VY Tweaks a Hammy, Sunshine and Kafka Get Jacked Up, But Some Good Signs in Eagles Final Tuneup

VY Tweaks a Hammy, Sunshine and Kafka Get Jacked Up, But Some Good Signs in Eagles Final Tuneup

The Eagles left the Meadowlands with the all-important preseason win, dropping the Jets by a 24-14 count, and they got a good look at some of the guys who could play key roles later in the season. A few guys will be pretty sore today though, with last night's starter Vince Young coming up lame with a hamstring issue as he rolled out for a red zone strike.

VY was having a very good night until that point, throwing for 193 yards (15 for 23) and a TD pass to Chad Hall, generally looking pretty comfortable. On his final pass though, he pulled up without contact, wincing and grabbing his leg. After the game, he said he'd get an MRI when the team returns to Philly, but Andy Reid thinks he'll be ready to go for the season opener. It was encouraging to see VY with a smile on his face on the sideline not long after coming out, and after the game he said it felt pretty good. No word on whether he'll tweet the MRI for us.

Mike Kafka had a scary moment too, taking a nasty hit to the chest, and for a minute it looked like the Eagles might have to send emergency QB Jason Avant in. Kafka was able to resume play though.

Surprisingly, Riley Cooper was also OK after the hit you'll see in the video below.

Daaaaaammmnnn. Brodney Pool was flagged on the play, but didn't appear to deserve anything more than some helmet slaps by the other guys in his secondary. That's life in today's NFL, for better and worse.

Rookie running back Dion Lewis racked up 100 total yards (15 carries for 62 yards, 3 catches for 38 yards) and a touchdown, and generally looked great, with explosive speed and some slick moves. And he's third on the depth chart. Not bad for a team that relies heavily on the pass and probably always will.

Danny Watkins was the sole starter to see action in the game (*correction: Dixon played too), having requested to play to get some more snaps before the regular season (Jeff McLane says he was probably going to see time whether he asked or not). McLane also points out that Watkins still has some learning to do, starting off slow for the second straight game, which can be dangerous for the guy behind him. But in both contests, he got better in subsequent series, which is a good sign. Lockout, holdout, late to the game of football… He's also a rookie OL no matter how you slice it. There'll be some growing pains, but it's good to see progress in there too.

The rookie kicking tandem also had a pair of shaky moments, with Alex Henery missing one field goal and punter/holder Chas Henry bobbling a snap on another, then rolling out and throwing a pick, although the latter play was washed out with a Jets penalty. Henery did hit his three PATs and drill a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter to end the night on a better note though.

So that's it for the preseason. The Birds exit exhibition with a 3-1 record and, hopefully, no major injuries to key players. Along with the rest of the NFL, there will probably still be some rust when the take the field in week one, and there's still work to do in the areas we knew would be iffy, most notably the new-look OL and the linebackers.  

Reuben Frank has much more on the game, including what standout performances by Brian Rolle and Donald Lee mean for their chances to make the team as a big wave of cuts looms.

>>Young pulls hammy, Birds cap preseason with win [CSN]

Photo: Noah K. Murray, The Star-Ledger-US Presswire

Flyers-Penguins 5 things: Different teams meet outdoors at Heinz Field

Flyers-Penguins 5 things: Different teams meet outdoors at Heinz Field

Flyers (28-25-7) at Penguins (37-14-8)
8 p.m. on NBC, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

It’s time for some outdoor fun.

The anticipated Flyers-Penguins Stadium Series game has arrived, as the two rivals clash Saturday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Let’s get you ready for it all with five things to know.

1. Eye on the ice
The one caveat of playing ice hockey outdoors is, of course, the weather.

The forecast is calling for rain showers from morning until noon with temperatures in the low-to-mid 50s. The precipitation is expected to taper off and temperatures are expected to dip into the high-30s for puck drop.

The ice can still be playable with some rain. Both teams are expected to have their morning skates indoors. No matter what, the game ice will certainly be a bit different than playing in a concealed arena.

“I'm sure they will do the best they can to have it ready,” Michael Del Zotto said this week (see story). “Unless it is really cold, the ice is always going to be chippy playing outdoors.

“It doesn’t matter what the ice conditions are because both teams are playing with it. It’s not an advantage or disadvantage for either team. Both have to deal with it.”

Ultimately, players are ready for anything weather-wise -- with the wind being just as big of a concern as the ice (see story).

2. Two directions
The Flyers and Penguins are in contrasting spots.

Pittsburgh is built for another Cup run.

The Flyers are not yet. Instead, they are fighting simply for their postseason lives.

The orange and black have lost seven of their last 10 games. Since the 10-game winning streak, they are 9-15-4 with the NHL’s second-fewest points at 22.

