Thursday, October 31, 2013

Video: Holmgren discusses Talbot/Downie trade

Merry-go-round continues as Downie comes back to Philadelphia for Talbot

First reported by Adrian Dater and then confirmed by the Colorado Avalanche, forward Steve Downie has returned to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Max Talbot.

“Maxime is a veteran forward who has won a Stanley Cup and has a lot of NHL experience,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic upon announcing the deal on Friday. “We’re looking forward to him bringing that experience to our club."

If you recall, Downie was an untamed colt coming out of juniors, possessing skill but seriously lacking in discipline. His most (in)famous action in his first go-around here was launching like a missile into Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in a September 2007 preseason game and drawing a 20-game suspension.

Downie was shipped out early in the 2008-09 in the deal which brought us the now-departed Matt Carle, and began his reformation into an NHL player with the Bolts on a line with Steven Stamkos.

Talbot appeared in all 11 games for the Flyers this year, picking up a goal and one assist. The 29-year-old Quebec native, Stanley Cup winner in 2009 who was a key member of the 2012 Flyers club that toppled the Penguins in the first round, ed 77 goals and 77 assists for 154 points in 515 career games between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

He has also skated in 77 career playoff games, totaling 39 points (18G, 21A).

Downie, 26, has accumulated 56 goals and 145 points over 285 games for Philly, Tampa Bay and Colorado over parts of seven NHL campaigns.

Though on its face, a trade which sends out a fourth liner in exchange for a top-six player in the final year of his contract might seem to be a gain for Philadelphia -- and it is in the business sense of swapping one player with multiple years left on his contract for one heading into UFA status -- there's no Stamkos or Martin St. Louis for Downie to spend regular time on a line with, in order to create chemistry and increase point totals.

If anything, it's a better gain for the 10-1-0 Avalanche, who need some veteran leadership, grit and hustle in the wake of their surprise start to the season in a competitive Central Division. Talbot clearly struggled this year within his ice time and will benefit from a fresh start.

"He won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, he's a great penalty killer, and he brings depth. A real playoff performer," was Avs head coach Patrick Roy's assessment of his new player at a Friday presser.

Downie will be miscast if, as GM Paul Holmgren said right after the deal was made, he envisions the new acquisition as a playmaker. The feisty winger was the beneficiary of the playmaking of his Tampa Bay teammates, and never clicked in that way as a role player for the Avalanche. If anything, time spent with Claude Giroux on the top line will benefit Downie, and not the other way around as Giroux has yet to score a goal in 11 games.

In addition, as with Ray Emery, there should be no questions over Downie lapsing into his old, wild ways. You can naturally expect him to take a role that will be closer to the Flyers ethos than in his other two stops, but at the moment, there's no direct correlation between 12 minor penalties and undisciplined play of his younger days.

What is again a concern, is that Holmgren, with his back to the wall, opted to deal for another ex-Flyer.
That makes four in the last year-plus, after Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne were brought into the fold to round out last year's postseason-averse club.

Even with an itchy trigger finger thanks to a 3-8-0 start, can you tell reporters and the fan base with any reliability that there were no other suitable players and teams willing to deal an unrestricted free agent for veteran help that didn't involve a former player?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Video: Iverson announces retirement

Point/Counterpoint: How to Build a Team

Welcome to the first monthly edition of Point/Counterpoint, where we welcome a fellow young hockey writer to discuss a variety of subjects. It's a continuation of the intense "debate" once found at Flyers Faithful, now located here for the balance of the season.

For October, I welcome back Nick Dobrowolski. Our first topic, what's the best way to construct a Stanley Cup-caliber team: rebuild or re-load?

Nick D: Each year, all 30 National Hockey League teams try to put together a team that can win the coolest trophy on Earth and only one succeeds. Since 2005, there have been eight Stanley Cup Champions: Carolina, Anaheim, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago (twice), Boston and Los Angeles. Of those teams, only the Red Wings, Penguins, Blackhawks, and Bruins have appeared in two Stanley Cup Final rounds since 2006, which lends itself to the idea that any team really has a shot at hockey’s ultimate prize. 
However, the question remains, what is the best way to construct a team? If any of the teams that have been in the Cup Finals since the last lockout are a good indication, then teams must start keeping their cores together, building from within their own organizations, and filling holes when necessary via free agency and trades. Almost every team who has won the cup in the past eight years has a core of players that they drafted and built around, many of which are higher first round picks. There aren’t many teams that have had massive turnover one year and gone to the top of the class the next year. If you ask me, that’s the way to go. It isn’t necessary to tank to get your players, but teams must choose young players that they can and will build around, facilitate their growth and development, and go from there. 

Bob H: And how does a team get those cores, that chewy, nougat center that holds the entire on-ice candy bar together? They sit near the bottom of the NHL standings for several years, collecting top-10 draft picks by their lowly standing and then selling off whatever assets they possess for additional high-round selections. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Right here in Philadelphia, we don't do that. You don't accumulate a track record of two Stanley Cups, eight Cup Finals appearances, 16 division titles and 36 playoff berths and legions of faithful millions by rolling over every couple years in a cycle of rebirth in hopes of reaching the league's elite for another crack at a championship. Rebuilding is the key and it's gotta be done by degrees, year after year with trades and free-agent deals, always stoking the fires so that there's no threat of a prolonged drop-off and the fear of failure remains constant. Remember those five years out of the playoff picture? They wouldn't have ended if the organization didn't seize the day and make the blockbuster Eric Lindros trade.

Since the mid 90's, the Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings have also gone the trade/free agency route to build and enhance their respective rosters and all but the Canucks and Senators have sipped the golden nectar from the silver chalice. Why wait? In the NHL of the 2000s, you have a certain window to break through and you've got to snag the best players at the best price in their prime to make it work.

Even your sainted Blackhawks fell prey to the vagaries of the cap era, taking players like Dave Bolland, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Brent Sopel, John Madden, Dan Carcillo et al and then having to slough them off the roster due to cap issues. What good is a core if you have to constantly make tough decisions?
Nick: Look Bob, if we take Chicago as an example, being as that they are the only NHL team to have two Cups to their name in the past eight years, it’s pretty clear as to how teams should be built. In 2010, the key players for the Blackhawks were Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Bolland, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, and Antti Niemi. Of those players, only Sharp was not playing with the team who he signed his first pro contract with and only Niemi was not originally drafted by Chicago. In 2013, the key players for the Blackhawks remained largely the same with the departure of a few names and addition of a few others.  
Toews, Kane, Bolland, Keith, Seabrook, Sharp, Corey Crawford, Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell all had a good playoff for the Blackhawks and contributed to their repeat.. Even though the Blackhawks had to trade quite a few of their players after the 2010 win to get under the salary cap, they won again with much of the same nucleus just three years later. They did have turnover, and while some key personnel were moved, the core of Bolland, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, and Toews remained intact.

Bob: Memorize that list, because in the next several years, most of those names will be crossed off due to salary-cap concerns and Stan Bowman having to perform triage on the deep core to determine who will be let go and who will be extended long-term, for a third crack at the Cup. Chances are almost 100 percent that three of the big five (Kane, Toews, Sharp, Keith, Crawford) will be working elsewhere. 
The best way to head that off is to not worry so much about keeping a core intact, but to line up cost-effective alternatives beyond the organization -- even in years when the crop may not yield much. That's the odd, recumbent loop that occurs when you start down the road to success -- you have to do whatever you can to maintain it, even at the cost of long-term goals. Do you think generations of Blackhawks, or Penguins, or Red Wings, or Bruins fans will stand another stretch of an untold number of years struggling to get back to the top like the ones which preceded their runs of success?

This is not the NHL of previous generations, where losing records still mean playoff berths: coaches and GMs are fired for missing out on the postseason despite winning percentages above .500. The pressure is to win now, and forever. Paul Holmgren has a blank check to pull the Flyers out of whatever funk they find themselves in, and the sooner the better. The full-throttle transition from 2007 to 2008 is the prime example, as was the one from 1994 to 1995 under Bob Clarke. It may not be elegant, but it has to be done to avoid lagging behind other clubs at the height of the league.
Nick:  I'll concede that teams can construct themselves via trade and free agency, but they still need to be able to draft and develop talent. Without having core players that were drafted by the team, or at least being able to develop guys, there will always be a high turnover rate, lots of question marks about chemistry and consistency, as well as a need to pay a premium for high-end talent. That is the bigger issue that, if we’re really looking at the Philadelphia Flyers, they face every year. 
They spend a lot and are usually competitive, but they have no room to make moves without losing players or trading picks just to make a trade more palatable for their partners, and have trouble developing talent. It’s an issue that will continue to plague this Cup-hungry city and franchise until they choose players to really build around and keep their core together for more than just three years.

