Monthly Archives: April 2011

Philly Prophesy Fulfilled

Not everything was prophesied this Easter Sunday.

Certainly if you prophesied the Philadelphia sports straight sweep then no leftovers for you, because you’re liar.

Let’s be honest, with the Phillies looking for their first swept of the San Diego Padres on the road in 32 years and the Flyers and Sixers both in elimination games, no one saw this coming.

But then slowly the pieces started falling into place.

It started with mashed potatoes on the floor as a jubilant celebration dance broke forth at the dinner table once Lou Williams and the Sixers officially cooled off the Miami Heat 86-82 avoiding the series sweep.

Sixers coach Doug Collins said it time and time again he doesn’t believe in moral victories at 60-years of ago but on this holiest of days there’s a feeling of some pretty good morality here.

After chillin’ in the Flyers locker room like it was an after hours bar Friday night, rookie Evan Turner must of soaked up some kind of winning touch, probably from the pile of sweaty socks he was standing on by having his most promising game of his young career dropping 17 points in front of the home crowd.

The Sixers didn’t “shock the world” Marc Zumoff style but they certainly shocked the Delaware Valley and parts of South Florida if they weren’t too busy lubin’ up the coconut oil on South Beach- it’s an Easter tradition.

One game, that’s all we asked for and the Sixers delivered.

Then as we began to comatose from all the turkey and gravy a bit of the spirit began to touch our hearts because we actually considered tolerating that Hip-Hop bunny, for the kids sake, but then Michael Leighton snapped us back into reality. Leighton took to the net for the Flyers as they face their own elimination game down 3-2 to Buffalo in the first round of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

If you haven’t noticed where this article is going, well continue reading you soon will, because like the miracle of Easter the Flyers found themselves mounting a comeback after going down 2-0 in the first period. As is accustomed during Flyers playoff games, Peter Laviolette pulled his goalie yet again inserting Friday’s letdown Brian Boucher back in net after he gave up 3 goals on 11 shots.

Boucher said he wanted revenge and what better day for revenge then Easter? Slowly, as desert came around, the Flyers started looking like a No. 2 seed again tying the game at 3-all heading into their second straight overtime. OT, a no man’s land where they never seem to escape victorously.

Meanwhile clear acrossed the country- do they even celebrate Easter in California- Roy Halladay was making his first start after one of his worst outings of his career against the Brew Crew.

As Doc took the hill and mowed down Padre after Padre, the Philly Trifecta began to take form. Fourteen, a new career high, San Diegans went down in all before Halladay was pulled with two outs in the ninth.

Again one was the magic number.

All it took was one pitch for Antonio Bastardo to record the final out as the Phils swept their first four game road trip against the Padres since the Carter administration, 3-1.

Back in Buffalo as the day came to a close, the weight of this most perfect holiday fell on the shoulders of the Flyers and the stick of savior Ville Leino as he sent a rare rebound shot off Ryan Miller past the blue line and securely in the net for the 5-4 win.

Victory.

One win. One pitch. On OT goal was all it took to make Philadelphia happy.

Was that too much to ask for? Now pass the corn.

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Strange Isn’t Strange Enough in Game 5 for Flyers

Strange Isn\’t Strange Enough for the Flyers

Just when the Philadelphia Flyers thought they found some consistency during the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals they lose a wild Game 5 in overtime. Now with their backs against the wall the Flyers must rely on their under dog mentality to fight their way back to a series win. Shay Roddy and I tell you how…

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Eagles Give Fans Something to Cheer About

Lockout? What lock out? Eagles fans celebrated Wednesday night about being locked in.

If you’re scratching your head, the NFL draft is April 28 and we’re focused on a far hotter topic.

Cheerleaders.

Fifty-seven finalist competed in front of a packed house at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre for just 38 highly desirable spots during the annual Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading final auditions.

Yeah, that’s right. If you missed it, well let’s just say you missed it.