When the Flyers won 10 straight, they had a plus-14 goal differential over that span. In the 28 games since, they have scored an NHL-low 48 markers and own a minus-36 goal differential.

So, like last season, the Flyers have a mighty mountain to climb for a playoff berth (see story). They are now five points back of the Islanders, who currently hold the second wild-card spot with 68 points. The Flyers, at 63 points, also trail the Bruins (68) and Panthers (66), while the Sabres (62) and Lighting (62) are right there in the mix.

Meanwhile, the defending champion Penguins are third in the NHL with 82 points and first with 3.47 goals per game, spearheaded by Sidney Crosby’s league-best 33 scores.

3. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Brayden Schenn is on a three-game goal streak and ranks No. 1 in hockey with 14 man-advantage tallies. Since Jan. 8, he is tied with Wayne Simmonds for the Flyers’ lead in goals at eight. He also owns eight goals and eight assists in 23 career games against Pittsburgh.

Penguins: Right winger Patric Hornqvist, who plays alongside Crosby, was super active in the first meeting with the Flyers, recording two assists, five shots on goal, three hits and three blocked shots. The 30-year-old has 17 goals, 18 assists and a plus-19 rating, while the Penguins are 12-3-0 when he scores a goal.

4. This and that
• Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth is making his sixth straight start and ninth in the last 10 games. He is 2-2-2 with a 2.23 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and two shutouts in seven lifetime matchups with Pittsburgh.

• Penguins goalie Matt Murray is 5-1-2 in his last eight games with a .940 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average. In two career games (one start) against the Flyers, the 22-year-old is 1-0-0 and has stopped 39 of 41 shots faced.

• Pittsburgh has won four of the last five meetings with the Flyers. This is Game 2 of the four-game regular-season series between the teams. The Penguins won the first matchup, 5-4, on Oct. 29 at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Penguins defensemen Justin Schultz (upper body) and Kris Letang (upper body) will be game-time decisions. Schultz is a team-best plus-31 on the season, while Letang is a two-time All-Star.

• Jakub Voracek has 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 29 career games against Pittsburgh.

5. The rivalry
Relive some great moments from the Flyers-Penguins rivalry with these terrific pieces from CSN’s Orange Line.

Danny Briere recalls brawl in Pittsburgh

The origin of Philly’s hatred for Crosby

Reliving Flyers’ five-overtime playoff win

Mario Lemieux returns to form in first game back

Top Flyers-Penguins moments

Another wild-card run? Flyers need it to start outdoors

Another wild-card run? Flyers need it to start outdoors

PITTSBURGH -- At this point, the Flyers are sick of talking about Saturday night's Stadium Series outdoor game against the Penguins at Heinz Field.

They just want to get it on and get it over with. Too much buildup.

“Yeah, kind of,” Simmonds said Friday. “For us, this is an extremely important game. We’ve got to get all the points we can possibly get going down the stretch if we want to make the playoffs.

“Obviously, it’s going to be an exciting time. A lot of guys have families here. But we have to stay focused on the goal.”

To say the Flyers need points right now is a huge understatement. They are five points behind the New York Islanders for the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot.

That’s the farthest they have been behind since occupying the wild card on Dec. 4. When the Flyers won their 10th consecutive game Dec. 14, they were 14 points ahead of the Islanders.

That’s a 19-point swing in the standings since then.

“So, we just have to find a way to get two points and get some wins in a row here,” Jakub Voracek said. “Every game against Pittsburgh is special. Playing an outdoor game -- I don't know how many people are going to be here -- but it's going to be a great experience.

“For us, every game is a huge game. So, if you play Pittsburgh or Colorado, it doesn't matter. You have to get two points.”

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Friday night he believes his team can still make a playoff run and salvage a wild card.

The thing is, when the Flyers made their second-half push last season, it actually began in mid-February -- earlier than now.

A couple players got hot, as did Michal Neuvirth and then Steve Mason, and you could see momentum building in the team over weeks.

That hasn’t been the case here. It’s almost March and the Flyers are floundering, no one is scoring and they are losing games despite playing pretty good hockey with no answer on how to turn things around without a major scoring increase across the board.

“It's a different season,” Voracek said of the comparison. “Different teams. You could use it as an advantage. … We have to play our hockey. The last two games, we went 1-1, but we played pretty good. We have to be ready [Saturday].”

Hextall said what happens this weekend and Tuesday against Colorado will have a trickle-down effect on what he does Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline (see story).

“We’ve played well enough at times this year that we can mount a run,” Hextall said. “I have no doubt in my mind. We’ve been playing pretty good the last eight, nine games. Except for the Edmonton game.

“But we haven’t gotten results. We need to get results. It’s not about moral victories or playing good against Washington. That’s fine and dandy, but not good enough. We have to win games.”

It starts tonight.