Thursday, February 28, 2013

Struck by sanity, NHL rescinds Zolnierczyk major

What was going to be a regular old dominating 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals last night turned needlessly ugly in the final minute, when Flyers forward Harry Zolnierczyk and Washington's Mathieu Perreault collided at center ice.

Initial replay angles seemed to suggest a knee-to-knee hit, for which Harry Z was banished for a major and game misconduct, but despite speculation that a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety, this morning things became a little bit clearer with 360-degree vision and the league eventually decided to rescind those infractions and keep his punitive slate clean per ESPN.

The decision might have been made easier to retract rather than to press on since both head coaches -- Adam Oates and Peter Laviolette -- agreed that there was no intent and no actual injurious conduct on the play, and Oates actually took his player to task for putting himself in that position:

“I don’t think it’s dirty at all,” Oates stated. “It’s the product of our whole game, quite honestly. There’s 30 seconds left, the game’s over and Matty thought that he could stickhandle through the team. That’s not what we do, all of us tonight. Guys are sitting there waiting for you and you get hit."

Zolnierczyk had never previously been fined or suspended in 144 total professional games since 2010.

Soul players begin to report

PHILADELPHIA -  Philadelphia Soul players will report between noon and 6 p.m. today for training camp.

On Friday the team will conduct physicals on the players in preparation for the practices to take place the rest of camp.

Offensive lineman Christian Johnson, fullback Derrick Ross, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh,  wide receiver Tiger Jones, linebacker Joe Goosby, and coach Clint Dolezel have been together since 2011 when the players played for the Dallas Vigilantes and Dolezel, who was the head coach in Big D.

“I’m very excited about today,” said Dolezel. “It’s a great situation for the team to be in when you have both old and new players coming in for camp.  We have 11 or 12 players returning from last season, which means we’re going to be putting another 12 or more new guys on the field.  It’s a great opportunity for us to put together a winning product for the city of Philadelphia.

Union schedule friendly with Club Universidad Nacional, A.C.

CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union have scheduled a friendly with one of Mexico’s most popular teams, Club Universidad Nacional, A.C. on Saturday, March 23 at 5:00 p.m. EST at PPL Park.

Known as the Pumas Club Universidad Nacional represents the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and last captured the Clausura Tournament title in 2011 but enjoyed their best season in 2004. 

The club earned back to back Primera division titles, becoming the first and only team to do so since the Mexican League was split into two seasons.  In total, the Pumas have won seven Primera Division and four international titles.

“Pumas are one of the most celebrated teams in Mexico with a rich tradition and some of the best players in CONCACAF,” said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz.  “We are honored and excited to host such a great team and organization here in Philadelphia. I know the fans will see an interesting and exciting international exhibition. Pumas are bringing all their stars and it will be a good opportunity for our first team and young players to match up against one of the best teams in CONCACAF.” 

Soul begin training camp

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh
PHILADELPHIA -  The 2012 AFL American Conference champion Philadelphia Soul are set to begin their training camp on Thursday when the team's 35-man roster is scheduled to report.

Practices for training camp will be held at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia and will begin on Saturday, March 2.

Entering training camp, the Soul have 11 players from last season’s conference championship club.  The top returnees include: quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, fullback Derrick Ross, wide receiver Tiger Jones, defensive back Rayshaun Kizer and defensive lineman Bryan Robinson.

“It’s always important to have key weapons return to the team,” said first-year Soul head coach, Clint Dolezel.  “It makes your job a little easier as a coach heading into the season.  But, at the end of the camp, we still need to pick 24 of these very talented players.  It’s important that the players represent their full potential at this training camp to prove to us they will help our team win.”

Dolezel assembled a new coaching staff for the upcoming season.  Two-time First Team All-Arena performer, Phil Bogle, begins his second coaching stint with the Soul as the assistant head coach.  Former Philadelphia Eagle, Hollis Thomas; Chris McKinney; Steve Criswell; and Donald Malloy will join Dolezel and Bogle as assistant coaches.

First cuts take place on March 8 and will  reduce the roster to 28 players.  The final 24-man roster will be announced on March 16 when training camp ends.

The Soul open their 2013 season on Saturday, March 23 at 9 p.m. in Phoenix, against the Arizona Rattlers for an ArenaBowl XXV rematch, which will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

The 2013 training camp roster consists of 23 AFL veterans and 12 rookies. The All-Arena players on the Soul’s rosters are Jones, Kizer, Robinson, and Derrick Ross.  

Local hopefuls include  Temple DL/LB Morkeith Brown, Delaware State DB James Romain and East Stroudsburg DL Dustin Barno.

Ruiz looks to take another step at EFC card in Atlantic City

Gabriel Ruiz, the EFC's 125-lb dynamo, knew he loved to fight, but not much else when he wandered into the Extreme Fight Club Gym in Woodland Park, New Jersey, a couple years ago. The 22-year-old played some sports and wrestled senior year of high school, but other than street fights, was a blank slate.

Two years later, the "blank slate" is on a two-fight winning streak and headed into the biggest fight of his life when takes on fellow Jersey resident Damon Bonner on Saturday, March 9, 2013, in the Xanadu Theater at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, as part of "The Darwish Brothers Presents EFC: Relentless" MMA event.

In the night's main event, Bloomfield, New Jersey's undefeated Fabian "The Baby Face Killer" Rosario (6-0) will defend his EFC Welterweight Championship against Danny "Massacre" Massa (2-2) of Westchester Fight Club in New Rochelle, New York.

"I'm kind of a late starter," admits Ruiz. "But it's going really good. I'm an all-around fighter now. I like grappling, but I'm a stand-up fighter in my heart. I've got good takedown defense and I'm comfortable everywhere in the cage."

Ruiz credits trainer Hani Darwish for his quick transformation into a formidable fighter.

"I look up to Hani. He's a good guy and a good inspiration for me. He helps me out a lot with my conditioning, my skills, everything."

That trust wasn't broken even when Ruiz began his fighting career with two consecutive losses.

"I never felt like giving up. I'm the kind of person who never gives up. I always come back strong. You have to learn from your failures. Now I'm on a two-fight winning streak and I'm going to win this fight and make it three!"

Trainer Darwish holds Ruiz in high regard as well.

"Gabe is a guy with a huge heart who never backs down. He's been matched very tough and has come a long way in a short amount of time. When he steps in the cage you can always expect a good fight. He's constantly improving and will have a successful career in the sport. Gabe is like a little brother to me. He practically lives in the gym and has a burning desire to be a champion inside and outside the cage."

Ruiz, who is also currently in school for Heating and Cooling, says his goal is to rack up 10 consecutive amateur wins and then, when Darwish gives the word, turn professional. The ultimate dream is a crack at the UFC.

"I feel like I have a lot of potential, so I'm just going with the flow, step by step. I get up, do my exercise and run, do a 45-minute workout and then go to school. From school, I go straight to the gym. I teach classes there, but while I'm teaching, I am reviewing my own technique. Then I train for two hours, sparring and grappling, then go home and do another quick workout.  I'm just going to work hard on everything I want because life is not easy. You gotta keep working hard and stay positive."

Tickets for "The Darwish Brothers Presents EFC: Relentless" are priced at $45, $55, $65, $75, $100 and $125 Cageside and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets,, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Trump Taj Mahal box office on fight night.

2013 Philadelphia Union season preview

By John McMullen

CHESTER, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Season seven of the legendary Dallas television program was so poorly received that the producers decided to reboot the entire series and call the ill-fated run a dream -- Pam Ewing's nightmare.

The 2012 MLS season may have been real but it felt like a nightmare for most Philadelphia Union fans and while the franchise can't call its ugly campaign a dream like those Dallas producers, it has admitted to a litany of mistakes.

The face of the franchise is back in Chester
The Union, of course, jettisoned unpopular team manager Peter Nowak just 11 games into last year's debacle and then rectified his biggest personnel mistake by reacquiring the face of the franchise, striker Sebastian Le Toux, in the offseason.

After the club's first postseason appearance in 2011 the popular Le Toux was traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps by Nowak and the team's other All- Star, veteran goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, was allowed to return to his native Columbia.

The result was a disaster and the Union got off to a dismal 2-7-2 start before Nowak was issued his walking papers in June. Well-liked assistant coach John Hackworth was elevated and provided much-needed stability, but Philadelphia still finished a disappointing 10-18-6.

The 43-year-old Hackworth spent his first offseason in charge making significant upgrades to the team, however.

Le Toux was brought back in a trade from Red Bull New York and while sequels are rarely as good as originals the one thing the Frenchman can do is finish, something that was a chore for the Union a year ago.

Philadelphia scored just 37 goals in 34 matches last season, but with Le Toux and veteran Conor Casey joining the ascending Jack McInerney up front, Hackworth should have much more firepower st his disposal this time around.

Le Toux is Philadelphia's all-time leading scorer, netting 25 markers and adding 20 assists for the Union during the franchise's first two seasons. Philly also added some much-needed size in front of goal by selecting Casey, the former Colorado Rapids star, in the second stage of the MLS re-entry draft. Casey was let go by Colorado after the 2012 season but is the Rapids all-time leading goal-scorer with 50, and helped lead Colorado to the 2010 MLS Cup.

