Friday, May 30, 2008

Bring On Florida

The Tulane Green Wave opens the NCAA baseball Tournament against Florida this very afternoon (1PM) versus the Florida Gators.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be on television anywhere? No CSTV link on the Tulane website. That stinks.

But it is still appropriate to get real ready: open the window, let the sunshine in, boot up Gametracker, find that Loverboy’s “Get Lucky” album and crank up “Working For The Weekend”. I only worry that the Gators don’t call us names coming off the bus and that the air conditioning is working in the team hotel. Yes, they are our team- but the Wave seemingly needs a glide path to success.

Odds update:

Florida State Even
Florida 9 to 2
Tulane 10 to 1
Bucknell 75 to 1

Florida is exactly where they opened- but FSU started at 17 to 10- and has gained almost solely at Tulane’s expense (the Wave opened at 11/2).

I dunno- 10 to 1 seems like a real good price to me. I mean, I would not be shocked if they “won” the winners bracket (and thus probably the regional)- that just isn’t a 10 to 1 event, particularly with Shooter pitching one of the first two games.

Lastly, North Carolina is the biggest regional fave at 1-2 (ie bet $2 to win $1). LSU and FSU are the only other even money or better favorites.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Poor Florida

Well, thank the stars- off the bubble and on to Tallahassee. Florida... meet RHP Shooter Hunt. Enjoy him while you can Gators- cause he’s off to the MLB as a first round pick here right soon.

I have no smart idea if they can win the regional; I don’t follow Florida or Florida State to make an accurate assessment of their capacity. But I do know that it is better to be in rather than be out. I never got the fears on other boards that why go if we’re two and done? or Tulane doesn’t deserve it.

Isn’t the latter complaint particularly galling? Talk about bandaging the knuckles that beat you? Season after season, the climate of collegiate sports is rigged- and I use the word “rigged” deliberately- against Tulane. We get the Liberty Bowl instead of the Sugar. The NIT in the 90s instead of the NCAA. I remember when Tulane was the first major conference team to win 20 games and not get in the NCAA- and many other slights.

Maybe Tulane gets a break, get in based on reputation rather than pure merit- and we should apologize? Screw that. If some bloated Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 factory is sitting home… well, boo frickin’ hoo. Frankly, I sincerely hope they are.

Plus, how can it not help our recruiting going forward? Better to say that even in a “down” year Tulane makes the show- that the Green Wave is a true “we don’t rebuild, we reload” program.

Plus, as I chide below, why can’t they win some games? Sometimes, as a community, we forget the goal is to root, root, root for the home team- not carp endlessly.

Remember PJ Walters and those darn Jaguars a two years ago. Okay, South Alabama was no great shakes- but the one day a week Harvey stood astride the hill, they were legit top 25. That might be us. The biggest thing in regional play is getting the first 54 outs in orderly fashion (stay in the winners bracket)- and Tulane, to my untutored eye, looks darn well equipped to get most of them.

Reading the press and the more “learned” chatters on the forums, I gather Tulane has two on field problems- getting outs outside the top two starting pitchers and the bats in general. Plus, it is hard to put this gently, but they are not- categorically- a strong mental team. They take whole series off. They get into funks. Marshall proved you can bully them- get them off their collective game, raising questions about how much “want to” exists in the dugout. That fighting will exhibited day after day, at bat after at bat, ain’t exactly Tulane brand baseball.

But they have played well at times. This is gonna sound terrible- but I get a sense they can “front run” with the best of them- turn early success into more success. In fact, they might almost need it. But again, with Shooter going against the sort of SEC program that isn’t quite elite, they could get some momentum, get those early good things that they seem to need to stay real engaged.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


I really don’t know what to say about Tulane’s opening round loss to Marshall- other than, in life, a little gumption and “want to” goes a long way. The Herd shamed Tulane good- both in season and in the tournament. We’ll see how the players respond today in the loser’s bracket.

Tulane played way too many games against them this year where Tulane thought it was an exhibition. Marshall never thought it was a show.

If they don’t make the tournament this year, if I were Jones, I would spend a year putting a little “want to” in this group: turn off the air conditioning, get rid of the amenities, end the fluff.

If there ever was a group that needed a kick in the butt, this is it. Being spotted Shooter Hunt for an entire season, and failing to make the tournament, equals underachieving.

