Monday, June 28, 2010

Retrospective (#15-#11)

Retrospective installment three kicks off today. Today’s survey features all victories for Tulane- and Frank Helps You Think It All Out revisits the 1987 collective in some detail.

#15 Tulane 38; Southwestern Louisiana 10 (November 14, 1987)

Since I began following the Green Wave in 1987, I think I have followed five “good teams”: the two Bowden Outfits, Scelfo’s Hawai’i Bowl team, the high-flyin’ 2000 outfit, and Mack Brown’s 1987 Independence Bowl run.

This game was sort of the capstone of the Mack Brown experience. Mack had taken over a program semi-devastated by the Gibson and English follies and steadily built a nifty entertaining independent.

This USL game unfurled probably the greatest game ever played by a Tulane WR prior to the cartoon number C-USA era- Marc Zeno, 12 catches, 238 yards, 2TDs.

In a lot of ways, this game was more a turning point than Katrina, the review or the perfect season. This was the last time the Wave walked off the field victorious as a “good” tier one program playing a national schedule. Nine of twelve games were versus what are today BCS schools. There was a clear route for downtrodden independents, particularly southern independents, maturing to real powers: Florida State, Miami, Southern Mississippi, Louisville (the Schnellenberger resurgence). Major college talents littered the Tulane roster: Marc Zeno and Terrence Jones.

Tulane has had good on-field success since-but never playing this sort of schedule week in, week out.

#14 Tulane 42; Navy 10 (November 6, 2004)

This was a darn good Navy outfit (finished 10-2, won the Emerald Bowl, only other loss was to Notre Dame) that came in a 12.5 road fave... and got destroyed.

Lester Ricard was a darned good quarterback with the hugely important proviso of having excellent protection. The he was capable of this sort of destruction: 18 of 19 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Roydell Williams caught six of those balls for 148 and two scores. Jovon Jackson and Matt Forte rushed for just shy of 200 yards.

But the real story was the Tulane defense, who played the arguably the best, certainly the most physical game of the Scelfo era. Presented with a lead and Navy team whose singular weakness was the quarterback passing, the Wave played with gusto, really got after people in a very satisfying upset win.

Showing the age of the blog, this game was covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out.

#13 Tulane 25; Iowa State 12 (September 12, 1987)

Back to 1987 again. The Cyclones were coming off a decent 6-5 season- and figured to be a decent test for the emerging Tulane Green Wave. The Wave had opened the season with a sloppy 42-40 loss to the last of Howard Schnellenberger’s bad Louisville outfits. Another loss meant an 0-2 start with the real schedule heavyweights yet to come- and the probable end of the eventual Bowl bid.

The Wave didn’t play great again. But perhaps that was a mark of a team on the rise, able to win pretty convincingly despite the second rate effort. The offense rode the amazing Mark Zeno again: 9 catches, 135 yards, 2TDs.

Plus, it was the home opener- and that success brought 40K+ for Ole Miss, and other good crowds, down the road.

#12 Tulane 32, Mississippi State 29 (September 16, 2006)

Again, for a guy who "simply could not coach", Scelfo turned in quite a few double-digit underdog style upsets. Here, after being routed the week before (looking horrible at Houston- Eagles’ quarterback Kevin Kolb went for 350 yards passing), Tulane went on the road as an 11-point underdog, and picked up the sole road SEC win of this millennium.

It was a brutally hot day- but the stars played well- Lester Ricard completed 16-of-23 passes for 298 yards and four scores. Matt Forte had one of his best games- going for 29-170.

Then the defense folded when presented with a deep reserve quarterback- and a 32-7 lead going into the fourth quarter became a little too dramatic. Still a good win over a Bulldog team loaded with players who would later that year beat a good Alabama team and then win eight games the following season.

This game was covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out.