The 20-year-old McInerney, meanwhile, led the Union with eight goals in 2012, including a franchise-record four-game goal-scoring streak. Former UCLA star Chandler Hoffman and a pair of high-energy diminutive options, the popular Roger Torres and Antoine Hoppenot are in reserve.

Defensively, Philadelphia will also sport a far different look as 2012 captain Carlos Valdes was loaned to Colombian side Santa Fe, but Valdes' loss figures to be offset by two solid central defenders, former MLS Defender of the Year finalist Bakary Soumare, along with Philadelphia native Jeff Parke, who was
acquired in a trade with the Seattle Sounders.

Homegrown right back Sheanon Williams, the franchise leader in both games and minutes played, is regarded as a rising star, while left back Gabriel Farfan is best-suited a midfielder but remains the club's best option. Second-year West Virginia product Ray Gaddis, a raw but speedy defender, offers depth.

In the midfield, Gabriel's twin brother, Michael Farfan, a 2012 MLS All-Star, is penciled in as the top playmaker while steady veteran Brian Carroll was named captain.

"It's an honor to officially wear the armband," Carroll said. "I'll just try to do the best job that I can, it's not going to mean that I am going to change completely who I am just because I am officially the captain."

The athletic Keon Daniel, Michael Lahoud, Danny Cruz and Amobi Okugo round out the midfield candidates. The versatile Okugo can also step back as a defender at least for short bursts.

One player who won't be an option at midfield is the highly-paid Freddy Adu, who has been written out of the club's plans. The talented Adu played in 24 matches last season, scoring five goals, but has struggled with conditioning and is on the trade block. His $500,000 dollar salary isn't helping matters and Adu is currently working out on his own.

The goalkeeper is third-year man Zac MacMath, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft out of Maryland. At 6-foot MacMath isn't as rangy as you would like and didn't have the presence of a Mondragon but he's plenty athletic and was well above average in his first season as a starter.

MacMath already has amassed a team record 13 career wins along with 11 shutouts and his leaderships skills and ability to direct traffic will only improve with more experience. His backups, Chris Konopka and Chase Harrison, are both pedestrian so MacMath needs to stay healthy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Te'o rumors make NFL look smal

By John McMullen

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already decided what he would like his legacy to be.

While Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue will be forever revered as economic
geniuses, there was a dark side to their respective watches -- the NFL turned
into a clearinghouse for felons and miscreants.

Goodell wanted to clean that up and has been far more aggressive in terms of
disciplining players, something which has made him fairly unpopular with some
because of it.

The "gotcha" type of nature of the NFL's public relations-fueled performance-
enhancing drugs policy and who it really serves can always be dissected, but
sidelining players for crimes or drug offenses should never be questioned,
even by the NFLPA.

That said, most fans don't really care if their favorite stars are failures as
human beings as long as they can deliver the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the
hometown team. That doesn't mean the leader of the NFL can't or shouldn't grab
for the moral high ground whenever possible, though.

My problem is a selective enforcement of morality and why Goodell doesn't take
a look at some of the decision-makers in his league who embarrass the NFL far
more than an abuser of Adderall ever could.

Maybe Goodell's next ethical outage should be aimed at people like Miami
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who once asked Cowboys star Dez Bryant
if his mother was a prostitute.

Or maybe Goodell should try to find out who wanted to know if Colorado tight
end Nick Kasa "liked girls" at the scouting combine earlier this week.

After all, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has decreed "sex-
stereotyping" as a form of discrimination illegal under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964

Notre Dame star Manti Te'o was the lead story during much of the combine and
the microscope he was placed under was largely a self-inflicted nuisance.

Te'o, of course, claims he was led to believe a "girlfriend" he had met
online, Lennay Kekua, was a real person who died from leukemia. In reality, a
man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo created Kekua out of thin air.

Tuiasosopo later claimed he concocted the whole "catfishing" scam because he
was in love with Te'o. Subsequent Te'o lies to his own father, his teammates
and coaches, coupled with a failure to come clean immediately are troubling
but tame in comparison to what other NFL prospects have done in the past.

Yet when Te'o ran a predictably slow time of 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash
at the combine, you might have thought the sky was falling on the runner-up for
the Heisman Trophy.

In reality, Te'o was supposed to run in the 4.75 range, so chalking up a pair
of runs just over 4.8 were hardly a surprise to anyone, perhaps a slight
disappointment but nothing which couldn't have been cured at Notre Dame's
upcoming pro day.

Speed is certainly an important part of success in the NFL, but it's hardly
some kind of definitive stamp on future success.

Perhaps the best pure football player since Jim Brown, Hall of Fame wide
receiver Jerry Rice, ran a 4.72 at the NFL Combine. Cris Carter was probably a
tick slower than that and he'll be joining Rice in Canton this summer.

A natural instinct in this game turns a 4.72 to a 4.4 rather quickly, just as
a false step renders a 4.4 virtually meaningless.

Te'o's performance, however, was a chance for his detractors to pile on.

Katie Couric of all people exposed what many in the NFL are actually thinking
about Te'o during a high-profile interview with him on her syndicated talk
show last month, and it has nothing to do with speed or lack thereof.

Couric, the former host of "Today" and current ABC News contributor, asked the
6-foot-1, 241-pound Te'o if he was gay.

In a pie-in-the-sky world, that kind of thing shouldn't matter. In the
testosterone-fueled world of the NFL, however, sexuality might be the
final frontier.

After ex-San Francisco 49ers tackle Kwame Harris was arrested for a domestic
incident in late January -- one that revealed he was gay -- comedian Artie
Lange asked current 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver what he would think about
having a gay teammate.

"I don't do the gay guys man," Culliver said. "I don't do that. No, we don't
got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't
be with that sweet stuff. Nah -- can't be -- in the locker room, man."

Culliver then went on to suggest homosexual athletes should keep their
sexuality private until 10 years after they retire.

Harsh but indicative of the intolerance pervading the NFL culture.

Culliver was vilified, of course, and spent the rest of his Super Bowl week
backpedaling, something that satiated the politically correct crowd but
added little to the discourse and the fact that so many share his views.

No active NFL player has ever come out of the closet yet various studies on
sexuality have pegged up to 10 percent of the population as gay. That number
seems high to many, so let's say it's 5 percent. That would mean 85 current
NFL players are homosexuals.

Statistics aside -- understand there are gay men playing in the NFL right now
and the actual number is -- or at least should be -- inconsequential. The fact
that people go to ridiculous lengths in an effort to conceal who they really
are, is.

The real question surrounding Manti Te'o is a simple one -- can he play?
In fact, that should be the only question.

Unfortunately to some of the more shallow and superficial power-brokers in the
NFL, it's a query which will remain awash in a sea of stereotypes, never to be

Union unveils Third Kit for 2013 season

Le Toux and Hoppenot help unveil Union's new look
Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union unveiled the team’s 2013 third kit Tuesday at Xfinitiy Live! during a Meet the Team event.

The club will officially debut the kit this Saturday in the season-opening match against Sporting KC at 4 p.m. on 6abc.

The jersey is a tribute to the tradition of soccer in Pennsylvania created by Bethlehem F.C., one of America’s most successful soccer clubs (1911-1930). Featuring a black and white Philadelphia Union logo, the center shows a retro Bimbo logo, as well as a capital letter ‘B’ placed in the lower front corner to represent Bethlehem Steel F.C.

Around the Rink: Numerology Edition

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

So, the never-ending carousel of ex-Flyers eventually coming home to roost took another full turn yesterday when Simon Gagne was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional pick in the upcoming draft.

Thousands squealed with delight across the Delaware Valley to know the hero of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Boston would be returning to his "home" team. Even better, a minor-league scrub who was awarded his former #12 gave it up in a magnanimous gesture so that Gagne's ardent fans, who have been clutching pearls in hopeful expectancy, can drag that jersey from out of the moth balls and fully bask in the glory that was 1999 through three years ago.

While we can applaud Paul Holmgren for once again filling a gap in the roster while his "hands were tied" with the sudden eye injury to Tye McGinn, and the hurts which will keep Matt Read out for five more weeks and Andrej Meszaros probably another two, here's another case of a general manager of a supposed playoff contender snagging low-hanging fruit.

And not only that, it's low-hanging fruit with a former connection to the franchise, an epidemic which seems to have swept the remainder of his grey matter which might have otherwise put up a fight.

Speculation arose on social media yesterday in the wake of Gagne's return, that this might be a stopgap move, with his pro-rated $3.5 million cap hit, a precursor to a bigger move as we draw nearer to the April trade deadline.

I say chances are, it is not. It is a case of a GM almost wholly incapable of navigating a salary-cap system that those who at least hold a bachelor's degree from a North American college could figure out at some point. It's also a case of a man who, under the guise of doing what is best for the organization, will only make a safe move for a bargain when another alternative is available for an actual price.

There was the Ruslan Fedotenko signing in the Summer which stoked fires that the Ukrainian forward could bring his two Stanley Cup rings and 11 years experience to catfish a young roster. He's being called a healthy-scratch-in-waiting. Then, there was the plucking of Mike Knuble out of the ether after no other NHL team decided to take a chance on him after finishing his three-year deal with the Washington Capitals. Amidst questions about his production and penalty-taking with 15 minutes a night, he's a healthy scratch this evening.

