Yesterday felt a little weird for most fans. None of the Philly teams were in action, with all three having the day off.
For what we hope will be a good two months, the Phillies will more than likely take a backseat to the playoff runs being made by the Flyers and the Sixers.
We still have a day to get ready for the Sixers, so we’ll focus on the Flyers for now. They had a really rough opener in Pittsburgh Wednesday night for the Penguins’ fifth win over Philly this season. They’ve played five games. Dave Hakstol is 2-7 all-time against the Pens, with both wins coming last March.
The Flyers appear to have hit the reset button and will look to provide a heavy response to Pittsburgh’s talent. Hakstol made no changes to the lines and pairings in practice, and expect Brian Elliott to start tonight’s game.
Is Elliott really ready to go in goal? Since his return, he’s played in three games. He gave up three meh goals against Carolina in a win, shutout the Rangers while only facing 17 shots, and then gave up five goals in less than 30 minutes against the Pens Wednesday night.
Do you trust Petr Mrazek in goal after what he’s done since coming over from Detroit? Michal Neuvirth is still hurt and there’s no timetable for his return. Dustin Tokarski as an emergency goalie? Now that’s begging.
The team’s best goalie right now could be in Lehigh Valley in the form of Alex Lyon. There’s no chance the Flyers bring him up as they’d like him to get playoff experience in the AHL which begins next week.
And what about Robert Hagg? What’s happened with him? I don’t see why Hakstol isn’t playing the kid over guys like Brandon Manning, Travis Sanheim, and Radko Gudas. Hagg certainly deserves a spot, and maybe Hak should spice things up tonight with at least that one move.
We’ll see how they react tonight. Game 2 is set for 7 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBCSN nationally. Game 3 is Sunday afternoon at 3 PM on NBC. While you wait, check out Wayne Simmonds’ post in The Players Tribune from earlier in the week if you haven’t gotten a chance to read it.
The Sixers’ regular season ended on a high note wirh a crushing of the Bucks and Markelle Fultz recording his first triple-double.
But now comes the playoff run. They’ll take on the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Saturday night at 8 PM on ESPN. Kevin began to take a look at the Heat in part one of his ECQ preview. A decent offensive team that gets the job done, but a strong defensive one, especially at the rim.
Entering their first playoff series since 2012, they have a 25-1 shot at winning it all, good for fifth best among playoff teams.
With a young team, inexperience is one of the weaknesses the Sixers possess entering the playoffs:
Outside of Marco Belinelli, J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, and Ersan Ilyasova, this will be the first time in the playoffs for every player in the Sixers’ rotation. While it’s hard to quantify the impact of that youth, players like Simmons and Fultz will have to learn about the playoffs on the fly.
Though the playoff veterans have been eager to share their knowledge — and the young guys have been trying to absorb everything they can to prepare — it’s impossible to fully understand what playoff basketball means until you’ve actually been there. They’ll be thrown into the fire soon enough.
Where do guys such as Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Robert Covington stand in terms of NBA awards?
Speaking of Roco, The Undefeated profiled Covington and his journey from Tennessee State, to the 0-17 start two years, to now.
The Phillies begin a three-game series in Tampa tonight as they take on the Rays at 7:10 PM on NBC 10. Vince Velasquez will start tonight and Jake Arrieta and Ben Lively start the next two days.
Batters are seeing a ton of pitches thus far this season, something Gabe Kapler is trying to copy from the 2004 Red Sox and Johnny Damon:
The team’s ability to stretch at-bats is not by accident. Matt Klentak wanted to assemble a lineup of batters who “control the strike zone.” That’s why he signed Santana for $60 million, even if it meant moving Hoskins from first base to left field. The signing guaranteed two hitters at the top of their lineup who work pitchers.
They brought on hitting coach John Mallee, who spent three seasons as the hitting coach of Cubs teams that twice ranked in the top four of pitches per plate appearance. Mallee has stressed his grinding approach since the start of spring training. You don’t see pitches by being passive, he told his pupils, but by being selective. It worked for the Cubs in 2016, as they averaged the fourth-most pitches seen and finished first in walks and third in runs per game and OPS.