And if anyone wants to critque this blog vis-a-vis class, check out the remnants of this post.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

This Blog Cries Uncle

Frankly, speaking for myself, I've had about just enough of that Pittsburgh outfit. Losing in the conference finals... well, let’s take a breath and remember Lea Thompson’s thoughtful narrative about Partisan Rock:
In time, this war, like every other war, ended. But I never forgot, and I come to this place often, when no one else does.
Losing to Pittsburgh is kinda like that. It is over- but the affected won’t forget. Now that the NHL is a salary cap League, you can’t build for sustained excellence anymore. Get to the final four, lose- and it is disappointment with no guarantee you can or will move forward. There is no solace in next year- with the cap, you don’t build, each year is distinct and not part of a plan, and you assemble what you are allowed. As Dr. Louis Creed would uniquely understand: the League is stony, a man tends what he can.

This PDN article reflects that. It isn’t a shopping list- but rather an inventory of what is coming back with an eye toward the price of asset retention. I have no desire to regurgitate that list- but below are my four off-season points- presented in the order and spirit of “do-ability”. Sure, the Flyers had a nice season and overachieved in the playoffs. The play-offs probably indicate they were better than the team that barely limped in the tournament. But they can’t be fooled either: overachievement has a way of being exposed in a regular season. For example, this run to the conference final is due to an utter implosion in goal for Montreal- and that ain’t gonna happen much in the regular season, let alone next year’s playoffs.

First, they got to look to make changes on the top line. Even the playoffs can’t hide the fact the chemistry doesn’t work at a high enough level. Briere and Prospal were both a minus three in the playoffs; Briere was an astonishing -22 in the regular season.

They got kind of a pass because that bunch does score. Briere, Prospal and Hartnell went for almost 90 markers this year- which isn’t bad at all. They also are very good on the power play- a must in the NHL where special teams are increasingly more than one-third of the total ice time. But the top line can’t be big, and I mean big, minuses at even strength- both logging a lot of ice time and playing a lot versus fourth line players at home. The easy solution is get Prospal out of there (he's a restricted free agent)- but isn’t so easy due to the tandem's success on the power play and the fact that Prospal isn't due even $2M (cheap insurance and he is a thirty goal scorer). But I think it has to change- forget winning the Cup, making the play-offs will be iffy in the Atlantic with Briere a -20. It is an obvious problem at even strength, the Flyers have so many winger options, and I expect to see a season long effort to do something, anything here.

Keeping with the theme of “first, we have to make the play-offs”, I’m sure the Flyers will look to improve their regular season point total by 8-10 points even before addressing the deficiencies exposed by Pittsburgh. Philadelphia can’t forget this was a nip and tuck affair to just get in. They clearly belonged in the play-offs; this points crunch was caused by playing an unbalanced schedule in a very strong division and finishing 25th in overtime shootouts. It is hard to get eight points better- but, with eleven overtime losses, they have room to try and get five-six points better here, get over .500 in the shootout. I imagine any free agent that can score in this format will get a long look from the Flyers- no matter what liability or age issue represented.

They need defensemen. Hatcher and Jones played credibly- but "credible" runs out of import in the conference finals. You need flat out "good". Plus, Hatcher is expensive, old and hurt a lot- a bad combo in a capped environment. I like Jones as depth and power play specialist- but not as a true top four defensemen.

Coburn and Timonen are traditional top four defensemen- so they need two more. Unlike last year, I doubt they can pay a free agent on the level of Timonen- so it will have to be a trade, particularly since obviously they have depth up front.

My one regret was the Flyers couldn’t find another thirty regular season games to dress Ryan Parent- who was credible in the little we saw him in the play-offs. I guess frantically battling for a play-off spot is not the time to dress the kid- but unlike Modry he wasn’t immobile and could carry the puck. As the guy they dressed in desperation he saw a lot of Pittsburgh’s top wingers- and I thought acquitted himself well: -1 in four games.

The hardest fix is the goal-tending. They owe Biron a zillion dollars over many years- so they’re stuck with him. I know the hockey press is agog over his play- notsomuch me. I grade his play, by series as “B” versus Washington, “B+” versus Montreal, “C-“ versus Pittsburgh- basically a journeyman goaltender having a good few weeks. They played 17 play-off games- only in one did Biron allow one goal or fewer- the proverbial steal a game. I list this fourth on the do-ability scale because something needs to be done and nothing obvious presents itself. Obviously, Niittykaki has done nothing to merit his retention here- so they have an open roster spot- but do you trade a forward for a goalie who might not beat out the incumbent? Particularly, again when you need a couple non-aging defensemen?

Unfortunately this is probably the ceiling with Biron- getting past this level requires top five goaltending- not up one series, down the next. This ceiling was acceptable when trying to get a credible netminder to move you out of the utter basement- and they had to pay up to encourage Biron to stay here. But that contract doesn’t look so great today- and it is a problem.


Saturday, May 17, 2008


This post is simply a “for the record” exercise. Big Brown destroyed the Kentucky Derby field from a horrid post- and by any analysis is the best here. He figures to be at odds of 1-2: very fair. Basically, you’re taking some risk that he doesn’t fire- not one of this crew figures to beat his honest effort.

The price scares me off. So I’ll play small cold exacta: Big Brown with Behindatthebar. I’ll also play Behindatthebar to win. I don’t have any sort of secret crush on Behindatthebar- but he always fires (albeit on the synthetic surfaces so far- and all "run on plastic" horses finished well back at Churchill Downs), his trainer Fletcher is a pro. I figure he’ll run as honest as any- be around the finish- and pay nicely if he gets a chance to pick up the pieces should Big Brown take the afternoon off.

-->FLASH! Behindatthebar is out on the Preakness. I don't know. I guess Gayego on the exacta and to win- but even smaller now.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Nine Down, Seven To Go

For the first time in the playoffs, the new NHL served the Flyers well- as the referees rewarded Philadelphia’s first period energy with like a zillion away from the puck penalties on Pittsburgh (well three- but that is a lot in one period). The Flyers cashed in twice- added a bad, maybe lucky is better, goal by Lupul- and ended the first period up three.

From there, the Flyers battered defense corps dug in and grimly held on. Randy Jones played his best game I’ve seen: quarterbacking the 2-for-4 power play, picking up an assist, playing 26 minutes without being on for a goal against. I don't know how he wasn't one of the three stars. Twenty minutes from Modry, fifteen from Parent. Really, only Lasse Kukkonen had a rough night on the blue line. Not a bad effort from a collective that features three guys who, in a perfect world, would be solid contributors for the Phantoms. In fact, rather than scratching Parent, let him play and let Kukkonen watch.

And of course, the fisticuffs at the end were a satisfying cap on the night. It was a pleasure watching Hatcher tune up Malone- a pure pro: three shots to the head, casually palming the helmet off, a few more shots for good measure to complete the instruction, pull Malone’s jersey up- and then look directly to the linesman to stop it before he hurt his near helpless opponent. And the Pens’ braintrust further obliged by stupidly running Crosby out there with ten seconds to go, so Richards could slash and punch him a bit. That’s real smart- running your franchise player out there to engage in theatrics in a lost cause on the road.

I want to sit here and write constructs about victory! To wax endlessly that the apparent return of the Flyers’ top defensemen- Timonen and Coburn- will go right at the Flyers three terrible weaknesses in this series: a pairing that can deal with Malkin rather than survive, restore the quality special teams (both ways) that enabled the Flyers to survive the “new” NHL and provide puck carrying defensemen to attack the Penguins trap.

Probably all true- but, you know, the Penguins are good: two outstanding lines, good goalie. Three in a row, two on the road- let’s see the Flyers get one more before we entertain even vague hope of a miracle.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Enough With the Defense

Following on last week’s theme of soul-sucking ennui at the loss of Kimmo Timonen, the other half of the duo, Braydon Coburn, immediately went down at the start of Game Two after taking a puck to the face that required fifty stitches. I mean, come on now.

What can you do? Dress Gauthier? Don't laugh, I bet they considered it. The remnants of the Flyers defense- your new top pair Hatcher and Jones!- probably played their best collective game of the season. The Flyers pulled their horns in, kept the wingers back protecting the AHL level characters forced to dress on defense, lured the Penguins into a turgid pace. It was very very 1990’s New Jersey Devils. Philadelphia played hard, heady- got a break on the disallowed goal, cashed in their chance short handed on Pittsburgh’s blunder. They successfully played the proverbial tight road game against the better team- where the team hockey outfit doesn’t win, but the team with fewer errors, better goaltending, wins.

Philadelphia almost pulled it off. That first ten minutes of the third period probably was their chance to make a competitive series- get a goal there, win that game, and this is a series rather than a coronation of the “official” NHL’s new fave team.

But, well, Marty Biron isn’t enough to win that sort of game. He’s good, very admirable, right now. But he’s not great- and last night was proof. The Flyers did enough to force overtime or win- but only with great goaltending. Frankly, this mistake-free, good goaltending, formula isn’t the Flyers’ normal approach- which is exchange chances outside the opponents top line, get to three plus goals first- because they just don’t trust their collective play inside their own blue line.

For all the plaudits, in these fourteen play-off games, Biron has allowed one goal or fewer only once. He stole one game- Game 2 in Washington. That is it. He’s been touched for seven goals in the last pair. He’s a journeyman having a good month- not a Parent figure capable of glory under duress. Forget stealing a series because of Biron, try winning just a game here.

And let’s face it, that game was a celebration of the new NHL. The Flyers grit and determination and work counted for little. But it was dream game for the new NHL: five goals, four on special teams, a real complete contest of power plays and shorthanded play. The Penguins were given six power plays through the first forty-two minutes, not one that was significant foul on a scoring chance. The crucial season defining aforementioned ten minutes was kicked off by a ridiculously marginal call on Briere for goaltender interference.

Even the announcers were saddened at Hatcher’s hook on Malkin- a call they referred to charitably as “marginal”, as opposed to utter horsebleep. If you were honest, their tone was almost resigned. I’m honestly trying to not complain. I mean, I get it. The Flyers, like everyone else, were informed the NHL was real serious about calling these sort of NBA-style touch fouls on talented guys carrying the puck. Hatcher probably stars in the movie about “what to call” that NHL officials are shown. But after last night, stop telling me the NHL is about grit and tough. It is about recruiting defensemen who won’t touch Malkin.

And I suppose that is just it. There is no doubt what team imposed their will, drove the tempo, which team played harder, was smart. Again, Biron was good. But it wasn’t enough. That is the hard thing about it- that is probably the Flyers A-game sans the top two defensemen. And they still trailed the whole game, needing a bad Penguins error and a big break to be competitive.

I suppose you’re never dead in a short series until you lose a home game- but it appears Coburn is out for Tuesday? With this crew of defensemen; I don’t think matching up really helps- I mean, we’re trying to protect everybody. I guess they might get Breire away from Malkin and end that horrendous match-up. They’re at home, they’re a bunch that tries hard- but I think they’ll be doing great to get a split.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Nice. Real Nice.

Well, that is just freaking great. His foot hurts and Timonen is done. Kimmo, Kimmo, Kimmo. Scott Stevens never had these sort of problems.

Well, normally you wouldn’t panic too much about the departure of a Grade B defensemen from your line-up. Except he’s probably the best the Flyers have. Consequently, this a serious problem.

Its funny- if you had a dispersal draft of the Flyers, he might not be one of the first ten players taken. Those good forwards and his age would work against him. But he’s the one guy they simply can’t afford to be without this week. A big part of the repeatable formula they’ve used to win games in these play-offs- score three goals every night and survive inside your own end- was Coburn and Timonen providing 25 minutes of “a fighting chance” to get it out. Now, instead of a mere 35 minutes of craziness, cringe-inducing turnovers and swearing- we get to for the whole boat. A full hour of me screaming foul slurs at Hatcher, Kukkonen and Jason Smith.

Jaroslav Modry is a -4 in the five games he dressed for. Guess what? He dresses tonight.

And I don’t even want to think about the power play. Randy Jones better have his jock- he brings some mobility. And Sami Kapanen has played some power play defense in the past- they might try him.

Ah, the hazards of paying free-agent money to guys a few years into their 30s.

Still, it stinks. Some talk they could get swept- as this Pittsburgh writer points out the Flyers seem to be in the same class of the Rangers and they barely made it to a fifth game.
Besides the loss of Kimmo Timonen, Philly's other tangible concerns have to include the suspicion that R.J. Umberger probably won't score eight goals in the next five games, which he did in the last five, that, while the Flyers are as hot as anyone east of the Penguins, they qualified for this tournament only 48 hours before it began, and that for all of their recent efficiency, a good argument could still be made that the Flyers might not be as good as the Rangers, who just got dismissed in five games.
I dunno- the Flyers figure to score three plus most nights- should be enough to get a game or two- particularly since the Penguins have got to be a little smug at least one night in this series. I’m just weighed down by the whole thing.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Smart People Got No Problems

This was e-mailed to me today. The last sentence says all you need to know about Louisiana collegiate athletics.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lest We Forget

This blog doesn't do politics- but it does do heroes!