Bob: Nick, you ignorant slut. 

That's socialism for you, in the NHL context. Win some lose some, gain players lose players. Gotta bank on proven commodities rather than waiting for draft picks or core to mature.

Go big or go home. 

Foles back under center vs. Raiders

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has named Nick Foles the starter for Sunday's contest in Oakland against the Raiders.

The move comes less than 48 hours after the team cleared Foles to return to practice.

Foles left a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 20 after three quarters with a head injury. In his second straight start for an injured Michael Vick, he connected on just 11-of-29 passes for 80 yards before exiting.

It was the second concussion of the young signal-caller's career, after going through a similar process as a
freshman at Arizona.

Rookie quarterback Matt Barkley completed 11-of-20 passes for 129 yards and three interceptions in relief, then finished 17-of-26 for 158 yards and one pick in this past Sunday's 15-7 loss to the Giants in relief of Vick.

Foles has completed 52-of-90 passes for 622 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions for the 3-5 Eagles, who have dropped two straight games.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stanley Cup teams to be prominently featured at this year's Carnival

Say what you want about the Philadelphia Flyers constant glorification of their past, and the two Stanley Cup winning teams in particular whose shadow grows longer year after year, but this year's Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival looks like it is set to celebrate a special anniversary with something special.

From Mary Ann Saleski, wife of former Flyer Don Saleski and the senior ranking member on the Carnival committee (italics mine for emphasis):

"One of the new things is we’re giving our Flyers Wives Carnival Spirit of Giving Award to the Stanley Cup team, because it’s the 40th anniversary. You guys started it by saying you were honoring them at the Sports Writer Dinner, so we thought they’re going to be here so we might as well do something. We’re honoring them with this award which means we have the entire team [1974 and 1975] at the Carnival which should help Alumni Alley be more fun. The Mezzanine Level, which is usually Alumni Alley, will be full of a lot more players. That should be fun."

If that does come to fruition, the only players who would not at the very least be able to show up are the three who have passed on since that time: "Cowboy" Bill Flett, Wayne Stephenson and Barry Ashbee. 

May 19, 2014 will mark 40 years since the franchise announced its arrival at the top of the National Hockey League, when Fred Shero's team upset the heavily-favored Boston Bruins for the title. 

This year's Carnival, due to the interruption of the Olympic Break, will take place on Sunday, January 26 at Wells Fargo Center.

Saleski made sure to add that the funds collected through the event are no longer just kept for leukemia research, as was its original intent: 

"Since the beginning [the Wives Carnival] has raised over 25 million. The Carnival is our biggest fundraiser, but it’s one of many that the Flyers wives are involved with throughout the year. It used to be for one charity, but over the years we’ve realized that we’ve raised so much money we can benefit more people in the community by giving to multiple charities. That’s what we do. It’s a good thing, but it’s hard because sometimes people are used to an event where at the end of the event you say “X was raised for such and such.” We have so many events that we do, so we put that money into the foundation and we give that money to about 150 charities throughout the year." 

Eagles give up on Sopoaga, send disappointing NT to Patriots

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles were the only NFL team at the trade deadline to actually move a player, sending disappointing nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the injury-plagued New England Patriots.

The teams will also swap a pair of late-round picks in the 2014 draft as part of the deal, with the Patriots sending their fifth-round selection to the Eagles while obtaining Philadelphia's sixth rounder.

Sopoaga, a supposed run-stopping specialist who signed a big-money, three-year contract with the Eagles in free agency this past March, totaled 18 tackles in eight games with Philadelphia and was basically a non-factor.

The Eagles will now lean heavily on rookies Bennie Logan and Damion Square at nose tackle following the trade.

The 32-year-old joins a Patriots team that has had some depth issues at defensive tackle, with five-time Pro Bowl selection Vince Wilfork out for the season with a ruptured Achilles, and fellow veteran Tommy Kelly having missed the last three weeks with a knee injury.

The Samoa native was a nine-game starter for NFC champion San Francisco last season and has recorded 226 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks over 132 career games.

The Patriots will now be responsible for $529,412 remaining on Sopoaga's 2013 base salary of $1 million. However, the Eagles already paid Sopoaga a $2.75 million roster bonus and $470,588 in salary for little to no production.

Sopoaga was always a bad fit for Philadelphia. He was the weak link on the 49ers' defensive line yet GM Howie Roseman talked about him like he was a given dating back to the preseason.

Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie can't blame this signing on Andy Reid either.

That said, the one check mark you can put in Roseman's column here is that he quickly admitted a mistake and moved on. Most NFL personnel people are loathe to do that.

Monday, October 28, 2013

MO Radio Show w/NFL Insider John McMullen

John McMullen talks NFL Week 8 on The Sports Fix

College Hockey Round-up Week 3

Last week's #1 school, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, remained in the top spot this week thanks to recording a tie and win over then-No. 5 Boston College in a weekend set at Mariucci Arena during a continuation of the season-opening Big Ten-Hockey East Challenge.

Don Lucia's kids garnered this year's first unanimous Number 1 selection.

On Friday night, 17-year-old freshman and USA prospect Thatcher Demko hung in after surrendering two early Gophers goals, helping his Eagles to a 3-3 deadlock thanks to a career best 36 saves.

Though Hudson Fasching and Travis Boyd (PP) tallied within the first 4 1/2 minutes of the contest, BC came roaring back with three before intermission. Johnny Gaudreau opened the floodgates four minutes later, then Edina, MN native and junior Michael Sit beat Alex Weaver twice in an 11-second span before the midway point to put the visitors on top.

Minnesota finally answered on Taylor Cammaratta's goal with 4:27 to play in the second, and both clubs let caution to the wind and had multiple chances to net the go-ahead score before the end of regulation.

BC frosh defenseman Ian McCoshen made a game-saving play with 1:20 left in overtime, diving in the crease and sweeping out a Cammaratta chance with his glove, inches to go before the puck would have crossed the goal line.

On Sunday afternoon, the top-ranked team in the nation flexed their muscles with a four-goal period stoking Minnesota's 6-1 decision.

Nate Condon, Seth Ambroz, Mike Reilly and Brady Skjei lit the lamp in the opening 20 minutes, Michael Brodzinski and Jake Bischoff did so in the third period and Wilcox came up with 30 saves.

Evan Richardson's first career goal was all the offense now #8 BC mustered, leaving Brian Billett out to dry as he stopped just 22-of-28 shots in the loss.

Notre Dame remained stuck behind the Gophers in the poll, after splitting two on the road against Minnesota-Duluth, winning 3-2 and losing 4-1.

The Providence Friars vaulted five spots all the way up to No. 3, continuing their hot start (4-0-1) after winning 3-2 in OT and tying 4-4 against NCHC's Miami of Ohio. The RedHawks, as a consequence, sunk three spots to #6

Michigan remained in the fourth spot by earning a split in its Big Ten-Hockey East schedule, winning 2-1 on Friday against Boston University and dropping Saturday's 2-1 result against conference champion UMass-Lowell.

North Dakota managed to move up one spot to No. 5 despite playing one game, a 4-1 exhibition victory against the U.S. Under-18 National squad.

Rounding out the Top 10, Quinnipiac rose from ninth to seventh, St. Cloud State jumped one spot into ninth and RPI vaulted two slots to No. 10.

Yale took the biggest nosedive, dropping from #7 to #11 after two weekend games at Prudential Center.

On the local scene...

Penn State endured a rough weekend, picking up just one point after going 0-1-1 in two contests. At the 'Peg on Friday night, the Nits lost leads of 1-0 and 3-2 en route to their first-ever tie in Division I play. Curtis Loik put PSU ahead on a marker 8:47 into the third period, only to see RIT's Brad McGowan knot the score with 7:19 remaining in regulation.

Matt Skoff ended up with 22 stops, while counterpart Jordan Ruby came up with 32 saves. Penn State also received goals from Dylan Richard and David Goodwin.

On Saturday evening, Penn State and Vermont clashed in the second annual Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff, and the Catamounts got a measure of revenge for this past January's 4-2 loss in the first event at the Wells Fargo Center.

Our man Tom Zulewski was on the scene, and wrote the following:

"Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky has preached discipline and hard work in his two plus year’s as the Nittany Lions bench boss. Saturday night his team lacked both qualities.

Penn State has had trouble this season staying out of the sin bin and Saturday night’s contest was no exception. The Nittany Lions were penalized nine times, including a questionable five-minute major and game misconduct penalty to David Glen at 1:43 of the second for contact with the head on Vermont forward Mario Puskarich.

