Flyers 2012-13 Schedule Released: Puck Drops in Style on October 11th

Flyers 2012-13 Schedule Released: Puck Drops in Style on October 11th

The NHL released the 2012-13 schedule today, announcing the Flyers will host the Boston Bruins in the first part of a nationally televised doubleheader to kick off the new season.

NBC Sports will air the rematch of last season's opener, when the Flyers spoiled the Bruins' Stanley Cup banner raising with a 2-1 win. That game will be followed immediately by St. Louis at Colorado.

Boston and Philly will collide three more times during the month of March, including a home-and-home March 30-31.

Thoughts on some key dates, plus the full schedule below.

The Flyers won't have to wait long to get their first crack at rival Pittsburgh. Just one week into the season, they'll welcome the Penguins to the Wells Fargo Center in game number three on October 18. They don't meet again in Philly until March 26, part two of a home-and-home series, with the final of their six tilts coming down to the final week of the season, April 9 at WFC.

On that note, the Flyers close out their season at home on April 13 against the Rangers. It was only 2010 when the two teams memorably decided their playoff fates with a shootout in game number 82. Claude Giroux's goal gave Philadelphia the 2-1 victory, catapulting them into the postseason, and all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, while New York watched.

The Devils, Eastern Conference Champions and Flyers playoff ousters, arrive in Philly for the first of six on November 1. The clubs then go head-to-head three times between Decemebr 11-21, which includes the remainder of the home games against New Jersey. The final of those three also kicks off the longest road trip of the year.

The Flyers have eight in a row on the road over Christmas and New Years as they vacate the building for the annual Disney on Ice shows. They'll swing out west for six of those, including their lone slate with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings on January 3. I'm sure that will be received back home with exactly the right amount of hype.

The Flyers also have a pair of five-game road trips against eastern opponents, from Nov. 24 to and Dec. 4, and again from Feb. 12 to Feb. 20.

Full schedule:

October 2012
Thu Oct 11, 2012     vs. Bruins         7:00 PM     
Sat Oct 13, 2012     @ Islanders         7:00 PM     
Thu Oct 18, 2012     vs. Penguins         7:00 PM     
Sat Oct 20, 2012     vs. Jets         7:00 PM     
Thu Oct 25, 2012     @ Canadiens         7:30 PM     
Sat Oct 27, 2012     vs. Maple Leafs     7:00 PM     
Sun Oct 28, 2012     @ Sabres         5:00 PM     
Tue Oct 30, 2012     vs. Stars         7:00 PM     

November 2012
Thu Nov 1, 2012     vs. Devils         7:00 PM     
Sat Nov 3, 2012     vs. Ducks         1:00 PM     
Sun Nov 4, 2012     @ Rangers         7:00 PM     
Tue Nov 6, 2012     vs. Sabres        7:00 PM     
Thu Nov 8, 2012     @ Hurricanes         7:00 PM     
Sat Nov 10, 2012     vs. Hurricanes         7:00 PM     
Tue Nov 13, 2012     vs. Wild         7:00 PM     
Fri Nov 16, 2012     @ Sabres         7:00 PM     
Sat Nov 17, 2012     vs. Sabres         7:00 PM     
Wed Nov 21, 2012     vs. Senators         7:00 PM     
Fri Nov 23, 2012     vs. Jets         3:00 PM     
Sat Nov 24, 2012     @ Rangers         1:00 PM     
Wed Nov 28, 2012     @ Maple Leafs         7:00 PM     
Thu Nov 29, 2012     @ Islanders         7:00 PM     

December 2012
Sat Dec 1, 2012     @ Panthers         7:30 PM     
Tue Dec 4, 2012     @ Lightning         7:30 PM     
Thu Dec 6, 2012     vs. Sharks         7:00 PM     
Sat Dec 8, 2012     @ Islanders         1:00 PM     
Sun Dec 9, 2012     vs. Islanders         7:00 PM     
Tue Dec 11, 2012     vs. Devils         7:00 PM     
Thu Dec 13, 2012     @ Capitals         7:00 PM     
Sat Dec 15, 2012     vs. Hurricanes         1:00 PM     
Wed Dec 19, 2012     vs. Devils         7:30 PM     
Fri Dec 21, 2012     @ Devils         7:00 PM     
Sun Dec 23, 2012     @ Senators         1:00 PM     
Thu Dec 27, 2012     @ Predators         8:00 PM     
Sat Dec 29, 2012     @ Blues         8:00 PM     
Mon Dec 31, 2012     @ Coyotes         9:00 PM     

