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Flyers late comeback pushes them past Blues

March 06, 2015 By: Category: NHL, Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers entered Thursday’s game with their playoff hopes hanging on by a thread. A third period that saw three straight Flyers goals pushed them past the Blues and gave them the 3-1 victory. The win puts the Flyers just four points back of Boston, who lost to the Calgary Flames in a shootout.

The Flyers had a few chances in the first period to open up the scoring. Wayne Simmonds would fire wide on a 2-on-1. R.J. Umberger also had a chance of his own as he rang one off the post.

It would be the Blues who would get things started in the first period. A cross-ice pass off the stick of Mark Streit, intended for Claude Giroux, was intercepted by Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko made a move into the offensive zone and sent a pass over to Jaden Schwartz at the left circle. Schwartz fired a wrist shot past goaltender Steve Mason to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

The Flyers generated chances for the rest of the period and the second as well, but goaltender Brian Elliot stood tall. The teams would enter the third period with the Blues up 1-0. Entering the final frame, St. Louis was 25-1-2 when leading after two periods. That would all change as the Flyers would get three consecutive goals in the final frame to get the win.

Michael Del Zotto would get things started for the Flyers. Matt Read would win a battle for the puck deep in the offensive zone. He would then get the puck over to Del Zotto. Del Zotto took a step to his right before sending a slap shot that deflected off a defender and past goaltender Brian Elliot to tie the game at 1-1.

Wayne Simmonds would get the game winner for the Flyers a little less than two minutes later. Read would tip the puck past defensemen Alex Pietrangelo at center ice and skate it into the left side of the offensive zone. Read delayed a little bit as Mark Streit entered the zone off a line change. Streit took the pass from Read and sent it on net. Simmonds deflected the shot, beating Elliot to put the Flyers ahead for good.

“Reader made a great delay play and obviously Streiter jumped up in the rush. I just went to the front of the net. Nothing set up, Streiter took a shot towards the net and I just redirected it in. It was a great play all around,” Simmonds said in an interview.

Michael Raffl would ice the game with the empty-netter with about a minute to play in the third. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare cleared the puck out of the Flyers zone and found Raffl. Raffl fired the puck from the red line and into the empty net to give the Flyers the 3-1 victory.

Matt Read and Luke Schenn each collected two assists in the victory. Steve Mason made a number of big saves, especially towards the end of the game, to collect a total of 28 saves in the win. Michael Del Zotto finished with a +3 along with his goal.

The Flyers will take on the Boston Bruins on Saturday in one of their biggest games of the season.

“Don’t have to tell my team how big game is. They’re all big from here until the end of the year,” Flyers head coach Craig Berube said in an interview.

The Flyers can climb to within two points of the final wild card spot with a victory. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 p.m.

UFC Must Make Ronda Rousey vs. Cyborg

March 03, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It took a combined 60 seconds for Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg Justino to dominate their opponents this past weekend. The time for joking is over, it’s time for Rousey to either fight or face the consequences that come with avoiding her most devastating opponent.

UFC president Dana White gets credit for a lot of things but his biggest failure as promoter has been his inability to deliver big super fights. Promises are often made, yet fights are never delivered. White can turn this all around by pulling off the biggest fight in WMMA history. How he continues to let this one slip past his fingers is just simply mind boggling.

The UFC is faced with an unenviable dilemma. Does the organization sacrifice an entire division for one super fight? Those are the stakes of booking Ronda Rousey vs. Cris “Cyborg” Justino. The fight is arguably the biggest fight the promotion could pull off at this time yet the ramifications of a Rousey massacre could be devastating. Without Rousey there is no WMMA. While that may be a harsh statement to make it is a fact. Nobody else, including Cyborg is pulling the kind of mainstream attention that Rousey is. Knowing that the odds of Rousey winning a fight against Cyborg as the same as Rousey losing, this has become one tough fight for the UFC to make.

