Flyers-Pens Game 4: It's the 33 Year Storm, Johnny

Flyers-Pens Game 4: It's the 33 Year Storm, Johnny

Good news from the Winnipeg Sun greets us this evening:

Do hockey miracles occur every 33 years?

The Philadelphia Flyers certainly hope so.

Down 3-0 in their Eastern Conference final against the Pittsburgh
Penguins and heading into Game 4 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia
tonight, the Flyers will attempt to become just the third team in NHL
history to come back from such a post-season deficit to win a playoff
series.

In 1942, the Maple Leafs became the first
team to accomplish the feat, clawing their way back from three games
down to dispose of the Detroit Red Wings.

In 1975, some 33 years later, the New York Islanders did it, overcoming the steep odds against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And 33 plus 1975 is... 2008. So there you have it. Math has proven that not only will the Flyers win tonight, but also the next three games. I also like that only two teams ever choking away a 3-0 conference finals lead, and the Penguins are one of them. I don't know what all the doom and gloom and talk of 100 consecutive seasons without a championship is about. I say the stars are aligned (no Dallas-related pun intended.; those guys are done).

In all seriousness, we know it's do or die time, game 4 is game 7, the separator of men, boys, and assorted other win or go home clichés.

John Stevens has shaken up the top three lines and made a scratch/substitution on the fourth in the hopes of sparking an offense that has been muted so far this series. Kimmo remains sidelined for the foreseeable future, and Braydon Coburn will be trying to make out the shapes on the ice from the owner's suite. But despite the new faces lining up alongside each other and the seemingly mistake-free hockey Pens have been playing for much of the first three games, something tells me the Flyers win this one. All season long, the they've surged, then slumped, only to win again when they're counted out. Everyone is officially calling their season over at this point, so they're due for that unexpected W.

No matter what happens though, I know the crowd will support them tonight, and there will be a standing O when there's no time left on the clock.

We'll see you in traffic. Should be glorious with the Flyers and the Hamels Gang both at home tonight. Until then, and hopefully not for the last time this season, Stormy.

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Like when sporting events finish in a tie? Of course you do. That’s why the NHL scrapped ties in favor of a skills competition back in 2005, or why Major League Baseball awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning side of an exhibition game for 14 years. Yeah, folks love ties.

Well, if you’re the type who enjoys a good tie or a long smooch with your sister, the NFL has a rule change made just for you. Because the end result of reducing overtime from 15 minutes to 10 during the regular season will inevitably be more contests that end without deciding a winner.

Why? The league offered some hollow-sounding excuse built around player safety and competitive balance. Teams that play an additional five minutes in the extra period, then turn around and play again on a short week -- think Monday to Sunday, or worse, Sunday to Thursday -- are at a disadvantage, while the health of the players are at greater risk.

Whether there was any tangible evidence five more minutes can really have a serious effect on the following week is unclear. It sure doesn’t seem like that would make a world of difference. The only thing we can say for certain is the end result will be more ties.

Even under the previous rule, the NFL managed to have two games end in ties in 2016, which are two more than anybody would prefer. Yet, four more games went deeper than 10 minutes into overtime, according to Jonathan Jones for Sports Illustrated, and while not all were necessarily guaranteed to finish in a tie under the change, the likelihood obviously increases.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say there were two more ties in ’16, bringing the total to four. That still isn’t a huge number, but even two is atypical. Most years, there are one, or none at all. Now, the frequency is guaranteed to increase.

Does that matter? Maybe not. A few extra ties are unlikely to turn off viewers. In fact, a case can be made overtime will be more exciting with the clock coming into play more often. Ties also lead to some interesting situations in the standings, and can inject slightly more intrigue into playoff races late in the year.

None of which is going to change the fact that ties are inherently a bad thing and people despise them. The NHL and MLB both came up with rule changes that would avoid ties, each of which had a major impact on the very landscape of the sports. Yet, while competitors are getting away from ties, the NFL has decided to invite more.

Again, it’s worth pointing out the reasoning seems bogus. If competitive balance and player safety are issues, teams wouldn’t have to turn around and play on Thursday four days after a Sunday game in the first place.

The NFL’s overtime rules were already imperfect. Shortening the length of the period is unlikely to fix inherent problems with the sudden-death system -- namely a team winning the game on the possession immediately following the coin flip. Instead, we simply have another round of valid complaints to look forward to on the horizon.

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Phillies corner outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick is finally nearing a return. He'll begin a rehab assignment tonight with Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Kendrick has been out since April 15 with an oblique strain. He did defensive work during the Phillies' road trip and has been taking outdoor batting practice at home this week.

Kendrick was off to a hot start when the oblique injury sent him to the DL. In 10 games, he went 13 for 39 (.333) with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs. He batted second all 10 games.

The Phillies are in a bad offensive funk and could use Kendrick's bat over Michael Saunders' right now. The Phils' 1-2 hitters were among the most productive in the majors in April, hitting close to .350 for the month. They're down to .282 on the season as Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have slumped in May.

With Clay Buchholz likely out for the season and Saunders providing little offense so far, the Phillies' trio of offseason veteran additions has not panned out through two months.