18 Mar 2018 06:40

Now, Farmer has a chance to upgrade

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Craig Berube wasnt surprised by the way the Philadelphia bounced back on Saturday from a blowout loss because hes seen that type of resilience all season. Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist to lead Philadelphia to a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Vincent Lecvalier, Sean Couturier and Luke Schenn also scored for Philadelphia, which rebounded from a 7-3 home defeat to San Jose on Thursday. Chris Kreider and Derick Brassard scored for the Rangers, who lost for just the second time in their past nine games. Philadelphia came out with an edge in the first period following Thursdays loss that Berube called "embarrassing." The Flyers improved to 4-0-1 this season following games in which theyve been beaten by four or more goals. "I think our guys have good character," Berube said. "I was pretty confident wed come out and play hard." Unlike Thursday against the Sharks, Berube liked what he saw on Saturday versus the Rangers. "Theyre a fast, hard-working team and if you want to compete with them you need to play a fast, hard game," he said. The opening 20 minutes featured physical play by both sides, including big hits from Philadelphias Zac Rinaldo on Daniel Carcillo and New Yorks Derek Stepan on Steve Downie, among others. The teams lingered on the ice for several minutes after the first-period horn, with the Rangers seemingly upset by a check from Brayden Schenn in front of New Yorks bench late in the period. The Flyers scored twice in the opening period, with the goals coming 1:06 apart. Lecavalier opened the scoring at 7:04 on a goal that went off Rangers defenceman Anton Stralman. "Thats huge," Lecavalier said. "You want to get that first goal and we got that." Brayden Schenn first was credited with the goal, but it was changed in between periods. Couturier followed with his 10th goal of the season at 8:10, beautifully deking past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and roofing the puck with a forehand shot into an empty net from a difficult angle. It looked as if the Rangers cut the deficit in half early in the second period, but Benoit Pouliots apparent tally was waved off because Pouliot deflected the puck past Flyers goalie Steve Mason with a high stick. Mason finished with 33 saves. Mason was pulled in Thursdays defeat to San Jose, and he was happy to bounce back with a victory. The fact that he outdueled one of the games premier goalies was secondary. "It feels good," Mason said. "But I wasnt going out there (thinking) Steve Mason versus Henrik Lundqvist. I was trying to help the Flyers beat the Rangers, and thats what we did." New York got on the board a few minutes later when Kreider tipped Rick Nashs pass past Mason and just inside the post from close range. After Kreider missed a great chance to tie the game when his backhanded attempt at an empty net went wide with 10 minutes left in the period, Brassards power-play goal at 11:42 of the second tied the game at 2. Brassards slap shot from the slot after a perfect pass from Brad Richards went off Masons pads and through his legs. Simmonds beat Lundqvist through the legs on a forehand shot from a tough angle on the power play at 13:23 to put Philadelphia back in front 3-2. "I read a high shot and he went five-hole," Lundqvist said. "I thought I was patient on the shot; he just beat me. I thought overall we played a really good game and created a lot of good chances. Disappointing, obviously, but I thought we did a lot of good things." Philadelphia had an apparent goal waved off 3 1/2 minutes into the third period when the officials ruled that Lundqvist had covered the puck even though it trickled into the goal. Mason kept the Flyers in front with a strong, sprawling pad save on Stepan from just in front of the crease with 10 minutes left. Luke Schenn provided an insurance goal with 3:45 left, beating Lundqvist with a wrister from the slot. Lundqvist, who didnt start the Rangers first game following the Olympic break after helping Sweden earn the silver medal in Sochi, finished with 27 saves. He entered the Olympic break having won his last five starts. In his last 14 games against Philadelphia entering Saturday, Lundqvist was 12-2-0 with a 1.77 GAA. Philadelphia defenceman Kimmo Timonen returned to the lineup after sitting out Thursdays 7-3 loss to San Jose to rest after returning from Sochi and had two assists. Timonen helped Finland to the bronze medal. Philadelphia won for the fourth time in the past 16 meetings with the Rangers. NOTES: Rangers RW Derek Dorsett returned to the lineup for the first time since breaking his fibula on Jan. 3. ... New