Many will give the UFC credit. Many will say that the UFC has been attempting to make this fight since Rousey debuted in 2013. That may be true but there is a catch. The UFC has been attempting to make this fight at 135. See, Cyborg fights at 145 and walks around much heavier. Rousey moved down in weight in 2011 to 135. White and Rousey have said repeatedly that they’d take the fight at 135, giving Rousey a distinct advantage. Yet Rousey has been adamant that she will not fight a pound heavier, when challenged to a catch weight fight of 140 pounds and yet she continues to use this 135 shield to avoid criticism from her promoter and MMA journalists.

Justino is not well liked and this has worked against her when it comes to critics. Many speculated that Justino was on performance enhancing drugs for years as an MMA fighter. Nobody ever gave Justino the full respect she probably deserved over this speculation. Justino has tested once for PEDs, back in 2011. Yes she has tested once in her 10-year WMMA career for PEDs and yet she has had to bare this cross before and after then. Rousey would have pressure to fight anyone else in this situation but Justino will never get that kind of support. Justino has fought three times since and has passed all PED tests.

After demolishing Cat Zingano in 14 seconds, Rousey is now being compared to Mike Tyson. I couldn’t think of a better analogy. I watched Tyson fight seemingly every three months as a kid. He was an animal! Yet even I remember back then many of Tyson’s critics pointing out that he was avoiding top-caliber opponents. Once Tyson got in the ring with guys like Holyfield and Lewis, his aura disappeared. Rousey, like Tyson is avoiding her toughest potential challenge. Her legacy will not be cemented until she climbs that mountain.

“She’s not in the UFC. If she wants to come to the UFC and fight at 135, then yes, I would,” Rousey told Ariel Helwani after winning at UFC 184. “(She won) against some chick that I beat on like my second pro-fight ever, in what, 40 seconds? Not really (impressed).”

Rousey’s not impressed? This comes from the same Rousey who stood inside the octagon on Saturday night issuing challenges to Bethe Correia and Holly Holm. With all due respect to both women, each are big mismatches next to Rousey. Yet Rousey shows no interest in fighting her rival who just obliterated her opponent in under a minute on Friday night. How anyone can take this seriously is beyond me?

Dana White has pressed many former champions to take super fights in the past. White however has no problem with Rousey’s 135 pound demand. It was okay to pressure GSP, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and others to take super fights with catchweights for years. I can’t understand how he can defend this with a straight face.

Rousey likes to carry the banner for WMMA. The biggest thing she could do for WMMA is fight Cyborg. That fight would be the biggest WMMA fight in history and could potentially break one million buys. The media attention for a fight of that magnitude would be enormous for WMMA. Yet she is perfectly content letting Justino fight in Invicta while she challenges subpar competition and WMMA continues to struggle. That’s just the facts whether you like Rousey, hate Justino, or just don’t care.

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Brock Lesnar At UFC, More Details Of WWE Walkout Emerge

March 02, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Brock Lesnar is making the rounds. The WWE champion was show sitting ringside at UFC 184 on Saturday night. The appearance comes just days after Lesnar walked out of RAW leaving many wondering if the WrestleMania 31 main-event is in jeopardy.

This situation is getting crazier by the week. Two weeks ago it was reported that Lesnar was leaning towards staying with the WWE and re-signing as opposed to returning to MMA. A week ago Lesnar and Vince McMahon hit a contract impasse that resulted in Lesnar walking out. Several days later Lesnar is at UFC 184 and we are less than one month away from WrestleMania 31.

Dave Meltzer had some news and speculation on his post-UFC 184 F4Wonline.com podcast. Meltzer reported that Lesnar and McMahon had a loud shouting match last Monday at RAW. Meltzer said it got to the point that some were fearing for McMahon. According to Meltzer, Lesnar was upset about something regarding a new contract. Meltzer said Lesnar left the building and isn’t scheduled for television until next week at RAW.