January 2013
Thu Jan 3, 2013     @ Kings         10:30 PM     
Sat Jan 5, 2013     @ Sharks         10:30 PM     
Sun Jan 6, 2013     @ Canucks         9:00 PM     
Thu Jan 10, 2013     vs. Canadiens         7:00 PM     
Sat Jan 12, 2013     vs. Rangers         1:00 PM     
Tue Jan 15, 2013     @ Jets             8:00 PM     
Thu Jan 17, 2013     vs. Capitals         7:00 PM     
Sat Jan 19, 2013     vs. Flames         1:00 PM     
Sun Jan 20, 2013     @ Blackhawks         7:30 PM     
Wed Jan 23, 2013     vs. Maple Leafs     7:30 PM     
Tue Jan 29, 2013     @ Wild             8:00 PM     

February 2013
Fri Feb 1, 2013     @ Capitals         7:00 PM     
Sat Feb 2, 2013     vs. Red Wings         7:00 PM     
Tue Feb 5, 2013     vs. Lightning         7:00 PM     
Thu Feb 7, 2013     vs. Panthers         7:00 PM     
Sat Feb 9, 2013     vs. Oilers         2:00 PM     
Tue Feb 12, 2013     @ Penguins         7:00 PM     
Thu Feb 14, 2013     @ Blue Jackets         7:00 PM     
Fri Feb 15, 2013     @ Devils         7:00 PM     
Sun Feb 17, 2013     @ Rangers         TBD     
Wed Feb 20, 2013     @ Penguins         7:30 PM     
Thu Feb 21, 2013     vs. Panthers         7:00 PM     
Sat Feb 23, 2013     vs. Avalanche         1:00 PM     
Mon Feb 25, 2013     vs. Rangers         7:00 PM     
Wed Feb 27, 2013     vs. Capitals         7:30 PM     

March 2013
Fri Mar 1, 2013     vs. Islanders         7:00 PM     
Sat Mar 2, 2013     @ Maple Leafs         7:00 PM     
Mon Mar 4, 2013     vs. Lightning         7:00 PM     
Sat Mar 9, 2013     @ Bruins         1:00 PM     
Sun Mar 10, 2013     vs. Blackhawks        3:00 PM     
Wed Mar 13, 2013     @ Devils         7:30 PM     
Fri Mar 15, 2013     vs. Canadiens         7:00 PM     
Sun Mar 17, 2013     @ Panthers         6:00 PM     
Mon Mar 18, 2013     @ Lightning         7:30 PM     
Fri Mar 22, 2013     @ Hurricanes         7:00 PM     
Sun Mar 24, 2013     @ Penguins         7:30 PM     
Tue Mar 26, 2013     vs. Penguins         7:00 PM     
Thu Mar 28, 2013     vs. Islanders         7:00 PM     
Sat Mar 30, 2013     @ Bruins         1:00 PM     
Sun Mar 31, 2013     vs. Bruins         7:30 PM     

April 2013
Tue Apr 2, 2013     @ Canadiens         7:30 PM     
Thu Apr 4, 2013     @ Senators         7:30 PM     
Sat Apr 6, 2013     @ Jets             7:00
PM     
Tue Apr 9, 2013     vs. Penguins         7:00 PM     
Thu Apr 11, 2013     vs. Senators         7:00 PM     
Sat Apr 13, 2013     vs. Rangers         3:00 PM

Union-Crew 5 things: Still in good position, Jim Curtin's club looks to rebound

Union-Crew 5 things: Still in good position, Jim Curtin's club looks to rebound

Union at Crew
7:30 p.m. on TCN

Despite being dominated by Toronto FC on Saturday, the Union (9-9-7) managed to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, thanks to a handful of fortunate results around the league. But if the club wants to better its odds for the postseason, it needs to take care of business at Mapfre Stadium on Wednesday night against the Columbus Crew (4-8-11).

Here are five things to know for the matchup:

1. Playoff push
It hasn’t been a convincing few weeks for the Union. Although the club still sits fourth in the Eastern Conference despite one win in its last six games, it needs points to stay afloat. That quest begins on Wednesday against the Crew.

“The focus is getting points,” Union defender Richie Marquez said. “For us, home or away, we need three points because we need to solidify that playoff spot.”