The event was streamed live and with celebrity judges and former Eagles icons Tra Thomas, Jeremiah Trotter and Ike Reese smack dab in the front row, this years eye picked squad is sure to be a game stopper.

For over a month the ladies have been auditioning and on the final night it all came down to smarts, dance moves and who are we kidding, it came down to who was hot enough to help the Eagles repeat as Sports Illustrated’s hottest NFL cheerleading squad.

The final team will be announced Friday while the first performance will be celebrating yet another quarterback selection at next weeks draft.

If nothing else it was one fine step in the right direction for the 2011 NFL season.

If this is a lock out trust me you want to stay locked in.

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Flyers prevail; power play still not up to par

It would almost be easier to get George Lopez to write a joke that didn’t involve him being Mexican than it is for the Philadelphia Flyers to score a power play goal against Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres during the first two games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

The Flyers broke that drought in Game 2’s 5-4 win Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

As for Lopez, don’t expect him to drop the act any time soon.

After going 0-5 on the power play in Game 1, Miller continued to secure the net for the Flyers first six power play attempts in Game 2.

Yet, the law of statistics prevailed as Ville Leino ended, at that point, Philadelphia’s 0-11 series power play blunders with a goal 13:36 in the 2nd period.

“Obviously until you score it’s kind of tough when you’re just hitting your head on the wall,” said Leino. “So, it’s going to open up some chances now and I think were going to be more loose on the power play.”

Even after the goal the Flyers went 0-3 on the power play the rest of the way.

“It felt good though when Ville got the one in the second,” defensemen Sean O’Donnell added with a sigh of relief.

Still, in a constant up and down game, Leino proved to be the difference maker as Philadelphia secured the one point victory.

“That is the huge part,” agreed James van Riemsdyk. “The power play, you want to get those kind of goals out there and we found a way to get one there and it ended up being a big goal. Hopefully we can build off that and bury more of those chances on the power play.”

The Flyers finished the evening a woeful 1-10 shooting performance with the man advantage including nearly two minutes worth of 5-on-3 action.

“We certainly wanted to see some results.” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette on the power play performance. “We’re getting rips out of it and we’re getting looks but it certainly is not what we are looking for is an end result.”

Amazingly nearly half, 14 of Philadelphia’s 34 shots on goal, came on the power play thanks to Buffalo’s 29 penalty minutes that led to 15:49 minutes of power play opportunities. Opportunities the Flyers once again couldn’t take advantage of.

“There are a lot of opportunities and still things we can do better with regards to breakout and entry, possession and recovery, and screens and tips,” Laviolette pointed out. “So, there are lots of things we can do better.”

Oddly enough, after being shut out Game 1 Philadelphia shot 4-17 at even strength Saturday including a goal on the team’s third attempt of the night from Flyers team MVP winger Claude Giroux. Even with the strong play at full strength, the lack of power play production weighs heavily on the team.

“Anytime you get a goal like that when the power play is struggling, when the whole team is working hard and drawing penalties and you’re power play is not really scoring it’s disappointing and frustrating,” said Giroux.

Certainly the Flyers didn’t lack intensity in a wild game that lasted nearly three hours with six combined goals in the first period, the most for a Flyers playoff game since 1997, with a little help from a nonstop roaring home crowd. Philadelphia even out hit the Sabres 34 to 31 tallying 25 penalty minutes of their own.

Still that intensity couldn’t translate into advantage goals. Or maybe Miller is just that clutch saving 13 of 14 shots with uneven numbers.

“Buffalo is a good penalty killing team,” added O’Donnell.  “I mean, we know that we’ve had some struggles on the power play but Buffalo does a good job.  They block a lot of shots and whatever Miller sees, he stops.”

“Miller made some key saves. Finally we were able to get one by him,” said Flyers center Danny Briere. “At the end of the night it’s the goal that makes the difference.”

Without the lone power play goal the Flyers head into overtime, not a scenario Philadelphia wants to be in.