Gadowsky after the game was disappointed with his team’s effort. "It doesn’t take Scotty Bowman to figure this out, we got to change," Gadowsky said. "I thought this game was poor and I didn’t like our flow and tempo."

Penn State has now taken three major penalties in their last two contests."

All of that spelled disaster in a 5-2 victory for the Catamounts, made a little bit more special since Nick Luukko, son of Peter Luukko, registered a goal in front of his "home crowd" to help fuel the victory -- yet another for Hockey East in its early-season showdown with the nascent Big Ten.

PSU captain Tommy Olczyk showed his disgust with his school's effort following the game:  "One shot in the second period is embarrassing. Quite frankly, I’m sick of losing games like this. It’s hard to swallow and we had a good week of practice after getting swept by Air Force ... I think a lot of guys including myself have to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure it out."

The youngest team by average age in all of D-I, now 1-3-1 on the year, has one game this week, a Friday home tilt against Robert Morris which is the first of a five-game homestand against non-conference opponents.

An unofficial opening to the Ivy League schedule occurred over the weekend in Newark, NJ, as the first-ever Liberty Hockey Invitational pitted four venerable institutions against one another: Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth and defending national champion Yale.

The Tigers topped the Big Green on Friday night by a 3-2 count in overtime on Tucker Brockett's first career goal -- one set up by senior and Hobey Baker hopeful Andrew Calof. The Bulldogs put to rest any hopes of the Orange and Black coming away with a share of the title, after posting a 3-2 win Saturday.

Matt Beattie and Nicholas Weberg bested Sean Bonar in the first 6:14 of regulation and Princeton was forced to play catch-up for the rest of the contest.  Tyler Maugeri tallied in the second period and Andrew Ammon in the third.

Princeton opens up its league slate this weekend with two road games, at Cornell and Colgate.

Bang the link for some quick hits and prospect analysis from Russ Cohen.

Sixers fill out roster by signing PF Davies

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – The Sixers filled the final spot on their roster by signing rookie free agent forward Brandon Davies.

Davies, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound Philadelphia native,  was named All-West Coast Conference First Team as a junior and a senior at Brigham Young University.

The 22-year-old was also named Most Valuable Player of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament pre-NBA Draft camp this past April but went undrafted.

He played for the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and also appeared in five games for the Clips this preseason, averaging 3.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11 minutes per contest.

Davies was born in Philadelphia but moved to Provo, Utah  with his adoptive parent.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Flyers able to track down elusive offense in likely place

Uniondale, NY -- It was going to happen sooner or later, but better it was sooner.

Vincent Lecavalier's hat trick and 26 saves by Steve Mason fueled Philadelphia's 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders, continuing the Flyers run of recent dominance at Nassau Coliseum.

The Orange and Black have taken 15 of their last 17 games at the ancient venue, whose era hosting the four-time Stanley Cup champions is drawing to a close.

Jakub Voracek and Matt Read added tallies for the Flyers, who snapped a franchise-worst streak of nine straight games from the start of a season without scoring more than two goals.

"We have to keep pushing, try to go on a streak here and just keep playing the same way," said Lecavalier.

Claude Giroux posted two helpers, as did Mark Streit in his return to Long Island.

Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen supplied the offense for the Islanders, who suffered a letdown following Friday's 4-3 road win over Metropolitan Division leading Pittsburgh.

"It is tough when you dig yourself a hole. It is tough to come back, especially when you did it the night before. We were not good enough throughout the game," said Islanders center John Tavares.

Kevin Poulin allowed four scores on 31 shots in his first appearance since Oct. 11.

Lecavalier capped his trifecta with hard work in the New York zone to give his club a 4-2 lead.
During a rush on the right wing, he dove forward to keep the puck alive. It found Max Talbot, who dished to Giroux on the left wing, and his shot was left open for Lecavalier's poke into an open cage with 8:53 gone in the third.

Okposo rang a shot from the right circle off the crossbar with 3:20 on the clock and the Isles on the power play, and that proved to be the hosts' last best chance to draw closer.

Read hit the empty net on a long, rolling shot with 1:32 to play which put the exclamation point on the Flyers' first road win of the year and first two-game win streak.

The game's first power play went to Philadelphia, as did the game's first goal. Streit held the puck at the point and dished into the right circle, where Lecavalier's blast caromed off an Isles defender and in at 4:30.

It was 2-0 for the visitors when Voracek chased down a pass from Brayden Schenn on the right wing, cut to the slot and slid a shot by Poulin 60 seconds later.

Okposo's blast from below the circles was deflected off a stick in front and made it 2-1 at 10:16, but Lecavalier restored Philly's two-goal edge with 1:47 before intermission by knocking home his own rebound from atop the crease.

Nielsen finished off an odd-man short-handed rush alongside Peter Regin by beating Mason on a successful backhander with 9 1/2 minutes left in the second.

Notes: Lecavalier posted his first multi-goal effort since Nov. 17, 2011 for Tampa Bay against Pittsburgh, and his first three-goal game since Mar. 11, 2008 for the Bolts against the Islanders. The former No. 1 draft pick has seven lifetime hat tricks ... Philly last registered more than two goals during a 5-2 win vs. Boston on Apr. 23, 2013, a span of 12 regular-season tilts ... The Islanders welcomed back forward Michael Grabner, having served his two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Carolina's Nathan Gerbe ... Flyers forward Scott Hartnell saw his first action since Oct. 11 ... New York carried the best power play in the NHL (30.3 percent) coming into the game, but came up empty on three chances.

Vermont dismantles Penn State in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff

By Tom Zulewski 

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky has preached discipline and hard work in his two plus year’s as the Nittany Lions bench boss.

Saturday night his team lacked both qualities.

Rob Hamilton’s second goal of the season, coming at the 9:27 mark of the third period, sealed the 5-2 victory for the Vermont Catamounts Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Freshmen goalie Mike Satanguida stopped 31 shots as the Catamounts picked up their first win of the season and improved to 1-1-1 on the year. Perkasie, PA native Eamon McAdam stopped 24 shots in front of his hometown crowd.

Penn State would open the scoring at 11:56 of the first period after a great individual effort by junior forward Taylor Holstrom. Mike Williamson’s initial point shot was blocked in front by a Vermont defender and trickled to the right of Santaguida. Holmstron fought through a check and deposited the rebound into the net. The play did go under review but replay showed the puck crossed the line before the net was knocked off it moorings.

Tommy Olczyk would score a shorthanded goal at 13:56 of the first to make it 2-0 Penn State after Taylor Holstrom took a boarding penalty that sent Vermont on the power play. Jake Fallon would cut Penn State’s lead to one goal at 15:27 of the second.

Penn State has had trouble this season staying out of the sin bin and Saturday night’s contest was no exception. The Nittany Lions were penalized nine times, including a questionable five-minute major and game misconduct penalty to David Glen at 1:43 of the second for contact with the head on Vermont forward Mario Puskarich.

Gadowsky after the game was disappointed with his team’s effort.

"It doesn’t take Scotty Bowman to figure this out, we got to change," Gadowsky said. "I thought this game was poor and I didn’t like our flow and tempo."

Penn State has now taken three major penalties in their last two contests.

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Nick Luukko would equalize the game at 6:42 of the second stanza with a point shot that fluttered on goal, squeaking pass McAdam stick side. The goal was demoralizing for Penn State who had just killed off Glen’s five-minute major penalty.

The Catamounts would take the 3-2 lead at 9:45 of the second on Matt White’s strange goal coupled with some sloppy goalie play by McAdam. Vermont defender Robert Polesello fired a shot from center ice that bounced off the backboards right through the crease. On the scramble, the puck bounced off Penn State defenseman Nate Jensen into the net.

Vermont dominated the second period outshooting Penn State by a 12-1 margin.

"We started off hot," McAdam said after the game. "It was kind of a game changing point there where the puck kicked off the wall. I misjudged it and I put that one on me."

The Nittany Lions didn’t fair much better in third as Vermont extended their lead to 4-2 on Brendan Bradley’s shorthanded marker at 2:30 of the third. Bradley broke into the zone and skated by Penn State defenseman Mark Yanis, who was going for the check instead of playing the puck. Bradley’s initial shot was stopped by McAdam, but he left a gaping rebound for Bradley to bury.

Captain Tommy Olczyk was demonstrative about his team’s performance postgame.

"One shot in the second period is embarrassing," said Olczyk. "Quite frankly, I’m sick of losing games like this. It’s hard to swallow and we had a good week of practice after getting swept by Air Force ... I think a lot of guys including myself have to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure it out."

The loss drops the Nittany Lions to 1-3-1 on the year.

Vermont hosts the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next weekend in Burlington, while Penn State travels to Pittsburgh to take on Robert Morris next Friday Nov. 8.

