Connor Barwin's benefit concert featuring Kurt Vile is this Friday night

Connor Barwin's benefit concert featuring Kurt Vile is this Friday night

Sometimes, on Fridays, I like to go to happy hour and enjoy a few beers.

I did this a couple weeks ago with some friends at Morgan's Pier. It was a lovely early summer evening in Philadelphia drinking outdoors. Pretty typical.

A few hours later, I found myself sitting at a table at Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown listening to Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin make fun of my girlfriend's mother.

Not exactly typical.

Barwin and I had been playing text tag, trying to catch up to talk about the benefit show he's putting on this coming Friday night, June 20th, at Union Transfer featuring local artists Kurt Vile, the Districts, and a band hailing from his former residence in Houston, the Tontons.

It just so happened that 10:30 pm on a Friday night after I'd been drinking for a few hours worked best for the busy Eagles linebacker.

But he made time, because Barwin really wants to get the word out and do absolutely everything he can to make this show -- and the playground it's helping renovate -- a big success. He even rode around town on his bike putting up flyers for the event.

Barwin with the kids who will benefit from his efforts (photo via his Instagram)

For the record, I had all of these great questions and ideas for Barwin prepared earlier in the day in my head. Not your typical Q&A, you see. This was going to be different! But then I got drunk and I talked to the Eagles linebacker about music for a few hours. Mostly I blabbered about my favorite band, Phish, the entire time. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I remember it, but the great interview I had planned certainly went out the window.

I do recall my girlfriend attempting to get Barwin to explain his linebacker position in terms of chess pieces. Turns out she doesn't know football all that well and he isn't a chess expert either. So that convo didn't really go anywhere. But it was entertaining.

What was the major takeaway? What info about his benefit show did he really want to get out there that hadn't already been said?

He wants people to know all of the bands participating in Friday's big event are playing for free. Kurt Vile & the Violators, the Districts, and the Tontons are all donating their time, effort, and skills to help Barwin's cause of rebuilding a playground in the Point Breeze section of Philadelphia. Pretty nice gestures from some impressive bands.

But the bands aren't the only people going the extra mile to help a community in South Philly. Once all of the proceeds from the show and bar tabs from the night are added up, Barwin is going to match that total out of his own pocket. In just a short time in Philly, he's become wildly popular from the field to the music clubs (and on social media for both reasons). But he doesn't keep that popularity behind a velvet rope, and although being charitable isn't in itself unique for a high-profile athlete, it does seem like his brand of accessibility is. Rather than a ploy for ever-more attention, Barwin genuinely appears to enjoy his surroundings, and he clearly wants to give back and help improve what he can.

So if you like hearing good music and supporting good causes, shell out a few bucks for a ticket, head over to Union Transfer on Friday night, and maybe you can enjoy a beer while talking to Connor Barwin about your favorite band while somehow simultaneously helping to rebuild a playground.

And if he's busy playing host, you can at least find me and I'll talk your ear off about Phish.

[buy tickets to Connor Barwin's benefit show featuring Kurt Vile here]

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to give the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night and force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third.

Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa and Craig Anderson stopped 45 shots, including 22 in the second period.

Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves.

Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship.

The Senators managed to quickly forget a 7-0 loss two days earlier in Game 5 and extend their season for one more shoot at a return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 10 years. and land one more shot at a first Stanley Cup final appearance in 10 years.

Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start -- which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed.

Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. The 35-year-old struggled through Games 4 and 5 -- allowing seven goals -- but it was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away.

Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan.

The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge.

Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 lead anyway off a few moments of brilliance from Malkin. The playoff scoring leading (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed up with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson.

It was the 153rd career playoff point in 142 games for Malkin -- three back of Sidney Crosby for second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr -- who had been jarring with Hoffman a few minutes earlier.

The Senators had little going until a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 just past the midway point of the period. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0 for 29 in the previous 10 games, came through with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.

It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).