Now Gagne, who may or may not be fully recovered from a devastating concussion and offseason neck surgery and certainly not a top-six guy after being buried beneath the Kings' depth, about to turn 33, who may or may not contribute in a meaningful way given the manner in which Peter Laviolette swaps out bodies across all four lines period-to-period.

All is not well in the kingdom, and if Holmgren can't "bite the bullet" once to make a viable deal to boost his 9-11-1 team, by the time the deadline rolls around, nobody on the other end of the phone will be willing to listen to how he wants to fleece them to ensure a playoff berth.

Danny Briere doesn't want to leave. And that's great that he considers Philadelphia home, but he is the Flyers' biggest and best trade asset now and forever. Whether it's Doug Armstrong in St. Louis or whoever else has expressed interest, with a shrinking cap next season and little assurance that this current crop of players can shake loose of the doldrums and gain a firm foothold on a playoff berth, a hard choice must be made.

Is Holmgren that afraid of a high-risk, high-reward deal? Has he been trained all too well in the Keith Allen-Bob Clarke method of transactions, where if it's not robbing another club blind it's not worth anything? Or is the entire front office nothing more than a relic of the old days, surpassed by guys with an actual formal education in business or economics -- not just the Hockey School of Hard Knocks -- who can out-think and anticipate events better given a league bounded by the rules of advanced math? 

If the last year of dealings is any indication, all armchair GMs should be checking into which clubs possess valuable ex-Flyers and lay their money on a deal being made with whomever that may be.

When Numbers Get Serious

The National Hockey League isn't giving up on realignment for next season, coming up Tuesday with a slightly altered plan from the one that was introduced in January of 2012, shot down by the NHLPA and then tabled in favor of all the nonsense from the lockout. 

Per the inestimable Bob McKenzie: "Top 3 teams in each of two 7-team West conferences make playoffs. Two wild cards from remaining 8 West teams also make the playoffs. Playoff format remains old divisional style, 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3 though it remains to be seen how the wild cards are slotted for first-round."

And from multiple sources, here is the proposed "conference breakdown" in graphic form:

Notice how, of all teams, the ones left out in the cold are the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers -- both of whom will be roughly 1,000 miles from their closes competition inside their respective divisions. (side note: up until yesterday, the idea of "conferences A-D" was still in play before it was announced the idea would be dropped). For Winter road trips, that's a flu bug waiting to happen due to the radical climate shifts. Still, isn't it kinda cute that the Northeast grouping is shaped like a stick blade to include the Florida teams?

The alignment as suggested here is a failure, and needs to be tweaked one more time, so that there are no geographic orphans.

To preserve the 8-8-7-7 alignment, how about the following:

Northeast Division: Bruins-Canadiens-Senators-Maple Leafs-Sabres-Penguins-Red Wings-Blue Jackets

Atlantic Division: Devils-Islanders-Rangers-Flyers-Capitals-Hurricanes-Lightning-Panthers

The Central and Pacific Divisions will remain unchanged from above.

So Detroit no longer has to complain about being the Eastern-most team in the West, and though the Flyers-Penguins rivalry will be reduced, the two Florida clubs aren't just hanging out there with other teams from the colder Northeast. Even though the Philly-Pittsburgh pairing is the hottest the league has NOW, in five years that might not be the case. Familiarity always breeds contempt and who knows? The Blue Jackets may have a war with the Red Wings.

It's a redux of the 1993-95 breakdown, when the Eastern Conference featured 14 teams (seven per division) and the Western had 12 (six per division) and something most average fans could fashion with little thought and 20 minutes on their hands. I wonder if the BOG and the union realizes that?

When Numbers Get Stupid

I'm not taking away what the Chicago Blackhawks have done to the Western Conference since this season began back on January 19. Their magical run of 19 games from the start of the schedule with a point in every single game is one of the more impressive streaks I've seen in 28 years following hockey.

But it is far from a bona-fide NHL record, no matter what you, or you, or the esteemed trivia master of North America, Liam Maguire, might have argued with me late last week.

Put an asterisk next to it, call it a record with a qualifier denoting that the fundamental point structure of the NHL changed since 2005, but the Blackhawks do not own the most impressive run from the beginning of any season.

That distinction belongs to the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers, who went 15 games from the start of that year (12 wins 3 ties), defending their first Stanley Cup title, without a loss. Get it? No losses.

The only way it can be topped with ties written out of the rulebook is if some team in the future wins 16 straight games to begin a year. The Blackhawks have, let's count ' defeats on the season, albeit beyond regulation, but they're still losses with that crutch point that didn't exist until eight years ago. The win-loss scenario is simple: Pittsburgh holds the record with 17 in a row in March-April of 1993 and for another team to break it, they must win 18 in succession. End of story.

Let's recap: Oilers zero losses, Blackhawks three. Therefore, it's not Chicago's record no matter how far they get into the schedule without losing in regulation, they have lost games and have been rewarded with a point for losing, while Edmonton's streak existed in a time when it was simply two points for a win, and ZERO points for a loss in either regulation or overtime.

At best, I will concede two separate records with the Blackhawks and 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks as the bellwethers for the lesser "most consecutive games from the start of the regular season with at least a point," and the Oilers maintaining the loftier perch of "most games from the start of a year without a loss."

Same goes for ESPN's John Buccigross on Tuesday morning, who added his tune to the echo chamber with his tweet that the record for "Most Consecutive Games With A Point In NHL History" (who knows why he had to capitalize the first letter in every word) as the 1979-80 Flyers at 35, and the 1977-78 Canadiens second at 28.

Wrong. The equivocation and the combination of those records is wrong. The Philadelphia Flyers hold the North American professional sports record of 35 consecutive games without a loss -- a mark which may never come close to being equaled let alone broken. To speak of it in terms less than its own greatness reduces the accomplishment and insults those who helped create it, with the added side-effect of giving some wannabes the tools to sound educated on the subject.

And since when is ESPN or any of its anchors to be respected in hockey matters, anyway?

Something Completely Different

Heading into their primetime matchup on South Broad Street, the Flyers hold a record of 191-100-6 with 19 ties all-time against the Caps. At home, it's a 59-30-2-6 mark but only 4-6-2 since the start of the 2006-07 season.

We all know the early days of the Washington franchise was historically ugly, but did you know the Flyers put the Capitals firmly in their place during the Mike Keenan era?

The Caps, under Bryan (older brother of Terry) Murray were supposed to be the successors to the Islanders dynasty in the Patrick Division, having won 48 games and eclipsed the 100-point plateau for the first time in 1983-84.

But Keenan led Philadelphia in total domination of the DC denizens, going 17-8-3 from 1984-88 which includes a Spectrum record of 9-2-3 and kicking the Red, White and Blue into second place for the first three seasons of that period.

Only Fred Shero (1974-78) at 13-0-3 holds a better overall record against Washington in Flyers history for a coach lasting at least three seasons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gagne talks Flyers deal and more

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

On his reaction to the trade
It’s tough to say exactly the way I feel right now.  It’s always a shock first of all getting traded, but after when they told me the place I was going, the place I was there for more than 10 years and where everything started, so it’s going back to the place where I’m really familiar and really excited to go back to Philly.

How are you feeling these days?
Health-wise I feel really good.  Hockey-wise it’s a little tougher the last couple weeks, in and out of the lineup and not playing much.  Trying to understand what was my role here with the Kings this year, try to figure out what’s going on.  It’s part of the game and now it’s behind me and it’s time to focus on what I have to do to help the Flyers to win.

Do you feel like you’re in game shape?
Game shape’s good even if I haven’t played the last, I think, five games.  It’s been, what, to weeks since I played. Still practicing with the team, still getting a skate after every morning skate, still riding the bike.  That was the only thing I was able to do, try to focus on and keep myself in shape for exactly what happened and try to go and play for another team.  I’m in good shape.  It’s going to be maybe a tough one tomorrow night, I think they want me to be in the lineup.  First of all I’m excited to be back and play in front of the fans in Philly tomorrow night.  Right now the plan for me was there as no flight left for this afternoon so I have to take the red eye and fly all night.  So it’s going to be a special game tomorrow but I’ll try to take all that emotion and try to bring that energy to the game.

On his offseason neck surgery
Yeah actually I feel really good since the surgery. The neck problem was going on for quite a while and it was a tough situation the last couple years having the head injury, but who knows it was maybe more my neck sometime.  Having the surgery, finally finding a doctor here in LA that was willing to do the surgery – it was a tricky place to do the surgery, around the neck and close to nerves and stuff like that.  After that I felt the difference right away,  just overall like in normal life coming at  the house, playing with the kids, sleeping at night, stuff like that, it makes a huge difference.  I’m now really excited about that.  I was looking forward to starting the season and playing pretty much every game but it was not the case.  It’s a little bit difficult to be in the lineup and play and now try to see the difference, but I could tell I felt different on the ice and I feel better and I can’t wait to try it on a regular basis. 

