Blackhawks take Game 1

The Flyers scored five goals in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals.

But in the end, Chicago scored 6.

The Blackhawks land the first blow of the best-of-seven series, winning Game One 6-5.

More will follow on phillysportsblogs.com

On a night where Roy Halladay threw a perfect game it’s hard for the pure Philly sports fan to feel good.

The Flyers had their chances but couldn’t put away the game. Now an immediate question arises for Game Two Do you start Leighton or Boucher?



Mr Perfect!!!!!!

On a night where the Flyers were sure to steal the headlines Roy Halladay stole the show.

 Halladay threw a perfect game Saturday night in the Phillies 1-0 win over the Marlins.

 Check back to Phillysportsblogs will have more on this later.

 Congratulations Doc!

 And Go Flyers!



Stanley Cup Finals prediction

And then there were two.

The Flyers and Blackhawks take the ice tonight at 8 p.m. in Chicago in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. What an improbable matchup this truly is. Just three years ago the Blackhawks and Flyers were two of the worst teams in hockey. Now one of them will be remembered as the best.

This series has plenty of matchups to keep an eye on. Chris Pronger and his 6-6 stature against Chicago’s 6-4 Dustin Byfuglien; Michael Leighton vs. Chicago’s highly-skilled offense; The battle of first round picks Patrick Cain and JVR; The Blackhawks red-hot power play against the Flyers suddenly stifling penalty kill.

There is enough drama here to fill a season, but the outcome of these matchups will all be determined in seven games or less

Philadelphia is clearly the underdog here as a No. 7 seed and it’s no surprise Vegas has the Flyers as underdogs in Game 1. But being an underdog is nothing new to this team or this city. So it’s time for the Flyers to once again rise up and prove the doubters wrong.

As for predictions, it’s hard to go against a team that has so much going right for them at the right time. I’m talking about the Flyers. In what will be a gritty series, highlighted by the occasional sensational goal, the Flyers finish their remarkable playoff run with a Stanley Cup win in the seventh game.

Now, we stop this blog for an important PSA courtesy of Kate Smith and Lauren Hart.



Have you seen my baseball … bat?

There’s a giant search going on right now for a precious piece of Philadelphia. It is a piece that has brought much joy to the city’s people the last three seasons. It’s been lost before, but never for this long and to this extreme.

Has anyone seen the Phillies offense?

The Phillies were shut out for the third straight game by the Mets and the fourth time in five games overall. The last time the Mets kept a team off the scoreboard in a three game series, they did it with guys named Seaver and Ryan. This time they did it with Takahashi and Dickey. Just five games ago the Phillies were seven games up on the Mets, now that lead is two. In fact, all five teams in the NL East are within three games of each other.

So what exactly has happened here?

The Phillies offense has always relied on the long ball so periods of offensive struggles have happened , but this is of epic proportions. Every time it looked like the Phillies would finally break through last night they hit into a double play – three to be exact.

Hey, remember those first two weeks of the season when the team was scoring eight runs a game? The Phillies would kill for one right now.

All totaled, the Phillies have scored one run in their last 47 innings. You would think a blooper would have had to fall in just once during this spell. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are striking out at a rate that has Adam Dunn shaking his head. Even Jayson Werth shaving his beard didn’t change his luck.

If you are having a hard time watching this team right now, you are not alone, but keep in mind that it has to end soon. And I feel sorry for the team who faces them when it ends. There’s a lot of frustrating waiting to poor off the bats of these players.

 Hopefully it happens tonight in South Florida against the Marlins. If not we always have the Flyers on Saturday. There is no way anyone is keeping them off the board these days.



Writer labels Dawkins as overrated

Pete Prisco picked the wrong guy to pick on. In his article on cbssports.com, Prisco chooses the players he feels is the most overrated and underrated on each NFL team. What he wrote wasn’t so bad about any current Eagle, but rather an Eagle that is still No.1 in the hearts of Philadelphia fans.

Yes, Prisco choose Brian Dawkins as the most overrated player on the Denver Broncos. Of Dawkins he said: “He’s a good player, but he’s not nearly as good as his reputation. No way should he have been in the Pro Bowl.”

As if that wasn’t naïve enough cbssports has gone as far as to put up a poll on its main page about the most overrated players in the NFL and sure enough they chose Dawkins as one of its five choices, joining Brandon Jacobs, Matt Light, Anquan Boldin and John Abraham.

When I read that list I see a lot of winners. Overrated never even comes to mind.