Notes: Penn State was 0-5 on the power play

*Vermont was 1-6 on the power play

*Accordingto College Hockey Inc., Penn State is third tallest team by height in the country (6’0.78) and
second biggest team by weight (195.52)

*The Nittany Lions boast the most underclassmen in the country with 22

*Vermont has three players selected by NHL clubs: Connor Brickley (FLA, 50th overall 2010), Michael Paliotta (CHI, 70th overall 2011), and Nick Luukko (PHI, 179th overall 2010)

*Penn State has four players: Max Gardiner (STL, 74th overall 2010), Patrick Koudys (WSH, 147th, 2011), Eamon McAdam (NYI, 70th overall, 2013) and Mike Williamson (VAN, 175th overall, 2013

*UVM has produced 14 NHL players including former Philadelphia Flyer John LeClair and current Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis.

Union end season with loss to Sporting KC

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union (12-12-10) fell to Sporting Kansas City, 2-1 Saturday afternoon at PPL Park in the season’s final game, ending the Union’s chances at a MLS Cup playoff berth.

Sporting KC got on the board first behind a goal from playmaker Graham Zusi in the 47th minute, but in the 88th second half substitution Jack McInerney sparked life, scoring his 12th of the season by cleaning up a Jeff Parke header in the box. It was a classic McInerney finish, who once again found himself in perfect position to put home the goal.

In stoppage, midfielder Lawrence Olum crushed hopes, finishing off a break away from teammate Teal Bunbury to secure the win and three points. Those points push Sporting now one match closer to securing MLS’ Supporters Shield.

“The last ten minutes we were down a goal and we can’t take the tie, all we can do is win,” said defender Amobi Okugo. “Jack did a good job to get the goal but when we tried to get the second one, we were playing just two in the back. [Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy] Nielsen played a good ball out on the following play and they scored.”

“It’s tough. We had a chance all the way through, we had chances to put away teams behind us earlier in the season and we failed to do that and then it caught up with us.”

For the Union, while its playoff hopes were closed, the club can celebrate finishing with its second best record in its four year history and the most wins in club history ending the season at 12-12-10 (46 points) overall. Additionally, this season marked the first a pair of players have double digits in the goal scoring category courtesy of McInerney (12) and Conor Casey (10).

“I think there are a lot of guys in the locker room who are going to be back here next year,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “I believe a lot of these guys are really going to profit from this year and the experiences that this team has had. It is hard for me to sit here and tell you guys that I think the future looks bright [after such a tough loss], but in fact, I really believe that it does. We have a couple of pieces that we need to change, and we have some tough decisions in the off season, just like any other team, but I would look at it very optimistically.”

It was the Union who looked as if they were going to play the role of spoiler initially as the Union pressed the attack, sparked by the duo of Kleberson and Michael Farfan, the latter who played smart balls into teammates and exhibited a physical presence winning 50-50 balls and creating chances. Union manager John Hackworth decided to go with forward Antoine Hoppenot as a midfielder-forward in this one in a hybrid 4-4-2 formation and found the second year player up to the task running at the likes of Sporting Kansas City’s bigger back line.

The stat sheet will show the Union edged Sporting in possession and kept pace with chances created (SKC, 16-Union, 12), but the stat that mattered most, getting points to keep hope alive is the only one that matters.

“We are a young team and we got a lot of positives out of this season going into next season, said Union defender Ray Gaddis. “It’s very disappointing. We were in the hunt all year and for us to lose like we did, it’s heartbreaking a little, bit but you live and you learn. What we take from this season and apply it to next season we will be alright.”


Sporting Kansas City 2, Philadelphia Union 1

Saturday, Oct. 26; 3:00 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, Pa.


SKC: Zusi 47’ (Olum, Besler)

PHI: McInerney 88’ (Parke)

PHI: Olum 90’+2 (Bunbury)


SKC: Collin 41’ (dissent)

PHI: Casey 41’ (caution)

PHI: Farfan 50’ (caution)


MacMath, Fabinho, Parke, Williams, Gaddis, Okugo, Cruz (Le Toux 75’), Farfan, Kleberson (Torres 61’), Hoppenot (McInerney 61), Casey.


Nielsen, Sinovic, Collin (Opara 45’), Myers, Besler, Olum, Zusi, Rosell, Peterson, Dwyer (Bunbury 82’), Saad (Gardner 75’).

Hopkins does it again, dominates Murat

By John McMullen

ATLANTIC CITY (The Phanatic Magazine) - Maybe Bernard Hopkins is from another planet.

In case you didn't know the former "Executioner" now calls himself "The Alien" these days and the 48-year-old Hopkins defended his IBF light heavyweight championship by topping German star Karo Murat by unanimous decision at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday.

The nickname change is a nod to reality. After all Hopkins hasn't knocked out anyone since he sent Oscar De La Hoya to the canvas in September of 2004, nearly a decade ago when he was 39. Since then, however, he has been able to beat fighters like Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones
Jr., Jean Pascal and now Murat.

So why Alien?

Because a man far closer to 50 than his prime isn't supposed to be in the squared circle with people 20 years younger like Murat, never mind beating them and beating them so soundly.

Hopkins won 119-108 on two scorecards and 117-110 on the third, He was never in any danger save for one flurry late in the 10th round.

"Father Time" is the one opponent who beats everyone but Hopkins has given him a run like no other becoming the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a championship when he took the WBC and Ring Magazine light heavyweight crown from Pascal in May of 2011.

The Philadelphia native then broke his own record in March of this year by taking the IBF light heavyweight belt from Tavoris Cloud in Brooklyn.

Interestingly when he was known as "The Executioner," Hopkins was one of the greatest defensive fighters in the history of the sport. These days,  B-Hop has turned into a boxing version of Ric Flair, the dirtiest player in the game, using his smarts to clutch and grab as he frustrates his opponents.

On Saturday, however, Hopkins almost needed to get the executioner's hood out of storage, hurting the 30-year-old Murat on several occasions.

And it was actually Murat, perhaps intent on beating Hopkins at his own game, who turned to the questionable tactics like headlocks and late blows. The German challenger was even docked a point in the seventh round, and tried to head butt Hopkins twice in the closing seconds of the fight.

"Father Time" will eventually get Hopkins but Murat wasn't even close.

"He gave me extra time to spend with my family, stay in the gym longer to get ready for this fight. I feel like a fighter in my 20s not my 40s," Hopkins said.

In the co-main event WBO middleweight champ Peter Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs) kept his title by topping Philadelphia's Gabriel Rosado (21-7) by doctor's stoppage in the 10th round.

The talented Quillen, who was born in Chicago and fights out of Brooklyn, served notice early, catching the tough-minded Rosado with a razor-sharp left hook that sent him to one knee.

Rosado, the far bigger and stronger fighter in the ring, had the crowd behind him and he wasn't going to make things easy for "Kid Chocolate." He finished the fourth round with a spectacular flurry that had Quillen slumping toward the ropes.

A confidant Rosado kept pressing the action from there, cutting off the ring as best he could with Quillen's movement skills keeping him from taking consistent punishment.

By Round 7 Quillen started to re-establish himself by using his quick hands well in the counter-punch game. That said, Quillen remained content to let Rosado dictate the pace and score off his offense.

By the ninth round Quillen had opened up a cut above Rosado's left eye and he peppered it enough in Round 10 to get a questionable stoppage from the ringside physician which was greeted by more than a few boos.

"This is boxing. That was nothing," Rosado said of the cut. "I never showed it was bothering me. I don't understand. Who wants a rematch?"

Evidently not the judges.

Kason Cheeks, inexplicably had Quillin up 90-80 on his scorecard when the fight was stopped. The other judges had it scored 89-81 and 87-83 for Quillin but they were judging on reputation. The fight was much
closer than that and The Phanatic Magazine had it scored 86-84 for Quillen.

Compubox stats showed just how close it was with Quillin landing 88-of-349 punches or 25 percent and Rosado connecting on 80-of-297 or 27 percent. Quillin had the edge in jabs (29 to 18) but Rosado landed more power punches (62 to 59).

The WBC Continental Americas heavyweight title evidently didn't mean all that much to Nicolai Firtha as the Ohio native came in out of shape and was outclassed by the sculpted Deontay Wilder.

Firtha (21-11-1) actually stunned the unbeaten Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs) early in the first round but by the end of the frame he had slumped to the canvas twice and may have had a broken nose.

In the third Wilder almost knocked Firtha through the ropes with a combination push-punch before a vicious right cross at 1:26 of the fourth mercifully ended it for the overmatched Firtha.

The impressive Wilder has ended each of his 30 professional fights with a KO.