#11 Tulane 59; UAB 55 (October 24, 2004)

Mack Brown’s brother Watson had UAB 5-1 (good wins over Baylor and Mississippi State included) and an 18 point favorite coming in to Tulane’s 2004 Homecoming. What spun out was the most entertaining tilt of the Scelfo era- just wild. Roddy White going for 253 yards, flashing that first round talent. Seven alternating TDs in the fourth quarter. UAB taking the lead with 1:43 to go. Ricard (36-49, 417 yards, a record six TDs) threw the winning TD pass with 27 seconds left on a great individual effort by Chris Bush.

The game threw a lot of routine conventions about Tulane on its head. Tad Gormley had an electric, enthusiastic crowd- despite a mid-day kickoff, a hot day (90+ in those stands), and a nearly four hour game. The Wave was a 18 point ‘dog- but here we have yet another double digit underdog win, featuring an aggressive, entertaining game plan from the dope Scelfo.

Ultimately, this Tulane team wasn’t very good: the defense was obviously problematic, Forte was a chief 2004 underachiever, and Ricard was only good under very specific optimal conditions. But what an exhilarating, gutty performance.

This game was covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Retrospective (#20-#16)

Our retrospective continues:

#20. Tulane 49; Cincinnati 7 (October 27, 1990)

Probably the best win of the Greg Davis era. This team had high hopes with senior quarterback Deron Smith. It probably was the best of the four-win outfits Davis produced. The schedule was hard- among the seven losses were Florida State, LSU, the three Mississippi schools.

This outright beat down of Cincinnati was probably a better measure of Tulane’s ability (a 4-2 mark against the more “manageable" portion of their schedule). The Bearcats were genuinely awful- and the Wave whipped them thoroughly for a goodly Homecoming experience. Tulane followed up with a good win at Syracuse... and it looked like this team, obviously better than its record, was on the right track. Then Woods and Duncan took over at quarterback in 1991- and Tulane couldn’t score anymore.

#19. Tulane 38; TCU 35 (November 27, 2004)

Another real false hope game that was great fun. Covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out, freshman Richard Irvin (22-of-37 for 282 yards) became my great white whale for life. After an awesome fourth down goal line stand, Irvin took over at the one yard line. His 99-yard game winning drive on the road, complete with last minute TD pass, showed all the cool ball control competence a C-USA quarterback can possible have.

Unfortunately Tulane could not realize it had the new C-USA prototype quarterback in front of them- the pure Chase Clement distribute the ball type rather than the athletic King option. Irvin left school- and Tulane has been looking for a quarterback with his raw promise ever since.

This game turned Chris Scelfo into a minor hot coaching property. Marshall was interested- Georgia unofficially too. I wrote at the time:

I think the part of the Tulane community that has brains and has a lick of understanding how I-A athletics works as a whole appreciates that Tulane is a hard place to win consistently- and thinks the Scelfo regime is doing an altogether commendable job.

With a 2005 8-4 season under his belt, Scelfo would be an attractive hire: literally zero embarrassments, low maintenance, affordable, an exciting offense featuring NFL quarterbacks one after another. Match him with a recruiter and a defensive guy- and why would he not be a good fit at a lot of places?

#18. Tulane 14; Mississippi 9 (November 5, 1988)

One last hurrah for this pretty good group of talent that Mack Brown put together before his departure: Terrence Jones, Richard Harvey, Michael Pierce. Any road win versus the SEC is worthy of mention- extra delicious given it was Homecoming in Oxford. Arguably could be ranked higher, but the game was somewhat desultory.

I think the only other road win over an SEC outfit in my post 1987-era is the 2006 game at Mississippi State?

#17. Tulane 50; Navy 38 (November 11, 2000)

Back to a familiar theme from the previous retrospective- the wildly entertaining 2000 Tulane football team. Tulane scored at will against a bad Navy outfit. Here, it was the style points that mattered.

Patrick Ramsey threw for 380 yards and five TDs, the Wave scored touchdowns in its first four possessions-but to add to the “entertainment” quotient, the Wave defense allowed an astounding 724 yards. Perhaps even more astounding- the exact same 362 yards passing and rushing.