As for what Prisco thought of the Eagles, he had Asante Samuels as the overrated player and Jason Avant as the underrated guy. You get no complaints from me there but by the time I got down to the Eagles picks it was far too late to salvage Prisco’s work of garbage.

So does anyone here think Dawkins has suddenly become an overrated player? He sure didn’t seem overrated when the Cowboys lit up the Dawkins-less Eagles secondary the last two games of the season.

And how about the Eagles picks? Did he get it right?



Leighton’s Role in Philadelphia

After the injury to Brian Boucher took him out of the lineup early in the playoffs, the Flyers looked to Michael Leighton to protect the net, and give the team a chance to win. Leighton exceeded expectations, putting together two shutouts, and helping them overcome a 3-0 series deficit, on the way to the NHL Finals.

But with rumors surrounding Boucher’s return, Leighton’s future is naturally in question. The soon-to-be free agent is waiting until the season is over to make any decisions, but hopes for stability in his next contract, whether or not it be with the Flyers.

I am confident that the Flyers will handle the situation well, and do whatever is bets for the team, but it is a little sad to think that the goaltender who has been such a large part of the team’s success, in the most crucial part of the season, could be with another team in 2011. it’s the way the business works, but hopefully Leighton can help bring Philadelphia a championship and cement his place in the team’s history.



Joe Gibbs doesn’t understand

Remember when Joe Gibbs was retired from football and just stuck with his racing team?

Yea, those were the good days.

Gibbs threw in his two sense about the Eagles trading Donovan McNabb. Naturally the former Redskins coach can’t understand the move and think the Eagles are fools. Bellow is an except of his conversation with ESPN’s First Take courtesy of our friends at Profootballtalk.com:

“I didn’t quite understand that one,” Gibbs said when asked about the trade in an interview on ESPN First Take. “Because what you’re doing is you’re taking someone in the division and giving them a quarterback.”

Gibbs said that he has first-hand knowledge of McNabb’s abilities from coaching against him, and that the Eagles just gave the Redskins exactly the kind of quarterback they need.

“My problem with Donovan was when we played against them, he hurt us,” Gibbs said. “He’s a big man, he scrambles out of the pocket, he’s hard to get down, and when he gets out of the pocket, he makes big plays down the field.”

Added Gibbs of McNabb in a Redskins uniform, “I think Philly’s going to be holding their breath on this one.”

Well Gibbs, we here at PhillySportsBlogs think you’re old and should have been out of the game years ago. … Speaking of that, take it away Jim Carry.



Phillies vs. Knuckleball — Take 2

If you tune in to the Phillies-Mets game tonight, you may think your eyes are playing tricks on you.

Don’t rush off to the bathroom to wash you eyes out with water. Your eyes will not be playing tricks on you.

Yes my friends, Jamie Moyer will be throwing harder than the opposing pitcher. Moyer and the Phillies will be facing Mets Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who floats his special pitch to the plate at a velocity in the mid-60s.

ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin has an article up talking about Dickey and how the Knuckleball he learned from Tim Wakefield saved his career.

Dickey used to be your average right-handed pitcher. His fastball hit low 90s and he had decent movement. However a shoulder injury several years ago dropped his velocity into the mid-80s and his career appeared over. Enter the knuckleball which is now the 35-year old’s featured pitch.

It is an interesting story to be sure, but make no mistake, Dickey is no Tim Wakefield.

Signed by the Mets in the Spring, Dickey struggled in camp and never threatened to make the Big League rotation. Only after injuries to Jon Niese and John Maine and Oliver Perez getting sent to the bullpen for being, well Oliver Perez, did the Mets bring up Dickey.

Even after he pitched well in his only start against Washington (two runs in six innings) he wasn’t assured another start. The Mets seriously considered starting left handed reliever Raul Valdes in his place today.

It’s a baseball oddity to be sure that the Phillies will face knuckleballers in consecutive games. Wakefield shut them down on Sunday, but you would hope Dickey could not do the same. He has only thrown the pitch for five years and his other stuff is average at best (although his 85 mph fastball is faster than Moyer’s).

Hopefully the Phillies bats break out tonight and send Dickey packing after just a few innings. If they don’t there will be a lot of GMs in the National League searching for a knuckleballer when the Phillies come to town.



Flyers going to Stanley Cup!!!!!

The Philadelphia Flyers are going to the Stanley Cup!!!!

A 4-2 win finished off a 4-1 series win over the Montreal Canadiens sending the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals for where they will look to win their first cup since 1975. They will face the Chicago Blakhawks, who took out the San Jose Sharks in four games.