This all begs the logical question as to whether Lesnar’s status at Mania is in jeopardy. According to Meltzer, the writers asked Vince if they needed to come up with a backup plan. Vince reportedly told them not to worry about it as he is confident that Brock is locked up for Mania. Vince reportedly feels as if he would have grounds for a big lawsuit against Lesnar if Brock didn’t show up, thus he isn’t worried.

I’d worry!

As it stands today Brock is scheduled to wrestle his last match on his current deal at Mania. Yes, Brock is legally obligated to appear on the show. However, Brock has not honored contracts in the past including a previous one with the WWE. Brock has gone to court over these days, including his deal from 2002 with the WWE. I would not be as confident as Vince is that a contract will keep Lesnar from skipping Mania 31.

So what do you do if you are the WWE? By the time Brock gets to RAW next week the word will be out about his contractual disagreements with the company. It looks terrible to have your WWE champion perceived as a lame duck champion heading into Mania. The crowd in California could get real ugly, ruining the main-event if they crap all over it due to Lesnar’s lame duck status. This is not a scenario anyone wants on March 29.

What is plan B? Let’s just say that we are two weeks from Mania and it looks like Brock may skip the show. What does Vince McMahon do? How do you fix this? Is there anything or anyone he can plug into that match to satisfy a WrestleMania main-event? Daniel Bryan is the easy answer. However, I think Vince blew those chances by booking Reigns to beat Bryan clean at Fastlane. John Cena and Rusev are already wrapped up in their own deal. I suppose you could move Seth Rollins and Randy Orton into the mix and make it a Triple Threat Match? Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot bullets laying around these days to put into that barrel.

Brock returning to the UFC sounds fun on paper but I don’t see it ever happening. Brock wouldn’t stand a chance against most of the top five heavyweights and he knows it. It’s a different sport than it was when Brock reigned as UFC champion. He’d cash in big in Bellator but Brock never appeared to like the easy way out of competition. I think at the end of the day he has no intentions of returning to the UFC. Pro wrestling is his best bet at this stage of his career.

Whether Brock shows up or not, this is getting very tense right now for all parties. I’d say at the end of the day that Brock does not want to burn this bridge down to the ground and he shows up for Mania. But who knows? Maybe he’s had enough and he certainly has the financial means to live comfortably for the rest of his life. All I know is that this is the best WrestleMania drama being written right now and it is all being scripted organically.

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Del Zotto’s late goal leads Flyers over Capitals

February 22, 2015 By: Category: NHL, Sports

The Flyers were the headline event for Hockey Day in America as they hosted the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. A late goal by Michael Del Zotto allowed the Flyers to come away with the 3-2 victory. The win briefly moved the Flyers to two points behind Boston, but the Bruins moved it back to four with a win of their own.

The Flyers came out with the jump early in the game’s opening minutes. They would get an early power play chance when Jay Beagle went off for holding. The Flyers made sure to make him pay.

Claude Giroux would get his first goal in 17 games on the man advantage. Mark Streit and Giroux played catch at the blue line before Giroux found open space and fired the puck through the legs of Wayne Simmonds and behind goaltender Braden Holtby for the 1-0 lead.

The Flyers would carry most of the play for the rest of the period and come into the locker room with the 1-0. They would capitalize on another power play chance early on in the second period. This time it would be Wayne Simmonds.

The Flyers had carry over power play time as Matt Niskanen had gone off for a knee-to-knee hit on Sean Couturier. The Capitals also took a high-sticking penalty to give the Flyers a brief 5-on-3. Right as the first penalty ended is when the Flyers struck. Brayden Schenn won the faceoff for the Flyers, allowing Giroux to come in and get the puck. He sent it over to Streit at the point who took the initial shot. Holtby made the save, but Simmonds batted the puck out of the air to give the Flyers the 2-0.

The Capitals would storm back with consecutive goals in the period, the first coming from Tom Wilson. John Carlson intercepted a Schenn clearing attempt. Carlson took it across the blue line and sent the pass to Wilson who was all alone on the left side. Wilson made no mistake, getting his first goal in 35 games to cut the lead to 2-1.

