Morning Extras: Lidge, Westbrook and Potential Heart Attacks

Morning Extras: Lidge, Westbrook and Potential Heart Attacks


Let's make this quick. Which player almost gave you a heart attack this weekend? For me, it was Brad Lidge. But the Phils downed the Fish and the righty reliever saved his 40th game in as many tries. Some have been lights out. Some, like yesterday, have been....interesting. A win is a win and a save is a save. The Phillies exited a tough series with Florida in better shape than when they got there, and find themselves in first place by a game and a half over the Mets (and three up on the Brewers for the Wild card - you know, just in case) with six games to play. If anyone on this site starts with the Magic Number stuff I'm going to punch them in the throat.

Six games in seven days. Let's hope they win the next five, then we'll figure out the rest. How about that?

Some of you might be feeling constant palpitations because of the news out of Eagles camp regarding Brian Westbrook. Despite the big win over a good team, and the resurgence of the defense, the story after the game is 36. Westbrook rolled his ankle after leaping and slipping on an offensive lineman laying in his landing zone. He will undergo an MRI today. I wonder if it will be a Westbrook Open MRI. That machine is bad ass.

Eaglesville has some perspective. Not overstating things in the least. Nope. "LET'S STAY CALM PEOPLE! DON'T PANIC."

Looking at the bigger picture, the Birds can't afford to have Westbrook out for any extended period of time. Realistically, if they lost the All-Pro running back their chances of a deep playoff run would be nil. That goes for just about any team in the NFL -- if you lose your best player, your season is essentially over.


FOOTBALL LINKS:

• I love this story about Brian Dawkins just because the second line is, "All that was missing was the cape." Yet the headline writer gives us, "Brian Dawkins dons his cape." Hehe. Good story though.

• The League asks how much violence is the appeal to the NFL. David Aldridge gives his opinion on the matter. Gambling, violence and beer.

• Speaking of beer, Mike Golic's kid got arrested with a bunch of other Golden Domers. Golic mentioned it on his show, saying he's a good kid who made a mistake and "everything is going to be fine."

• Oh, and Lane Kiffin is going to get fired. Or he won't. But he will. Today. Or maybe not. Yes he will.


BASEBALL LINKS:

• David Murphy argues that Brad Lidge is the most valuable player on the Phillies this season. It's a good argument.

Yankee Stadium is no more. Think about this what you want. I guess it's a big deal. And yes, I cried a little when the Vet got knocked down.

• METSBLOG UPDATE: Panic has come to Flushing. Says local boy Scot Schoeneweis:

“There’s no explanation anymore. I just don’t know what to say…I just don’t know what to say."


RANDOM LINKS:

• USA! USA! USA! And when you have Boo Weekly, who needs Tiger Woods. Seriously, enough with the stares and the look-how-rich-I-am-and-how-hot-my-MILF-of-a-wife-is. We need more PONY RIDES DOWN THE FAIRWAY. (Yes, I'm a Phil guy, but today, I'm an America guy).

• I was rooting for Dexter, but Mad Men was a nice consolation as Best Drama. Tom Shales is one of the best TV critic in the country, and he has a rundown of the Emmys.

• Last, my Wegmans has a liquor license. And they aren't using it. Sonsabitches.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).