Unbeaten super middleweight Dominic Wade (12-0, 10 KOs) kicked things off with a bang by knocking out Mexican journeyman Roberto Ventura (12-8) at 2:08 of the opening round.

Puerto Rican featherweight Braullo Santos (11-1, 10 KOs) felt like playing Beat the Clock with Wade and actually one-upped him, needing just 1:49 in the first round to dispose of San Diego's David Clark (6-3) by TKO.

A pair of junior welterweights, Brooklyn's Zachary Ochoa and Alabama's Michael Doyle, took the excitement down a notch by going the distance in a rather dull four-round affair. Neither fighter was very busy but Ochoa (5-0, 3 KOs) was far slicker than the overmatched Doyle, who has won just two of his eight professional fights. Ochoa won all three scorecards (40-36, 39-37 and 39-37).

In the final undercard bout New York junior welterweight Wellington Romero (1-0) pitched a shutout in his professional debut, winning all three scorecards 40-36 over Victor Galindo (1-3).


SHOWTIME Sports and Golden Boy announced a pair of big fight cards on back-to-back weeks in December.

The first one takes place at the Barclays Center on Dec. 7 when former five-time, two-division world champion Zab Judah headlines against a former two-time kingpin Paulie Malignaggi in a bout billed for Brooklyn bragging rights.

The co-feature there will be IBF welterweight champ Devon Alexander defending his crown against unbeaten Shawn Porter. Also on the card will be Erislandy Lara against former world champion Austin Trout for the vacant WBA super welterweight belt. Rounding out the televised card will be Sakio Bika making
the first defense of his WBC super middleweight title against undefeated Antony Dirrell.

A week later in San Antonio's Alamodome, welterweight star Adrien Broner will make the first defense of his WBA crown versus Marcos Maidana in the main event. That card will be supplemented by Keith Thurman's WBA interim welterweight title defense against Jesus Soto Karass as well as Leo Santa
Cruz's WBC super bantamweight title bout against Cesar Seda.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Extra Points: Dalton has Bengals in control of AFC North | NFL (AP) | Latest news and video o...

Extra Points: Dalton has Bengals in control of AFC North | NFL (AP) | Latest news and video o...

Sixers waive Wyatt and White, two others

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia 76ers made if official on Friday and waived former Temple guard Khalif Wyatt as well as forward Royce White, the troubled former first-round pick who was acquired from Houston in the offseason.

Also let go was rookie guard Vander Blue and forward Mac Koshwal.

Flyers nip Rangers in return from week-long break

Philadelphia, PA -- In the old days, before the "new NHL" took root, something didn't necessarily have to give when two teams headed in the same direction squared off, because ties were still on the table.

A deadlock where neither team won might have been a fitting result for one team 2-5-0 on a season-commencing nine-game road trip facing the hosts who were off to a franchise-worst 1-7-0 kick.

Good for one team, that somebody had to lose on Thursday night.

Braydon Coburn's second goal of the season, coming at the 3:33 mark of the third period got the Philadelphia Flyers back in the win column via a 2-1 decision over the New York Rangers at Wells Fargo Center.

Steve Mason stopped 30-of-31 shots, including all 10 he faced in the final period, to help the Flyers halt a four-game losing streak and prevail for only the second time in nine outings this season. Matt Read assisted on Coburn's game-winner and tallied a shorthanded goal earlier in the contest.

Brad Richards scored the only marker for New York, which dropped its second in a row and fell to 2-6-0 on its season-opening nine-game road trip. Cameron Talbot, making his NHL debut with Henrik Lundqvist out with an undisclosed injury, recorded 25 saves in defeat.

Philadelphia failed on a previous opportunity to break the 1-1 stalemate, a five-minute power play that overlapped the second and third periods that was awarded by a boarding penalty to New York's Benoit Pouliot for checking the Flyers' Maxime Talbot face-first into the boards.

Not long after the expiration of the extended man-advantage, however, Coburn drilled a shot from near the blue line that rocketed past Cameron Talbot with Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds setting a screen in front.

"We've got guys like Wayne screening the goalie and causing havoc in there, so you know as long as you can get the pucks through, things can happen," said Coburn afterward.

The Rangers nearly had the equalizer just over two minutes after Coburn's goal. With Flyers captain Claude Giroux in the box for a hooking call, New York's Brian Boyle sent a pass into the crease that caromed off Mason's stick and struck the Rangers' J.T. Miller's right skate before crossing the goal line. However, the score was disallowed after a booth review declared that Miller kicked in the puck.

"Obviously [the officials] saw something that I didn't, but it happens," said Miller. "It's a kicking motion; it happens all the time. I think it could have went either way."

Mason, who turned aside 12 chances during a flawless second period, later withstood a Rangers' offensive in the final minutes to protect the one-goal edge.

"Mason played great and made some big saves when we needed it," said Coburn.

Read got the slumping Flyers off to a good start midway through the opening period. With the Rangers on their first power play of the night, the Philadelphia forward stole the puck from Derick Brassard to create a breakaway chance that ended with Read firing a wrister through Cameron Talbot's pads for a 1-0 lead.

The Flyers stayed in front until late in the period, when Richards sent a bad- angle shot from the left corner that caught Mason off guard and went in with just 1:04 left in the frame.

Notes: Pouliot received a game misconduct for the major penalty ... Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier returned to action following a three-game absence caused by a lower-body injury ... Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto was back in his team's lineup after sitting out two games with the flu ... Read had not scored since Apr. 23 of last season against Boston, a span of 10 straight games ... Flyers defenseman Mark Streit played in his 500th career NHL game ... The Rangers fell to 0-5-0 when failing to score first ... Philadelphia had been outscored by a 12-2 margin in the third period coming into the game ... On Friday morning, the Flyers shipped Tye McGinn back to Adirondack of the AHL.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lacavalier in, Hartnell still down

It's official: the Philadelphia Flyers will welcome Vincent Lecavalier back to the lineup Thursday when they face the downtrodden New York Rangers, but there's been a slight lineup change because of it.

Lecavalier, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, skated at right wing on the team's top line at the morning practice session, with fellow French-Canadian Claude Giroux at center and rookie Michael Raffl on the other side.

"I want to be out there and be part of it," Lecavalier said to this afternoon. "We're doing some good things. It's hard to [see it that way] when you are 1-7, but we want to keep pushing and I want to help as much as I can. "The chances are there and that's a positive. I love [playing with Giroux]. He's a smart player who makes quick little plays. He's easy to play with. It's been going really good in practices. When you are with him and you look at the way he thinks out there, he's special."

Recent call-up Tye McGinn spent time on the top line with Giroux before this unnatural seven-day break in the schedule, and responded with three goals -- a team best -- in three games. While Raffl has shown the ability to hang in a North American rink, it hasn't translated into goals or points yet.

New York holds an impressive 18-7-2 regular-season record in Philadelphia since the resumption of play in 2005, but the Flyers won two of three on home ice against the Blueshirts last year.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Extra Points: Vikings need to start over |

Extra Points: Vikings need to start over |

How The Flyers fared with long breaks between games

For the Philadelphia Flyers, this seven-day respite between crucial Metropolitan Division matchups is the rarest of the rare, especially in a schedule matrix which tries to shoehorn 82 games into the course of six months for 30 teams.

Once again, I've decided to scour the archives. Exempting the recent four cessations for Olympic hockey, but including any rest that came about due to the All-Star Break or exhibitions against the Soviets, the Philadelphia Flyers have had at least five whole days off between games on 32 previous occasions in 46 seasons.

Below are the results and brief recaps.

October 24, 1968: North Stars 3, Flyers 3 -- Three games into their second NHL campaign, the club saw a seven-day break after having beaten the Pens by a 3-0 score for their first win of the season. They returned to action with a tie at the Spectrum as Ed Van Impe, Gary Dornhoefer and Earl Heiskala recorded their first goals of the season, Bernie Parent made 32 saves and Keith Allen's team improved to 1-2-1 on the year.

December 25, 1971: Bruins 5, Flyers 1 -- The Flyers were waxed, 4-0, at home by Toronto, then had six days to sit and stew about it. There were better places for the club to be than on Causeway Street on Christmas Day against the eventual Stanley Cup champions, and it showed. Bobby Orr, Ken Hodge, Phil Esposito, Wayne Cashman and Derek Sanderson bested the crease combo of Doug Favell and Bruce Gamble. Bobby Clarke recorded the lone score for the visitors.

December 8, 1973: Flyers 3, Maple Leafs 1  -- Six days after beating California at home, the Broad Street Bullies rolled into Toronto and laid a licking on the Leafs. Tom Bladon, Bob Kelly and Rick MacLeish lit the lamp and Parent came up with 31 saves. The win came in the midst of a 4-0-3 stretch.

