Mitch's Sports Report: Flyers Soar Into Wild Card Berth; Yankees' Miller Suffers Wrist Chip Fracture
In the NHL, the upstart Philadelphia Flyers are putting up a notice to the rest of the eastern conference: we may have been on the outside looking in for most of the season, but coming down the stretch, we're doing all we can to be playoff bound. The Flyers took a big step toward that goal last night, beating the best team in the east, the Washington Capitals, 2-1 in an overtime shootout.
With that critical two points, the Flyers move into sole possession of the final available wild card berth in the conference, a game ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, and actually a point ahead now of the Boston Bruins, who remain in the third place in the Atlantic division, mired in a stretch in which they've lost six of their last seven games. And if Boston and Detroit need more reasons to be worried about the Flyers, there's the fact that Philly still has a game in hand on both clubs, with six left to play against Boston and Detroit's five.
As for the Bruins and those five essentially must-win or get at least one point games remaining, it's not going to be easy. Next up for the B's is a date tomorrow night with one of the best teams in the western conference, the St. Louis Blues, followed by a Sunday matinee against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins certainly don't have a habit of doing things the easy way, but you think they'd have learned their lesson from last year when they missed the playoffs by just one game on the final day of the season.
There is some good news for Bruins fans, but it's not anything that will help them this year. Harvard University standout Jimmy Vesey has spurned the team that had drafted him, the Nashville Predators, electing instead to choose free agency and sign with the team he grew up rooting for, the Boston Bruins. This does not sit well with the Predators front office, who said Vesey told them he had every intention to sign with Nashville and so didn't trade away his rights as they could have if they knew he had cold feet. Vesey scored fifty-six goals over a three-year career with Harvard, and shares a Harvard pedigree with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
Some hot stove news from Major League Baseball and not of the good variety for New York Yankees fans. Closer Andrew Miller will be sidelined for an undetermined length of time after suffering a chip fracture in his wrist yesterday in a spring training game against the Atlanta Braves. Miller threw just one pitch and it resulted in a line-drive come-backer off the bat of pinch hitter Williams Astudillo, striking Miller in the right wrist, his non-throwing hand. Miller hopped off the mound in pain and went to the dugout. Initial X-rays were negative but a closer look later revealed the chip fracture. The Yankees are already without the services of the newly acquired Aroldis Chapman for the first thirty games of the season as the result of a suspension handed down by the league due to circumstances surrounding domestic violence allegations against Chapman. Dellin Betances will likely take over the closer role until Miller and/or Chapman return, but he was slated to be a late-inning specialist to set up those two other lights-out closers, and now someone will have to move into that role for Betances.
The University of Vermont womens' lacrosse team is trying to get back to an even .500 record for the year and took a step in the right direction yesterday, beating Manhattan 11-5 at Virtue Field. Meredith Moore led the way with a career-high seven points on a hat trick and four assists, and Catherine Green got her first career win in goal, making eight saves for UVM as the Catamounts improve to 4-6 on the year.
Elsewhere, St. Michael's took Franklin Pierce to overtime but lost 12-11 on a goal by Briana Sweeney. Steph Bonewald had a strong game for the Purple Knights, tallying four goals and an assist, but Sweeney was unstoppable for host Franklin Pierce. In addition to her game winner in overtime, she scored seven of her team's twelve goals.
St. Michael's played their baseball home opener yesterday, but were edged out 4-3 by St. Anselm. Dan Flynn and Essex native Joe Robertson each hit their first career home runs for the Purple Knights in the losing effort, and despite the loss starting pitcher Curt Echo was very good for St. Mike's, going seven innings while giving up just two earned runs in a no-decision. The Purple Knights, though, are still looking for their first win of the season against twelve losses.