Joel Ward tied the game later on in the second period. Eric Fehr tried to get the puck in deep, but his attempt hit Flyers Andrew MacDonald and the glass before coming to Ward. Ward spun and whacked at the bouncing puck which went off the stick of Zac Rinaldo and in behind goaltender Rob Zepp to tie the game at 2-2.

The teams would go into the final frame of the game still tied. Michael Del Zotto would give the Flyers the lead four minutes into the period. Jakub Voracek held the puck in the offensive zone as he wanted for the rest of the team to come off a line change. Del Zotto charged into the offensive zone where Voracek sent a hard cross-ice pace to him. Del Zotto skated into the left circle and fired the puck past a screened Holtby to give the Flyers the 3-2 lead.

“I just saw the opening there, didn’t think twice and the puck went in. Glad it worked out,” Del Zotto said in an interview.

The Capitals would get a final chance to pot the equalizer when Nick Schultz took a delay of game penalty with under a minute to go. A huge block by Braydon Coburn in the game’s final seconds sent the puck out of the zone and allowed the Flyers to get a big victory over the Capitals.

Wayne Simmonds increased his season high point streak to eight games. He has six goals and four points in that stretch of time. Jakub Voracek set a new career high in points as he collected two assists in the game for a total of 63 points on the season.

“We’ve got to be pretty happy with how we’re playing right now. We’re playing as a team. We’ve got to keep rolling,” Claude Giroux said in an interview.

“We’re just trying to play hockey the right way. We’ve played pretty good hockey the last couple months here. And we just have to stick to it,” Wayne Simmonds said in an interview.

The Flyers will travel to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Puck-drop is set for 7 p.m.

Flyers top best team in league; move four points out of wild-card

February 22, 2015 By: Category: NHL, Sports

The Flyers welcomed in one of the best teams in the National Hockey League in the Nashville Predators. But they turned the Predators into prey as they dominated most of the game and took the 3-2 shootout victory.

The Flyers looked to be the better team right out of the gate. The Predators iced the puck three times in the opening minutes of the period. Shots on net were hard to come by for Nashville as well. Wayne Simmonds would get the game’s first goal.

Michael Del Zotto took a shot from the point that was first blocked by Simmonds. The puck came out to Braydon Coburn on the blue-line who then returned the pass to Del Zotto. This time Simmonds redirected the shot and found the back of the net for his team leading 23rd goal of the season.

The Flyers dominated most of the rest of the period, until the Predators were finally able to break through in the last minute. Colin Wilson intercepted a pass from Del Zotto and skated the puck back into the offensive zone. Wilson fired a shot that changed direction off the stick of Coburn and found the back of the net behind goaltender Rob Zepp.

The Flyers had outshot the Predators 13-3 in the period, but found themselves tied after one period of play. The two teams traded power play chances in the second, but neither was able to capitalize. It was Ryan White who would put the Flyers ahead midway through the period.

White and Brayden Schenn led a strong forecheck, causing defensemen Seth Jones to cough up the puck. Schenn sent over a pass to R.J. Umberger who then tried to skate through the slot, but the puck rolled off his stick and right back to White. White made no mistake on the shot and fired it behind goaltender Pekka Rinne for his second of the year, and second in as many games.

That would be the only scoring in the period as the Flyers and Predators would head to their respective locker rooms with Philadelphia up 2-1. Things would quickly change once the third period began.

The Predators would tie things up just 23 seconds into the final frame. The Flyers had the puck deep in the offensive zone, but were unable to keep the puck in, leading to a 3-on-2 opportunity for Nashville. Matt Cullen sent the puck over to Mike Fisher, who then found Craig Smith on the right side of the ice. Smith’s shot slipped right through the pads of Zepp and tied the game at 2-2.

Both teams would have golden chances for the rest of the period, but the goaltenders stood tall, sending the game to overtime. It was the second consecutive game the Flyers needed more than regulation. Nashville had more of the chances in overtime, but was unable to capitalize. A shootout was needed to decide a winner.

Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds would both score, while Rob Zepp stopped both shooters he faced to give the Flyers a big 3-2 victory over the Predators.

Wayne Simmonds increased his point streak to a career-high seven games. He has five goals and four assists during the streak. Ryan White’s goal also gave him points in four straight games. It’s the only time White has had points in more than two games in his career. The game was also Rob Zepp’s first shootout where he was able to get the win.

The Flyers hit the ice again right away as they welcome in the Washington Capitals tomorrow afternoon as a part of Hockey Day in America. Puck-drop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Sting, Bobby Roode and Other Wrestling Thoughts

February 20, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

While watching the segment between Triple H and Ric Flair from Raw on Monday night, I was reminded just how good the rivalry was between the “Nature Boy” and “The Icon” during their wars in WCW.

It also reminds me that if not for an injury to Magnum TA that nearly took his life and put him out of the wrestling business, that rivalry may never have happened.

Timing is everything in the business and injuries are all too real, causing changes in title reigns, opportunities and potential pushes for the promotion’s top stars. Even with the circumstances that had an effect on the emergence of Sting as the top face in WCW for years and the continual push for Flair to remain the top heel, wrestling fans were treated to one of the better feuds in the history of the business.

The fact Ric Flair was able to get under Triple H’s skin, which was a brilliant work by the creative team on Monday night, it showed Flair’s respect for his friend, Steve Borden. It also means when Sting does appear at Fast Lane and stands face to face with the COO of the WWE, sparks will fly.

Personally, I wonder what happens after Fast Lane and WrestleMania with the Sting character. Will he challenge other wrestlers for company supremacy? Who will be willing to give the 55-year old wrestler a feud worthy of two major matches at a pay-per-view? Would Bray Wyatt be the next man up to face the wrestler who fought to save both WCW and TNA?

Or, in this case because of his age and a match with Undertaker is not a viable option, nor is one with someone the caliber of Seth Rollins, will this be the only feud we see Sting appear in a WWE ring for?

TNA’S SPECIAL TALENT

While watching the match last Friday night between Bobby Roode and Austin Aries on Impact Wrestling, I was reminded once again how great both wrestlers are. Roode is the “franchise” of this company, if I may use the word loosely. The comparisons to Arn Anderson, which have been discussed for years, are very real.

Roode originally made his debut for TNA in 2004 as a member of Team Canada and went on to become a two-time NWA World Tag Team Champion with Eric Young. In 2008, Roode formed the tag team Beer Money, Inc. with James Storm and together the two of them went on to become four-time TNA World Tag Team Champions, while also holding the record for the longest reign as champions.

I could watch Roode in matches against Aries or Eric Young or even Jeff Hardy every week and not get bored.

And because Sting has finally joined the rank and file in the WWE, does Roode become the best wrestler never to have competed in the WWE, leaping over AJ Styles?

SUPPORT FOR CM PUNK

While the former WWE World Champion jumped to the octagon and the UFC, he still appears to be connected to professional wrestling as he trains for his new sport.

According to Fox Sports, Punk has been given a vote of support from none other than current WWE World Champion and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. The news comes from a story on foxsports.com. (http://www.foxsports.com/ufc/story/cm-punk-brock-lesnar-has-offered-to-help-me-021715).

According to an interview he did with WISports.com, Brooks has spoken with his friend Lesnar, and the popular former NCAA wrestling national champion is in his corner. “I’ve talked to him and he’s offered all his help, even if it’s just bug him with a stupid question,” Brooks said.

“It’s cool to know [Lesnar] supports me. He’s a good guy to know, I think.”

Brooks went on to estimate when he’d be ready to take his first MMA fight, in the UFC. Though he isn’t sure when it will happen, he’s got a timeline for when he and his coaches will evaluate his progress and make a decision.

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Frank Mir On His Recent Losses, Taking A Break From MMA & UFC Fight Night 61

February 19, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir recently spoke with UFC.com about his upcoming fight with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC Fight Night 61. There are some gems in this piece. Check out the highlights down below.