January 15, 1976: Flyers 4, Penguins 1 -- Winners of five straight and an unofficial sixth in that famous exhibition with the Soviet Central Red Army team, the two-time defending Cup champions easily turned back the Pens on home ice. Clarke had three assists, four different players hit the back of the net and Wayne Stephenson stopped 26 shots.

January 27, 1979: North Stars 3, Flyers 1 -- Six days after a 5-5 tie at Madison Square Garden, the Flyers played a total clunker against one of the lesser clubs in the NHL. Gilles Meloche outdueled Stephenson and Bill Barber notched the lone goal, with rookie head coach Bob McCammon suffering through the midst of a nine-game winless string (0-4-5) that ultimately proved to be his undoing.

February 14, 1979: Flyers 2, Maple Leafs 2 -- The schedule dictated a 10-day break to accomodate Super Series '79, and Pat Quinn earned the first tie of his NHL coaching career with this Toronto deadlock. Tom Gorence and Mel Bridgman scored to wipe out an early 2-0 Leafs edge and Parent turned away 36 shots.

December 27, 1980: Flames 2, Flyers 1 -- Fresh from a franchise-worst 6-0 beating on home ice to the Washington Capitals, the Orange and Black headed West for their first-ever game in Calgary. The six-day gap didn't spur a better result, as Brad Smith notched the game winner on Rick St. Croix with 3:35 left in regulation in front of a sellout crowd at the Corral.

November 9, 1984: Flyers 6, Blues 0 -- Nearly a week off since a 5-1 home win over Minnesota did little to dull the senses of Mike Keenan's club. On this Friday night at the Spectrum, Tim Kerr scored twice and the Flyers took control with a four-goal first period. Pelle Lindbergh posted his first shutout of a Vezina Trophy-winning season by making 29 saves.

February 14, 1987: Flyers 4, Blues 2 -- Prior to Rendezvous '87, the injury-riddled Flyers lost four in a row, including a one-goal result at New Jersey. After the break, things got going at the expense of the Blues once more. Dave Poulin scored twice and Ron Hextall made 33 saves.

February 12, 1988: Flames 3, Flyers 2 -- Calgary came into Philadelphia after that season's All-Star Break in the early stages of a massive road trip caused by the Winter Olympics. The rested Flyers poured 36 shots on Mike Vernon and gave up only 15, but Mike Bullard's tally midway through the third period proved to be the decider.

October 31, 1991: Flyers 5, Sharks 2 -- What's the best solution to the problem of being shut out in two of the last three games? Send an expansion team to Pattison Avenue. San Jose's first trip to Philly woke up the Flyers after a six-day break following a 2-0 loss at Winnipeg, as Rick Tocchet scored twice, Rod Brind'Amour added two helpers and Hextall halted 25 pucks.

April 12, 1992: Whalers 4, Flyers 2 -- An 11-day halt in the schedule due to an NHLPA strike ruined whatever momentum Bill Dineen's club had of trying to snatch the last playoff spot in the Patrick Division. They lost in Kevin Dineen's return to Hartford after a November trade shipped him to Philadelphia, with Yvan Corriveau contributing two goals to the Flyers' misery.

February 9, 1993: Flyers 8, Senators 1 -- Dineen posted a hat trick, Eric Lindros scored twice, Pelle Eklund and Mark Recchi added three assists each and expansion Ottawa was routed at the Spectrum in the Flyers' first game back after the All-Star Game in Montreal.

October 22, 1993: Flyers 4, Islanders 3 -- An interminable season made worse by the fifth straight year without a playoff berth. This home game was pushed back a night due to Game 5 of the World Series between the Phillies and Blue Jays, creating a six-day gap following a one-goal win over the Rangers. Terry Simpson's team escaped this one with goals in the third period from Lindros, Josef Beranek and Dmitri Yushkevich -- the last one being the winner with 4:56 left in regulation.

January 6, 1994: Stars 8, Flyers 0 -- The second of three ridiculous breaks in the schedule produced this total dud in the club's first visit to Reunion Arena in Dallas. Dominic Roussel and Tommy Soderstrom combined to stop only 15 shots. Ulf Dahlen bracketed the rout with goals, Neal Broten produced a goal and three assists.

January 25, 1994: Nordiques 6, Flyers 4 -- Lindros enjoyed his first All-Star selection, but not another return to Quebec City. Despite his two assists, the defense gave up 42 shots and Reggie Savage potted the lead goal early in the third period. Mike Ricci and Scott Young added insurance tallies for the victorious Nords.

February 23, 1995: Flyers 6, Nordiques 6 -- A lockout-shortened schedule gave Terry Murray's struggling team 15 games in the first 26 days of the season. Having lost to Quebec at home seven days earlier, the franchise's last trip to Le Colisee was a classic. Karl Dykhuis scored his first career goal, Lindros netted a hat trick and the Legion of Doom racked up 10 points, but the visitors wasted a 6-3 lead in the final period. Hextall performed a minor miracle with his 40-save effort.

January 22, 1996: Panthers 1, Flyers 1 -- After a week off due to All-Star festivities in Boston, Florida came to the Spectrum and sucked the hosts down into the vortex of neutral-zone trap style hockey. Brind'Amour answered the bell with the tying goal coming 2:39 before the end of regulation.

March 9, 1996: Bruins 3, Flyers 2 -- This late-year inexplicable six-day respite after a shutout loss in Washington saw the visitors squander a 2-0 lead. Philly spent most of the remainder of the game chasing Boston's Sandy Moger for an unpenalized hit on Lindros and lost their cool. Moger assisted on the winner from Don Sweeney at 17:22 of the third period.

January 21, 1997: Stars 3, Flyers 3 -- Another post All-Star tilt saw two clubs at the top of their games dance to a deadlock. Dale Hawerchuk scored his 12th goal of the season -- and final regular-season tally -- of his Hall of Fame career, Mikael Renberg and John LeClair also produced friendly red lights.

November 26, 1997: Flyers 3, Sabres 1 -- Six days earlier the Flyers were chastened by a 3-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks, jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to two scores from Brind'Amour and one by Eric Desjardins and never allowed Buffalo a foothold thereafter.

December 11, 1997: Flyers 4, Islanders 3 -- Lindros picked up another trifecta, including the winner with 1:27 on the third-period clock, in this unexpected death battle with the Isles. It was a strong way to respond after a 4-4 tie in New York less than a week before resulted after Philly blew a 4-1 second period lead.

January 20, 1998: Flyers 3, Sabres 0 -- Three days after the Daigle for Falloon and Prospal deal shocked the fan base and six days following a pre-All-Star-break tie with Montreal, Wayne Cashman's club snapped back to attention. Hextall recorded a 29-save clean sheet and Brind'Amour once again supplied a pair of first-period scores to fuel the victory.

February 9, 2000: Flyers 4, Maple Leafs 2 -- Rejoining the schedule after the mid-season classic in Toronto, Lindros scored twice and Simon Gagne once with Brian Boucher adding 26 saves to a winner at Air Canada Centre.

October 22, 2005: Flyers 5, Maple Leafs 2 -- Ken Hitchcock's squad received a seven-day break just five games into the first year back from the scrapped 2004-05 season and made some history. Rookie Mike Richards netted the franchise's first 3-on-5 goal in almost 14 years to give his team the lead in the second period, then Mike Knuble, Donald Brashear and Branko Radivojevic poured in a goal each in the third to offset a Lindros tally for Toronto.

October 26, 2006: Flyers 3, Thrashers 2 (SO) -- With "Bloody Sunday" four days in the past, John Stevens had a successful NHL head coaching debut. Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg scored in the breakaway round, while Forsberg and Randy Robitaille picked up a goal apiece in regulation. Antero Niittymaki made sure the contest ended in the hosts' favor with a stop on Ilya Kovalchuk.

January 27, 2007: Rangers 2, Flyers 1 -- The most recent season of misery continued after seven days off, only to see the Broadway Blueshirts take another road win. Former Hobey Baker winner Jason Krog (New Hampshire) won it on his goal at 3:49 of the third, assisted by current Flyer Adam Hall. Joni Pitkanen provided the lone offense for the Orange and Black.

January 27, 2009: Panthers 3, Flyers 2 -- Opening a three-game road trip after the All-Star Game, Claude Giroux scored his first career goal in the third period, but it wasn't enough. Michal Frolik and David Booth scored in the third period to back 33 saves from Tomas Vokoun.

October 16, 2009: Panthers 4, Flyers 2 -- Five games into the 2009-10 season and a six-day break after a home shootout loss to Anaheim, and the O&B come up empty once more in South Florida. Giroux and Arron Asham pick up their first goals of the year, but Radek Dvorak and Steve Reinprecht snap a tie with third-period goals and Scott Clemmensen stops 25 pucks.