Navy lost a game where they did not punt!

This was the middle of a three game winning streak to close out the 2000 season. Again, a pretty underrated Tulane team that only lost a single home game- to #16 Southern Mississippi- that would have won eight, nine games against the 2009 schedule.

#16 Syracuse 30; Tulane 19 (September 20, 1997)

This might seem rated rather high- but this game, being on television, was for the national alumni the first real inkling that things were changing for Tulane. Had the Green Wave actually managed to win this game, it would be top ten.

After a pair of anonymous home games, Tulane really took the fight to Syracuse- losing late when Syracuse intercepted a pass from the heroic Shaun King and returned it for a score.

But unless you saw it, you don’t understand. Honestly, just the way they lined up- crisply, like they knew what they were doing and had confidence in it. With just his second career 300+ yard day, King moved from raw talent to a guy you couldn’t stop watching. Punter Brad Hill single-handedly won the field position game for Tulane. I honestly remember thinking “who are these people?” The sad Teevins era died that afternoon. Tulane would win 18 of their next twenty.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Retrospective (#25-#21)

I’ve only been following Tulane football since I arrived on campus in the late 80’s. Sure,it has been a span of mostly challenging football. But ultimately, we follow Tulane football not because of the off-field angst- but for a chance for some diversion and fun. So, I decided to put together a list of the top games I can recall. Obviously, we are in sort of a dead spot for Tulane athletics- baseball mercifully over and football mercifully yet to begin. So it is definitely time for a retrospective.

I was surprised how it easy it was to come up with 25 entries of pretty entertaining afternoons and evenings. There perhaps is a lesson: no matter how bad a programs is, it is still fun in batches. Admittedly, it is a question of expectations- but here are 25 examples, counting backwards over a series of posts, of either good or great or fun days following the Wave since 1987 (ed. note: before we start, any guesses what opponent appears the most on the list?).

#25 Tulane 27, Navy 25 (October 2, 1993)

Buddy Teevins only appearance on this list. Depressingly, this was probably the high point of his best season (3-9). After blowing a 4th quarter 24-13 lead, the Wave got the ball back with about three minutes left. Bart Baldwin drilled the game winning FG from 43 yards as time expired. It was the Wave’s football centennial- and the best win of the Teevins era.

#24 TCU 38, Tulane 35 (September 1, 2003)

First of four losses on my list- this one to the Horned Frogs. Down 31-7 to pre-season ranked TCU and their marvelously named quality quarterback Tye Gunn, the Wave scored 28 fourth quarter points, but failed to cover a last ditch on-side kick. J.P. Losman was 25 of 42 for 303 yards.

#23 Louisville 35, Tulane 32 (October 28, 2000)

Another wildly entertaining loss. As the USA Today wrote:
The Cardinals survived an aerial assault as Tulane's Patrick Ramsey and J.P. Losman attempted a combined 72 passes. Ramsey was 34-of-54 for 388 yards and two touchdowns and Losman was 9-of-18 for 87 yards and a score.
I was actually at this game in Louisville. The best game of Ramsey’s career when you consider there was no pass protection whatsoever. The Lousiville QB Dave Ragone might have been the best qb in C-USA history-and the Wave gave them all they could handle.

The 2000 team was not a bad outfit. Any dismissal of Scelfo as an idiot ought to be forced to account for this group’s consistent ability to play over its head. With Ramsey’s big number ability, they played a ton of entertaining games.

#22 Tulane 38, UL-Lafayette 37 (October 7, 2000)

Ramsey was an amazing 31-of-46 for 403 yards- but the Wave had to block a late XP to keep from losing a 21-point lead. Looking at the box score of this game and the proceeding Louisville tilt, I am reminded what a nice player Adrian Burnette was- first team all C-USA this year (2000). Again, this 2000 team gave you your money’s worth.