When was the surgery?
I had the surgery in June right after we won the Cup, so I think it was five days after we won, everything was planned.  That’s why I was able to come back in the lineup.  I had the chance to meet a lot of specialists that were willing to do the surgery for the neck and everything was planned.  That’s why I knew at that point the head was OK and it was more a neck issue at the end, so that’s why I came back and played [in the playoffs].  Right after we won everything was scheduled to do the surgery. I’m 100 percent now, and like I said I was really excited about this year because of that, but unfortunately things didn’t work the way it was here in LA this year, so now having a chance to play with Philly and play on a regular basis, I’m really excited to try that.  It will be fun.
On the state of his hockey skills after not playing
It’s not an easy situation. As a hockey player not playing a lot last year and not playing at the end in the Final and having the long lockout, not laying for almost six months before we started the season.  But I have to say I felt really good – the games that I played this year, I felt really good on the ice.  My leg was feeling good, the skill was coming back, but it’s hard when you start to feel your game coming back and you’re not playing the next five games, and after that you have to go back into the lineup, any player it’s going to be hard to ask someone to go back in the lineup after not playing for five games.  It’s almost like a week not playing.  It’s hard.  But like I said the games I played here this year I was feeling really good.  I think it’s just a matter of playing a little more hockey and all that stuff will come back.

Did you ask for a trade?
It’s funny you mention that because it was definitely something in my mind the last couple days. I talked to my agent three days ago and the situation here you could tell was not going to get better, and we started talking about the options.  It’s just a little different now.  I have a family and I have two kids, and you’re thinking about them a lot more than you’re thinking about yourself.   I was willing to suck it up maybe for a couple more games or couple more weeks and see what’s going to happen here, but at the end I knew it was not my place here and it was time to move on.  It just happened like that.  I didn’t have a chance to ask Dean [Lombardi] or [Ron Hextall] to try to trade me, they just did it on their own.  It just shows you the class those guys hav.  Even if it’s hard getting traded in the middle of the season, going to Philly – and they told me it was maybe the best place for me to go – they’re really gentlemen to do that to me this year.

Did you talk to Paul Holmgren?
I talked to him a couple minutes after I met Dean and Hexy.  First thing he told me is are you ready to play tomorrow night.  I told him I’m taking the red eye flight tonight so I’ll be on the plane all night.  So it’s going to be a tough one but he wanted me to be in the lineup so I’ll be there for him tomorrow.

Have you thought about whose line you want to play on?
No… actually I just got a call right now and it just said Peter Laviolette on my phone.  That’ll be the first time I talk to Lavi.  I don’t know what the plan is for me tomorrow.  I know they want me to play.  I’ll play and we’ll see.  It’s gonna be fun.

Did Homer tell you what he thought you could do for the club or what it needed right now?
No, we didn’t have a chance to talk too much about that.  Like I said, it was basic welcome-back, a couple laughs, more talking about the game tomorrow.  Just said that I want to play, and he said I’m going to have a chance to play a lot of minutes with the Flyers, and that was the only thing he said.  I’m sure I’ll have a chance to catch up with him when I get to Philly.  I think he said the next game will be Saturday after that, so that will give us some time between games to talk about the future.

Do you still have a home in the area?
Yeah I still have it, but last month I finally found someone willing to buy it, so the closing’s going to be done on March 15.  It’s part of the life, but at the same time we all know the market in Jersey’s not too good.  So just getting to find a buyer to buy the house, it’s something that even if I’m going back to Philly, and it’s a house we lived in for quite a while, where my son was born, and a lot of good memories, but at the same time it was maybe the best option even if I go back there to sell the house and maybe renting something for the next couple years or at least the next couple months.  Lavi was renting the house actually.  Lavi was staying in the house for the last 2 ½ years.

Return of a King: Gagne comes back to Philly

From the "You think about it but never see it coming" file: the Flyers announced on Tuesday they have re-acquired winger Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional 2013 fourth-round draft pick, previously acquired from Phoenix.  

"Simon is an experienced veteran who will help us in a lot of areas,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said in making the announcement.  “We are glad to have him back. He improves our depth up front automatically. Obviously with the injury bug and Matt Read being out and now we lost Tye McGinn last night for a few weeks. We have some holes.  Simon is a guy who has a lot of experience and played in a lot of positions, penalty kill, power play and regular shifts.  He is a good two way player that can skate.   We think he will add to us a lot.”

Lisa Dillman of the LA Times reported that it will be a third-round pick if Peter Laviolette's team makes the playoffs and a fourth-round pick if not.

Gagne last suited up for the Orange and Black on June 9, 2010 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago. He played the good solider and acquiesced to be dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning several weeks later for the disaster that is Matt Walker, and then found himself on the Kings' Cup winners last season despite suffering a late-season concussion that kept him out for all but the final games of the playoffs.

"I'm happy to get that chance. It was tough not to play. I'm going to a place I know well. It's like going back home. I know everybody there and I'm going back where it all started," Gagne said to Renaud Lavoie from RDS of Canada.

The Quebec native returns to Philadelphia as the franchise's 10th-leading point producer (524), ninth in goals (259) and 16th in assists (265), and 15th in total playoff points (47) in 664 games over 10 seasons (1999-2004; 2005-10).

Gagne, 33, has totaled just five assists over 11 games for the defending champs this year. He is on the way back from offseason neck surgery and a concussion which wiped out the latter half of last season plus all but four playoff games during the Kings' title run.

Holmgren is now a Peter Forsberg acquisition away from reassembling the club's top line from 2005-07.

The move became clearer in context later in the afternoon as Holmgren announced that McGinn will miss at least two weeks after suffering a broken orbital bone in a fight during Monday's 4-2 loss to Toronto.It is expected he will be placed on injured reserve, while Jody Shelley and possibly Andrej Meszaros will head to LTIR to fall into cap compliance.

“Any concern?  We can't make the trade if you can’t fit it in. Obviously it adds to our salary cap but because of the guys we have on long term injury we can make it work," added Holmgren when asked about Gagne's pro-rated $3.5 million cap hit for the season.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Leafs beat inconsistent Flyers

Special to the Phanatic

Philadelphia, PA --  Mikhail Grabovski scored the eventual deciding goal in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs posted a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in James van Riemsdyk's first game back in the city since an off-season trade.

"We were all in. There were no passengers tonight. Everybody did what they needed to do to be a successful team," the former second-overall pick in the 2007 draft admitted. "I didn't really hear anything it was tough to say. There's a lot of passionate fans here, it's crazy to say you didn't appreciate all that stuff (noise in his direction as an opposing player). 

Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin also lit the lamp for Toronto, with Jay McClement adding an empty-net tally to help back a 23-save effort from Ben Scrivens.

First Stare of the week Jakub Voracek continued his recent hot streak by recording a goal and an assist, while Scott Hartnell netted his first marker of the season in the loss. Claude Giroux assisted on both Flyers' scores.

Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 18-of-21 shots in Philadelphia's second defeat at the hands of the Leafs this month, with Toronto registering a 5-2 home triumph in a Feb. 11 meeting.

The Orange and Black (9-11-1) lost their sixth straight game this year when attempting to reach the .500 mark, and alternate captain Kimmo Timonen recognized that frustrating inconsistency.

 “We can talk in the room as much as we want, once we go on the ice, everyone has to show up and [have a sense of urgency]. It comes from the 20 guys in this room to do it on the ice, not here [in the locker room]. “We can talk about the urgency, whatever great word you want to make up but it has to happen there [on the ice]."

Scrivens was sharp right from the start, coming up with seven saves over the game's first six minutes and later stoning Wayne Simmonds on a breakaway attempt coming out of the penalty box near the midway mark of the opening period. The rookie would get some breathing room near the end of the frame courtesy of Kessel, who blew past Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen after collecting a no-look pass from Tyler Bozak off the right boards and firing the puck through Bryzgalov's legs 2:40 prior to the first intermission.

Kulemin made it a 2-0 score with just under five minutes remaining in the second period. With the Flyers caught in a line change, the Russian found the back of the net on a backhander off Nazem Kadri's cross-ice feed for his first goal in 13 games.

Philadelphia answered less than three minutes after, however. Voracek skated up the right wing before hitting Hartnell for a wrister that the veteran wing lifted over Scrivens' shoulder to cut Toronto's lead in half.

Giroux nearly tied it just over 7 1/2 minutes into the final session with a backhander that bounced off the top of the crossbar, but it was the Maple Leafs that cashed in on the resulting rush. Bryzgalov turned aside Clarke MacArthur's initial attempt, but Grabovski put home the rebound for a 3-1 advantage with 12:08 to play.

"You always get a question about 'how did this one play kick-start the rest of the game'," Scrivens said. "Yo have to be ready from the start. If that opportunity to make that save doesn't happen, you still need to be ready. You have to play each shot honestly, if you miss one, you have another one coming in your direction."

Philadelphia capitalized on a power-play chance shortly afterward to pull back within one. With ex-Flyer van Riemsdyk in the box for consecutive minors, Voracek -- named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday -- ripped a shot that beat a screened Scrivens stick-side with 8:18 remaining.

"I wasn't really thinking about all that while I was in the box. Gotta give credit to the boys for bailing me out there," van Riemsdyk said when asked how tough it was to take those penalties at a crucial time in front of friends and family.

Scrivens withstood a frantic push from Philadelphia in the final stages, however, before McClement sealed the win by flicking the puck into the vacated net with just 13 seconds on the clock.

"It’s certainly not where we want to be,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “It seemed we were off to the first part of the first period the way we wanted to, we couldn’t score, they came back and caught a few of their chances so we’ve got to have the lead and move forward from there. But there isn’t anything you can do about it, you’ve got to continue to fight for it, work for it, move forward and look for a win."

Notes: Van Riemsdyk made his first appearance at the Wells Fargo Center in a visiting uniform. The former No. 2 overall pick spent his first three seasons with the Flyers before being traded to Toronto in June for defenseman Luke Schenn ... Kadri and Carl Gunnarsson each had two assists for the Maple Leafs ... Voracek was named the NHL's First Star for games played from Feb. 18-24 after amassing a league-best 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) over a four-outing stretch ... Giroux now has three goals and seven assists over a five-game point streak ... The Flyers fell to 1-11-0 this season when trailing or tied after two periods, with Saturday's 5-3 decision over Winnipeg the lone positive result ... Philadelphia defenseman Bruno Gervais skated in his 400th career NHL game...Hall of Famers Bernie Parent and Wayne Gretzky took in the contest in a suite...Blues GM Doug Armstrong was in attendance for the second straight game.

Testwuide on the move to Calgary

Adirondack Phantoms forward Mike Testwuide, a Colorado-born, promising 26-year-old winger, has been swapped to Calgary for center Mitch Wahl. Wahl is currently playing for the Abbotsford Heat and will be assigned to Adirondack shortly.

"I love this organization and they gave me a great opportunity and they started my career and I can't thank them enough," Testwuide said to Glens Falls beat writers on Monday.

Testwuide totaled just two goals in 19 games for the Flyers' AHL affiliate this season, and has been hampered by a concussion and its after-effects. He has been signed to a one-year deal worth $525,000 in the Summer and was due to be a restricted free agent following the completion of the season.

He had 29 points in 66 games for the Phantoms a year ago after four successful years for Colorado College of the WCHA. In two-plus seasons in the Philadelphia system, he compiled 32 goals and 70 points over 151 appearances.

Wahl is 23 years old, from Seal Beach, CA, and has split time between the Heat and Utah of the ECHL this season, combining for 20 goals and 61 points in 51 games. He was a minus-15 for the Grizzlies.

"(Wahl) has put up some pretty good numbers, certainly in his junior career he put up very good numbers.Sometimes change is good for everybody," Murray said to the Post Star. "Obviously we feel there's a good player coming this way and certainly we know there's a good person and a good player going to Calgary." 

Eagles release Patterson

PHILADELPHIA – It's not a good day for veteran defensive tackles in South Philadelphia.

Hours after releasing Cullen Jenkins the Eagles waived goodbye to Mike Patterson after an eight-year career in Philly.

“Mike Patterson is one of the toughest players I have ever been around in the National Football League,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. “He has overcome many obstacles throughout his career and I have the utmost respect for him because of it.

"Coach (Chip) Kelly and I each had great conversations with him today. He is a class act. He gave this organization eight great seasons of hard work and dedication and we wish him all the best as he continues his career in this league.”

The team’s first round draft pick in 2005 out of the University of Southern California, Patterson was the team’s longest-tenured player. The 29-year-old played in 115 games (99 starts) at defensive tackle for the Eagles and compiled 551 tackles, 16.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.

Patterson owns the Eagles franchise record for longest fumble return for a touchdown with a 98-yard return at San Francisco on September 24, 2006.

“I want to thank the fans for all of their support over eight years in Philadelphia," Patterson said. "It is never easy to say goodbye to a fan base that supported me no matter what. My goal was to come to work every day to try and make the Philadelphia Eagles the best organization we could be.

"The Eagles organization has treated me and my family with nothing but respect since the day I was drafted and I wish Mr. Lurie, Howie, the new coaches and all of my teammates all the best going forward. I will miss them all and I will always have a place in my heart for the Eagles and for the city of Philadelphia.”

Eagles release DT Jenkins

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have released defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.

Jenkins signed with the Eagles during the 2011 offseason and started all 32 regular season games over the last two years. The 32-year-old Jenkins spent his first seven seasons of his career with the Green Bay Packers.

“I had a chance to speak with Cullen today and let him know of our decision,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. “It’s one of the most difficult parts of the job. He has been a very productive player in this league for a long time but we felt it in our team’s best interests that we go in a different direction. By releasing him at this point, it gives he and his agent more time to sign on with another team. We wish Cullen and his family all the best as he continues his NFL career.”

Combine Confidential: Heart issue could cost Lotulelei

By John McMullen

Star Lotulelei was expecting to wow onlookers at the NFL Scouting Combine over the weekend.

Instead the Utah product, who is the top-ranked player at his position on most
team's draft boards, didn't even work out after it was revealed he is dealing
with a potentially serious heart condition, one which could result in a draft
day slide for Lotulelei as possible suitors deal with durability and longevity

You knew something was wrong on Sunday when Lotulelei was a no-show and ESPN's
Chris Mortensen first reported the news, finding out that Lotulelei's left
ventricle is pumping at 44 percent efficiency compared to the normal range of
55 to 70 percent.

The issue is serious enough that officials at the combine asked Lotulelei to
shut it down until he is evaluated by a specialist sometime this week in Salt
Lake City.

On the surface, this looks like a disaster for Lotulelei, who could have been a
top-five selection in April's draft.

Take a step back, however, and understand this diagnosis could have short-
circuited a potential tragedy and it's certainly the best thing for Lotulelei
in the long run.

If doctors can solve the issue and clear Lotulelei, who is still interviewing
with teams in Indianapolis, he will still have plenty of time to impress scouts
at Utah's pro day in March.


For a while, Te'o-ing surpassed Tebow-ing in Internet fame, but that will
probably be the extent of the damage done to the king of the "Catfish."

That and the ribbing Manti Te'o will receive in an NFL locker room.

Te'o tried to shift the focus from the now-infamous hoax involving his fake
girlfriend back to football on Saturday.

Te'o, of course, claims he was led to believe a girlfriend he had met online,
Lennay Kekua, was a real person who died from cancer. In reality, a man named
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo created Kekua out of thin air.

"It's definitely embarrassing," Te'o said at his highly anticipated press
conference. "When you walk into the grocery store and you get people giving
double takes and they're sitting there staring at you, it's definitely
embarrassing. I guess its part of the process, part of the journey. It's only
going to make me stronger and it definitely has."

The Heisman Trophy runner-up was barraged by questions on the hoax and how NFL
teams have reacted to the story.

"I understand people have questions, but I've answered everything I could. For
me, I'd really like to talk about football," Te'o said.

"I've said all I need to say about that. How I'm handling it going forward is
doing what I'm doing, focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the

At the time of his press conference on Saturday, Te'o had only met with two
teams -- the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers -- but had meetings
scheduled with 18 others, all looking for answers.

"Teams want to be able to trust their player," he said. "You don't want
to invest in somebody you can't trust."

At the end of the day, NFL teams have dealt with far worse when it comes to
talented young men, so if Te'o proves he has NFL-caliber athleticism at the
combine or Notre Dame's pro day, Lennay Kekua will be quickly forgotten, at
least as far as the NFL is concerned.

"What I bring to the table is a lot of heart, a lot of energy and somebody
that works hard," Te'o said. "Somebody who hates to lose. I always say, 'I
hate losing more than I love to win.'"

Another possible hiccup for Te'O surfaced on Sunday when it was revealed he
will not take part in the bench press workout due to a a stinger in his right


Perhaps nothing is more important to NFL scouts than speed. That's why the 40-
yard dash gets so much attention in Indy.

Since the turn of the century, the fastest player at the combine was LSU
receiver Trindon Holliday (Denver Broncos) back in 2010, who registered an
amazing 4.21 seconds, according to

Jacoby Ford (Clemson, Oakland Raiders) was a tick behind the same year at
4.22. However, so-called "official times"  aren't released to teams until a
week or 10 days after the event and Ford was eventually downgraded to 4.28
while Holliday tumbled all the way to 4.34, giving the actual best time to
Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson, who ran a 4.24 in 2008.

A couple of skill players threatened whatever record you consider the real
deal on Sunday with former Olympian Marquise Goodwin, the University of Texas
wide receiver, clocking a blazing 4.27 mark in the morning, and slight Auburn
running back Onterio McCalebb matching Holliday with an eye-popping 4.21 on
his second attempt in the afternoon.

When the NFL Network showed a "simulcam" overlaying McCalebb and Goodwin,
however, it was Goodwin crossing the finish line first and McCalebb's time was
eventually downed to 4.34, making him "only" the second-fastest this year,
along with wide receivers Tavon Austin of West Virginia and Ryan Swope of
Texas A&M.

Perhaps the most impressive 40-yard sprint, though, was a pedestrian 4.65, and
that's because it was put together by 6-foot-5, 306 pound Arkansas-
Pine Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead.