NBA Playoffs: Kyrie Irving's 42 points spark Cavs' comeback win over Celtics

NBA Playoffs: Kyrie Irving's 42 points spark Cavs' comeback win over Celtics

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving gritted his teeth, tightened up his left sneaker and hopped to his feet.

The pain didn't stop him. The Celtics didn't either.

Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an almost inevitable third date in the Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

With James in foul trouble, Irving stayed on the floor despite rolling his left ankle in the third quarter, when he scored 19 points in less than five minutes.

"He put us on his back and carried us," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.

The defending NBA champions, who shot 71 percent in the second half to open a 3-1 lead in the series, can wrap up their third straight conference title -- and a "three-match" against the Warriors -- with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston.

But if Games 3 and 4 are any indication, it won't be easy.

Fighting to keep their season alive, the Celtics aren't giving an inch despite playing without All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who may need surgery on a hip injury.

The Cavs, meanwhile, wouldn't be on the cusp of the Finals without Irving.

With Cleveland in jeopardy of dropping its second game in a row after James followed an 11-point Game 3 by picking up four first-half fouls, Irving put on a breathtaking one-man show in the third quarter.

Freezing Boston defenders with his dribble and driving to the basket whenever he wanted, Irving made six layups, two 3-pointers and a free throw in a dizzying span of 4:48. He capped his blistering 19-point outburst with a 3 in the final second of the quarter and celebrated at mid-court by pretending to put two pistols back in his holster.

"Coming out of halftime I just wanted to be aggressive, lead my guys and leave it all out there on the floor," Irving said.

When the horn sounded to end the third, Cleveland's players poured off the bench to greet him. They had to be careful not to knock him off his feet after Irving had put a scare through the frenzied Quicken Loans Arena crowd moments earlier when he stepped on the foot of Boston's Terry Rozier.

Irving stayed on the floor for several seconds before sitting up and re-tying his sneaker. Nothing was keeping him out.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was disappointed with his team's defense on Irving, who was able to spread the floor while surrounded by shooters.

"There's choices," Stevens said. "I'm not sure there are good choices. When he gets going like that, he's tough to stop. The ones we gotta look at are the ones he got at the rim."

Kevin Love added 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Cavs, now 11-1 in the postseason.

Avery Bradley scored 19 and Jae Crowder 18 for Boston.

Lue chuckled before the game when he was asked if he planned to say anything to James following his sub-standard performance in Game 3.

"No message," Lue said. "Just come out, be aggressive, in attack mode like he has been over the last four or five months. Nothing has changed."

Lue should have warned James to be careful, too, as the superstar picked up four fouls and spent the final 6:46 of the first half watching from the bench, unable to help his team.

But beyond James' foul trouble, the Cavs were having other issues as the Celtics outplayed them at both ends while opening a 16-point lead.

Irving kept Cleveland within striking distance while James was out by scoring 12 points over the final 5:11 of the second quarter.

And in the third quarter, the All-Star guard had James' back again, keeping the Cavs on their collision course with the Warriors.

Tip-ins
Celtics: Thomas spoke to coach Brad Stevens and told him that he has visited one hip specialist and plans to see more before it's decided if he needs surgery. Thomas initially injured his hip in March and played the final two months of the regular season before aggravating it during the playoffs. ... Stevens started Kelly Olynyk, who had 15 points. ... Before the playoffs began, the Celtics were 22-5 at home since Jan. 1. They're 5-4 in the postseason so far.

Cavaliers: Irving scored 41 in Game 5 of last year's Finals. ... J.R. Smith and his wife, Jewel, brought their daughter home after more than five months in the hospital following her premature birth. Smith posted photos on his Instagram account of the couple leaving Hillcrest Hospital with their baby in a stroller. "We Walked In Together We Walked Out Together!!" Smith wrote. ... Deron Williams played 18 minutes after sustaining a shoulder "stinger" in Game 3.

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The Celtics lost Game 2 at home by 44 and the first two games of the series by a combined 57.