December 28, 2010: Canucks 6, Flyers 2 -- The start of a holiday road trip dictated an eight-day gap between games for Philadelphia, and the result was no better than a 5-0 pasting the Panthers laid at the WFC in their previous tilt. The Sedin twins combined for five points, Ryan Kesler chipped in a goal and a helper as Vancouver unleashed 49 shots on net.

February 1, 2011: Lightning 4, Flyers 0 -- Another post All-Star egg was laid in Florida, this time on the Gulf Coast. Ageless wonder Dwayne Roloson blanked the visitors with 38 saves, while the Bolts assumed control with first-period goals from Teddy Purcell (2) and reformed ex-Flyer Steve Downie.

January 31, 2012: Jets 2, Flyers 1 (SO) -- It wasn't nearly as nuts as Winnipeg's previous visit, a 9-8 win the previous October, but the result was the same. Bryan Little scored the only goal of the shootout on Ilya Bryzgalov for the win. Brayden Schenn notched the lone goal for the hosts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

John McMullen Week 7 NFL wraparound on the Mo Radio Show

John McMullen talking Week 7 NFL on The Sports Fix

College Hockey Round-up, Week 2

The second full weekend of Division I hockey is in the books, and Minnesota becomes the third different school to be named to the #1 spot in the three weeks the poll has been released.

It's a milestone for the nascent Big Ten Conference, with one of its member schools selected to the lofty perch already.

The Golden Gophers improved to 4-0-0 this season after taking down former WCHA rivals Bemidji State on the road, posting victories of 6-3 and 5-1.

Notre Dame, late of the CCHA but now one of the new programs in Hockey East, rose to #2 from the four-slot after dismantling Michigan Tech, 3-2 and 7-3 over the weekend. The Irish have two more out of conference games before beginning their new conference slate on Nov. 1 against Vermont.

Last week's top-ranked school, Miami-Ohio, fell to #3 after splitting with NCHC foe North Dakota, while Michigan rose one slot to #4 thanks to a tie (1-1) and win (3-2 in OT) at New Hampshire. Boston College soared two spots to #5 after a 9-2 demolition of Wisconsin on Jerry York Night this past Friday.

The Badgers crashed all the way from second to 11th with that defeat and a 7-3 setback against BU.

Defending-champion Yale did not play and was static at 7, Providence improved to 3-0-0 and rose to eighth, national runner-up Quinnipiac was the biggest gainer in the Top 10 having gone from from 14 to 9, while St. Cloud State was elevated one spot to #10.

On the Flyers prospect front...

No. 6 ranked North Dakota junior Michael Parks, fourth on the Fighting Sioux in scoring, picked up a key goal as his program took a 4-2 decision over then #1 Miami on Friday. He did not score in UND's 6-2 loss on Saturday to the RedHawks.

Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere tallied in a 6-5 home overtime loss to Lake Superior State Friday night, then went scoreless in the Dutchmen's 3-2 loss in the back end of the series on Saturday. "Ghost" has four points (1G, 3A) in four games thus far.

Other local schools...

Penn State dropped a pair on the road to non-conference Air Force, losing 5-2 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday. The Nits will host RIT at the 'Peg this coming Friday before heading to Philly to take on Vermont in the second annual Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.

The Princeton Tigers won't begin their regular-season slate until this coming weekend, guaranteed two games against fellow Ivy League programs in the Liberty City Classic at Newark, NJ. Defending champion Yale, along with Brown and Dartmouth are in the mix at the Rock. 

Extra Points: Jets-Patriots finish falls flat - Football Wires -

Extra Points: Jets-Patriots finish falls flat - Football Wires -

Around the Rink: Flyers Emergency edition

Courtesy of The Province
by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

Good morning and welcome to the sixth year of my wide-ranging, semi-regular column on the broader world of hockey.

The lead in my first installment this season is Craig Berube's current six-day war. When your team is staring down the barrel of a franchise-worst 1-7-0 start with a league-worst 11 goals in eight games, dipping into the bunker mentality might be the best course of action for this proud franchise's new head coach.

What's known is, "Chief" was a player who got by for parts of 17 seasons on grit, guts, guile and the speed of his fists more than any other skill. When one steps behind the bench, though, those qualities can only provide the basis for a smarter, more detailed approach to deal with 23 different personalities and skill sets, all of which are in crisis mode.

We know he can work hard, but can he work smart?

What's also known is that Berube has only had fleeting chances to properly introduce himself to his roster, and this strange break in the schedule is his own personal proving ground, the only significant space until the Olympic Break in which he'll have to lay the groundwork for whatever obstacles lay ahead.

The primary and most engaging sortie Berube will make is restoring Claude Giroux to a reasonable facsimile of the player he was two years ago, and the player the organization has expected him to be.

Speaking to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette prior to Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Penguins, the 24-year-old came up with a pair of quotes which would cause coaching staffs not mired in an epic struggle to wring their hands and reflexively pull their collar away from their neck.

It's been stated previously in Philadelphia papers that confidence has been an issue for the young star and leader, and if the above passage wasn't just about selling the fans of the opposing club a bill of goods, Berube has a major problem on his hands.

That doesn't sound anything like the man who demanded Peter Laviolette give him the first shift of the clinching Game 6 against the Penguins 18 months ago. That sounds like a player already at a loss about how to motivate himself and his teammates, one looking broadly and philosophically at issues that require a steadier hand -- one which has lost and knew how to grow from those defeats. There is no one on the roster who has crawled through the muck and come out clean on the other side.

Giroux went scoreless in his first five games this season, but has rebounded to post a single assist in each of the last three. Is his recovery from that freak golf-club splitting accident a factor? You don't have to read between the lines. Yes, it is.

The fact that Flyers often defy medical timetables and recover roughly one-to-two weeks ahead of previously-established guidelines is the problem here. If Giroux is not the bankable star, he's not rushed back at the precise moment doctors can clear him; fully healed, Giroux himself then won't permit any doubt about the healing process affecting his shooting, passing and stick-handling impede his progress.

If Giroux can't score, if he can't be the motor that drives the offensive engine, then what does that mean for the rest of the roster that hasn't been able to solve their woes? Giroux is the type of leader whose skill and numbers point the way. Stripped of that, especially at such a young age, and you have to find ways to encourage him to develop leadership skills that aren't stats-based.

It's obvious already in the post-game, that Giroux badly needs the latter. He does not stand firm, his voice wavers and is not strong. When he's lost for answers, you know it. You don't get the sense that he's angry more than confused. 

That's where Berube, and more to the point, his ability as instructor and delegator of responsibility will be key. Forget about the what and how of on-ice drilling during the break. If Berube, behind closed doors, is the kind of old-school motivator that is of the "do or do not, there is no try" mold, the one who does not waste words or provide much information under questioning, Giroux is sunk.

If Berube is smart, and recognizes that he himself might not be able to relate to the type of player he never was, he'll call upon his coaching staff and other Flyers principals to sit Giroux down and provide guidance.

He can start by summoning Chris Pronger. Pronger's struggles as a #2 overall pick in Hartford early in his career are well-documented, as were his battles to get the perennially-mediocre Blues over the hump, and his sparring with Philadelphia media, along with his current struggle to just be healthy again.

He'll let 500-goal scorer and Hall of Famer Joe Mullen talk about adversity in small-market St. Louis in the 80s, triumph in Calgary and Pittsburgh, and how to deal with the pitfalls along the way. He'll have good cops and assistants in Ian Laperriere and John Paddock -- two men who know something from hard knocks -- for additional counsel regarding their respective rugged paths to a career in the game.

If the in-house counsel fails, nothing wrong with sports psychologists. 

To paraphrase George Clinton, once Giroux's head is freed, his hands will follow. Then, the long-awaited waterfall of offense will trickle down like lifeblood to the rest of the forward lines. 

Holmgren's possible gambit

So you want a trade. Some of you want Sabres sniper Thomas Vanek and are willing to give up two young chips to get him.

Here are two problems with that: idea a) Buffalo, though struggling, is an inter-conference rival and the Flyers front office traditionally finds intra-conference clubs as favored trading partners and b) any trade this early into Berube's coaching tenure runs the risk of messing with the chemistry he's desperately trying to build during this week-long break with only a handful of games under his belt and the roster at his disposal.

Besides, we're not even at the 10-game plateau, the time when 29 other GMs are picking up the phones and not just wasting breath on pleasantries and gauging interest. Past that point, injuries and poor play can be evaluated on a larger scale, so if Holmgren is going to make a move, we should give him until at least Halloween before ramping up the rumors and criticism for failure to act.

