When Was the Last Time All Four Philly Sports Teams Failed to Make the Playoffs in Succession?

When Was the Last Time All Four Philly Sports Teams Failed to Make the Playoffs in Succession?

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were out of the lineup with
injuries for the first half of 2012, and the Phillies wound up missing the
playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

The Eagles finally bottomed out under Andy Reid last season,
their 4-12 record costing the long-time head coach his job and launching the
franchise into a rebuilding process.

Expectations suddenly soared for the 76ers when they acquired
Andrew Bynum over the summer, but he won’t even so much as suit up for a game
this season, perhaps ever.

After enduring a long, bitter lockout that lasted into
January, the Flyers have massively underperformed and appear to be destined to
join the list of recent disappointments.

Usually at least one of the local professional franchises
can stand tall. One club is left to carry the torch, to lead Philly sports
fans through the dark tunnel that is our sports landscape, offering some form
of hope – even when we know it’s only the false kind.

But with the Flyers tumbling further and further down the
standings, it looks like the home teams are going to let the people down in a
way they haven’t in nearly two decades. The last time Philadelphia went a full
calendar year without a single representative in the MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL
playoffs were the 1993-94 seasons.

The streak began with the Eagles in ’93 after they lost
Randall Cunningham four games into the season, continued into the summer of ’94
for Flyers and Sixers franchises that were in transition, and extended into the
fall when Major League Baseball players went on strike and cancelled the World
Series.

Just to put a cherry on top, the Birds missed the
tournament again under head coach Rich Kotite in ’94 despite a 6-2 start. Eric
Lindros would finally come to the city’s rescue, helping the Flyers reach the
postseason for the first time in six years – but only after the NHL endured one
of its vintage lockouts first.

It’s hard to argue any period in Philly sports has been
worse since then. The Flyers were just beginning their run as a perennial
contender, and a short time later the Eagles would follow suit under Reid. Even
the Sixers provided some excitement during the Allen Iverson days, and more
recently the Phillies turned into a powerhouse.

The closest we’ve come to having a lost season like this was
‘04-05. A lockout cancelled hockey season, the Phils were still treading water,
and the Eagles collapsed briefly after making a trip to the Super Bowl. Only
the 76ers made the playoffs, but there was a faint glimmer of hope there with
A.I. and first-year head coach Jim O’Brien.

Naturally O’Brien was fired after a first-round playoff
exit.

The worst part is there is no definitive end in sight to the
current playoff-less streak. The Phillies return their key players, but it’s an
aging core and the front office had a polarizing offseason. Who knows how long
it will take Chip Kelly to clean up the mess Reid left behind for him at the
NovaCare Complex. The Sixers are either starting from square one, or re-signing
a head case with no knees. The Flyers’ roster is loaded with young talent, but
the organization is up against the salary cap which makes it difficult to
address their immediate needs.

Wow, that’s depressing.

The truth is the Phillies could return to prominence this
year, the Eagles could become competitive again in one offseason, and the
Flyers seemingly have too much talent to stay down in the dumps for too long.
Only the 76ers are seemingly in hopeless territory, but they'll have some
options.

Who knows, maybe there truly is no place to go but up from
here. After all, it doesn’t get a lot worse than this, and the pain can only
last for so long.

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Best of NHL: Matt Murray, Penguins cruise past Habs

Best of NHL: Matt Murray, Penguins cruise past Habs

MONTREAL -- Eric Fehr and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Defensemen Ian Cole and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second game in a row after a three-game skid.

Sven Andrighetto scored for Montreal, which lost its second straight and has only two wins in its last six games. The Canadiens' offense remained in a rut coming off a 1-0 loss Monday in Detroit.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray was back in form after Monday's wild 8-7 win over Washington, making 19 saves. But Carey Price's woes continued as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 26-20. Price allowed three or more goals for the eighth time in 10 games (see full recap).

Vanek, Nielsen lead Wings over Bruins
DETROIT -- Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored in a shootout, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a comeback 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits in the first period, and with 3:04 remaining in regulation, Gustav Nyquist scored to pull them into a tie.

In the shootout, Tuukka Rask and Petr Mrazek stopped the first shots they faced before Vanek scored for the Red Wings and Brad Marchand countered with a goal for the Bruins. Nielsen, who like Vanek joined the team last summer as a free agent, scored on the team's third attempt and Vatrano missed the net with a chance to extend the 1-on-1 duels.

The Bruins were dominant early before blowing a chance to keep Detroit at a distance in the Atlantic Division standings (see full recap).