On taking a break from fighting: “I was having a bad streak there for a while, so I’ve taken a year off to evaluate what I needed to fix and address, and I feel like I’ve given myself enough time to heal up properly and have a proper off-season and build up my physical activity again,” he said. “I worked on mobility so I can be more efficient and proficient in fighting. And that’s what this fight is. It’s an opportunity to show I’m still able to perform the moves that I know how to do.”

On his losses: “I was being delusional,” he said. “Over the last few years, my brain knew what move I had to do during the fight, almost like a coach in my own head, saying ‘Okay, you need to sit out and then wall walk,’ but the conditioning just wasn’t there. I was constantly training around injuries and scheduling my camps around injuries. The time I had elbow surgery I had to adjust training because it wasn’t healed yet. Same thing with shoulder surgery; my range of motion wasn’t there yet. So instead of taking time off to address these issues so I can throw a punch properly or do a pushup or a downward facing dog position, I would just not do those things at all, and I end up doing patchwork. Well, you can’t do that in a fight, not at this level. How do you get a guy to do a get-up position from guard when he can’t even do three pushups because his shoulder or elbow is hurting? So when I’m in a fight and I try to execute a move and I can’t because I haven’t practiced it in a gym leading up to the fight, that is what leads to the type of performances that I ended up with.”

On how a fighter’s body takes so much punishment: “It is extremely frustrating.” Mir will say “frustrating” several more times during our conversation. “I understand now when people get older and they say they can’t do that anymore. The brain knows what to do but the body is just not willing. At first, I thought I had to retire but after about two months off I thought ‘Maybe not. Maybe if I am able to heal.’ That’s when I started being more diligent with my physical therapy outside of a fight, not waiting until six weeks before a fight to get better. I took the time to proactively heal my body to become an athlete again. And I didn’t give myself a time frame on how long it will take me out of the ring. I was willing to take the time off to work on my shoulder mobility. I wanted to be able to do fifty pushups again. I wanted to be able to jump on a box that pretty much everyone else in the gym can jump on. I wanted to heal my rotator cuff problems, and my elbows. I wanted to take a yoga class with my wife without having to tape up everything like I’m getting ready to fight somebody. And once I got to that level I was feeling really good and thought I could fight again.”

On how he feels physically heading into his fight with Antonio Silva: “In sparring I haven’t lost a round,” he said. “In rolling, I would get a fresh guy on me and I’m able to do anything I want to do. I can sprawl properly now when a guy shoots in for a takedown. I can do the athletic stuff I was able to do that made me good at Jiu-Jitsu in the first place, like jumping up for a triangle and diving for a heel hook. Even my stand-up is better because my legs are fresh and not aching. When I fought Nogueira the first time I was bouncing and moving and using angles, and since then it’s not like I forgot how to box, it’s that ‘this hurts,’ so I stopped training it. And a lot of fighters have this ego that tells them if they’re not training a certain move, ‘Well, I’ll just make it happen in the fight.’ You get to the point where you’ll avoid it in the gym but think you’ll make it happen when the lights come on. That’s delusional.”

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Flyers point streak ends with loss to Blue Jackets

February 18, 2015 By: Category: NHL, Sports

The Flyers were riding high on a nine game point streak coming in to Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A tough third period for the Flyers allowed the Blue Jackets to get three straight goals and come away with the 5-2 final.

The Blue Jackets came out with a fire in the first period, causing turnovers and generating a lot of offense. A penalty by Flyers Brayden Schenn would give Columbus the first power play of the game. And they would capitalize early. James Wisniewski would get the goal eight seconds into the power play. Alexander Wennberg swiped a backhander that Emery stopped, but the puck came right to Wisniewski in the right circle and he one-timed the puck past Emery

Columbus didn’t stop there. Just 1:48 after Wisniewski made it 1-0, Ryan Johansen got on the board as well. David Savard took the original shot which bounced off of Corey Tropp in front and then deflected in off the body of Johansen. The goal went to review, but was deemed to be a good goal to give the Blue Jackets the 2-0 lead.

