Searching for That Elusive Third Consecutive Win, Flyers Back in Action against Rangers

Searching for That Elusive Third Consecutive Win, Flyers Back in Action against Rangers

The Flyers have a chance to do something on Tuesday night
that they haven’t yet in 2013. No, I don’t mean eclipse .500, although yeah,
that too. With a win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Flyers
could finally win their third game in a row for the first time this season.

As the debate swirls over whether or not the Flyers are a legitimate
contender for the Stanley Cup or even a playoff team, head coach Peter
Laviolette and many of his players have talked a lot about the need to “string
wins together.” Their inability to do so is a big reason why they’ve been
spinning their wheels in the early potion of their schedule.

Then again, while we’ve mentioned it about one hundred times
already, the Flyers had a built-in excuse during the early stages of the season.
It’s hard to expect any team to play to their highest level during a stretch of
19 games in 34 days.

Now they head up to New York fresh and in relatively good
health, coming off of one game in five days. The only excuse not to start stringing
together wins is they simply aren’t good enough – not what anybody will want to
hear as the Flyers simultaneously reach the season’s midway point.

Of course, the Rangers are no slouches either. They enter
this tilt as winners of two straight, just one point behind the Flyers for
third place in the division with three games in hand. The Rags have sort of flown
under the radar in the always-crowded Atlantic, at least compared to the lofty
Stanley Cup predictions some held for them entering the year. They’re certainly
in the mix.

Not surprising, New York is one of the better defensive
teams in the NHL with Henrik Lundqvist in net. While his numbers are down slightly
compared to previous seasons, the Rangers are ranked ninth in goals against per
game (2.45).

The defensive numbers have helped carry the club’s skaters, whose
own offensive output surprisingly ranks 23rd (2.45). To make matters
worse they’ll be without Brad Richards, who was the victim of a dangerous hit at
the hands of Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta on Sunday. Richards is third on the squad
with 13 points.

So far the season series is split at two apiece. The Flyers
finally got a big monkey off their backs by getting their first W over the Rags
in nine tries back in January. New York turned around and took their two points
back five days later. Both results were 2-1 finals, so it’s been a low-scoring
series – although the Flyers’ offense has turned it around quite a bit since
then.

In order to turn it around, Philadelphia will have to
overcome the Rangers’ stinginess at home along with their own poor road record.
The orange sweaters are 4-8 outside their own building, while New York is 8-4-1
at the Garden.

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College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

Villanova headlined Philly college basketball action today with a 78-68 win over Providence, led by Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins (see full recap). The win is dampened with the news that Phil Booth is increasingly unlikely to return this season as he still deals with knee discomfort (see story).

Here's a snapshot from the rest of area hoops today.

Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The way it played this week, No. 21 Purdue is acting like a team that is determined to be in the race for the Big Ten championship all the way to the end of the regular season.

Caleb Swanigan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Purdue built an 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-52 victory over Penn State on Saturday, four days after shooting 60.4 percent in a 91-68 victory against Illinois.

Against Penn State, the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2) got 13 points from freshman guard Carsen Edwards and 10 each from Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards.

"I would just say we were coming out ready to play," said Vince Edwards, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Our goal is to win the Big Ten. Our focus is to take care of business."

Josh Reaves led Penn State (11-9, 3-4) with 12 points. The Nittany Lions made only 20 of 64 field goal attempts (31.3 percent) and were outrebounded 39-30. Purdue shot 56.6 percent (30 of 53) (see full recap).

Drexel drops road game at CAA-leading UNC Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Devontae Cacok scored 12 points and set a Colonial Athletic Association record with 24 rebounds, helping UNC Wilmington stay perfect in conference with an 87-74 win over Drexel on Saturday.

Cacok, whose previous career-high rebounding was 16, broke the school record (21) and conference record (22) late in the second half as the Seahawks cruised to their ninth straight home win, tying the best mark in program history.

UNC Wilmington (19-2, 8-0) led 53-51 with 15:01 left before four players combined to rattle off 12 straight points. Cacok capped the run with one of his 11 offensive rebounds and a dunk to give the Seahawks a 65-51 lead with 11:23 remaining.

UNC Wilmington is off to its best start ever and has won 24 of its last 26 conference games, including 12 straight. Chris Flemmings led the Seahawks with 17 points.

Sammy Mojica had 15 points and Rodney Williams added 14 for Drexel (7-13, 1-6), which has lost seven of eight (see full recap).

Delaware swept in season series with Towson
NEWARK, Del. -- Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto pulled down a dozen boards as Towson won its fourth straight and a season sweep of Delaware with a 75-58 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers are fresh off a win over Hofstra that saw them erase a 16-point first-half deficit, and momentum carried over when they built a 17-point lead at halftime.

Alex Thomas and John Davis added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but Towson saw its streak of three-straight games shooting better than 50 percent end. The Tigers hit 26 of 55 shots from the floor (47.3 percent), including 6 of 15 from deep.

Delaware snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday with a win over Northeastern. Ryan Daly scored 21 points for Delaware and became the first freshman in school history to post six 20-plus efforts in a season. He reached double-digits for the 12th time in 13 games (see full recap).