Bellow is the schedule:

Saturday, May 29: Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Monday, May 31: Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2: Chicago at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
Friday, June 4: Chicago at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
x-Sunday, June 6: Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m.
x-Wednesday, June 9: Chicago at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
x-Friday, June 11: Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m.

PhillySportsBlogs will have you covered throughout the finals run.

Until then, celebrate Philadelphia. You are four games away from having another champion.



The roof may come off the Wachovia Center

Those lucky enough to have tickets for tonight’s Game between the Flyers and Canadiens will be heading to the Wachovia Center with hopes of witnessing a remarkable event.

With one win, the Flyers will be heading to the Stanley Cup.

Expect the Wachovia Center to be shaking tonight as fans of this starving franchise anticipate a historic night. The Flyers lead the series 3-1 and are on the verge of heading West to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks, who swept the Sharks out of the Western Conference Finals. Everything seems to be pointing in the Flyers direction right now. Ian Laperriere and Jeff Carter returned in Game 4 and both played well enough to warrant significant ice time once again. Meanwhile, Michael Leighton continued to be the out-of-nowhere hero, posting his third shutout of the series. Right now the Canadiens have to be wondering what it will take to get a puck past him.

If this playoffs has taught us anything it’s that a series is not over until it’s over. Montreal taught that lesson to Washington, coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the first round and the Flyers taught that lesson to the bruins, erasing a 3-0 hole.

So technically Montreal does still have hope. I just don’t see them coming into Philly and beating the Flyers tonight in front of what is sure to be the most amped up Flyers crowd in years. I mean the roof might really come off tonight.

Sam Carchidi talks about the team’s Closer’s mentality in today’s Inquire. The players talk about not being over confident and understanding the task that is ahead. For us fans, we don’t have to have that type of mentality. We can dream about the Stanley Cup, because it is now so close – five wins away to be exact.

Every fan has felt the heartbreak from a team losing when it was so close. God knows Flyers fans have over the years. But tonight should be a night of celebration.

Tonight the Flyers can make the Wachovia Center becomes the happiest place on earth.



Phillies’ Offense Show Signs Of Life In Win

After scoring only two runs in the previous two games, the Phillies’ offense wakes up (somewhat) as they pull out a victory in the two game series finale against the Chicago Cubs 5-4.  No surprise that the majority of the runs was scored via the longball, with Chase Utley hitting a solo homerun in the 1st , and Jimmy Rollins with a three-run homerun in the 6th.  However, after the Cubs scored two runs in the top half of the 7th and another in the top of the 8th to tie the game at 4-4, the final and game winning run was delivered by a single from Raul Ibanez scoring Chase Utley in the bottom of the 8th.

Joe Blanton gave up three runs in seven strong innings and didn’t allow his first hit until the 5th inning. And in an adventurous top of the 9th Jose Contreras managed to get his second save in as many opportunities.

Although the offense has been sputtering for the last couple of games, one positive is that the offense finally has all of its pieces back.  With Jimmy Rollins being back and healthy, and Carlos Ruiz’s ailing right knee seemingly healed, the offense is back and in tact for the first time in a long time.  It comes at the right time since the Phillies are going to be facing one of its toughest parts of the schedule in terms of the caliber of their competition, when they will be facing the likes of the Yankees, Twins, Padres, two series against the Marlins, as well as two series with the Red Sox.

The Phillies mettle will be tested in this stretch of games, so it’s a good thing that the lineup will have all hands on deck.  Especially since the bullpen and starting rotation doesn’t with Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, and J.A. Happ still nursing their injuries.  With the Phillies being two-time National League Champions we know that every team they face will be giving their best shot, the Phillies just have to make sure they are ready to deliver a shot of their own.



Canadiens fight back

Two wins are still in need after the Flyers could not keep their hot play going in Montreal, falling to the Canadiens, 5-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The loss is not stunning as Montreal has played well both at home and with its back against the wall all playoffs. The key to the series will be what happens in Game 4 on Saturday. The Flyers will put a stranglehold on the series with a win or the Canadiens will draw even and come back to Philly with some momentum on their side.

With so little going right Thursday night lets not reflect on that loss. Instead lets step back for a moment and admire what Michael Leighton and the team’s defense was able to do during the early part of this series.

Michael Leighton’s shutout streak lasted 172:05. That’s a ridiculous feat for any goalie let alone one that has been referred to a journeyman and a career backup. His story is the type the Hollywood makes movies about.

So what if he and the defense had one off night? I expect him to be right back in top form on Saturday as the Flyers go up 3-1 in the series.