Burns, Pavelski push Sharks past Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels scored in the San Jose Sharks' seventh win at Staples Center in their last eight trips, 3-2 over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

Joe Thornton had two assists and Martin Jones made 22 saves for the defending Western Conference champion Sharks, who wrapped up their regular-season series against their biggest rivals with three victories in five games.

After Burns scored his 19th goal in the opening minutes, San Jose hung on through a scoreless third period to continue its recent domination in downtown Los Angeles, including three victories in last season's first-round playoff series.

Tanner Pearson and Marian Gaborik scored for the Kings, who ended a seven-game homestand with four defeats (see full recap).

McDavid scores in OT, Oilers edge Panthers
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Connor McDavid scored the winning goal in overtime as the Edmonton Oilers won their fourth game in a row, 4-3 over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

McDavid, who also had two assists in the game, got a breakaway late in overtime and got the puck away with 2.6 seconds left. Florida's James Reimer made the glove save, but the puck was ruled to be across the line via video review.

Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, who have their longest winning streak since December 2015.

Vincent Trocheck, Michael Sgarbossa and Greg McKegg had goals for the Panthers, who have lost two straight (see full recap).

Joel Embiid, Sixers prove plenty with benchmark win over Raptors

Joel Embiid, Sixers prove plenty with benchmark win over Raptors

BOX SCORE

The Sixers weren’t supposed to beat the Raptors, were they? This was going to be an “easy” game for the visiting team, which was coming to Philadelphia on a back-to-back that started in Brooklyn. The Raptors are a playoff team, and second in the Eastern Conference at that. Not to mention, they had defeated the Sixers in their last 14 meetings.

Maybe easy would have been the case the last time the two teams played back in mid-December. For the Sixers, though, things have changed since then and a 94-89 win over the Raptors on Wednesday proved this recent success is not fleeting (see Instant Replay).

“I don’t think it’s a fluke,” Joel Embiid said. “We’re competing. We’re winning games. We’re playing great defense. We finally found what we’ve been looking for.”

The Sixers had been missing clearly-defined roles and a defensive identity (see story). Now that Brett Brown has whittled down his roster to 10 players and laid out a starting five and second unit, the team has been gelling in those two aspects. The Sixers have won seven out of their last nine games, with the Raptors being the highest caliber of competition.

The Raptors entered the game averaging 111.5 points per game, first in the East and third in the NBA behind only the Warriors and Rockets. They had scored less than 100 points in just seven games this season. Additionally, the Raptors had been held to under 90 points by a single opponent: the Spurs. Not bad company to be in. 

Embiid led all players with 26 points (including 12 for 14 from the free throw line) to go with nine rebounds (see highlights). The Sixers staved off 25 points (11 for 21 from the field), six assists and three rebounds from DeMar DeRozan and 24 points (11 for 16 from the line), four rebounds, four assists and five steals from Kyle Lowry, who fouled out. The Raptors shot 25 percent from three and 65.2 percent at the free throw line.  

“We’re playing with a spirit, we’re playing with a defensive mindset,” Brown said. “There is a belief within each other amongst the team that is the best that it’s been since I’ve been here.”

The Sixers' winning stretch began against subpar teams, opponents who earlier in the season some would look at the schedule and say, the Sixers could probably take that one, as they tried to project a batch of victories. The Sixers turned those wins over the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Nets into momentum and carried it into a matchup against the Knicks.

Even though the Knicks are looking lost this season, they still have veteran offensive firepower that can take over a game against a struggling opponent. The Sixers made noise by beating them at the buzzer, then escalated their performance against the postseason-hungry Hornets and Bucks. 

The Raptors are different, though. There is no questioning their success and potential to make a deep playoff run … again. Nonetheless, the Sixers handled this well-seasoned opponent with composure and confidence down the stretch. 

They stayed together when DeRozan hit a jumper with 1:53 to play to give the Raptors their first lead since the second quarter. The Sixers responded to the one-point deficit with a 7-0 run to push the edge up to six points with 20.7 seconds to go.

“I think it says we’re for real. It shows our consistency that we’ve built throughout the year,” Nerlens Noel said. “We’re relentless. We have a young group of guys that know how to play the game and play it the right way and will come out there and compete against anybody in this league. I think the perception should be a whole different one now.”

The Sixers showed they can compete with top talent. Their wins aren't just coming from teams at the bottom of the standings. 

"That gives us a lot of confidence," Embiid said. "Coming into the game, we had a lot of confidence. Winning against the second-best team in the East is just amazing. We’re going to keep on working."