Whoever’s in own goal not Flyers’ gravest concern

Whoever’s in own goal not Flyers’ gravest concern

The news that Steve Mason is out for Game 1 of the Philadelphia Flyers’ first-round series versus the New York Rangers hurts. The possibility he could miss even more time with an “upper-body injury” stemming from a controversial collision against the loathsome Pittsburgh Penguins would be a huge blow to say the least.

Yet the Flyers might have bigger problems on their hands than who’s in goal, which would be the seasoned and competent Ray Emery.

They must solve the great Henrik Lundqvist in the opposing crease, who’s built a 27-13-3 lifetime record against Philadelphia. They must rediscover how to win at Madison Square Garden, a feat that has not been accomplished since Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger donned orange and black.

Whether it’s Mason or Emery or even Cal Heeter between the pipes, netminder is only one part of the equation. The Flyers have to learn, as a team, how to beat Lundqvist, how to beat the Rangers over the course of the next two weeks.

Or they’re done either way.

Yes, there is a clear drop-off from Mason, who’s played some of his best hockey since arriving in Philadelphia at the 2012-13 trade deadline, to Emery, 31 years old and living without 13 centimeters of his leg bone. No one would argue Razor gives the club its best shot.

Emery is certainly capable of holding down the fort for a game or two though, assuming that’s all Mason misses. He'll reportedly join the team in New York on Friday. But that’s still putting the cart before the horse.

You could claim the losing streak at MSG is irrelevant. One victory—preferably Game 1 on Thursday—and the building’s entire mystique, the apparent enchantment it has over this group of Flyers goes up in smoke just like that. Of course, a loss could do the opposite for confidence levels, but they have to win a game on Rangers ice eventually, right?

Unfortunately, Lundqvist’s prowess over the Flyers is all too tangible. They got to him once this season, proving it can be done in a 4-2 win on March 1. The other two encounters with King Henrik were far less fruitful, as the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner stopped a combined 67 shots and allowed just two goals in 4-1 and 3-1 New York victories.

Worry about who’s in net for the Flyers, I do not. For once, there's actually some depth and stability back there.

The opposing team's goaltender is the one you want to worry about. Can the Flyers really best Lundqvist over seven games?

Best of MLB: Twins pound out 21 hits, storm back to beat Orioles

Best of MLB: Twins pound out 21 hits, storm back to beat Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Max Kepler homered and drove in four runs, Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco each had a career-high four hits and the Minnesota Twins roared back to beat the Baltimore Orioles 14-7 Monday night.

Minnesota trailed 5-0 in the second inning and 6-2 entering the fifth before cranking up the offense against Ubaldo Jimenez and an ineffective Baltimore bullpen.

A two-run double by Kepler helped the Twins knot the score in the fifth, Minnesota sent 11 batters to the plate in a six-run sixth and Sano added a two-run homer in the ninth.

Joe Mauer had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice for the Twins, who reached season highs in runs and hits (21).

Adam Jones hit a three-run drive in the second inning off Kyle Gibson (1-4) for Baltimore (see full recap).

Peacock, Astros 1-hit Tigers
HOUSTON -- Brad Peacock and three relievers combined for a one-hitter and Jose Altuve provided the offense with an RBI double to lead the Houston Astros to 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

Peacock was solid moving out of the bullpen to make a spot start for injured ace Dallas Keuchel. In his first start since September, Peacock allowed the lone hit and struck out eight in 4 1/3 innings. He was lifted after walking Tyler Collins with one out in the fifth inning.

Chris Devenski (3-2) took over and pitched 2 2/3 innings for the win before Will Harris pitched a scoreless eighth. Ken Giles struck out two in the ninth for his 12th save to allow the Astros to bounce back after being swept by the Indians over the weekend.

Detroit's only hit was a single by Mikie Mahtook with one out in the third on a night the Tigers tied a season high by striking out 14 times. The team's only baserunner after Collins was Victor Martinez, who was plunked with one out in the seventh. But Houston still faced the minimum in that inning when J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play to end the seventh.

The Astros struck early against Michael Fulmer (5-2) when George Springer drew a leadoff walk before scoring on the double by Altuve to make it 1-0 with one out in the first (see full recap).

Homers help Yankees top Royals
NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Chris Carter homered, and the New York Yankees once again downed Jason Vargas by beating the Kansas City Royals 4-2 Monday night.

A reversed umpire's call in the seventh inning kept the Yankees ahead and enabled Michael Pineda (5-2) to top Vargas for the second time in a week. The Royals, with the worst record in the AL, have lost five of seven.

Vargas (5-3) began the day with a 2.03 ERA, tied for second-best in the majors. But the lefty fell to 0-7 lifetime against the Yankees when he was tagged by Gardner and Gregorius, the only left-handed hitters in the New York lineup (see full recap).

West Chester baseball wins Atlantic Regional, moves on to national championship tourney

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Photo credit: Ed Mailliard

West Chester baseball wins Atlantic Regional, moves on to national championship tourney

West Chester University baseball is moving on to the 2017 NCAA National Championships.

The Golden Rams won the Division II Atlantic Regional Final on Monday with a 12-7 decision over Winston-Salem State at Russell Diethrick Park.

Sophomore first baseman Jared Melone reached base six times, going 5 for 5 with a walk and four RBIs, while shortstop Nick Ward scored four runs and collected three hits to help West Chester capture its fourth regional title in program history.

Senior right-hander Josh McClain picked up the win in relief with three innings of one-run ball, as the Golden Rams scored five in the eighth inning to win their first regional crown since 2012, the year they won the national championship. 

West Chester is now 40-11 overall and will open national championship tournament play on Saturday at 3 p.m. against North Georgia in Grand Prairie, Texas.

For more details, see below.