Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Flyers Fall to Leafs; Will St. Joe's Make the NCAAs?

I had no expectations of a Flyers win going into last night's game. The Leafs have been surging since their core group of players, when confronted with waiving their no-trade clauses, decided to take over the team and actually play hockey down the stretch. They publicly targeted last night's game and tonites game as games they had to win and win in regulation in order to catch the Flyers.

Furthermore, I also knew that last night's game was played in Toronto. I've been watching hockey for a long time and one thing I know is that a team based in the US will never catch a fair break as far as officiating goes in a Canadian rink. I'm not complaining; it is what it is.

Both of these thoughts came into fruition last night, as the Leafs huffed and puffed and blew in the Flyers' house by a score of 4 - 3 in OT. Sure, the Flyers got a point, but they could have demoralized the Leafs with a win, making tonite's game easier.

The Leafs played desperately for most of the game, but to no avail as a combination of Martin Biron (played tremendously) and bad luck worked against them.

The Flyers, on the other hand, counterpunched well, breaking out to a 3 goal lead after 41 minutes of play. Vinny Prospal was tremendous in the game, picking up two assists. Prospal is definitely giving Holmgren something to think about this offseason as he is steadily building chemistry with Danny Briere.

Then, the meltdown occurred. Randy Jones, who must have pictures of John Stevens, coughed the puck up on the tying goal and had the game winner go in off of his skate as he passively tried to fish for the puck in the waning minutes of overtime. I'm sure Randy will be patted on the head by Stevens and given his 20 minutes of icetime tonite, however. How do I know that? The guy Stevens went after in the lockerroom to the press after the game was Scottie Upshall, who took a ticky-tack penalty that led to the Flyers' first goal.

This leads me into my point about officiating games north of the border. There were several non-calls against the Leafs for similar violations to the one Upshall took. Replays showed the blatant hold Mats Sundin had on Jason Smith in the Flyers' zone. Kubina probably carried the puck as he caught a clearing attempt by Marty Biron. Announcers pointed out on several occasions that the Leafs were changing in such a way that they should have gotten at least 2 too many men on the ice penalties. I mean, these are just the kind of things that just don't get called at the Air Canada Centre against the home team.

The two teams meet tonite in South Philly. The Leafs barely beat the Flyers last night and they probably played the best they played all year. I don't expect the Leafs to duplicate the effort, and fully expect a Flyers win tonite.

(Photo courtesy of; (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn))

Will St. Joe's Make the NCAA Tournament?

St. Joe's starts their journey into the A-10 tournament today at 2:30 as they face Fordham in the first round of the tournament. If they get past Fordham, Richmond, a team they've already beaten, sits waiting.

St. Joe's probably needs to get to the finals of the tournament, at the very least, to be looked upon favorably for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. There is a very real threat that all of the Philadelphia schools will get shut out of the tourney this year. As three of the Philadelphia Big 5 are in the A-10 and are all playing good ball, I do believe one of them will come through and win the A-10 tourney.

Other Philly schools in the A-10 tourney include LaSalle, who plays Duquesne at 6:30pm today and Temple, who got a first round bye and will play tomorrow.

No comments: