Wings Win, Flyers' Special Teams Are Not Magnificent

Wings Win, Flyers' Special Teams Are Not Magnificent

For the second consecutive weekend, the Flyers played a packed schedule yet will head into Monday without a single point to show for it. Their effort against the Detroit Red Wings wasn't enough to keep them from tying the NHL's mark for consecutive home wins, which is now jointly held at 20 by this Detroit team, the '74-'75 Flyers, and the '29-'30 Montreal Canadiens. It wasn't enough to help us forget a seven-game losing streak to the New York Rangers. But it wasn't that bad overall, either.

The play on special teams? Yeah, that was pretty awful. Again.

After giving up three power play goals on seven opportunities to the Rangers on Saturday, the Flyers allowed another two on the man advantage Sunday night to the Red Wings. To top it off, they didn't score a power play goal of their own in either contest, and haven't in their past four games after going six straight with one.

Special team were the difference in this one. The Flyers are currently lost in their efforts to  tie up sticks, clear screens, and break passing lanes when down a man, and teams are salivating at the common site of a Philadelphia player on his way to the box. The coaches have their work cut out for them, but fortunately a few days to work on things.

Brayden Schenn led the way on the score sheet, notching his first ever two-goal game. He's been on fire lately, making the most of some loose pucks around the net.

Hard not to credit Red Wings goalie Joey MacDonald with at least one of the assists on Sunday night, and a subpar effort on the second. MacDonald flubbed a pass from behind his net, which was stolen by Danny Briere and passed to a wide open Schenn in front of a wide open net. That goal tied the game after Niklas Kronwall had opened the scoring on a first period power play, and Schenn would score again to get things started in the second. He now has eight on the season.

Similar to the Rangers though, the Red Wings would quickly answer each Flyers goal from the second period on. Three minutes after Schenn scored the go-ahead in the second, Pavel Datsyuk put home a power play equalizer. Max Talbot then scored his 14th of the season, only to have Henrik Zetterberg answer two minutes laster. Johan Franzen put the Red Wings ahead for good in the third period.

Bob took both losses on the weekend, making a few very good saves but otherwise falling under the "unremarkable" mantle. Hard to hang the losses on him with so many power play goals factoring in.

Notes:
Max Talbot's goal set a career high, 14. Wayne Simmonds also raised his career mark this week.

The Red Wings wore patches in remembrance of the Lokomotiv players and coaches who died in their team's plane crash last fall. The initials Brad McCrimmon, well known as both a Flyer and a Red Wing, Ruslan Salei, and Stefan Liv appeared on the players shoulders. Those jerseys, as well as the ones worn by the Flyers, will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the families of those three players.

The Flyers are mercifully off until Thursday, when they'll host the Buffalo Sabres and try to reverse their trend of losing at home. On Saturday, the Penguins will be in town before the Flyers go on the road for four straight. With five of the last six games ending in L's, we're grateful for a few nights off from each other, but optimistic there are points to be had in the coming week.  

Video Highlights:

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 2

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AP Images

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 2

BOX SCORE

Jeremy Hellickson gave the Phillies six more quality innings Thursday, and he and reliever Pat Neshek each struck out Giancarlo Stanton in big run-scoring situations to help the Phils to a two-game sweep and their sixth straight win.

The Phillies didn't do much hitting on the afternoon but took advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position to claim the 3-2 win.

They are 11-9 as they hit the road for a tough, seven-game trip against the Dodgers and Cubs.

The Marlins are 10-10.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson encountered some traffic in three different innings but was able to pitch his way out of trouble. He allowed one run on seven hits over six innings with no walks and one strikeout.

It's the second straight start he hasn't walked a batter, and he's issued just three in 30 innings this season.

Hellickson continues to get outs without striking anyone out. His only K of the afternoon, though, was clutch — it came against Stanton with nobody out and runners on the corners in the fourth inning.

The fourth inning was the turning point of Hellickson's outing and really the game. Runners were on first and third with Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto coming up. Hellickson struck out Stanton, got Ozuna to pop up and Realmuto to line out, all on changeups. 

The Marlins are 7 for 54 (.130) against Hellickson's changeup since the start of last season.

Through five starts, Hellickson is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. His trade value continues to rise, as does his importance to this pitching staff.

For the Marlins, Edinson Volquez missed the strike zone plenty but gave up only three runs (two earned) over 5⅔ innings. He walked four batters for the third straight start.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek inherited a jam in the seventh and allowed a run to score but retired Martin Prado and Stanton to end the threat. 

Neshek is a real weapon in the bullpen because of his funky delivery and unorthodox repertoire. He's already made big bats like Yoenis Cespedes and Stanton look silly this season. It pays to have different looks out of the back end of your bullpen.

Joaquin Benoit pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts. He's put just two men on base in five scoreless innings since being moved back to the eighth inning.

Hector Neris needed just seven pitches to earn his third save in as many chances.

