Defense Optional, Flyers Drop Game 1, 7-3

Defense Optional, Flyers Drop Game 1, 7-3

Well, if there was any question as to whether the Bruins were capable of banging home five-footers all day we now know the answer. The Bruins walked into the Wells Fargo Center and showed off their short game en route to a convincing 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

If you simply looked at the boxscore you'd think that yet another Flyers starting goalie blew a game. You'd be wrong. Giving up a seven spot in a playoff game is a total team effort. Other than a deflected shot from the point, which beat Boucher, the Bruins simply beat the Flyers to the puck and scored garbage goals from within close.

The Bruins were first to every puck. They got their forwards in deep and pressured the Flyers defense into some awful turnovers all afternoon. Give the Bruins full marks, they came in and dictated the tempo. Tim Thomas was solid, but beyond an early save on James Van Riemsdyk wasn't really called on to make the spectacular save.

The Flyers never got their forecheck going, never maintained sustained pressure on the B's defense, and never recovered from giving up the first goal less than two minutes into the game. Bottom line, Boston outplayed them in every which way.

David Krejci put the Bruins ahead after picking a shot from the point out of mid-air and beating Boucher. Danny Briere tied it at one, showing incredible hands in close as he won a puck just outside the crease to put the Flyers on the board.

In a game full of egregious Flyers mistakes perhaps the most egregious  was conceding a goal in the final minute of the first period.

The game-changer was a Nathan Horton goal with just 36 seconds left in the first period. Former Flyer Dennis Seidenberg did the heavy lifting as he pinched from the point and made a neat move in the corner to elude Braydon Coburn. Seidenberg threw the puck in front, where Krejci fanned on the shot, but not before the puck found its way to Nathan Horton, who redirected a shot on net. Boosh had a chance with his glove-hand, but was unable to catch it clean before deflecting it into the net (the puck was likely over the line at that point, but Boosh removed any doubt when he batted it in).

From there the Bruins simply poured it on. At one point they went ahead 5-1, before JVR pulled the Flyers to within 5-2 at the end of the second. Mike Richards picked up his first goal of the playoffs (a powerplay tally), giving the Flyers a false sense of hope at 5-3, before Boston closed out the scoring with two unanswered goals, which provided the final margin of victory.

If you're looking for the good news it's that the Flyers problems are easily correctable. They need to do a better of job of closing out Bruins forwards charging to the net. They need to limit turnovers. They need to get pucks deep and get into their cycle game. Finally, they need to play with greater urgency and win pucks.

Call me crazy, but I am not too distraught over dropping Game 1. Amazing how on the heels of their best game of the postseason (Game 7 against Buffalo) they played their worst game this afternoon. Lord knows they can't play much worse in their own zone then they did today.

Game 2 at the WFC on Monday.

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.

Joel Embiid now as dominant as Henry Sims

Joel Embiid now as dominant as Henry Sims

There are seemingly countless metrics one can use to detail Joel Embiid's supremacy as a Sixer, but perhaps no stats more clearly tell the story of how indefatigable the rookie has been this season than those of his free-throw shooting. Despite ranking just eighth on the team in total minutes, he's already gotten to the line 215 times this season and made 169 of them, about 250% more than the second-most made FTs on the team (Ersan Ilyasova, 65). What's more, his seven games with ten or more free throws attempted is already more than Thaddeus Young (six), Evan Turner (three) or Jrue Holiday (zero) ever had as a Liberty Baller. 

But yesterday against the Bucks saw JoJo hit a new level with his foul drawing. Despite essentially being shut down by the Bucks in the first half -- I can't remember if he even had a single bucket at the break -- The Process eventually imposed his will in Milwaukee in a major way, parading to the line in the second half, ending with 22 points (as well as 12 rebounds and five blocks) on 4-9 shooting, getting to the line an astounding 18 times. 

Who was the last Sixers giant to accomplish such a feat, you might wonder? Well... 

Yes, it's been an impressive season for our double-redshirt rookie, and every game he seems to add another immortal name to his list of historical analogues. But not until now could we afford to mention him alongside the great Henry "Lickface" Sims, two-year Process legend whose 18 trips to the free-throw line on April 4, 2014 totally helped us win that random late-season game against the then-rebuilding Boston Celtics. As impossible as it once seemed, it now appears that soon, Embiid's folk herodom will be as self-evident and undeniable to the Sons of Sam as that of Hammerin' Hank himself. 

Get this guy to the All-Star team already.