Armstead didn't get lucky, either, since his second chance came in at 4.71,
unheard of speed for a "Big Ugly." His 4.65 was better than Wisconsin running
back Montae Ball (4.66), Notre Dame star Theo Riddick (4.68) and Stanford
standout Stepfan Taylor (4.76).

In fact, Armstead did better than 15 different running backs, every quarterback
save West Virginia's Geno Smith and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, and even
bested three receivers.

"I've been blessed with a unique skill-set," Armstead said. "I'm extremely
light on my feet for a big guy, I have to say. It's a blessing."

Most have projected Armstead as a third- or fourth-round pick, but if his
footwork cam match his speed, he will begin moving north on most draft boards
rather quickly.

"They all know about my athleticism. They know (the combine) should help me
out a lot -- will help me out a lot," he said. "I've trained hard for this, so
it's be relaxed and go out and do what you know how to do."

Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson, a likely first-rounder, also opened some eyes by
running a 4.72, while Armstead (34 1/2 inches) and Johnson (34) each posted the
best vertical leap numbers among the O-linemen.


Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (4.34)

Knile Davis, Arkansas (4.37)

Kerwynn Williams, Utah State (4.48)

Jonathan Franklin, UCLA (4.49)

Michael Ford, LSU (4.50)


Marquise Goodwin, Texas (4.27)

Tavon Austin, West Virginia (4.34)

Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (4.34)

Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (4.38)

Josh Boyce, TCU (4.38)


Geno Smith, West Virginia (4.59)

E.J. Manuel, Florida State (4.65)

Matt Scott, Arizona (4.69)

MarQueis Gray, Minnesota (4.73)

Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech (4.78)

FASTEST 40-YARD TIMES, (2000-2012) - Best time (Announced time)

4.21 (4.34) - Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU - 2010

4.22 (4.28) - Jacoby Ford, (WR), Clemson - 2010

4.24 (4.24) - Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina - 2008

4.25 (4.30) - Darrius Heyward-Bey, (WR), Maryland - 2009

4.25 (4.28) - Demarcus Van Dyke, (CB), Miami - 2011

4.26 (4.28) - Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton - 2005

4.27 (4.37) - C.J. Spiller, (RB), Clemson - 2010

4.27 (4.27) - Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston - 2005

4.28 (4.33) - Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi - 2009

4.28 (4.36) - Stephen Hill, (WR), Georgia Tech - 2012


Maybe Bill Kazmaier and Mark Henry aren't at the scouting combine, but plenty
of strong guys are.

Ohio University guard Eric Herman, Wake forest fullback Tommy Bohanon and
Georgia linebacker Cornelius Washington proved to be eating the most spinach,
each putting up 225 pounds 36 times. North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, a
sure-fire first-round pick, was right behind, doing 35 reps.

All of those strongmen, however, weren't even in hailing distance of
Stephen Paea's (Oregon State, Chicago) amazing 49 reps in 2011.

Most 225-Pound Bench Reps (2000-2012)

49 - Stephen Paea, (DT), Oregon State - 2011

45 - Mitch Petrus, (OG), Arkansas - 2010

45 - Mike Kudla, (DE), Ohio State - 2006

45 - Leif Larsen, (DT), Texas-El Paso - 2000

44 - Dontari Poe, (DT), Memphis - 2012

44 - Brodrick Bunkley, (DT), Florida State - 2006

44 - Jeff Owens, (DT), Georgia - 2010

43 - Scott Young, (OG), BYU - 2005

42 - Isaac Sopoaga, (DT), Hawaii - 2004

42 - Tank Tyler, (DT), North Carolina State - 2007

Voracek named NHL's First Star; JVR returns

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek has been honored as the NHL's First Star for the week ending February 24.

Voracek earned top honors thanks to a career-best scoring run last week, leading all players in the league with 11 points (4G, 7A) in four games. The 23-year-old Czech scored at least one point in every contest, totaling a career-high four assists in a 7-0 rout of the New York Islanders in Uniondale one week ago, then registering his first career hat trick in a 6-5 win at Pittsburgh two days later.

After adding a goal in a loss to Florida last Thursday and then three more helpers in a 5-3 win over Winnipeg this past Saturday, Voracek moved into the top 10 in overall scoring with 22 points (7G, 15A) in 20 games this season.

Voracek has recorded at least one point in 10 of Philadelphia's 13 games so far in February, notching six goals and 13 assists in all heading into Monday's home game with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"If we can get back to the .500 mark, it will be a good start. We have a chance to turn it around starting today," said Voracek. "I don't want to sound too cocky, I feel basically the same as before, and to be honest with you I am shooting the puck much better now than I was at the start of this season and last year."

After a slow start to the season, he has begun to justify the faith shown by the organization thanks to a $17 million, four-year deal served up in late July. Now that Scott Hartnell has returned to fill out what has been a shaky top line through the first third of the schedule, it's up to Voracek to continue that pace at a more consistent rate going forward.

"We're working really hard. We have a lot of energy going," Voracek said on the keys to success for the club's top line. "We have a good cycle going, and when you feel comfortable with each other, you start to get more chances and when you play with guys like 'G' and 'Hartsy' all the time, it makes things a lot easier."

And not that it's anything really special anymore, but once the puck drops, it will be James van Riemsdyk's first game back in Philadelphia since the offseason trade with Toronto that netted defenseman Luke Schenn.

JVR's mixed bag here in Orange and Black can be traced just as much to the Flyers organization's missteps in expectation and handling as his bad luck with injuries and lack of assertiveness with his size.

Last June, Paul Holmgren had this to say about the transaction: "I think I’ve told you enough about how strongly I feel about James becoming a good player, and I believe he will become a very good player in our league. Unfortunately for us, I think it’s going to be for Toronto now. The guy we got coming back is going to fill needs on our team and is going to be a good young player on our team. So I think it’s a win-win."

Funny thing to say for a man who selected the New Jersey native second overall in 2007, complained about his development at offensive-oriented UNH, gave him a minimum of AHL experience once he bolted college, then slotted him in as one of a group of young turks who would lead the franchise to continued success. And then praised his trade value on the way out.

Though the Maple Leafs have the same issues as Philadelphia -- how to survive year after year in a large market where anything less than a Stanley Cup berth is a failure -- van Riemsdyk in Toronto, with 11 goals and 15 points in 19 games this season, is closer to becoming there what he should have been here.

The Leafs are a team trying to find a steady upward path, though, and unlike the Flyers it's a different kind of pressure to be restored to the elite than to maintain that status. In some ways it can be more crushing, but in JVR's case, there's more trust to be had in a greater role: "I've been used more here in different situations, more opportunities, and I've been able to capitalize on that, he said.

"I had great memories about playing in Philadelphia. Nothing bad to say about the time I had here," van Riemsdyk said earlier on Monday, and why not? The fan base by and large treated him well, in arena and online. This is where he launched an NHL career. It's where he enjoyed his first, and perhaps only, taste of a deep playoff run and Stanley Cup hockey.

"I don't think I can have any regrets because I know every time I laced up my skates I gave everything I had. It was just one of those things where I know every time I had an opportunity to produce, I did produce. That's all I can control as a player."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Flyers fall behind early, roar back late to beat Jets

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

Brayden Schenn posted two goals and one assist, as the Philadelphia Flyers scored three times in the third period, helping erase a two-goal deficit, to beat the Winnipeg Jets, 5-3, on Saturday.

Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds added a score and helper each for the Flyers, who claimed their third win in four tries thanks to three power-play tallies.

Ilya Bryzgalov made his 18th start in 20 games, and despite some early struggles with the rest of his teammates, picked up the win with 34 saves.

"We  just  said in the  second intermission,  we have to  be able to thrive in situations like this. Whether we  are up 3-2 or down 3-2, we have to find a way to  win  hockey games  and tonight  we did," Schenn  said. "It  was a huge two points  to  keep on climbing  up in  the standings, clawing  our way back to a
playoff spot."

Philadelphia, which topped a team from Winnipeg in a home matinee for the first time in more than 25 years (1/30/88 4-3 W), was buoyed by the return of Scott Hartnell to the lineup after a 16-game absence dealing with a broken toe on his left foot. He ended up with five shots on goal in nearly 15 minutes  of  ice time  and was a  minus-one with two  minor penalties, but felt a part of things once again.

"I feel a little rusty but I think the timing and stuff will come. I told G [Giroux] and Jake they have been playing so good I just wanted to get them the puck and head to the front of the net, that’s where I make a living," Hartnell said. "I had some chances, especially the first couple shifts there, Jake made a great pass and if I had been playing in all the other games, that goes in the net, but I was just happy to get through and game and no worries right now.”

Jakub Voracek added three assists as the hosts drew even on their current five-game homestand.

Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Alex Burmistrov provided the offense for the Jets, who have dropped four of their last six.

Ondrej Pavelec yielded four scores on 38 shots in defeat.

"I  thought we played  a pretty hard game if you take the special teams out of the  scenario," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "In the areas where the puck wasn't  in  a tough area to  defend, we gave  up pressure in areas where don't normally  pressure and  they came  right back  on our  net off  the rush.  I'm disappointed to say the least."

Philly  was on  the power play when  Schenn finished a 3-on-2 rush with a one-timer  from the slot off a backhanded Jakub Voracek dish to tie the game, 3-3, with 6:18 played in the third period.