At the plate
The Phillies didn't have many hits but were able to push runs across when they had men in scoring position. Freddy Galvis tripled and scored in the third inning, and Brock Stassi tripled in an insurance run in the sixth.

Galvis enjoys himself some Volquez — lifetime, he's 6 for 10 with two doubles, a triple and a homer off him.

It was Stassi's first career triple.

Maikel Franco reached base three more times with two singles and a walk. Franco has been locked in over the last week, going 10 for 23 with a double, two homers, 10 RBIs, three walks and just one strikeout over his last six games. His batting line has crept up to .221/.291/.403. Not great, but it was .148/.217/.278 a week ago.

And this is a little thing, but Andrew Knapp, batting eighth, had two quality plate appearances his first two times up, singling and walking with nobody on and two outs to turn the lineup over twice.

Phillie-killers silenced
Prado has more hits against the Phillies than he has against any other team. And he did have a solo homer Wednesday night, but the .305 lifetime hitter off the Phils went just 2 for 8 in the series. It's key to get him out ahead of Yelich and Stanton.

Ozuna, meanwhile, went 0 for 8 in the series. He entered as a .310 hitter against the Phillies and a .272 hitter vs. the rest of the division.

In the field
Trying quickly to turn a double play on Odubel Herrera in the first inning, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon made an errant throw to first base that trickled past Justin Bour and allowed Daniel Nava to score. It was a heads-up baserunning play by Nava, who would have just advanced from second to third if not for Gordon's throw.

Franco made a tough play on a short-hop off the bat of Ozuna in a key spot with one out and Stanton on second base in the sixth inning. It was an all-or-nothing play — had Franco not timed the hop perfectly with his backhand, it would have put Hellickson in a jam.

On the bases
On consecutive pitches to Franco in the first inning, Herrera stole second and was then thrown out at third by a pretty good margin. The Phillies challenged that Prado didn't apply the tag but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.

Herrera is 3 for 5 on stolen base attempts this season.

Health check
Reliever Edubray Ramos was removed in the seventh inning after taking a line drive off the elbow.

Up next
The Phillies head out West for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium and it looks like they'll avoid Clayton Kershaw after all. He was initially scheduled to pitch Sunday but here are the updated pitching probables:

Friday night at 10:10 — Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.55) vs. Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05)

Saturday night at 9:10 — Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25) vs. Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25)

Sunday afternoon at 4:10 — Nick Pivetta (MLB debut) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4, 4.64)

NFL Draft Experience is open and bumping with Carson Wentz the early star

NFL Draft Experience is open and bumping with Carson Wentz the early star

The fans lined up early on Thursday in Philadelphia waiting for the NFL Draft Experience to open up at noon and there was actually a pretty exciting vibe while waiting in line, complete with Eagles chants. There have been plenty of Eagles chants. Expect that to be a theme throughout the weekend.

None more so than when Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz made an appearance. I first saw him drive by on a golf cart -- or a Wentz Wagon if you will -- while he was making his way to take photos with fans. A pretty exciting scene for any Eagles fan, I must say. Probably the highlight of the day so far.

He apparently messed with a Cowboys fan as well. Nicely done, Carson.

The weather in Philly is quite warm today with temps in the 80s. You'll get a good little sweat going if you decide to wait in line and participate in the 40-yard dash like I did. Running 40 yards is exhausting. And you'll have to wait a good bit to get your turn. Early on lines were maybe 20-30 minutes to participate in a drill, but they've since grown longer. Expect long lines for all of the activities today.So expect plenty of waiting if you want to try your legs at a vertical jump test or field goal kicking opportunity. After waiting probably 30 minutes, I got my two kicks up on the goal posts and will not be drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Kicking is tough.

There are water filling stations if you've got a bottle to put it in. Those come in handy on such a warm day.

The beer is flowing as well. At many concession stands and also at the Draft Tavern. There are plenty of options as long as you like Budweiser products. They've got some IPA they make, some Stella, a Vienna Lager, a Pilsner, and all the usual suspects. Expect to pay about $12 for a 25-ounce can.

There's a plethora of food options from relatively cheap $5 hot dogs to $12 cheesesteaks. I tried out the cheesesteak from Tony Luke's and have to say I was very disappointed. When the worker handed it to me, I literally asked, "is this hot?" To which she said, "The bread isn't but the steak is." It wasn't. So I paid $12 for a cold cheesesteak I'd give a grade of a 'C-.' It could have been a 'B-' if it was moderately warm. It had no seasoning. But there was cheese on it and cheese is pretty hard to mess up. And the roll was fresh at least. I only ate half of it so that'll tell you what I really thought of it.

You can get pretty close to the draft stage and "NFL Draft Theater" without actually having a ticket. Check out the view from the public area:

The zip line looks fun but again, expect a lengthy wait.

This guy wins the day.

You can get a t-shirt for 35 bucks too.

The crowd right before the gates opened. 

Inside the Draft Tavern. You can enjoy a beverage anywhere inside whole Draft Experience.