“I think there were times when we maybe could’ve put that game away or certainly given ourselves more breathing room.” said O’Donnell. “But, it’s baby steps.  You know, we got a [power play] goal tonight.  It was nice to get one and we’ll keep moving forward and hopefully have a little more luck on the road.”

The Flyers  have their work cut out for them as the series shifts to Buffalo for Game 3 Monday. Even with the series tied at 1-1, Leino and the Flyers remain optimistic about their power play heading into hostile territory.

“The goal was important. The power play has been struggling a little bit so we’re pretty happy we got one goal and I think it’s going to keep us confident for the next game.”

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Panic? Not in our house

Like the rest of their countrymen, Philadelphia loves America and her heroes.

Just not Ryan Miller.

The Buffalo Sabres goaltender was as impenetrable as Regan’s “Star Wars” defense Thursday night, saving 35 shots in a 1-0 shutout win against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at the Wells Fargo Center.

Miller, who won the silver metal for team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, playing in his 41st career playoff game, was impressive all night long blowing through more lines than Robert Downey Jr.

Game 2 of the series is Saturday night in Philadelphia and with news that assistant captain defensemen Chris Pronger will sit his second straight game it’s still too early for the Flyers to go into panic mode.

For now.

Opposite net of Miller in Game 1 rookie Sergei Bobrovsky got the starting nod from head coach Peter Laviolette saving 24 shots in his first career playoff game. The 22-year old was as athletic and impressive as ever in the crease and it didn’t take an amateur hockey fan to see that the Flyers outplayed Buffalo in nearly every aspect of the game. But as Bobrovsky has done all season, there was that one that got away.

Thursday night it just happen to be the game winner off a rebound from Buffalo right winger Patrick Kaleta.

Saturday night the Flyers will have one objective for Game 2. Attack, attack, attack Miller.

The strategy isn’t that much different from the approach the Flyers took against Miller in Game 1 directing a whopping 74 shots at Buffalo’s net. It was Millers sixth shut out of the season while Bobrovsky and the Flyers have none.

Even without Pronger on the ice, the Flyers intensity thrived off the ecstatic 19 thousand plus fans tying a season high with 40 hits.

Despite the intensity, the Flyers struggled like they have all season (16.6%, 19th in the NHL) on the power play going 0-5 overall including a blown 5-on-3 opportunity.

Forget focusing on just Game 2, if Philadelphia expects to beat Miller and the Sabres this series they must capitalize on the power play. With an offense that thrives on scrappy none glamorous goals, the Flyers are made for scoring in the playoffs and they will if they keep hammering the net.

Defensively the Flyers did a phenomenal job in Game 1 of staying out of the penalty box, killing the Sabres only power play opportunity. Staying out of the box will once again be key for Philadelphia in Game 2 especially with a young Bobrovsky in the net. If Philadelphia can’t stay out of the box they can still score having the leagues second best 13 short handed goals during the regular season.

There’s little’s doubt the “Bob” will get the start in the net but Laviolette has the luxury of having goaltenders Brian Boucher (6-6, 2009-10 playoffs) and Michael Leighton (8-3, 2009-10 playoffs) fresh off waivers on the Flyers bench.

Pronger’s absence without a doubt played a part in the loss and the Flyers await anxiously for his return going 6-4-6 since his latest injury dating back to March 10. Since then their No. 1 seed slipped to the Washington Capitols and they find themselves down 0-1 to Buffalo. Yet unlike the end of the regular season, the Flyers seemed to turn it up for Game 1 of the playoffs. Unfortunately so did Buffalo who are coming into the playoffs on a torrid hot streak.

Although the Flyers pulled off the miraculous comeback to beat Boston with four straight wins in last years Eastern Conference Semi Finals, Philadelphia doesn’t have history on their side Saturday with the winner of Game 1 in the past eight playoff match ups between Buffalo and Philadelphia having gone on to win the series. Overall the Flyers have dropped 20 of there last 34 series after losing Game 1.

Philadelphia has made it a trend down the regular season stretch to pull positives out of losses. If they keep it up in the playoffs it’s going to be one negative summer.

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