Monday, May 05, 2008


Must really sting inside!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Terrible Ennui In Canada

One can only imagine the increasing panic in NHL offices this morning: phones jangling on a Sunday morning, breathless meadnering meetings. The Canadiens could not stop the Flyers. The referees cannot stop the Flyers. The NHL dream match up of a Finn (Koivu) and Russian (Kovalev) versus the greatest soccer player on ice (Sidney Crosby) has been postponed indefinitely. Nope, the eastern final will require teams to actually were helmets and hit people for sixty minutes.

A nice job by ESPN’s Scott Burnside. You fink! You missed this as bad as I missed the Derby. But you’re ostensibly a professional. Pylons on defense? True perhaps, but pylons with a pulse and courage.

Kevin Mio in the Montreal Gazette tries to soothe the residents of Quebec this morning:
It was a game the Canadiens probably shouldn't have lost - as was the case several times in this series - but in the end, Montreal made a few too many mistakes as key moments that allowed the Flyers to advance to the Eastern Conference final.
Gosh, I don’t know about that. Get beat four in a row? Sort of a trend there. I mean, had the Flyers won a fifth game in a row- which they almost did- would that remove some lingering doubt? So, no Stanley Cup for Canada this year- maybe they shouldn’t have been so quick to give up on the Nordiques, no? Adopt King Dollar, anything, as something needs to change?

As my father pointed out to me after Game Four, you shouldn’t overanalyze too much. Just where were the Canadiens not outplayed? The Flyers wingers were better, their defensemen a wash, and Montreal’s goaltending was horrid. Biron was pretty bad last night- for the second time in five games mindless Biron cheerleaders on Versus NHL Tonight- and they couldn’t win. The series was officiated in new NHL style- a parade of Flyers going to the box for being too rough and sassy- and Les Habitants could not take advantage.

Do you know “being sassy” is a minor penalty in the Swedish Elite League? You can look it up.

In the Frank Goal Judge Report: "If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed. . . . The goal shall not be allowed if the puck has been thrown or otherwise deliberately directed into the goal by any means other than a stick." On the Flyers’ second goal, Mike Richards absolutely tried to deliberately direct the puck and absolultely failed to do so. It hit him in the shoulder. No brainer: It counts.

The game was sort of a microcosm of much of the series. Down 3-1, the Flyers were forced to play the sort of game they play best- the very same one Coach Stevens is loathe to let them play with a lead- cycle their deep bunch of forwards and attack and score three-plus goals to win. Up 4-3, Stevens put them back in that shell emphasizing what they can’t do. Montreal promptly tied it- and the Flyers could get back to doing what they do best: score and score some more.

You can’t be down on a team in the conference finals- but yo! Coach. The answer to any scenario facing the Flyers, no matter what the media is telling you, is not “Boys, we gotta lean more on Hatcher, Jason Smith and Biron.”

Anyway, now we can sit back and hope the Rangers can bleed out the Penguins a little more.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

The Colonel Isn't Just KFC

You can put me in the same bucket as everyone else. The Kentucky Derby doesn’t produce handicappers anymore- only complainers. Frankly, it was hard enough before simply doping out twenty horses, all in a desperate need to get in one another’s way- shipping in from all over the country having faced utterly disparate conditions and competition.

But now they run on rubber, and that makes it all the more discombobulating. If you thought the grass-to-dirt angle was bad, now we have synthetic-to-dirt, and no one knows who will make the transition from the increasing number of synthetic surfaces to the regular old dirt at Churchill Downs. As Andy Beyer writes in the Washington Post:
Of the 20 Derby entrants, nine made their last starts on synthetic tracks. Two have not raced on anything but synthetics. What should handicappers make of horses such as Monba and Adriano, who won important stakes on Polytrack after poor performances on dirt? What do we do with Pyro, who ran terribly on Keeneland's Polytrack after looking like a potential star on dirt? What do we do with Colonel John, regarded as the West's top 3-year-old, who has not run on anything but the synthetic surfaces in California?
As any good Wall Street pro knows- as uncertainty goes up, so does the need for value versus obvious merit. Fortunately, the enormous field means just about any choices outside of the immediate chalk spells value. Only two horses figure to go off at less than 5-to-1. And fortunately, I’m down on the favorite.

