue Jays, will be assigned to triple-A Lehigh Valley along with Cust. [The Zo Zone]

As the MLS's international player transfer window came to a close at midnight, there was much speculation that the Union might be adding another player, Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel. Angel's current team, the LA Galaxy, have reportedly agreed to terms to transfer and sign Robbie Keane, after which they are expected to move Angel, who is said to want to come to Philadelphia. Whether he does or not, it's a great sign that Philly has become a top MLS destination. JPA's friend and countryman, Union captain Faryd Mondragon, was lobbying heavily for him on twitter yesterday. Soccer By Ives's Ives Galarcep tweeted that JPA only wants to come to Philly, but the Union only want him if he's borderline free to bring in. As of the supposed deadline last night, there was no announced movement on Angel. However, Mondragon indicated, whether accurately or not, that we might find out definitively on Tuesday or Wednesday. [The Brotherly Game]

We talked a bit about the frenzied environment at PPL Park on Saturday night, welcoming Freddy Adu into the fold. The fans also caught the attention of FC Dallas' dangerous scorer and US National Team member Brek Shea, who tweeted about the PPL faithful after the game: "@philaunion fans are great.... Good environment to play in #ontothenext" [Brek Shea on twitter]

Need a hockey fix this morning? Check out Flyers Goal Scored By's need-to-know look at current Flyers prospects who may not be on your radar just yet. [Flyers Goal Scored By]

It's getting to be bubble time in the Eagles' buildup to the regular season, with position battles heating up and tough decisions on the way for a front office that has built a deep and talented team, yet won't have as much time as usual to evaluate its talent. Reuben Frank takes a look at 10 Eagles who are on the bubble. [CSNPhilly.com]

With the postponement of yesterday's Phillies game, the planned unveiling and dedication of the Harry Kalas statue has been rescheduled for tomorrow, before the series with the Arizona Diamondbacks begins. That is, if it stops raining between now and then. [Philly.com]
 
Speaking of the Diamondbacks... They just swept the Mets on their way down to Philly and will be looking to build on their lead in the NL West. We should be in for a pretty good series.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).