Flyers - Leafs: Don't go to a shootout.

Flyers - Leafs: Don't go to a shootout.

Tonight's Flyers-Leafs guest gamer is by Flyers Goal Scored By:

All is not well in the land of Crab Fries. A team that started the season with very consistent efforts look to be mired in a 2012 slump. Ever since the new year baby slewfooted Father Time, it's been slow goings for your Flyers. Good games followed by bad games that begot good games. This week the see-saw has been stuck in the "derp" position, seeing Philly lose three games in a row for the first time all season. Tonight a familiar foe is in town to hopefully kickstart the Flyers winning ways and carry them into yet another important weekend.

Flyers Leafs games are always good drinking weather.

Two fast, young teams that'll have the action going back and forth all night. Talented scorers, brain farts and animosity are usually the 3 stars of these tilts. Play will get chippy early on, that will hopefully keep the Flyers intensity level high for the full sixty.  The last time these two teams played, Chris Pronger was lost due to an inadvertent stick to the eye by the Leafs Mikhail Grabovski. This past Wednesday, injured captain Chris Pronger met with his team for the first time since Christmas.  Coincidence or not, seeing the Prongs will hopefully pump the Flyers tires a bit.  Either way, Brian Burke should feel so sorry about what happened to Pronger, he should just send Luke Schenn to Philly for a bucket of soft pretzels from Woodhaven Road.

Toronto has a stud line that brings together the Uncle Fester of American hockey with ex-Flyer Joffrey "don't call me a Lannister" Lupul.  Kessel and Lupul rank number 4 and 6 respectively in terms of scoring this year.   Kessel is a big time threat on the rush and the Flyers will need a strong back check to neutralize Phil's skills.    

One interesting subplot to this game, and to every game against the Leafs this year, is the brothers Schenn battling each other.  Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn has struggled a bit this year, but is still a contributor to the Leaves blueline.  There have been rumors of Burke shopping Schenn around at the deadline, and if the price is right, he'd be a nice 4th or 5th defenceman for the Flyers.  Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn is one of a few bright spots so far in 2012.  Dude's playing like a man and has gelled quickly with Wayne Simmonds on the second line. He was arguably the most dominant Flyer against both the Devils and Rangers this past weekend. Schenn has been very physical on the forecheck which could pay off well tonight.  In regards to Luke Schenn, one thing is for sure: don't expect him to get any….brotherly love tonight! *drops microphone*

Your goalie matchup is Bobrovsky vs. James "Optimus Reim" Reimer. Bryz is sick, and If he can't backup The Bobcat, look for Phantoms goalie Jason Bacashascashihua(spellcheck?) to ride the pine.  Reimer is legit, but beatable.  He can make some miraculous saves, but often gets hung out to dry by his defense.  

Your marquee fight of the night is Toronto's Mike Brown vs. The Double Burrito Tito Sestito.  Brown can toss 'em, but usually sticks to smaller fighters like Zenon Konopka or Dan Carcillo. Along with Sestito, we may see some Simmonds or Hartnell man dances due to the physicality that tonight promises.

The best I've seen this Flyers club recently, and perhaps all season, was in their 6-5 OT loss to the Bruins in late January.  In that game, the Flyers were relentless on their forecheck and converted their power play opportunities. The loss didn't sting as much, because the effort was so noticeable.  For the young Flyers to play more consistently,  they have to be able to match other teams intensity.  They were able to come out against Boston and dictate the pace, something they must start doing more often.  It's time to circle the wagons and grind out two points.  First round is on FGSB, giddyup. Let's Go Flyers.

No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?


No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?

No. 16 Villanova (5-2, 3-1) vs. No. 23 Albany (4-2, 1-2)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Fresh off a rare loss, Villanova looks to get back on track during its homecoming game against another nationally ranked foe. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Villanova
The Wildcats saw their five-game winning streak snapped in resounding fashion as they were shut out for the first time since 2004 in a 23-0 loss to Richmond. Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk left the game in the second quarter with an injury, a big reason why the Wildcats finished with just 222 yards of total offense. But despite the final score, Villanova’s defense played well again with Austin Calitro and Rob Rolle each hitting double digits in tackles. The unit is ranked fifth in the FCS in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and sixth in total defense (237.9 yards per game) and has scored four defensive touchdowns.

Scouting Albany
After winning their first four games, the Great Danes lost their next two, a 36-30 triple-overtime heartbreaker to Richmond followed by a 20-16 setback to Maine. Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman led Albany with 187 passing yards and 75 rushing yards. But for the season, their offensive strength has been with sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who’s second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 105 yards per game. Albany’s defense is only behind Villanova in points allowed per game (19.3) in the CAA, but interestingly enough is last in total defense (420.2 yards per game). The Great Danes lead the league in turnover margin (plus-15), led by linebacker Michael Nicastro and safety Mason Gray with three interceptions apiece.

Series history
Villanova has only played Albany twice, beating the Great Danes, 48-31, in 2014 and steamrolling it, 37-0, last season. 

Storyline to watch
The big question going in is whether Bednarczyk will play with Villanova saying it will be a game-time decision after the QB suffered a concussion last week. If he can’t go, Adeyemi DaSilva will get the start in his place after replacing him in the second quarter vs. Richmond. DaSilva is a promising player but Bednarczyk was coming into his own this season and his absence would naturally be a difficult one. Of course, the Wildcats have been through this before with Bednarczyk taking over as the starter last season when star John Robertson went down with an injury of his own.

What’s at stake?
Villanova still has a chance to win the CAA but probably can’t afford a second loss in the league. And of course, there’s nothing better than winning in front of a homecoming crowd.

A lot depends on whether Bednarczyk can play … but even if he doesn’t, the Wildcats’ dominant defense may be enough to get the job done. 

Villanova 20, Albany 17

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."