As of now the Union are in snug playoff position with 34 points — one ahead of the Montreal Impact and six in front of D.C. United and Orlando City for the sixth and final playoff spot. On the plus side, the club is one point behind the New York Red Bulls with a game in hand.

“It’s a push to get into the playoffs and try to see how high we can end up in the table,” Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said. “It’s important we don’t look too much at the standings because anything can happen in this league. It’s all really tight. It’s important we go to Columbus with the right mentality and come back to Philly with three points.”

2. Coming off a loss
Speaking of the playoff push, the Union’s dream of being a top-two seed in the East took a major hit on Saturday in a 3-1 bashing by Toronto FC. The loss put Toronto up six and New York City FC up seven on the Union. 

Worst of all, it crushed all Union momentum coming out of a 4-0 win over the New England Revolution a week prior. Still, the club maintains its confidence heading into Wednesday.

“I feel good about this team and the players we have,” Bedoya said. “The goals we gave up were too easy. We have talent on this team, but there’s little things we have to fix. Once we get those right, we’ll be tough to break down.” 

As Jim Curtin explained, the short turnaround from Saturday actually works in the Union’s favor. 

“We were smart with how we managed the past two days in terms of getting the guys massages, taking care of their bodies, eating right and getting enough sleep,” he said. “They’ll be ready to go, they’re itching to get the bad taste out of their mouth after the Toronto game.”

3. Win-starved Crew
With the help of Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain, the Crew took down the floundering Revolution over the weekend. But that’s nothing to celebrate over. It was just the club’s fourth win of the season and second since May 28. 

The Crew are currently closer to having the lowest point total in MLS than a playoff spot.

“It’s been tough,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It’s a team that I believe in deeply but it’s natural that confidence dips when you don’t get the results. It’s about believing in our playing style and fine-tuning things, approving in some areas. I think we did that in the last game.” 

Though the Crew attempt to climb out of the basement on Wednesday, they know what they are up against. The Union took the first season meeting against the Crew, 2-1, and the second, 3-2. 

“They added Bedoya, who is a quality player,” Berhalter said. “Other than that, it’s similar to what they’ve been doing all year with [C.J.] Sapong and talented players behind him. Bedoya makes a good difference there, but they are a solid group and they’ll play with intensity. From our side, we’ll have to be smart how we approach the game.”

4. Keep an eye on ...
Union: Facing the Crew twice this season, the Union have five goals. Chris Pontius has three of them. The Union forward scored the brace on March 12, then buried another on June 1. 

Crew: MLS rookie Ola Kamara leads the Crew with 10 goals, including one against the Union on June 1. Since May 28, the forward has 10 goals and one assist in 12 games.

5. This and that
• Facing the Crew has always been tough for the Union. Including two wins this season, the Union are 6-10-1 against the Crew all-time.

• The Union have only suffered back-to-back losses twice this season, and both times it happened in the club’s last 10 games.

• Of Kamara’s 10 goals this season, six have come at home. 

• The first-ever meeting between the Union and Crew happened on Aug. 5, 2010, and was a 2-1 loss for the Union. Sebastien Le Toux scored a penalty kick but Steven Lenhart buried the brace.

How Jim Schwartz changed Stephen Tulloch's career

How Jim Schwartz changed Stephen Tulloch's career

Stephen Tulloch hasn’t just had a successful NFL career under Jim Schwartz. He’s had a successful career because of Jim Schwartz.

“I have a lot of love and respect for Coach Schwartz,” Tulloch said following his first practice with the Eagles (see story).

On Tuesday, the Eagles’ newest linebacker credited Schwartz for the Titans’ drafting him with the 116th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. He said Schwartz pushed for him, “when nobody else really wanted to go after” him.

“I’ll leave you with this story,” Tulloch began.

“So in 2006, I go to the NFL combine. I measure in at 5-10 and some change, whatever I was. It was the second day of the draft and [the Titans] were about to draft a guy from another school, so Coach Schwartz goes into [Jeff] Fisher’s office and makes a little tape of my highlights from college, and (former Titans linebackers coach) Dave McGinnis at the time. He changed Coach Fisher’s mind and Floyd Reese at the time was the general manager. I was the 116th pick in the [2006] draft. That was it. I came to Tennessee and the rest was history.”

So, who was the player the Titans almost drafted?

“I’m not gonna put it out there,” he said. “It was another guy and I’m fortunate enough to get drafted and still be here in the league.”