Simmonds  put the hosts  on top while on another advantage at 8:57, left alone at the left pipe to shovel home a perfect cross-crease pass from Schenn.

Winnipeg  failed to draw even on the advantage with 3:49 to play, then Pavelec was  called to  the bench for an extra  skater with 1:31 to go and Zac Rinaldo added an empty-net goal which barely beat the buzzer.

"I  think it  was a  good game.  It was  fun to  play. Good  atmosphere," said Pavelec. "We were up 3-2. Just not enough to close the game. We played well in the third, but two stupid penalties cost you the game."

What could have cost the Flyers at the outset was another outbreak of sluggish play to kick off a matinee contest.

Kane  opened the scoring  on a redirection of a Nik Antropov pass at the right post  with  4:48 played in the  first period, He  had a prime chance to double Winnipeg's lead from the same spot six minutes later, but whiffed on the shot.

The Jets were true to their moniker, playing with speed and an edge. They outshot the Flyers 12-1 over the first half of the opening period, until a television timeout provided a breather. From that point, the Orange and Black strafed their opponents to a 16-0 count in the final 9:47 of the period.

It finally paid off when Schenn's  third-chance  whack at a  loose puck in  the crease evened the score with  4:42  left in  the first.  Danny Briere  set up  the play by challenging Pavelec on the left side twice before the puck came loose.

Jokinen  made it  2-1 for  the Jets  at  2:34 of  the second  during a  4-on-4 situation  when he  whirled in the right circle and beat Bryzgalov through the pads.

"You  know, he  caught me on the movement.  I just stopped and in that time he took  the shot,"  said Bryzgalov  of  his difficulty  with tracking  Jokinen's motion.  "I was  not set yet for the  shot because I followed him and I didn't stop fast enough."

Winnipeg  gained  a  two-goal  edge  with  8:47  left  as  Burmistrov  managed to get his stick on a fluttering Grant Clitsome point drive which sailed home.

A  Giroux  blast from  the bottom  of the  left circle  during a 5-on-3 pulled Philly  within a goal  at 14:24, but the Jets survived the rest of the one-man edge.

Notes: The Flyers picked up their first win this season when trailing after two periods (1-7-0)...Schenn  tied a season high with three points, first accomplished on Feb. 9 vs. Carolina  (1G,  2A)...His last two-goal  game happened on  Mar. 29, 2012 at Toronto  in a 7-1 Philly win... Voracek has 12 points (4G, 8A) in the last five games...Kane extended  his  point streak to  six games...Jokinen recorded his first goal since Jan. 31, a span of 10 games...Philadelphia upped their record to 6-3-1 against the Southeast Division, and continue their homestand on Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs...The original Winnipeg Jets won the last matinee game in Philadelphia between the teams, a 1-0 decision in overtime on November 18, 1989 at the Spectrum, won by Jets forward Doug Smail 91 seconds in.

"Hartnell Down" back on tap after 32-day absence

Good news for the Philadelphia Flyers in this season of constant twists and turns.

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette declared Scott Hartnell ready to return as the club welcomed the Winnipeg Jets to South Broad Street on this rainy Saturday afternoon.

Hartnell had missed the last 16 games after suffering multiple injuries to his left foot, the last and most obvious of which was taking a shot off his skate from teammate Kimmo Timonen on January 22 in a road game
against the New Jersey Devils. He actually beat his own timetable of 7-to-10 days from earlier this week, when he was able to partake in a lengthy practice and test out his mended foot on skates.

It's the best possible shake-up, given that the team had to face the puck drop on Thursday knowing that leading goal-scorer Matt Read would be lost for six weeks after suffering torn rib-cage muscles.

“Hartsy is a big part of it but we haven’t had a practice with him yet, so it will be good to get him back on the ice in a game and get him moving forward,” Laviolette said before the game. "It’s been a long time without him. Certainly we could benefit with him in the lineup. He brings a lot to the table.”

Hartnell was slotted on the top line along with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the latter of which recorded three assists.

“Well, I wanted to play Thursday night as well, but talking with Homer and Lavy it was probably better to give it a couple more days," Hartnell said after a 5-3 win over the Jets. "I don’t know if the guys needed a boost or a mental boost, but just being in the room it’s the one thing I probably miss the most. Watching the games on TV you don’t get to be a part of it and help the guys and get them lose and focused. I was pretty excited to wake up this morning, have a nice breakfast and get here and play.”

The 30-year-old ended up playing almost 15 minutes, was a minus-one with five shots on goal and played all but six seconds of his ice time at even strength.

A late bit of news surrounding the move, was that defenseman Andrej Meszaros was placed on LTIR to make room for Hartsy's return. Meszaros is expected back soon from his shoulder surgery.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Phantoms, Penguins do battle on NHL turf

For the first and only time this season, the Adirondack Phantoms (20-25-3) will hold a home game on the home ice of their NHL parent club.

Their opponents will be former division rivals, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (26-22-3). This is the third of four meetings with the Baby Pens this season. WBS won at home by a 2-1 count on January 12 and again at home on February 2 by a 3-0 score.

The Phantoms are 3-4-0 in the month of February and lost their last true "home" game to the Worcester Sharks last Saturday, 3-2.

Adirondack has participated in two previous neutral-site games this season: a 2-1 loss to the Portland Pirates in Lewiston, ME on December 29 and a 3-2 shootout win over the Albany Devils in Atlantic City on January 20.

Adirondack's last game in Philadelphia was the 2012 Outdoor Classic, where it posted a 4-3 overtime win over the rival Hershey Bears in the largest single-game crowd in AHL history. Two seasons ago, the Phantoms posted a 4-2 win vs. these same Penguins at the WFC, and in 2010, they lost a 2-1 overtime decision vs. the Norfolk Admirals.

In a nod to the club's history in Philadelphia (1996-2009), the Phantoms will be wearing retro uniforms, like the ones donned during the team's first Calder Cup triumph back in 1998.

In a testament to the true nature of the support for hockey found in the Adirondacks, a bus load of fans from the Glens Falls area will make up what has been reported to be a sellout crowd.

The largest indoor crowd for a Phantoms game came on June 10, 2005, in Game 4 of the 2005 Calder Cup Finals, where they swept the Chicago Wolves in front of 20,103 customers.

Judging by some of the reactions from Phantoms players, both the crowd and the skaters will have something extra on tap.

"Cant wait to Lace them up tonight at the Wells Fargo Center." - Matt Mangene

"Excited for the big tilly tonight. Should be a good one " - Jason Akeson

"The guys are getting after it tonight!! Just a slight change in location. Might as well... ? Sure." - Garrett Roe

One recent Philadelphia Flyer who will be on the Phantoms' roster is Tom Sestito, "sent down" by the club earlier in the day.

Terry Murray's club has tied for the lowest goal total in the Eastern Conference with 120, along with Norfolk. Only Hamilton (108) has scored fewer times in the entire AHL. Wilkes-Barre comes in with exactly one more total goal than their foes. 

Shanahan explains NHL's punitive process

Ever wonder just how the NHL's discipline czar comes up with all those fines and suspensions that always screw over Flyers players while going lenient on everyone else -- especially when a foul is committed against a Flyers player?

Look no further than this comprehensive video explanation.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Phantoms' new home has a new name

On Thursday, the landmark surprise announcement regarding the future of the Phantoms' planned arena in Allentown was revealed.

It will be called PPL Center once play commences in 2014, thanks to a 10-yeard deal agreed upon by the club and the corporation.

PPL, you may recall, also holds the naming rights to the Philadelphia Union's new venue. located in Chester on the Delaware River.

Hollis Thomas joins Soul coaching staff

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul named former Philadelphia Eagle and 14-year NFL defensive tackle, Hollis Thomas, to the coaching staff as an assistant line coach for the 2013 season. 

Along with Thomas, Chris McKinney, Steve Criswell and Don Malloy join the coaching staff as assistant coaches to complete the Soul staff for the 2013 season.

“I am excited about this year’s staff,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “Each one of our coaches has a strong football background and will bring a wealth of knowledge that will get us closer to winning a championship.”

Thomas, starting his first stint of coaching experience, played 10 seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles where he is third in Eagles History for games played as a defensive lineman (124).  He played three seasons for the New Orleans Saints, and the 2009 season between the St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers during his tenure in the NFL.  Thomas, who played football at Northern Illinois, finished his career with 512 combined tackles and 20 sacks.

McKinney, from Guilford College, begins the start to his first coaching experience at the AFL level.  On his resume, McKinney spent the 2012-13 season as an offensive coordinator with the Georgia Rampage (UIFL).  Prior to that, McKinney spent seven seasons as a wide receiver coach at the high school level.

As a player, McKinney played wide receiver and kick returner in the af2 and AFL leagues.  McKinney finished No.7 for all-time career touchdowns (171) with the af2, and in college with four All-Conference awards and three All-American selections.

Criswell joins the Soul coaching staff with over 25 years of coaching experience at both the high school and indoor levels.  As a member of the coaching staff with indoor leagues, Criswell’s team’s record stands at 109-35; qualifying eight out of nine seasons for the post season.  In 2010, Criswell was named head coach for the Richmond Revolution (IFL) finishing 13-2.  Criswell won the IFL Coach of the Year award.

Malloy will be entering his first year of coaching.  Malloy played in the NFL as a defensive back for the Detroit Lions from 2001-03.  He played in the AFL for the Chicago Rush (2003-04) and for the Las Vegas Gladiators (2004-05), where Dolezel was quarterback at the time.  At New Mexico State, he was a candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award and was First Team All-Conference for two consecutive seasons. 

Union Draw 1-1 with D.C. United in Scrimmage

DELTONA, Fla. – Under the lights at the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex in Deltona, Fla. the Union played D.C United to a 1-1 draw in front of around 1,700 fans who came to see the two teams play.

The Union got on the board first thanks to a fine finish from forward Chandler Hoffman in the 39th minute. Rookie defender Don Anding got past his man on the left side before driving a low ball across the center of goal, which Hoffman drove into the back of the net.

D.C. United responded in the second half after Union defender Greg Jordan clipped an oncoming United player just inside the box, resulting in a penalty. Kyle Porter stepped up and converted by slotting the ball low and hard to Philadelphia keeper Chris Konopka’s right.

“We gave up the penalty, which was unfortunate, but it was a really good exercise for both teams, and it’s nice to be able to do this in this kind of an atmosphere,” said manager John Hackworth after the game. “Overall, we’re not going to walk away thinking that we played fantastic, but that’s what these games are for.”

The Union practiced at the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex as a part of their preseason training in Florida during the past two weeks. The team takes on D.C. United again this Saturday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 1 p.m. for their final preseason matchup. Live streaming of the game will air via


PHI: Hoffman (Anding) 39’

D.C.: Kyle Porter (PEN) 69’


PHI: Lahoud (caution) 58’

PHI: Anding (caution) 61’

PHI: Albright (caution) 75’


Chris Konopka, Chris Albright,  Matt Kassel* (Jimmy McLaughlin), Don Anding, Greg Jordan, Keon Daniel (Georgi Hristov*), Michael Lahoud, Leo Fernandes (Cristhian Hernandez), Chandler Hoffman, Conor Casey, Antoine Hoppenot (Aaron Wheeler).

*Denotes trialist

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Voracek the hero as Flyers outgun Penguins

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

Just breathe.

Despite a harrowing late-game sequence which saw the hosts have not one, not two, but three separate cracks at a 5-on-3 power play, all was eventually right in the hockey world -- at least from a local perspective. 

Jakub Voracek completed his first career hat trick  thanks to  recording the game-winning goal with 1:31 left in regulation as  the Philadelphia  Flyers gutted out a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.

Wayne  Simmonds added two  goals and one assist for the Flyers, who avenged an opening-day  3-1 home  loss to their bitter rivals and completed a season-long six-game road trip with two straight wins to finish at 3-3-0.

"It'll be good to get home," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette in a bit of prescience prior to the contest. "It's been a lot of time away from home and a lot of games in a lot of nights. In some of those games I've liked what we've done and in a lot of them we needed to be better, but getting back home and getting the schedule set up in our favor and knowing you're going to see guys on the ice that have not been on the ice due to injury -- all that adds up to a positive."

Nicklas Grossman also tallied, while Claude Giroux posted a pair of assists as Ilya Bryzgalov picked up the victory with 27 saves as Philadelphia improved to 6-1-0 in the regular season in the Pens' new arena.

Matt Niskanen, James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Kennedy for the Penguins, whose three-game win streak came to a halt.

Tomas Vokoun was shelled in defeat for six goals on 32 shots.

Ahead by a 5-3 count and having failed at their own four-minute advantage after Pens winger Tanner Glass was sent off for high sticking, a double minor to Mike Knuble plus another high stick call to Ruslan Fedotenko 41 seconds apart threatened to make things very interesting.

Neal  made it  5-4  with 7:14  to  play on  a far-side  blast  from the  right circle  to end the  first portion of the two-man edge, and Talbot was whistled for closing his hand on the puck during an attempted clear, lengthening the 5-on-3 even further.

Pittsburgh's  Chris  Kunitz had a potential  tying goal with 5:39 on the clock wiped  out  when replay  revealed he  used a distinct  kicking motion, then he tried  to  sneak a stuffer past  Bryzgalov at the  left post and failed on his next shift.

Though  the Flyers  managed to  survive  the remainder  of their  short-handed situation,  Sutter  walked out in  front and tied the  game, 5-5, with 2:03 to play. That set the stage for the young Czech to steal the show and pull the rug out from under another possible comeback by the revved up hosts.

Only  32 seconds  after Sutter tied the game on a wraparound, Voracek's sharp-angle  try from  the goal line to  Vokoun's left managed to sneak off his body and over the goal line for a 6-5 game with 91 seconds to play.

The  extra attacker was called upon with 1:07 to go but the home team couldn't squeeze out one more quality chance from their offense.

"He  just shot it  from behind the net, and I knocked it in my own net. That’s tough," said Vokoun about the deciding score. "I think we deserved a point, but by my mistake we didn’t get it."

What a way to return to the comforts of home ice, where the club will begin a five-game stand on Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

Aware of the meaning in this Keystone State collision, both teams came out with bundles of nervous energy.  The best chance in the first four minutes for either side was a 3-on-1 break led by Philly's Sean Couturier, which was muted by Vokoun on the right wing. Talbot also nearly scored on the rebound, but his spinning chance slid wide.

Pittsburgh  hit  the scoreboard at  the 5:07 mark  when Niskanen fired away on a rolling puck and it zipped past Bryzgalov inside the left post.

The  Pens  received the  game's first  power play on  the following shift, and though  Bryzgalov  gloved down Malkin's  shot from  the right circle, the puck appeared to have crossed the goal line inside the webbing.

A  review  proved to  be inconclusive,  but Malkin  made the  most of his next chance,  potting  a rebound  at the right  post with five  seconds left on the advantage for a 2-0 game at 7:15.

It  was  2-1 with 8:11  remaining on a  bizarre sequence. A goalmouth scramble around  the  Pens' net --  which featured  two near-scores by Philadelphia and half of all players on the ice either within or near the crease -- was allowed to  endure  for more than  10 seconds  without a whistle. Grossmann eventually
lifted a shot over the mass of humanity for his first of the year.

Only  60 seconds later,  the game was tied as Simmonds accepted a Danny Briere pass,  worked from the left circle to the top of the crease and slipped a shot past Vokoun's pad.

Vokoun's  poke check  halted  a Max  Talbot breakaway  within  the first  five minutes  of the  second  period,  and a  relatively  calm  middle stanza  that featured 18 combined shots ended with the visitors up 3-2.

On  a  power play in the  final 10 seconds,  Voracek was standing alone on the right  side -- as he did to tally the overtime winner in Game 1 of last year's Eastern quarterfinal -- to corral a Simmonds rebound and lift it home over two bodies.

The  Flyers went up 4-2 with only 18 seconds played in the third period. After Fedotenko worked a puck loose from underneath Vokoun, the disc squirted to  the right  side, where  Voracek  alertly followed  up and  beat a  sliding defender  with a  soft shot.

It marked  the eighth time this season the Orange and Black scored within the first minute of a given period.

“The big thing for me right now is his skating,” Laviolette said. “He’s really moving his feet and that’s when Jake was at his best last year. He’s fast and he’s quick and that’s a dangerous combination. I think once he got through the first eight games or so and got to the speed he needs to be at he’s been a real dangerous player."

Kennedy  pulled the hosts within one at 5:29, getting a puck home at the right post  before  Bryzgalov could close  off the  space, but Simmonds was credited with  another  score, at 7:36, when  his attempted cross-crease pass to Giroux rolled up Niskanen's stick and into the net.

“It was an entertaining game, that’s for sure," Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "It was fun at times and not so fun at times, but obviously not the result we wanted.”

Notes:  Voracek  upped his total  to eight points (3G, 5A) in the last three games...His hat trick was the first for Philly in Pittsburgh since Bobby Clarke did so in a 6-5 win on December 13, 1980...The  Flyers improved to 6-1-0 all-time in the regular season at Pens' new home arena,  and  8-2-0 including playoffs in  the venue which opened in October of 2010...Malkin's goal gave Pittsburgh at least one power-play goal in each of the  last  nine games, and snapped  Philadelphia's streak of 21 straight power plays  killed  off...Flyers  defenseman  Kurtis  Foster missed  his  second straight  game due  to the birth of  his second son on Tuesday in Philadelphia...The Penguins fell  to 3-4-0 at home this year...In 21 career home games
against  the  Flyers, Pittsburgh  captain Sidney Crosby  has tallied 37 points (14G,  23A), including  points in nine of  his past 10 home games against them...Malkin's  tally was  also  his  first in  six  games,  since Feb.  7  vs. Washington...Flyers forward Matt Read suffered an upper-body injury reported to  be a  puck to the chest, left  the game after the first period and did not return...Grossman  recorded his first score since Jan. 21, 2011 ... Kennedy produced  his first  goal  in 15  games,  since  Jan. 20  at  the Rangers...Simmonds'  three points tied a career high ... Penguins defenseman Paul Martin registered three assists in defeat.