Thursday night was nothing more than a small bump.



Sixers go retread with Doug Collins

The Sixers did what the Sixers do on Thursday. They hired a coach that will do nothing to get their fan base excited. Rather than take a shot at an up and coming coach, they went the old retread approach, snatching Doug Collins out of the TNT broadcast booth.

The rest of the East is shaking in their boots now.

Bellow is an excerpt of the Associated Press report:

Team president Ed Stefanski interviewed Collins on May 1, and he emerged as the leading candidate to replace the fired Eddie Jordan. The pool of candidates included former Dallas coach Avery Johnson and Toronto coach Sam Mitchell.
My problem with this hire is I don’t see Collins sticking around long enough to have any type of impact. After the Sixers struggle again next year — even with Evan Turner — Collins may thing twice about his decision to coach. What incentive does he have to stick with the team when he knows he can always go back to his cushy job at TNT?

Collins is 332-287 in coaching stints with Chicago, Detroit and Washington. The 76ers made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 draft, and he played eight seasons with the team.

The 58-year-old will need time to build a winner in Philadelphia that other coaches haven’t been afforded. Since Larry Brown left in 2003, four others have failed to coach more than 82 games for the organization.

Maybe Collins will prove me wrong and be the type of general the team has not had since Brown left. I highly doubt it though.

At the end of the day Collins is much more likely to be spoken about in the same class ads Eddie Jordan than he will as Larry Brown.



Welcome to Philadelphia

With the Flyers traveling to Montreal tonight for their match up with the Canadiens, one can only hope that our sports writers will be treated nicer. Apparently, when a 66 year old Montreal writer, who has been coming to Philadelphia for more than 20 years, parked at the Wachovia center to see the games, he had some trouble. Pat Hickey was not exactly welcomed by Flyers fans, finding his car (with a Quebec license plate) had been trashed and slashed. Although, having been in Montreal for their series against Pittsburgh, win or lose, the city goes crazy. Read more



Specter, Tebow, Mark Jackson and Ole Ole …

With the Flyers seemingly destined to return to the Stanley Cup Finals, its hard to be too down on the sport scene these days, but there are still plenty of things going on that need to be called out. Bellow is a brief recap of what has been Grinding My Gears, even in these great sporting times.

- Arlen Specter’s campaign. I won’t claim to know anything more about Specter and his politics than the fact he changes political parties more than NBC changes its Prime Time programming. What I do know is that his commercials, or more accurately commercial, drove me nuts. I couldn’t watch one baseball or hockey game without seeing the ad with him and Obama standing next to each other and Obama saying “I love Pennsylvania and I love Arlen Specter” about five times.

As it turned out, after 80 years the voters didn’t love Specter.

- Tebow hits baseballs. There were reports that Tebow picked up a bat and took a few swings at a Memphis high school. Word is that he hit 12 home runs in 15 swings. And I should care because? A great athlete hit a baseball far, gee I’m shocked.

 I for one hope Tebow proves his doubters wrong and has a successful NFL career, but is it any wonder why so many people are routing against him? The media is turning the guy into the athletic version of Chuck Norris. Next thing you know there will be T-shirts saying “Tim Tebow doesn’t churn butter. He roundhouse kicks the cows and butter comes straight out.”

Let me know when he completes some passes at the NFL level. I don’t need to know about his next game of H-O-R-S-E.

- Mark Jackson on the mic. While Jackson was great point guard in his day his work for ESPN is deplorable. The guys is to intelligent commentary what Lou Holtz is to clear speech.

Yesterday he dropped this gem during the Celtics-Magic game: “There should be a debate about who is the best QB in Boston, Rondo or Brady!”

Yes Mark, Rondo is clearly in the same category as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. The scary part is some team may one day hire this guy as a head coach.

- Check out ESPN’s baseball schedule this week. We had Yankees-Red Sox Monday; Yankees-Rays today; Yankees-Mets Sunday. Are you kidding me? I understand the network gets high ratings with the Yankees, but three times in a week is absurd. People who want to see the Yankees on a daily basis can dish out a few extra bucks and order YES. As for me, I will be saying NO to ESPN this week.

- Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole: This one is intended for the Canadiens fan base, not the Flyers, who echoed the chant as a taunt to Montreal. This is a soccer chant and its use in any other format is unacceptable to me. With the World Cup a month away we will be hearing this chant in all it’s glory for full month. I will bask in it then. I hate it now.

The people of Montreal need to learn something a little more original. Maybe they can work on that next year. Their season won’t last long enough for them to find a new one..