York centre Mats Zuccarello missed his second straight game after fracturing his left hand in the Olympics. ... Flyers backup goalie Ray Emery (lower body injury) wasnt available. Cal Heeter, who never has played in an NHL game, was called up from the AHLs Adirondack Phantoms to back up Mason. Emery was injured in Thursdays loss to the Sharks after he replaced Mason in the second period. Berube said afterward that Emery wouldnt make the trip to Washington for Sundays game, and the coach declined to name his starting goalie for the matchup. CLEVELAND - For months, the Browns have analyzed college quarterbacks as if they were looking to buy a new house. Theyve inspected each thoroughly, measured them, timed them, interviewed them, checked and double-checked their backgrounds to find out if one can lift them from NFL irrelevance. Its time to draft. Unable to resolve their biggest need since their expansion return 15 years ago, the Browns are expected to use one of their two first-round picks Thursday night on a quarterback. Will it be Johnny Manziel, the dynamic mystery man in this years draft, at No. 4? Or will they wait until No. 26 and grab one of the QBs likely to slide such as Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater. Or get a second-tier QB like Aaron Murray or A.J. McCarron? Will they trade up, move down, punt? Cleveland fans have been counting down the days until this draft, their hysteria stoked by the movie "Draft Day," a fictionalized account of the Browns manoeuvring to land the No. 1 overall pick. Its unlikely that life will imitate art, but the Browns seem prepared to get a quarterback — either to back up Brian Hoyer or supplant him — and first-year coach Mike Pettine is confident the team has done its homework. "I got to spend time with all of them, a good amount of time," Pettine said last week. "We talk about the it factor a lot with quarterbacks, just that type of personality, those traits that you want to have in your quarterback: a guy that is confident, assertive and poised, that can handle teammates when they need to be handled at things going on in the offensive huddle." With 10 picks, including six of the first 106, the Browns should be able to add talent and depth. Pettine understands they must choose wisely. "Its absolutely critical that we have a solid draft," he said. "We dont need to hit a grand slam." Here are five things to keep in mind when the Browns are on the clock: JOHNNY B. GOOD OR BAD?: Like everyone, the Browns have debated whether Manziels a franchise saviour or bust. Hope or hype? Hes intriguing, for sure, but Cleveland, which hasnt drafted a QB higher than No.dddddddddddd 22 since Tim Couch went first in 1999, cant afford to be wrong. Manziel will likely be available at No. 4. But if they covet him, the Browns might be able to pass on him there and, using the No. 26 pick they got in a trade with Indianapolis, move back up and snag Johnny Football. MACK ATTACK: Pettines roots are in defence, and after Jadeveon Clowney, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is considered the best defensive prospect. The 6-foot-2, 251-pounder has the speed and strength to play in any system. Pettine likes him, as does Browns general manager Ray Farmer. "He can rush the passer. He can play in coverage. He can do a little bit of everything," Farmer said. "This guy looks like the real deal." SLAMMIN SAMMY: A game-breaker at Clemson, wide receiver Sammy Watkins is the complete package. The possibility of pairing him alongside Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon should be enough to keep defensive co-ordinators up at night. Watkins can catch the ball over the middle or stretch a secondary over the top. Watkins would also be a safety net in the event Gordon, who has been suspended for substance abuse, has an off-the-field slipup. UNDER PRESSURE: Farmers first draft is arguably Clevelands most important in decades. He was promoted in February when owner Jimmy Haslam fired president Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi. Now, Farmer has a chance to upgrade Clevelands roster and make a favourable impression on his boss, who has promised not to be intrusive. "He hired me to do a job, and hes going to allow me to do it," Farmer said. HAPPY ENDING: After so much disappointment and another coaching change — Pettine is Clevelands third coach in three years — the Browns can energize their fan base with a successful draft. As long as they dont reach, they should get a quality player capable of making an immediate impact at No. 4. Farmer knows this draft is vital to Clevelands success. "Its really the lifeblood of every organization," he said. 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