The decision worked out well for the Titans. Eventually, Tulloch became a starter and played five total years in Tennessee before moving on to Detroit. 

As for the other linebackers in the 2006 draft, well, Tulloch was one of 15 linebackers taken in the fourth round or later in 2006. To date, Tulloch has started 111 games. The other 14 have started a combined 138.

The other two linebackers taken in the fourth round in 2006 were Leon Williams to the Browns and Jamar Williams to the Bears. Leon Williams (pick No. 110) last played in 2012 and started just 12 NFL games, while Jamar Williams (pick No. 120) played five years and has just three career starts to his name.

Tulloch is still going strong. And he owes a lot to Jim Schwartz.

“I always thank him for the opportunity I had in Tennessee,” Tulloch said.

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — On the whole, the Phillies have made steady progress in their rebuild this season.

Cameron Rupp has improved. Maikel Franco has had a nice year. Odubel Herrera, even with his recent inconsistency, has had more ups than downs. Cesar Hernandez has been on a good roll. Freddy Galvis has 36 extra-base hits, and Tommy Joseph has opened eyes with his power. In the bullpen, Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos have shown that they just might be future studs.
 
For a good chunk of the season, the young starting pitching has shown promise, as well.
 
But lately, that corner of the team has taken some hits. Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin were both ruled out for the remainder of the season last week with elbow and knee injuries, respectively, and hard-throwing Vince Velasquez has been tagged for 19 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
 
Jake Thompson’s first four major-league starts haven’t exactly inspired confidence, either. The 22-year-old right-hander was hit hard in a 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). He gave up eight hits, including five for extra bases, and seven runs as his ERA swelled to 9.78. Only Mike Maddux (9.98) in 1986 had a higher ERA for the Phillies in his first four big-league starts.
 
“I’m not used to this,” Thompson said after the defeat. “I feel certain that I’m a lot better than my performance has indicated.”
 
Few pitchers come to the big leagues and dazzle right away. There is a learning curve and occasionally growing pains. But no one expected Thompson to have this much trouble out of the chute, not after what he did in his final 11 starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
 
Thompson went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
In four starts with the big club, he has given up 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has walked 13 and struck out 13.
 
He was advertised as a control and command pitcher. He has yet to show that in the majors.
 
“A lot of it has to do with his age and, I think, the fact he’s in the big leagues for the first time trying to make a good impression,” manager Peter Mackanin said. “He probably feels like he needs to make perfect pitches every time. All he’s got to do is keep the ball down. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He relies on command and control and he hasn’t shown that. I attribute a lot of that to his youth and inexperience.”
 
So does Rupp, the catcher.
 
“How many guys do you see come to the big leagues at 22 years old and just flat out dominate every time they go out?” Rupp said. “Not very many. He's young. It was his first time in Triple A this year and he pitched really well and now he's got a chance in the big leagues. I'm sure he feels like there's pressure. When you come up and you pitch so well all year and then you finally get your opportunity, you want to impress. It puts a lot on you. And as a kid, you've got to be able to control it and it's tough. It's hard.

“Nobody wants to see anybody fail. It's hard to go through. It's something that's going to make him better when he does finally figure it out."
 
Two of the walks Thompson gave up Tuesday night became runs. He gave up back-to-back homers to Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau in the fifth inning as the White Sox turned it into a rout.
 
“Just too many pitches up in the strike zone,” Mackanin said. “Everything he threw was thigh high, waist high. He couldn’t get the ball down. It’s as simple as that.”
 
Thompson concurred with his manager.
 
“The issue is pretty evident,” he said. “I'm not throwing strikes and when I am throwing strikes, they're not good strikes. It’s a frustrating thing because it's a relatively easy thing to do. I don't really have the answer right now to fix it.”
 
The game moves fast at the big-league level and confidence can become bruised quickly. Thompson said his confidence was unshaken. Still, Phillies officials have to be careful that this difficult baptism to the majors does not snowball and become something that adversely impacts Thompson's growth.
 
“It’s something that you’re concerned about and I’m concerned about,” Mackanin said.
 
Concerned enough that Thompson might not make his next start?
 
Mackanin said he expected Thompson to stay in the rotation, but added that he would speak with general manager Matt Klentak on the topic.
 
“I don’t want to see him keep getting beat up and keep struggling like this,” Mackanin said. “We’ll talk about it and see what Matt wants to do.”