Eagles Attempt to Complete Return to Respectability Against Bears on MNF

Eagles Attempt to Complete Return to Respectability Against Bears on MNF

Despite defeating division opponents in back-to-back games, we still don't get the sense there is a great deal of enthusiasm for the Birds. Sure, some folks are feeling a full-fledged turnaround, complete with a postseason berth. The rest would have you know they are below .500, and waging an uphill battle just to make the playoffs.

Fair enough. Fans have their reasons for remaining detached, and another win tonight against the 4-3 Chicago Bears might not convert many people. It would be an important milestone for the Eagles in their quest to fulfill Vince Young's prophecy though, evening the team's record for the first time since Week 2 -- which was nearly two months ago.

The Eagles are becoming harder and harder to dismiss with each passing week, and should they reach 4-4 tonight, they become almost impossible to ignore. That would be three consecutive victories, which would tie them for the fourth-longest streak in the NFL, and three in a row versus conference opponents. They are also the only team in the East sitting on two division wins right now.

In the Bears, they would also be disposing of a quality opponent that has given Andy Reid and Michael Vick problems in the past. Reid is 1-3 against Chicago over the past four seasons, with none of the contests decided by more than five points. Vick, meanwhile, has never beaten the Bears in three tries. No doubt it would feel good to get that monkey off his back.

But if the Eagles intend to generate some energy from a wounded fan base, how they win might carry them the farthest. The last two weeks have been something entirely different from the previous five, which leaves us wondering which side is for real, and how many games must pass before we can declare which is which. Has the offense really cleaned up the turnovers? Is the defense really settling into Juan Castillo's scheme?

In a league with few truly elite teams, knocking off Chicago in impressive fashion to get back to .500 should go a long way toward injecting the excitement back into this season. Maybe it won't, because people have seen this act from the local football club before -- fall behind early, then come storming back, only to come up short in the end.

We're all tired...

In case you haven't been paying attention though, things are finally clicking. The Eagles might be on the verge of becoming the great team we all thought and desperately hoped they would be this season. With a big win tonight, they are right back in the thick of the race, and in great position to continue their rise from the ashes of a 1-4 start.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers' return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers' return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.