Under new PWNERSHIP... FlyersPens Preview

Under new PWNERSHIP... FlyersPens Preview

He has twenty goals and twenty six assists in twenty six regular season games against the Flyers.  His team has eliminated Philadelphia from the post season two years in a row.  He has successfully surpassed Martin Brodeur as one of the most hated and feared Flyers' opponents of all time.  I'm going to ask you a very simple question... and I'll give you a hint.  The answer is not Ed Snider.  Who pwns the Philadelphia Flyers?

I've written before about our hatred for Sidney Crosby.  This was long before I watched his performance against the Flyers in the opening round last year and continued to watch him on the way to the Cup.  During said elimination, I wrote about the quickly widening gap between our interstate franchises.  Crosby and Malkin have reached an all new level in their game.  The team they play for followed suit last summer and now they have their names permanently etched on Lord Stanley's Cup.  Before Mike Richards.  Before Jeff Carter.  Before any of the Philadelphia Flyers that have taken to the ice post-1975. 

It was a sickening feeling, watching the Penguins win last year, but not in a "he doesn't deserve this" sort of way.  Crosby did things to our team in that opening round that I still can't believe.  In the following games against opponents like the Caps and the Hurricanes, his tenacity around the net was unmatched.  It seemed that anytime another player took their game to a new level... he or Malkin ramped their game up just one notch higher.'

In evaluation of the matchup for tonight's game, I came to the conclusion that Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will never be as talented as Sid the Kid.  He's all world/all universe.  They will also never win the cup BEFORE Crosby or Malkin.  The time for that oppurtunity has passed.  What they can do, is try to outwork the dynamic duo from Western Pa for the rest of their careers and hope that a solid team effort added to whatever greatness they can achieve on a personal basis will be enough to get them a Cup.  And in doing that, keep it from 87 and 71 till they're eventually split up or traded out of the East.

The trade for Chris Pronger was a blatant move to close that widening gap between our two Pa franchises.  Holmgren hopes that Pronger/Carle and Timonen/Coburn can negate the Crosby/Malkin effect.  Tonight is our first look at this defensive experiment.  So the mission, if the Flyers' young (and old) leaders choose to accept it... is to shut down the Pens and take game 1 in the season series.  Baby steps... if you will, to reclaiming the pwnership of this franchise. 

Injuries: Betts is out with a dislocated shoulder, one that's keeping him from raising his arm to get an MRI.  Homer says one month... sounds pretty bad.  JVR might miss this first  matchup against the Pens for precautionary reasons.  It wasn't a concussion and he passed all his tests, but time and time again "head injuries" prove to be as mysterious and unpredictable as how Great White Sharks reproduce.  Look for an injection of tough in the lineup courtesy of Asham, Cote and Tollefson.  I'm expecting a 30% increase in penalties taken, which after losing your top PK man, isn't good.

Sergei Gonchar played just 25 regular season games and was banged up against the Caps in the post season last year.  He's back, and healthy and of major concern to the Flyers.  The Pens lost Scuderi and Gill to higher bidders in the off season.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.