Flyers in Boston for St. Patrick's Matinee

Flyers in Boston for St. Patrick's Matinee

While the Phillies are wearing their annual greens and the nation drowns in celebration of St. Patrick's Day and the NCAA Tournament, the Flyers have themselves quite a matchup as well. Lavvy's boys are in Boston to face the Bruins (1 PM, CSN), who are not the same team they were when they lifted the Cup last spring, nor even for the first half of the season. Ottawa now holds the top slot in the Northeast, though they've played two more games than the Bruins, who have held first place since November. 
Boston has lost four straight, and the Flyers' current surge, Pittsburgh's amazing run of 10 consecutive wins, and the Devils' doing well, the top four teams in the Atlantic currently have more points than any team from either the Northeast or the Southeast. 
Wasn't long ago anyone in their right mind would have taken Tim Thomas over Ilya Bryzgalov. How about now? 
Bryz is the owner of a shiny new franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes, though he'll rightly deflect any praise to the guys in front of him. The goaltending has been outstanding, but so too has the defense. The acquisitions of Nick Grossmann and, when he's been healthy, Pavel Kubina, have paid huge dividends already. The team is blocking shots well, and getting between shooters and the goal without too much screening. 
The Bruins, meanwhile, have been leaking like a sieve. In their last six games, they've allowed fewer than four goals only once, and their previous two games have been losses in which their opponents scored six goals while the Bruins managed only one and two, respectively.
Thomas' game has been shaky, and his proven backup is hurt. The team has signed Marty Turco temporarily. Joe Haggerty of CSN New England says Thomas will start today, which is no surprise despite his seeing action in 11 straight games. He'll face Bryzgalov, who could start back-to-back games with Pittsburgh on the docket for tomorrow. Bob's had success against the Pens though too, so Lavvy could opt to give him the Sunday start. 
Boston is a team very self-aware of their need to improve before the playoffs begin, and they're still obviously plenty dangerous. They know they're not playing to their potential. They also know what that potential is, and they could turn it around at any time. Hopefully not today… 
Sorry, but, giving the circumstances, had to play this. 

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

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AP Images

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

No. 2 Villanova bounced back with a win over No. 23 Creighton, clinching the Big East regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay). Meanwhile, Temple was able to clip Tulane in double overtime to end a three-game losing streak (see Instant Replay).

Here's a look at the rest of college hoops in the Philly area. 

Saint Joseph's edged by Saint Louis in unusual ending, 61-60
ST. LOUIS -- Jalen Johnson scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Mike Crawford hit a key 3-pointer, and Saint Louis edged Saint Joseph's 61-60 with an unusual ending on Saturday.

The Billikens were up 61-58 with five seconds left when Crawford missed a pair of free throws. The Hawks' Jai Williams grabbed the rebound and passed to James Demery. Demery dribbled the floor and bypassed Brendan Casper, who was calling for the ball just outside the 3-point arc, and made a layup as time expired, sealing a one-point win for Saint Louis.

Crawford's 3-pointer gave the Billikens a 59-58 lead with 1:15 to play. Johnson forced a turnover on Saint Joseph's next possession, and Aaron Hines made a layup to stretch the lead to 61-58.

Saint Louis (10-19, 5-11 Atlantic 10) snapped a three-game losing skid.

Chris Clover scored 17 points to lead Saint Joseph's (10-18, 3-13), which has lost eight straight (see full recap).

Drexel downed in Charleston, 80-67
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Jarrell Brantley scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals, Joe Chealey added 16 with three steals, and the College of Charleston beat Drexel 80-67 on Saturday to win its fourth straight.

Cameron Johnson scored 14 for the Cougars (23-8, 14-4), who have a No. 2 seed and first-round bye secured at next week's Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

Chealey's free throw put the Cougars up for good 11-10 en route to a 36-26 halftime lead. Brantley hit three straight free throws and the Cougars led by 18, 70-52, with 6:30 left to play in the second half and were never seriously threatened.

The Cougars shot 27 of 40 free throws and outrebounded the Dragons 39-32, scoring 14 second-chance points off of 13 offensive rebounds.

Kurk Lee scored 13 points for Drexel (9-22, 3-15), which has lost five straight (see full recap).

Penn State allows near triple-double to Mason, loses to Minnesota, 81-71
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nate Mason had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jordan Murphy added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Minnesota Gophers in an 81-71 win over Penn State on Saturday.

Dupree McBrayer added 15 points off the bench for Minnesota (22-7, 10-6 Big Ten) with Akeem Springs scoring 12. Reggie Lynch had nine points and set a career-high with 11 blocks as the Gophers won their seventh game in a row and avenged an earlier loss at Penn State.

Tony Carr had 20 points and seven assists, while Shep Garner scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who have lost three straight. Penn State had just five turnovers, all in the first half, but shot 35.5 percent.

Excluding the vacated season of 1996-97, Minnesota has won seven games in a row for the first time since 1978 (see full recap).