The second period is where the Flyers excelled. The team tied a season high with 20 shots on goal in the period. They also tied the game late in the period with goals 1:45 apart. Wayne Simmonds got the Flyers first goal. Michael Del Zotto took the original shot from the point, which Simmonds then redirected in front to get the goal.

“We did a great job down low,” Simmonds said in an interview. “Vandy and Delly [Del Zotto] did a heck of a job of getting the puck up high. Luke Schenn went over to Delly and Delly took the shot. I tipped it and there was like three bodies in front of the net and luckily it went in.”

Del Zotto would tie the game almost immediately after. R.J. Umberger took the first shot, which goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped, giving up a big rebound in the process. Del Zotto hopped on the rebound and hit a one-timer that beat the goaltender and tied the game at 2-2.

“I put it on net and it bounced back out,” Del Zotto said in an interview. “I think there was a lot of traffic there. I just shot the puck as hard as I could. Brayden Schenn had great traffic so I don’t think the goalie saw it. It was a big goal for us.”

While the second period was considered one of their best periods of the season, it was the exact opposite in the third. A few mistakes allowed the Blue Jackets to get three straight goals and come away with the victory.

Matt Calvert got the first of three for Columbus. Calvert’s originally shot had been saved by goaltender Ray Emery. The Flyers were looking to break out of the zone, but Vincent Lecavalier’s pass was behind teammate Chris VandeVelde and right onto the stick of Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky found Cam Atkinson on a 2-on-0 and Atkinson then found Calvert who converted on his second chance to give the Blue Jackets a lead they would not relinquish.

Dubinsky would get a goal of his own later on in the period. Scott Hartnell sent a shot in that went off Emery’s glove and bounced out to Dubinsky who put in the rebound. Calvert would get his second of the night and finish off the scoring with the empty netter to give the Blue Jackets the 5-2 victory.

The Flyers return to action on Thursday when they welcome in the Buffalo Sabres. Long-time Flyer Eric Desjardins will be entered in the Flyers Hall of Fame with a pre-game ceremony. Puck-drop is set for around 7 p.m. but may be delayed due to the ceremony.

Raffl’s late goal leads Flyers past Sabres

February 16, 2015 By: Category: NHL, Sports

The Flyers entered Sunday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres looking at a chance to climb within five points of the Boston Bruins in the wildcard race. A late third period goal by Michael Raffl helped the Flyers earn the two points needed with a 2-1 victory over the Sabres.

The Flyers jumped out to an early lead with a goal by Matt Read. Read deflected a shot that was originally taken from the point by Wayne Simmonds. Read’s redirect found the back of the net behind goaltender Michal Neuvirth to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. It was Read’s second goal in three games and Simmonds sixth point in the last four.

The Flyers held momentum most of the first period, out-shooting the Sabres 15-5 in the opening frame. They were unable to cash in on another opportunity, though, as the period would end with the Flyers holding a 1-0 lead.

The Sabres took some of the momentum away come the second period and were eventually able to cash in on one of their opportunities. Flyers Braydon Coburn and Claude Giroux were both called for penalties at 12:25 of the period. This gave the Sabres a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Flyers got their own chance first while shorthanded. An attempted clear by Nick Schultz bounced off the boards and found Chris Vandevelde, who had just come off the bench. Vandevelde came in all alone on Neuvirth, but the Sabre goaltender was able to close off the five-hole and make the save.

With just 28 seconds left in the two-man advantage, the Sabres would strike. Nikita Zadorov would blast a shot from the point that would make its way past goaltender Ray Emery to tie the game at 1-1. Zadorov’s goal was the Sabres first on a 5-on-3 advantage since the 2012-2013 season. The Sabres would go on to out-shoot the Flyers 11-9 in the second period and would go into the final frame tied.

