Jackson's Five: Factors for Flyers-Bruins Game 2


Jackson's Five: Factors for Flyers-Bruins Game 2

Monday, May 2, 2011
Posted: 9 a.m.

By Jim Jackson
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

So much for the theory of momentum carrying over from the first round to the second.

The Flyers followed up their best performance of the postseason (Game 7 vs. Buffalo) with their worst (Game 1 vs. Boston). It was almost as though they took a deep breath after advancing and did not come armed with the necessary playoff intensity. The Bruins certainly did. The result: a 7-3 loss to Boston on Saturday afternoon.

Thus, here we are again assessing a Flyers team behind in a series. It seems to have become commonplace recently. In fact, they have fallen behind in four of their last five playoff series. Twice they managed to come back and win. The Bruins are well aware of one of those instances. Perhaps the Flyers have the Bruins right where they want them.

Here are some factors heading toward Game 2:

Dialing up desperation
Desperation just wasnt there on Saturday afternoon. The Flyers consistently lost races and battles for pucks. They seemed sluggish in their skating and slow to react. It appeared as though they were in regular season mode, not ready for the usual frenzied playoff pace.

The players all said as much after the game. They were well aware that their intensity level was not where it needed to be, but this is familiar territory for this club. They only seem to play their best hockey when they absolutely have to. If there is a margin for error, sometimes they seem intent on using every bit of it.

As important as the first game of a series is, winning in Game 1 is not vital. They have battled back from far more daunting deficits. However, beware of getting smug with this notion. Two years ago, the Flyers came out flat in Game 1 in Pittsburgh and never really recovered in that series. Marc-Andre Fleury stole one game. The Flyers lost another one in overtime. In the end, they outplayed the Penguins for a majority of the series, but still lost in six games.

Monday night, the desperate Flyers need to reappear.

Puck movement
All season, the Flyers were one of the best teams in the NHL at moving the puck, especially out of their own zone. Their deep and talented defense corps proved quite adept at springing their skilled forwards on rushes that produced the third highest goal total in the league.

That puck movement wasnt there on Saturday. The defensemen struggled, due in part to just having an off game, but also because forwards were not giving them easy outlets. Also, the Bruins came with speed and tenacity. It all added up to a very sloppy performance. Its possible some of this results from the aforementioned lack of intensity. Whatever the cause, it must improve as this series moves along.

Back to Boosh
As expected, much has been made of the fourth Philadelphia in-game goaltender change in eight playoff contests. It is unusual to say the least.

However, in Game 1 vs. Boston, I did not think it was a move directed at the goaltender as much as the guys in front of him. In taking each goal and reviewing it, there is very little evidence that Brian Boucher yielded soft goals. There were obvious breakdowns in front of him that led to spectacular scoring chances.

I suspect Game 1 will be treated as a mulligan for the entire team. Thus, Boucher will likely get the start on Monday.

Containing Krejci
Many of those who follow the Bruins on a regular basis insist that the turning point of last years epic series was the injury to center David Krejci on a hit by Mike Richards. At first, I thought such claims were overdoing it some. However, the more you watch him, the more you see how important he is to Bostons overall well-being.

He is a shifty, creative player. With two goals, two assists and a plus-3 in Game 1, he announced his presence in the series with authority. He has the capability to make those around him (currently Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic) better. If his line is going, the Bruins become a team with multiple dangerous units. Checking them becomes that much more difficult.

It will be interesting to see if the Flyers try to slow Krejci down with physical play again. They attempted to on Saturday. They will have to be even more diligent along those lines moving forward.

Attack the Bruins D
The Bruins were mighty impressive in Game 1. They looked like they were in complete control at times. When a team gets on a roll as they were, it almost appears it has no weaknesses.

But every team has areas that can be exposed. Bostons defense is not all that mobile. There are members of their blue line corps that will cough the puck up when pressured. It wasnt all that noticeable on Saturday because the Flyers just did not get their fore-checking game going with enough consistency.

Starting on Monday, that has to change. The Flyers helped turn the Buffalo series around by forcing turnovers from the Sabres relatively inexperienced defense. Their goal should be to have the same effect this series by getting after a Boston defense that can have problems moving the puck quickly under pressure. The Flyers forwards will need to ramp up their energy level in order to make that happen.

E-mail Jim Jackson at jjackson@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Flyers pregame notes: Boucher to start in Game 2 Flyers notes: 'A loss is a loss' in playoff hockey

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field


Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

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Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.