This is such a Chase Utley milestone

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This is such a Chase Utley milestone

Remember that epic quote from Chase Utley about being hit by pitches?

"Do I like it?" Utley said last season. "I mean, I don't dislike it."

Yeah, he wasn't kidding.

Utley took one square in the arm Tuesday night, like we've seen him do so many times before, where he barely even flinches in the box as the ball comes sizzling to the plate.

It was just one of many in the 39-year-old's career, but this plunking was notable and the Dodgers knew it. The hit by pitch was the 200th of Utley's career.

Utley, of course, took 173 of those off the body in a Phillies jersey, making him the organization's all-time leader, with Mike Lieberthal in second with 88.

"The Man" hasn't changed his ways in Dodgers blue. Utley had a big HBP in the World Series last season and No. 26 ranks eighth all-time in baseball history among the category.

Tuesday's hit by pitch was No. 1 of the 2018 season.

Knowing Utley, it won't be his last.

Wayne Simmonds, Flyers need to help each other

Wayne Simmonds, Flyers need to help each other

Wayne Simmonds has endured quite a bit in 2017-18.

Not that anything ever comes easy for him.

Simmonds has grinded out NHL success, featuring back-to-back 30-plus-goal outputs the previous two seasons and a 2017 All-Star Game MVP honor.

This season has been a different grind.

The 29-year-old power forward had his mouth busted twice by an opponent's errant stick, the first instance of which required some serious dental work. He then missed seven games from Feb. 20 to March 4 because of an upper-body injury. And now, when the stakes are at its highest, he's working to rediscover what makes him so important to the Flyers.

All while playing banged up, more than likely. In fact, Simmonds has battled his health all season, going back to October when he missed a practice from time to time.

"Simmer's a playoff warrior," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said Monday. "That's a mentality that he carries day in and day out. He's an important guy for us and I've got a sense that he'll impact this series."

The challenge is trying to do so in some uncharted waters. After averaging 18:20 of ice time through his first 69 games, Simmonds played 15:12 over the final six regular-season contests, posting a goal and an assist. Moreover, a net-front power-play presence that felt sacrosanct, was changed. Simmonds gave way to 19-year-old Nolan Patrick, sliding down to the second-unit man advantage.

Simmonds, the team-first guy that he is, has taken it in stride.

"Oh no, it's fine," Simmonds said April 5. "I wasn't playing well and I've got to do better. I've got to be a better player. Patty's done a great job in front of the net when he's been in front of the net this year. … I feel no way about it, the kid's a great player. He deserves everything he's getting."

Simmonds played a season-low 12:38 in Sunday's Game 3 loss, in large part because the Flyers' penalty kill spent so much time on the ice thanks to eight penalties. 

"Simmer was one of the guys we lost because of the number of specialty teams, and all of a sudden his impact on the game becomes minimal," Hakstol said. "He's a key guy and we've got to find the right avenue for him to impact this series. That's something that as a coach I've got to do a better job of. When you have a night like you had [Sunday] when we took six minor penalties over a 30-minute span, it's really hard to utilize a lot of players."

Hakstol understands the importance of utilizing Simmonds in better ways. After all, he's the emotional engine of the Flyers, who went 17-3-1 during the regular season when Simmonds scored a goal.

Thus far, he has one assist through three games of the best-of-seven first-round playoff matchup with the Penguins, while scoring one goal in his last 12 games, postseason included. 

Simmonds will continue to grind as the series moves to Game 4 Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP). The Flyers, trailing 2-1, hope it's the kind of grind that produces the vintage Wayne Simmonds.

Dave Hakstol's admission symbolic of Flyers' state

Dave Hakstol's admission symbolic of Flyers' state

There was nothing Dave Hakstol did — or didn't do — Sunday that held a drastic impact on the outcome of Game 3, a 5-1 loss for the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The players committed infraction after infraction while Hakstol served simply as a bystander to the carelessness, which now has the Flyers pinned in a 2-1 series deficit (see story).

But, in a way, Hakstol's own admission postgame encapsulated the entire makeup of this best-of-seven first-round playoff matchup with the Penguins.

On one side, there's a team rich with experience, built to win these series-shifting games, no matter the environment or circumstances.

On the other side, there's a team still sprouting, still learning in these moments, even with a blend of veterans.

And even for the head coach.

Not hiding from accountability, Hakstol wished he had done something differently Sunday as the Flyers were in the midst of uncoiling. Evgeni Malkin had just sent a power-play missile into the back of the Flyers' net, ballooning Pittsburgh's lead to 3-0 just 6:48 into the second period, while sounding the alarms for the Flyers.

No one reacted and things never settled.

"I should have taken a timeout after the third, after the third goal," Hakstol said. "Hindsight is 20/20, you don't get it back. You always want to save that timeout because I felt like we were playing well. We had a bad stretch, we dug a little bit of a hole, but I had no doubt that we could come back and dig our way out of that hole."

Five seconds later, directly off the faceoff and at 4-on-4, Sidney Crosby made a play not many else can to set up the Penguins' insurmountable 4-0 advantage. Within a flash, the air was sucked out of the Flyers and their fans.

"You want to save that timeout for the critical time at the end of the game," Hakstol said. "Well, go home with it in your back pocket and what good does it do you? That would have been one thing to stop that momentum because that 4-on-4 goal … now you're in a real deep hole, that's tough to come back from."

After the Flyers committed eight penalties, seven of which were stick violations, Hakstol didn't have to take any blame but did anyway. He was also forced to discuss, at length, his team's discipline. When asked to expand some more on the topic, Hakstol nearly grew frustrated.

"Well, I think the penalty problems were particular to tonight and I already talked to that," Hakstol said. "You've got to take care of your stick. We took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty and we took how many stick penalties? There, it's been addressed. Now we have to go out and execute. Sorry, I don't mean to … that is what it is."

And the Flyers, through no real fault of their own, are what they are right now — a group, from the coaches down to the players, still growing through some on-the-job training.

It just so happens to be on the playoff stage against a team that's been there, done that.