#21 Tulane 45, Rice 31 (November 17, 2007)

Covered so, so optimistically on Frank Helps You Think It All Out, this is the high point of the Toledo era- coming right after a nifty win over UTEP. Forte had five touchdowns, 194 yards rushing. Tulane played well, led most of the fourth quarter by multiple scores and, for the second straight game, pretty much handled a mediocre C-USA outfit- suggesting they were ascending past said mediocrity.

Unfortunately, one of my fave C-USA players Chase Clement threw for 345 yards- and in the end, the discovery of a lethal C-USA quarterback meant that Rice was the one rising.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big 12 Saves Tulane

It appears this morning that Texas has saved what is left of the Big Twelve- which is probably marginally good for Tulane. Four super-conferences probably is the death knell for competitive scholarship football outside the elite. The survival of the Big East and Big Twelve- halting the consolidation of on-field talent and off-field power- probably helps the programs merely hanging on.

Four power Leagues can probably construct a play-off without the other half of college football, effectively segregating the two tiers. But six power Leagues-and occasional viable contenders from the MWC or C-USA- keep it muddled just enough. And that democratic approach keeps mid-major football relevant: the BCS bid, the juice an undefeated mid-major team brings to the top ten, etc.

I guess Houston or Memphis could get raided away to plug a Big Twelve hole? I’m not sure that matters, as C-USA could plug the resultant hole quite easily. There are many, many busted I-A programs out there. And I’m not sure a more intimate ten team League, losing the two members with indifferent football programs who most frantically want to escape, is all that bad. I won’t miss the Championship game- and I can see good things from gaining a more coherent geographical footprint.

Plus, Tulane needs more time. Honestly, this football program is probably at a nadir- it really should not be this bad. But Tulane is still scraping itself up off the floor from losing intact recruiting classes from hurricanes and reviews and coaching changes and a poor existing head coach. The last time Tulane was “normal” was the first few years of the Scelfo regime, where they just weren’t this hopeless. Even a decent coach probably squeezes a .500 season every so often, puts some more fans in the stands, plays a more competitive game.

That is not to say Tulane is a BCS candidate- but whatever does shake out five years from now, there ought to be a secondary “good” League or two- where the BYU and Air Forces and Southern Mississippi style programs gravitate. Right now, Tulane is not like that. In any radical shake-up, Tulane is destined for a Sunbelt, not the “good” secondary League.

But a USM level of competence is an achievable, albeit not real likely, goal in a decade. LSU is wholly not. And as Tulane approaches what will probably be the very near post-Toledo future, the Wave has to figure out how to kick this program up. The next round of mid-major realignment could be coming, probably in conjunction with the BCS schools sorting themselves out over the next few years. Is Tulane’s destiny with decent Southern Miss or hopeless Louisiana-Monroe?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Phillies Better Start Winning Immediately

Wading through the disappointment this morning, I am ultimately left with the same sort of acceptance experienced after Dallas thoroughly whipped the Eagles in last year’s NFL play-offs. Candidly, I don’t really need to see anymore of this hockey series to know the Blackhawks are a better team than the Flyers.

These two teams played six games. The Hawks had the better of the play in two games, the Flyers in one, three were pretty even (the two overtime games and the first game exercise in trading goals). I bet that is a pretty typical distribution for a series of this nature: one team a clear, but not overwhelming, step better than the other. The trick for the underdog is to disproportionately cash in those even games- but the Flyers ultimately could get only one of the OT games.

It is frustrating- because even merely good goaltending probably brings all of those games home to the win column. The hype aside, the weakest part of the Hawks team in the series was their own goalie Antti Niemi. Put Ryan Miller or Lundqvist in the Flyer’s goal- and Philadelphia makes a lot of this gap up. But without an offensively challenged Montreal or Boston facing him, Leighton matched Niemi's pedestrian play. The chance of distinctly winning the goalie match-up, to compensate for issues elsewhere, went away.

