Mirror Images: Flyers Face Lightning, Themselves

Mirror Images: Flyers Face Lightning, Themselves

What a difference six weeks can make. When the Flyers last
encountered the Tampa Bay Lightning on February 5, they were one of the most
dangerous teams in the NHL, averaging nearly five goals per game en route to a
6-2 start. But while the Bolts are still second in the league in scoring, those
numbers have sagged quite a bit – as has their record along with it.

Tampa Bay is in the same boat as Philadelphia now. Since the
Flyers exacted some revenge in a 2-1 victory, the Lightning have gone 6-13-1, putting
them right about even with each other in the playoff race – which is to say toward
the rear of the pack. The similarities run much deeper than in the standings
though. Both squads are laden with talent up front, but are defensively-challenged
and face difficult questions in net.

They sound like clones in certain respects, only the
Lightning seem even more prone to wildly uneven performances from night to
night if that’s possible. They have the ability to hang a five-spot on
any given opponent, but too often the offensive output is merely ordinary,
lighting the lamp 2.65 times per tilt over their last 20. That simply isn’t
good enough in their current situation.

Still, it’s almost impossible to look at the two clubs and
not draw any comparisons. Perhaps the biggest difference is Tampa appears to be
in more of a state of freefall, whereas the Flyers just can’t stop spinning
their wheels whenever they get set to take off. Philly hasn’t won three consecutive
games at any point this season, but they haven’t lost more than that many in a
row, either.

The Lightning have experienced a total reversal of fortune.
The Flyers have never really budged at all.

Why such inconsistency? The Flyers have their share of flaws,
yet in a gritty 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday, they proved
how tough they are to beat when they choose to tighten up at their own end of
the ice, not to mention how the goaltender suddenly develops confidence when
odd-man rushes are no longer constantly bearing down on him.

General manager Paul Holmgren heaped the lion’s share of the
blame for the franchise’s struggles this season on the players last week.
Basically he challenged every man in that locker room to look in the mirror and
accept responsibility for where the team is at. So far they’ve responded, but
we’ve seen them bounce back before only to flat-line once again. Actually, we’ve
seen that on numerous occasions already.

The Flyers will be skating against the Lightning tonight,
but the question is whether the biggest roadblock standing in the path to the
postseason truly is their own mindset. The answer, it seems, varies from one game to the next.

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Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

USA Today Images

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

This is starting to become a trend. One Temple hopes to continue to prove wrong.

For the third straight year, Temple was chosen to finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll. The poll, which was released on Monday, is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Also selected to finish sixth last season, the Owls posted a 21-12 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the AAC to reach the NCAA Tournament. In 2014-15, TU tied for third in the AAC with a 13-5 record and was one of the last teams left out of the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was tabbed to win the American title in the poll, just ahead of UConn.

Temple, who returns three starters from last season's team, opens the 2016-17 campaign against city rival La Salle at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 11.