“It’s about playing to your strengths and being OK with taking a pitch that might be a strike but it doesn’t play into your strengths, especially early in counts,” Hoskins said. “Guys have really bought into that.”
Carlos Santana isn’t doing so well, but once summer rolls around, expect his production to increase.
Whereas Santana is off to a bad start, Maikel Franco is off to a pretty good one:
Gabe Kapler’s many pitching changes were the subject of the early national noise about the Phillies, but don’t overlook how potent this lineup can become as Rhys Hoskins continues to prove his staying power, Scott Kingery lives up to his lofty billing as an impact piece, and Carlos Santana settles in with his new squad. The Phils are also getting good production out of Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez, but perhaps the biggest surprise is how much better the third baseman Franco looks with his new stance.
After consecutive seasons with an OPS+ below league average, it was deceptively easy to write Franco off, but he’s only in his age-25 season, and a formula of more walks, fewer strikeouts and significantly more fly balls has added up to a .863 OPS in his first 35 trips to the plate.
Another Eagles-only mock draft has the Birds taking Derrius Guice from LSU.
Speaking of Guice, the team really loves him. They’re going to LSU for a private workout today before Guice visits the NovaCare Complex next week.
But don’t rule out some other positions in the first round, including on defense:
I would expect the focus to be early on on the offensive side of the ball. You can look at — I know the signing of Richard Rodgers is a nice move there to kind of be able to complement to Ertz. You’re hoping he goes back to the form he showed a couple of years ago. I still think tight end is a legitimate option there. Running back, having another running back, you don’t know Jay Ajayi, in terms of long term, what you have there. And they showed last year having a bunch of guys you could roll through there was valuable.
So you get a guy — a Sony Michel, a Derrius Guice or somebody like that. You look at Dallas Goedert, Hayden Hurst, those make sense at those two positions. And the challenge is, look, I think you would love to get a tackle, have another tackle, even though [Halapoulivaati] Vaitai played great last year with Peters out, with Peters’ age, I think you’d like to add another backup swing tackle with some upside there. I just don’t think there’s going to be one with any value where they’re picking.
Those would be the areas I think they would focus. Receiver would be another one. I think the offensive side of the ball makes sense. And truthfully, I believe they’re out of day two, right? They don’t have a 2 or a 3. It might make sense with the depth at those positions that we’re just talking about for them to get out of the first round, trade back a little bit, see if they can’t get some extra picks to look at those needs.
One of those obvious needs for the Eagles is at tight end.
There are rumors that the Knicks might reach out to Villanova head coach Jay Wright in regard to their vacancy. He’s not leaving Nova.
In other sports news, the Stanley Cup Playoffs continued last night:
- Columbus defeated Washington 4-3 in overtime thanks to Artemi Panarin’s game-winner.
- Nashville beat Colorado 5-2 thanks to two third period goals by Filip Forsberg:
Filip Forsberg out here snatching lives pic.twitter.com/APBHTVdXNC
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 13, 2018
- Evander Kane’s two goals gave San Jose a 3-0 shutout over the Ducks.
- Tampa Bay got hot from the start in their 5-2 win over New Jersey.
- Boston took care of Toronto 5-1.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty won’t play in tonight’s Game 2 against the Vegas Golden Knights after a hit on William Carrier in Game 1. Nazem Kadri might be next:
Boston game ops plays God's Plan as Nazem Kadri skates off after being ejected for a hit on Tommy Wingels, hit included pic.twitter.com/c7U7ir0jhT
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 13, 2018
Jarvis Landry and the Browns are close to a five-year, $75.5 million extension.
49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has been charged with felony domestic assault. Things don’t look good for the young defensive player.
Former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is transferring to UCLA.
Johnny Manziel had two rushing touchdowns in his final Spring League game last night.
In the news, Andrea Constand will take the witness stand in Bill Cosby’s retrial today.
Lester Holt did an interview with Meek Mill about his situation with violating probation:
WATCH: Rapper Meek Mill was jailed for violating probation in a case that has received national attention and calls for criminal justice reform.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) April 12, 2018
He probably won’t get released from jail on Monday either.
In his new book, James Comey doesn’t have a ton of nice things to say about Donald Trump.