The two teams traded chances in the third period before the Flyers would put the final tally on the board. With 7:15 to play, Michael Raffl would find the puck behind the net and make a wraparound attempt that would trickle through the legs of Neuvirth and into the back of the net to give the Flyers the 2-1. Raffl was playing in his first game since Jan. 20, after suffering from pneumonia.

“I think Del Zotto did a really good job keeping the play alive, pinching down. And White just got me the puck behind the net,” Raffl said in an interview. “I think their goalie didn’t really know what was going on. I just tried to jam it at the net and it went it.”

Emery made a couple of big saves as the period finished and the Flyers picked out the 2-1 victory and inched to within five points of the second wild card spot. The team has picked up points in nine straight games, with a record of 6-0-3. It’s the first time the Flyers have had a nine game point streak since March 8-26, 2011 when they went 5-0-4.

“We’re playing a good team game right now. Everybody is contributing. Goaltending has been great for us so we just have to keep playing hard,” Captain Claude Giroux said in an interview.

“We just have to have to keep going. That game is over now; we have to put it behind us,” Simmonds said in an interview. “We’ve got a big home stand here and we’ve been playing really well at home for most of the year. So we’ve got to keep that up.”

The Flyers return home to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Puck-drop is set for 7 p.m.

Wayne Simmonds’ two goals not enough as Flyers drop second straight

February 14, 2015 By: Category: NHL, Sports

The Flyers came into Friday night’s game needing the two points to climb even closer into playoff contention in the Metropolitan division. Wayne Simmonds two-goal night was not enough, though, as the Flyers blew a 3-1 lead and fell 4-3 in overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets came out like a team that was desperate, which they were. Columbus is even further out of a playoff spot than the Flyers are and they showed how hungry they were for a victory.

From the start the Blue Jackets controlled the pace of the game. They forced turnovers in the offensive zone and had the game’s first three shots. It was the Flyers, though, who would get on the board first courtesy of Simmonds.

Matt Read carried the puck down the ice and fed Simmonds at the blue line. Simmonds took it into the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot that beat goaltender Curtis McElhinney and gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 10:33 to go in the first period.

Columbus would again keep the pressure going over Philadelphia. They would outshoot the Flyers 11-7 in the period. Goaltender Ray Emery had to make a couple of big saves off turnovers to keep the Flyers ahead in the game.

The second period started much like the first, with the Blue Jackets controlling the pace of the game. Emery stood his ground for the first eight minutes of the period before Columbus was finally able to beat him. Brandon Dubinsky would tie the game at 1-1 with a redirect of a pass from defenseman Kevin Connauton.

The Flyers would gain the lead once again with about three minutes left in the second. Simmonds came in along the left side of the ice in the offensive zone. He tried to squeeze the puck past McElhinney, but it hit his shoulder and came out in front to Sean Couturier. His first shot attempt was stopped, but Couturier knocked the rebound out of mid-air and into the net for his 12th goal of the season. The goal would be initially reviewed for a high stick before being called a good goal moments later.

The Flyers would start the third period on a power play, but were unable to generate anything. Another power play chance would see the team capitalize and increase their lead to 3-1. Simmonds would get his second of the night off a rebound of a Claude Giroux shot. It was after this where the Blue Jackets would begin their comeback.

It would start with Jared Boll’s first goal in 64 games. Boll was in front of the net where he redirected a pass from Corey Tropp that ended up behind Emery and cut the Flyers lead to 3-2. Cam Atkinson scored the equalizer for the Blue Jackets with about four minutes to go in the third period.

The Flyers had a power play towards the end of the period, but were unable to capitalize as they would go to their second overtime in as many games. It was here where the Blue Jackets would complete their comeback and earn the victory. James Wisniewski would take the initial shot from the right point that would be stopped by Emery. Artem Anisimov would follow up on the rebound and put the puck in the back of the net to end the game and give Columbus the 4-3 victory.

“We can’t let that happen…We were up 3-1, there are no excuses.” Wayne Simmonds said in an interview after the game.

The Flyers will have a day to work on things as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres this Sunday. Puck-drop is set for 7:30 p.m.