Flyers 0-3, Time to Panic?

Flyers 0-3, Time to Panic?

Out of sync would probably be the simplest way to describe
the Flyers through three games so far, but at least in the first two they
managed to make it competitive. On Tuesday night in Newark, they had dug
themselves into a hole little more than a minute into the game, and kept on
digging until it was 3-0 Devils early in the second period, which wound up the final
tally.

Not much has gone right for Philadelphia. Cluade Giroux is
doing his thing, lighting the lamp twice this season already, or the equivalent
of two-thirds of Philly’s goals. Ilya Bryzgalov looks sharp enough, though you wouldn’t
know it from looking at his stats thanks to the numerous breakdowns in front
of him. There are rumblings that 18-year-old Scott Laughton could stick with
the big club, so I suppose that’s positive.

Then there are these special teams numbers which tell a big part of the
story. The Flyers have scored one power play goal on 15 tries, tied for the
third-highest number of opportunities in the NHL. They have allowed opponents
to convert on six of 16 tries, both the goals allowed and amount of times they were
short-handed being tied for the most in the league. Their power-play (6.7%) and
penalty-kill percentages (62.5%) rank 27th and 25th respectively.

Then there are the things you can’t necessarily quantify.
The lack of chemistry has been disappointing on every line starting from the
top. Everybody is playing the same sloppy brand of post-lockout hockey, but the
Flyers really seem to be pressing more than others, forcing bad passes in the
offensive and neutral zones, and making generally poor decisions with or
without the puck all-around.

When you list it all like that, it sounds heavy. When you state
it frankly – zero points through three games of a 48-game season – it sounds
downright desperate. You might be tempted to panic.

Naturally it’s too soon for all of that. Those special teams
numbers can’t keep up at their current rate, and head coach Peter Laviolette
will find the right pairings to spark the offense – he’ll get reinforcements
soon once Danny Briere returns to the lineup. And nothing can account for the
bad bounces that have come the Flyers’ direction, like having a pair of goals waved
off in Buffalo on Sunday, or having two deflect past Bryz off of teammates already.

It also just so happens the last time Philly started 0-3 was in the lockout-shortened 94-95 season, when they wound up finishing first
in the Atlantic Division and going all the way to the Eastern Conference
Finals.

We certainly understand the reasons for concern however, even
if the team is only 6% of the way through the schedule. The Flyers’ sluggish starts
in all three games have become the personification of the early goings of this
season. There is plenty of time to climb back in, but as they demonstrated last
night, sometimes the holes run too deep.

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NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).

NHL Playoffs: Crosby, Bonino lead Penguins to Game 1 win over Caps

NHL Playoffs: Crosby, Bonino lead Penguins to Game 1 win over Caps

WASHINGTON -- Sidney Crosby scored two goals in 52 seconds, Nick Bonino had the winner in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.

In a high-profile showdown of Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, Washington's captain also scored and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the goal that tied it in the third. But Marc-Andre Fleury made 15 of his 32 saves in the third period to help Pittsburgh to the win.

Crosby was a threat to score just about every time he touched the puck. He beat Braden Holtby with his first two shots of the second period.

Holtby stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced but allowed Bonino's goal with 7:24 left.

Game 2 is Saturday night (see full recap).

Karlsson helps Senators edge Rangers 2-1 in Game 1
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Erik Karlsson scored on a bad-angle shot with 4:11 left in the third period, sending the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the opener of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.

The Senators captain beat fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist from just above the goal line. The shot pinged off Rangers center Derek Stepan before going into the net.

It was Karlsson's first goal and seventh point of the playoffs. The 26-year-old defenseman, who has been playing with a foot injury, also logged more than 28 minutes in the win.

Game 2 is Saturday.

Ryan McDonagh scored for New York, and Lundqvist finished with 41 saves.

Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa, which eliminated Boston in six games in the first round (see full recap).