Down might not be the right world. But Big Brown is parked in post twenty. That auxiliary gate is bad news- even for the horse who has shown the most ability in the field. Let’s save the big boy- and his small risk/reward ratio- for Baltimore. Again, I’m looking for a price- a boxcar score for a small investment to compensate for the risk and the fact no one knows what is going to happen.

I’ve got good feelings about a few contenders with decent figures. Colonel John was fast in traffic- seems quick and interested. If he had earned his figs on the dirt, he’s be the chalk here. And he might be lightly prepped- but he fires.

Gayego and Smooth Air can run- but figure to be hurt by post and health (a mysterious fever)- so I’ll use’em as savers. Tales of Ekati can slug. Recapturetheglory gives you much of the speed of Big Brown- with a slightly better post and much better price. Z Fortune can run in traffic. All five should give better than 15 to 1 value. I’d have saved the filly Eight Belles for Baltimore- let her run fresh versus the boys rather than slug it out with them here.

So that is the play: we’re going to box $4 exactas with Gayego, Smooth Air, Tales of Ekati, Recapturetheglory and Z Fortune- $40 to try and win something like a thousand. And we’ll play $2 exactas on Colonel John with those five- $10 to squeeze out a $100 and give us mad money for Preakness.

A fortune was garnered at the Belmont with the filly last year here. And missed on the Derby here.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Is An Entraîneur-chef To Do?

If you close your eyes, you can almost put yourself at Montreal Canadiens’ practice this afternoon:
Sullen Habs coach Guy Carbonneau grimaced slightly as his pair of what passed for netminders glided over to him at the end of an ennui filled skate. “M. Entraîneur-chef,” Gary Price asked from beneath his sharp, newly broken in baseball cap, “qu'obtient d'étreindre Biron ? Moi, ou ce Tchèque?"

Coach Carbonneau suddenly found himself hoping that Biron’s right hand didn’t change into a hard black rubber disk- or they would both miss it. He was brought from his reverie only when goalie Jaroslav Halak intoned “Lepší jeden prd než deset doktorů.”
If the consequences weren’t so great, one would could become tired with these Flyers. It is the same thing again and again: roll out forwards until the other team wilts, score three goals, turn the lead over to the defense and Biron, watch them struggle, hope for the best.

I couldn’t have been the only one in Philadelphia that felt punched in the gut when the Flyers grabbed yet another life-or-death two goal lead. The pundits and television guys marvel at how the Flyers blow these leads again and again. The reason is right in front of them. Once the Flyers get a multiple score lead, the game turns from a goal scoring contest (which they’re good at, Philadelphia can score goals) to one turned over to the defense and Biron.

Which, despite the plaudits being rained down on Biron and the blue line crew, the Flyers aren’t good at that. Really, they’re just not. You can’t turn over seven two, three goal leads to the defense and Biron, lose three of those games outright, and play some real hairy ones on top of that- and say those guys are the reason you’re winning. No, the Flyers have the deepest crew of wingers- except maybe Dallas- in these play-offs. Those forwards are getting three or more markers a night- and the Flyers are merely surviving inside their own blue line.

There is a sense in the papers that Montreal doesn’t deserve to be in this 3-1 hole in games- that in fact, they have played better than the Flyers- done in by suspect goaltending and wow!- just look at those shots on goal totals.

I don’t know. If you keep falling behind 2-0, you become real dependent on luck and a real sustained commitment by the NHL to populate the penalty box with Flyers. I mean, les Habitants are getting the latter, right? We now have phantom boarding penalties. Even they’re coach is complaining- and he’s got twice as many power play minutes in a series where neither teams team is grotesquely more dirty than the other? Montreal got their luck win in the first game- and they’ve turned in some decent efforts since without even getting to overtime. I mean- which of the three games they lost did they "deserve to win"?

Even up 3-1, I was worried about the Caps series- but with Montreal playing multiple goalies and finding nothing but problems, the top seed is looking a shaky. That was about a brutal loss as you can experience. Montreal is not a good home team either- so the extra home games are not as troublesome as the Caps’ series.

I dunno- until that flurry in the third period- Montreal was looking like a team that just wanted to go home. They need three in a row- and the Flyers right now can score and score. Hard to imagine them not going for four goals at least once one more time in three tries. Still, the series is surely not over- Montreal will be a Vegas favorite Saturday night- but right now they lack a goaltender who can deal with our mighty firepower.