The Flyers have been pretty awful, but least the goaltending isn't the problem

The Flyers have been pretty awful, but least the goaltending isn't the problem

Ed note: Greg Paone is a decent guy and may or may not be writing about some Flyers stuff here moving forward. Greg writes ...

During my near quarter-century as a native Philadelphian, I’ve pretty much nailed these few things down as my birthrights:  the term “yous” is proper English, you’re not doing it right if you’re not jaywalking, the Roxborough Roll/South Philly Slide is a perfectly legal form of stopping at a stop sign, and it’s always the goaltender’s fault when things go south for the Flyers.

While the first three things on that list will always be true -- at least in my book -- the last one hasn't been for the Flyers this season. Not thus far.

The Flyers’ 1-7 start isn’t on the shoulders of goaltender Steve Mason. In fact, the story is actually quite the opposite.

Mason has been superb in the six games he’s started this season. The Oakville, Ontario native is sporting a solid .923 save percentage and an excellent 2.37 goals-against average. He’s given up just 14 goals on 183 shots against in his six starts, yet his record stands at 1-5.

Ilya Bryzgalov is smiling approvingly from somewhere on the Las Vegas Strip.

But think about Mason’s numbers this season for a second.

The guy is basically giving up just two goals a game. In today’s offense-friendly NHL, two goals against per game should mean more than one win.

But that’s how unfathomably bad the Flyers' offense, which has scored a league-low 11 goals so far, has been through eight games.

There’s also the whole defensive-breakdown-in-front-of-the-net thing where the opponent is left wide open in front of the Flyers’ net, but we’ve grown accustomed to that over the past few seasons. That’s nothing new.

It’s a shame because Mason’s return to his 2008-2009 rookie-of-the-year form has been one of the only fun things to watch with the Flyers this season. (It might be the only.) Mason has kept the Flyers in games they’ve had no business being in.

The most recent example was this past Thursday against the visiting Penguins.

At one point late in the second period, the Flyers were being outshot, 29-10, but trailed just 2-0 and were in the game because Mason was standing on his head. With the defense the Flyers were playing, it’s totally plausible the Penguins could have been up 7-0 instead.

Mason should be used to that predicament by now, though.

What do you know? The year the Flyers may finally have a legitimate goalie, they can’t shoot the puck into the ocean.

The hockey gods are so cruel.

Temple at No. 19 Navy: Owls go for first AAC title

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Temple at No. 19 Navy: Owls go for first AAC title

Temple (9-3) at No. 19 Navy (9-2)
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Saturday, noon, ABC

It would have been hard to picture Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship game after the Owls’ first game of the season, a 28-13 loss to Army.

But that’s exactly where they are three months later, as Temple will take on No. 19 Navy in the conference championship game Saturday.

The Owls and Midshipmen have both been handling opponents as of late. Temple’s won its last four games by at least three touchdowns, while Navy has outscored opponents 141-62 in its past two games.

Let’s take a look at how one of the country’s top offenses and one of the country’s top defenses match up.

Scouting Temple
The Owls' defense seems to get better every week. Temple ranks No. 3 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense and No. 10 in scoring defense. The only two teams that rank higher than the Owls in both categories are Alabama and Michigan.

Teams haven’t scored more than 13 points against the Owls in their last four games, and Temple is outscoring opponents 123-23 during that stretch.

Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Haason Reddick was named a first team all-conference selection earlier this week. He leads the FBS in tackles for loss. Redshirt-senior Praise Martin-Oguike is coming off one of his best games of the season last week against East Carolina, in which he had two sacks, including a forced fumble. He has seven sacks this season.

On offense, Temple’s goal this week will be to sustain drives and keep Navy’s offense off the field. The Owls are currently No. 5 in the FBS in time of possession, holding the ball for more than 34 minutes per game.

Earlier in the week, coach Matt Rhule said senior quarterback Phillip Walker was questionable for Saturday’s game. Walker will likely play, but the Owls might be without one of their top offensive weapons.

Rhule said sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead is doubtful. Armstead has 842 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

Scouting Navy
The Midshipmen have one of the simplest — yet at that same time one of the best — offenses in the country. Navy ranks No. 2 in rushing yards at 342 yards per game.

Quarterback Will Worth runs the triple option for Navy. He has 2,544 total yards of offense and 33 total touchdowns. He’s passed for 1,363 yards and rushed for 1,181 more.  Worth has a touchdown in 11 straight games.

Worth has attempted 258 rushes compared to 115 passing attempts. Four other Navy players have at least 40 rushing attempts this season.

Senior wide receiver Jamir Tillman is the Midshipmen’s best receiving threat. The 6-foot-4 wideout has 32 catches for 533 yards and two touchdowns.

Navy’s defense hasn’t been quite as elite as its offense. The Midshipmen have allowed 30 or more points in four of their last five games.

The Midshipmen are allowing 265 passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged 313 yards and three touchdowns in their last three contests.

Storyline to watch: Can Temple find a way to stop the triple option?
The last time these two teams played was in 2014, when Navy ran for 487 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-24 win against the Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple’s most recent matchup against the triple option was when it lost to Army in its season opener. The Black Knights ran for 329 yards and four touchdowns. With only a week to prepare, Temple will have to find a way to cure its option woes if it wants a chance to win Saturday.

What’s at stake?
The Owls have only won one other conference championship in program history, when they won the Mid-Atlantic Conference in 1967. A win would also give Temple its third 10-win season in program history. If Western Michigan loses Friday night, Temple also puts itself in contention for a spot in the Cotton Bowl with a win.

Prediction
Temple has to figure out this option thing at some point, right? The Owls’ ability to convert on third down and sustain long drives will help slow Navy's offense. This one will most likely come down to who has the ball last, but the Owls are a little bit more well-rounded, so they get the edge. Temple 31, Navy 28