Some might want to dump on Richards, Gagne and Carter. But you know, Chicago is allowed to be good too- and their top defense pair is simply super. I think it was a mistake to not consider breaking them up a little- much like Chicago did their top line to avoid Pronger.

I also would have liked to see more of Carcillo- press the violence and distraction angle some more. It is no surprise to me that the Flyers best game was the one he played in Philadelphia. They got absolutely nothing from van Riemsdyck- a minus two last night. Carcillo would have been an excellent banger to spot and mix in with Richards, Gagne and Carter. People mock the guy- but he is a valuable tool to send after excitable personalities on the other team. There is a reason why guys like him populate NHL rosters- and why the Flyers attitude picked up when he got ice time.

Nevertheless, more Carcillo is not a recipe for big improvements. So goalie is where the improvements have to begin for Philadelphia. They struggled all regular season in nets- leading to a desperate effort to even make the play-offs. And honestly, how many times since 1987- the year Ron Hextall won the Conn Smythe, have the Flyers entered the play-offs with a goaltender realistically in the top six of sixteen in the tournament? Maybe the rejuvenated Hextall in 1995?

They must have a good nucleus. The last three years in succession are pretty commendable: lose conference final, lose first round due to a horrid opening draw (Pittsburgh), and lose Finals. Seems to be enough for a push again next year- but the Flyers need a goalie.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 07, 2010

Not Too Good

Well, that surely wasn’t very good.

For their recent two home ice victories, the Flyers formula has been to forget about consistently having the better of the five players on the ice, but to have the best player out there- i.e. Pronger against the Blackhawks top scoring options.

It sure did not look like a formula for a road victory though. Breaking up their top line, Chicago scattered enough offensive talent to generate good chances every shift seemingly.

Add in Leighton’s tough night and you got troubles. To upset a better hockey team, you need something north of journeyman competence- which is mostly what Leighton has provided. Then, last night, he was just bad.

Clearly, the Flyers were dominated in the first session. But they probably deserved to only be down a pair- and play “north of journeyman competence” might have let them steal even closer, maybe a mere goal. Get that lift a road team gets from having survived.

From there it was untidy. I’m dismissive of anything after the first period- play within a three goal deficit tells you nothing about the two teams. Hockey allows you to force chances, create more goals overall- but only at the expense of a huge swing in the ratio toward goals allowed versus goals for. Plus, we already know from the first game that trading chances is not going to be a successful approach for Philadelphia- particularly starting in a three goal hole.

It is worrisome, but Philadelphia was not going to beat this crew four in a row- and even Chicago is going to find some character playing at home. It was a desperate, probable figurative “must win”- and Chicago found the moxie to get it. All the Flyers have to do is hold serve one more time and they get what all they wanted two weeks ago: one game for the Cup as a huge underdog.

It was always hard to see Philadelphia winning a best-of-seven hockey series. But the Flyers are one win away, a game where they’ll be a slight Vegas fave, from successfully turning this from a hockey series to sixty minutes of hoping for a few good bounces.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Classy Like Prongor

John Miller writes:

The Tigers started play at 1:05 pm today, with umpire Jim Joyce (the guy who blew the perfect-game call last night) scheduled to call balls and strikes. Joyce came onto the field with his crew, holding back tears. There's probably nobody more upset about what happened than him. Galarraga brought out the Tigers lineup card and shook hands with Joyce and the others gathered at home plate, in a place where all could see. Standing ovation from the crowd.

What happened last night was unfortunate. Everyone knows it. Galarraga and Joyce have handled this with an enormous amount of grace and dignity... it's almost a blessing that Joyce messed up the call, because now everyone can see how grown ups are supposed to behave.

I agree.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Pronger Wins Again

Pretend for a moment, travel back in time just under a week ago. Imagine you are Peter Laviolette, your Flyers are returning home down two games to none in the Stanley Cup Finals, and you are musing on the fixes required.