Seven years ago, the Flyers began the season with a 1-6-1 record and made a slew of changes to their power structure -- kicking Bob Clarke upstairs, letting Holmgren take the reins after almost 11 years and inserting "good soldier" John Stevens as head coach. Holmgren wheeled and dealed, but the organization as a whole let the 2006-07 season, the franchise worst, progress as it did in hopes that Stevens could guide the younger talent and break his NHL cherry without much pressure.

In 2013, however, the Flyers are coming off a rare Spring without a postseason. A second in a row is simply unacceptable. It is unlikely, mythical "hot seat" or not, that Holmgren will let this year slide into oblivion. His reputation is at stake.

The last, and only Flyers GM to have three non-playoff years on his ledger is Russ Farwell, whose early 90s teams missed out in all four of his campaigns (1990-94).  Farwell, once a genius at the Canadian junior level, didn't carry the burden of old-school Flyerdom and the weight of responsibility as keeper of the flame as Holmgren does. 

Patience is not a virtue shared at the highest levels inside the big building on South Broad Street. Winter is coming. You can take it to the bank that Holmgren has the power and the will to make the changes. Whether they will be the right ones under duress if things don't change quickly, could determine the course of the on-ice product for years to come.

Biron announces retirement

You'd have to look deeply, but Martin Biron's biggest fault when he played in Philadelphia might have been daring to ask for the kind of money he felt he was worth heading into free agency in the Summer of 2009.

All in all, if that's the worst thing you could say about the guy, that's pretty good.

Biron announced his retirement Sunday morning after playing parts of 16 seasons in the NHL. His professional pride unable to bear sitting the rest of the season in the minors, with the Rangers still on the hook for the remainder of his salary.

Unfortunately, the last snapshot we'll have of the genial 36-year-old Quebec native is of the helpless goaltender posterized by Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl and his between-the-legs and behind-the-back goal to cap a 4-score night in a 9-2 rout of New York earlier this month.

That isn't the way to end a long and fruitful career, with an 0-1-0 record, 7.61 goals-against average and .763 save percentage. Neither was the infamous Game 6 collapse against the Penguins four years back, a 5-3 home loss which ended a first-round series with the Pens and was the last time Biron wore the Orange and Black. 

What should come to mind, at least regarding on-ice pursuits, was the stabilizing force he provided in net as the designated starter from the time he arrived from Buffalo in March of 2007 until his departure for Long Island more than two years later. From the bones of that franchise-worst season, Biron rose to backstop a successful ensuing regular season and the surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008.

His only two playoff campaigns came in Philadelphia, and Biron compiled an 11-12 record, 2.87 goals-against average and a pair of shutouts. Impressively, both of those postseason whitewashes were performed on the road, against offensive powerhouses Washington ('08) and Pittsburgh ('09). A season-saving 28-stop performance in the Steel City against the eventual Cup champions which enabled the Flyers to get to that infamous Game 6 was one of the best starts in the club's recent playoff history. 

Biron ended up with a 65-47-19 mark, 2.71 GAA and seven shutouts over 139 regular-season appearances here.  Early in the 2007-08 season, he became the first Flyers goaltender in six years to record back-to-back shutouts, en route to being named the NHL's First Star of the Week  posting a 3-0-0 record, 0.66 goals against average and .982 save percentage. He did it again, blanking the Devils and Pens, in the final two games of the regular season as the club attempted to shore up a playoff berth. 

One can point to any one of a number of small decisions which set the franchise on a certain path to this moment, but if Holmgren didn't favor an image-rehabbing and cheaper Ray Emery in July of 2009, Biron's presence may well have removed any need for and to put a stop to a goalie carousel.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cowboys send Eagles to record ninth-straight home loss

Philadelphia, PA -- Despite missing All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus  Ware, the Dallas Cowboys shut down the Philadelphia Eagles' offense in a 17-3 victory in South Philadelphia on Sunday.

"We didn't play well offensively. We couldn't do anything to help out our defense. I thought we had a good week at practice, good energy. To go out there and play the way we did was unacceptable," mused Birds head coach Chip Kelly.

Many  people  expected a high-scoring  game when the  two teams took the field in a battle  for first place in the NFC East. Coming into the contest, Dallas  was  second in  the NFL  with an average  of 30.5  points per game and Philadelphia was fourth with 27.2 ppg.

But  the Dallas  defense,  which  came into  the  contest  allowing 25.3  ppg, recorded  three  sacks,  intercepted  rookie quarterback  Matt  Barkley  three times and limited LeSean McCoy to 55 yards on 18 carries.

"We just didn't finish any drives and didn't execute at all," said McCoy. "We just didn't play well. I think this was one of my worst performances since being a rookie."

One positive for the Pitt product was that he set a record for the most yards from scrimmage (952) by an Eagle through the first seven games of a season. With 6,406 career yards from scrimmage, McCoy passed Steve Van Buren (6,383) for eighth place in team history.

On  the offensive side  of the ball for the Cowboys (4-3), Tony Romo completed 28-of-47  passes for 317 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. A fourth-quarter  touchdown pass  to Terrance  Williams  extended Romo's  streak to  20 consecutive games with a TD pass.

"This was a good win for us, to come up here to Philadelphia and get a division win on the road is important," said Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. "We played well enough in all three phases to win this game."

Joseph  Randle, filling  in for an injured DeMarco Murray, carried the ball 19 times for 65 yards. Dez Bryant caught eight passes for 110 yards.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, making his second straight start for an injured Michael  Vick,  connected on just 11-of-29  passes for 80 yards before leaving after three quarters with a head injury. Barkley completed 11-of-20 passes for 129 yards in relief.

Vick  announced  Thursday during a joint  press conference with Foles that his injured  hamstring is still not 100 percent. Vick suffered the injury during a Week 5 win over the New York Giants.

Philadelphia  (3-4) had  a  two-game winning  streak snapped  and  set a  new, dubious franchise record with its ninth straight home defeat. The Eagles' last win at home came on Sept. 30, 2012 against the New York Giants.

A scoreless first quarter featured six punts. Dallas managed to move the ball into opposing territory just once during the frame. The drive stalled when Romo was sacked by DeMeco Ryans on 2nd-and-7 from the Philadelphia 38.

The only three points of the first half came with 3:17 left in the second stanza. The Cowboys used three passing plays of at least 10 yards to move the ball to the Philadelphia 23. Four plays later, Dan Bailey made a 38-yard field goal.

The Eagles finally moved the ball past midfield in the final minute of the second quarter. Faced with a 2nd-and-1 from the Dallas 42, Foles threw two incomplete passes. Eagles coach Chip Kelly decided to send kicker Alex Henery onto the field, but he missed a 60-yard field goal.

Romo heaved the ball into the end zone with just seconds left, but rookie Earl Wolff came up with his first NFL interception.

Dallas opened the second half with a 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Bryant caught three passes of at least 11 yards to move the ball inside the red zone. On 3rd-and-goal, Bradley Fletcher was called for defensive pass interference. Phillip Tanner then rumbled into the end zone from one yard out, making it a
10-0 game.

The Cowboys were driving again when Romo was picked off by Ryans, who returned the ball 36 yards to the Dallas 30. Three plays later, Foles almost threw an interception in the end zone. Upon further review, it was determined that a pass intended for Jason Avant hit the ground first. McCoy picked up two yards
on 4th-and-1 for a fresh set of downs, but the Eagles settled for a 31-yard field goal from Henery.

Dallas stole back any momentum that Philadelphia had gained with a 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive. This time around, Bryant caught passes of 16 and 10 yards to fuel the march. After Cole Beasley picked up a first down on 3rd- and-2, Williams caught a 9-yard TD pass to make it 17-3 with 9:25 left in the fourth.

''It's a testament to how hard and committed these guys are to practicing,'' Romo said. ''It's neat for them to have a game like this. They would've won it by themselves.''

Barkley, who was selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of this year's draft, took over for an injured Foles. The Southern Cal product did not fare much better, throwing three interceptions the rest of the way.

Notes: Philadelphia's three points were the fewest since absorbing a 24-0 loss in Dallas on January 3, 2010, and the fewest in a home game since Seattle's 42-0 thrashing on December 5, 2005 ... The Cowboys hold a 62-47 edge in the all-time series ... Ware (quadriceps) had a streak of 134 consecutive games played snapped. Murray sat out with a knee injury ... Philadelphia safety Patrick Chung missed the game with a shoulder injury ... Riley Cooper hauled in six passes for 88 yards for the Eagles, who racked up just 278 yards of total offense ... Coming into Sunday's game, the Eagles were 29th in points allowed (29.8) and Dallas was 21st (25.3).