Mind you, I am convinced it helps the Flyers when Laviolette has time to muse. In these play-offs, the Flyers are now 7-0 during the playoffs in Games 4-7 of a series- in big part due to Laviolette’s tinkering. Unlike the 2006 Olympics, the Flyers get better, make the right adjustments, the more Laviolette gets to reflect.

To that end, I think Coach Laviolette first conclusion was that it was going to be thorny for the Flyers to beat the Blackhawks through persistent five-on-five match-ups. All things being equal, the Hawks have better and more options up and down the roster.

So he cut that out- and instead of worrying what guys were going to match-up with the likes of Toews, Kane and Dustin Byfuglien- he committed to a recipe of Chris Pronger. Laviolette might not have the five best players out there- but for thirty minutes a night, he has the very best single player out there. A Eric Lindros strategy that actually works.

Seriously, examine every question, every tricky situation the Flyers face: kill the penalty, four-on-four, calm team down, ramp team up, need a physical play, go on the power play. What is the answer? Walk down the bench and tap Pronger on the shoulder.

Compare that to the Hawks’ leader Jonathan Towes. From the Sun Times article “Can We get Our Captain”:
But the Hawks need more from him. They need the player who was charging to the net late in the third period when Brian Campbell's shot skipped past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton to cut the lead to 4-3.

It's as if someone has shut off the power on Toews and, by extension, linemates Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. Toews came into this series as the postseason's leader in points with 26. He has 27 now.

He had 68 points in 76 games this season. That ability helped the Hawks get to this point. It'd be a shame if he and they went out with a whimper now.
Laviolette’s second decision was to ramp up the character quotient versus the hockey component. Playing various hockey styles in the first two tilts did not stop Chicago, maybe character plays and players would. You can rag Dan Carcillo all you want, but his introduction into the line-up changed the Flyers attitude: yapping, openly challenging Chicago players. He and Pronger changed the tone of this series- away from hockey to character levened by sporadic calculated messaged violence. It worked so well the Flyers can now afford to scratch him. Chicago is real deep in the hole of retaliation penalties, scratching second tier hockey players for muscle- thus negating some of their down roster scoring and skill.

As a result you get this:
The Blackhawks still are two games away from their first Stanley Cup since 1961. But after their 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 on Friday night at the Wachovia Center, it's worth noting that they're also two games closer to the worst Hawks collapse in the finals since 1971.

It's a Chicago thing.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 04, 2010



Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pronger Defeats Chicago

I really don’t know who deserved to win last night, but Claude Giroux’s overtime winner last night felt just. The Flyers simply don’t deserve to be down three to love to the Blackhawks in the Final. Now, Philadelphia faces a chance to hold serve at home, square the series- and that feels right where we should all be.

Nevertheless, the Chicago papers are agog only with Pronger, Pronger, Pronger.
The Flyers aren't better than the Hawks, but they have done a better job in the last five periods of this series dictating the style of pace. The Flyers have turned the Stanley Cup finals into a WWE match, with Chris Pronger thriving in the role of John Cena.

Even the officials apparently afraid to call penalties on Pronger seem star-struck. Asked if he thought the officials may be letting Pronger get away with a lot, Kane answered, "Yeah, for sure."

Indeed more than any player, Pronger has helped rattle a Hawks top line that dominated the Western Conference finals. Pronger has been as responsible as any Flyer for unplugging the Hawks' power play, which was ineffective again, turning Big Buff into a small factor.
How can you write the Flyers are turning the Final into pro-wrestling, a real slur against Philadelphia’s raw determination to even get there, and in the same article write this glowing passage?:
During a scrum in front of the Flyers' goal in the first period, Patrick Kane took a left roundhouse at Giroux that drew nothing but air. Kane retaliating in that manner, given his history of non-violence, symbolized a kid standing up and saying he was tired of getting sand kicked in his face.

"To be honest, you get punched in the face, it gets you into the game, makes you want to do things," Kane said.
So throwing a punch at Claude Giroux is courageous? At least Pronger picks on people his own size. Trust me Kane, there are guys on the ice who will engage in a spirited exchange of roundhouses. Only they won’t miss your noggin.

More on Pronger- here in the Sun Times:
Who cares?

That's how the Hawks said they view Pronger's desire to grab pucks at the end of games, as he did after the first two games of this series, allegedly to get under the Hawks' skin.

''I don't know what he wants pucks for,'' Hawks agitator Adam Burish said. ''Maybe he gives them to his kids or something. Whatever he wants to do with the pucks, I don't care. I'll sign one after the game.

''He does goofy things. It's his way or it's no way. He wanted the puck at the end of the game, so we went to try to fight for it. He wasn't going to leave without the puck, so who knows? Whatever. I'll sign him one if he wants.''
First, you simply can’t publish an article entitled “More on Puck Gate” then ask “who cares?” Also, Burish- the so called “agitator”- honestly, a whole hockey team eagerly asks “wanna make something of it?” Either admit it bothers you, fight, or shut up. Right now, you’re just lying. Noting Burish has one goal this season, that makes two things he ain't real good at.

The Flyers still have a hard road. A win is a win, but this was a game where they had repeated leads, two power play goals and home ice- and still needed OT to get to the finish line victorious.

Which is why the Flyers have ramped up the violence. These series are a search to find a formula to generate win after win against quality opposition:
The Flyers found they couldn’t win wither way they tried: up-tempo, trading chances mistakes or a close to the vest game of execution.
Ultimately, nothing had worked in Games One and Two. So it is time for elbows, sticks, gloves to the face, forearms- yet another attempt to generate said formula, a recipe for beating the Hawks physically, then repeatedly. Find out if Giroux, let alone Pronger, is tougher than most of the Hawks line-up. Worked once, so get ready for a repeat. Better dress your “agitator” Chicago.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I Guarantee A Game Three Win

Gloom rears its ugly visage in the minds of Flyers’ fans- as Philadelphia’s opening excursion to Chicago did not go well. Much like the Boston series, the Flyers did not play all that badly- with a little more luck probably deserved a split. But they got nothing past very,very pedestrian from Leighton in the first game- and last night could not cash in some good to decent chances for an early goal or the tying goal late.

That being said, the Flyers found they couldn’t win wither way they tried: up-tempo, trading chances/mistakes or a close to the vest game of execution. Frustration. These series are about finding a winning formula a team can repeat four times. Chicago has got an answer: exploitable match-ups at the bottom of the Flyers’ roster, particularly on defense. The only thing left for the Flyers- win a pair of must have home games.

Fortunately, that option remains. You’re not in real trouble in these best-of-seven series until you lose said home game. Chicago does boast a gaudy seven game road winning streak- but I’m not sure the sample size is relevant. The Blackhawks are winning because they are good- not necessarily bulletproof on the road.

Plus, getting back to Philadelphia will get the Flyers a chance to address their third pair defensemen woes. Boy, what a mess. The top four Flyers defensemen have played great in these play-offs. Their big ice time numbers, and the paucity of third and fourth line offense from Montreal, Boston and New Jersey, have hidden the fifth and sixth spots. Oskars Bartulis and Ryan Parent are not trusted. Krajicek must stand for “bad” in Czech.

One of the Flyers secret problems are some costly contracts in a capped league: Briere, Emery- add in an in-season trade to merely dump salary via losing talent. That is a few million that could have been used to get some situational defenders on the blue line in here.

So, do the Flyers try to play Game 1 (skate and exchange chances) or Game 2 (play mistake free, particularly in goal)? I’d like to see them force the tempo. Philadelphia is not really a mistake free outfit: they take penalties, they have some skill players who are never going to be plus players on their side of the red line, hard to trust Leighton. Plus, the ‘hawks are going to score- so the Flyers need to as well.

I actually feel pretty good about the next game. The Flyers aren't that bad- home ice ought to close the existing gap some, desperation the rest.

Labels: ,