Sorry the links have not been forthcoming lately. As Bruce mentioned earlier, I started a new jobs 2 weeks ago and am trying to work through some logisitics issues of putting together a daily post. I'm having several issues with that, so for now, the plan will generally be to publish an "early evening edition" that will have the daily links. I hope that in the future I will be able to post something earlier in the day, but at this point, that's the best I can do. Today, I'm posting a "special edition" earlier in the day to somewhat make up for my tardiness these past few weeks. So enough of that, onto the links and the coverage of last night's amazing game that will go down as one of the most nail-biting, must-win, come-from-behind victories in Flyer's post-season history...
Tim Panaccio has the game story, and notes that, of the 234 players to have played 100 or more games, captain Keith Primeau is the first player in league history to match his career playoff goal total in a single postseason run (as the team's best player). Quite a mouthful. Panaccio also notes that the Flyers have only won a single Game 7 on the road in franchise history, and that was a division final against the Penguins in 1989. In a column from yesterday (can't quite remember the writer at the moment), it was mentioned that Ken Hitchcock knows what it takes to come back from a 3-2 deficit and win a Game 7 on the road, because that is exactly what his Dallas Stars did in 1999 en route to a Stanley Cup (so I'm glad he's on our bench). Phil Sheridan lauds the "character of this team." Bob Ford marvels at how Captain Primeau has led by example, including an amazing goal which tied the game (and saved the season) with under two minutes left in regulation. Panaccio's notebook has Hitchcock in a bit of hot water with South Philly's Italian-American community with his comments earlier this week, in obvious jest, that Tampa Bay coach John Tortella had 3 strikes against him: "He's Italian, he's from Boston, and he's probably a Red Sox fan." Panaccio says this was not said with malice or prejudice, and reveals that this was actually a continuation of some teasing that was going on between Hitchcock and WIP's morning team personality Al Morganti, who, Hitchcock noted when calling into the station this week, "is emotional because he is from Boston, he is extra emotional because he is Italian, and he is extra, extra emotional because he is a Red Sox fan." It's interesting that Coach Ken think's Al's "emotional," because in contrast to his Post-Game Live appearances, when he usually has much to say, you'd sometimes hardly know he is awake on the WIP morning show (this is not meant to be a knock on Al, I actually think he's pretty funny--when he's saying something--but I just found it amusing that Hitchcock thinks he is "emotional.")
Ray Parillo says the Lightning have nobody to blame but themselves, since they only played 20 solid minutes of a game that went nearly 80. In his weekly Morning Bytes, Frank Fitzpatrick laments the "Orange Crush" effect of the Flyers handing out bright orange t-shirts to all the fans at attendance at this week's games. Frank also complains about the hitter-friendly dimensions of Citizens Bank Park. While we're complaining, can I get a refund on the time I spent reading his column? Sam Donnellon seems surprised at last night's win, as "'these are the games the Flyers seem to lose." I have to admit, I felt the same way watching the third perid, something of an air of inevitability, of preparing for yet another disappointing end to a Flyers season. I was pleasantly surprised at the remarkable turn of events. Les Bowen says it "is just ridiculous" that Tampa has scored on 4 of its last 5 power plays. Les references an interesting post-goal celebration between Markov and Primeau (not that there's anything wrong with that...)
Ed Moran recounts Hitchcock's concerns going into Game 7 that the Flyers "don't get happy feet." Rich Hofmann says it's been "decades" since "the Flyers had a player dominate a playoff run in the way Primeau is dominating this one." John Smallwood gets the reaction from a "stunned and bummed out" Lightning locker room. John Romano, of the St. Petersburg Times, has the players calling it a "pretty devastating loss," and worries that for the second half of Games 5 and most of Game 6, the tempo was to the Flyers' liking, which does not bode well for the LIghtning, in his opinion.
The Phillies actually did play a game yesterday (and while my posts have been on a brief hiatus, they've managed to jump to the top of their division). Todd Zolecki has the game story, which featured a Brett Myers complete-game, 5-hit shutout. Zolecki's notebook cites statistics supporting the notion that the Phillies have the bullpen in the NL, if not the MLB. Bernard Fernandez has Larry Bowa calling last night's performance "our best-pitched game this year, by anybody." Pretty good for a guy who nearly got yanked from the starting rotation because of a shaky start. Fernandez also quotes Bowa as targeting next Tuesday as a possible return date from the disabled list for closer Billy Wagner.
Stephen A. Smith takes some time between his ESPN appearances (and Laker pom-pom waving articles) to write that Sixer fans are none too happy that Larry Brown has reached the Eastern Conference Finals again. Frankly, I'm looking forward to him losing to Rick Carlisle. Again. (I'm still wondering what Joe Dumars was thinking on this one. Did he not pay attention to last year's Sixers-Pistons series, when Brown was thoroughly and completely outcoached by Carlisle?)
I know I'm late with this one (I actually composed this little paragraph about a week ago, but never did get the chance to post it): An interesting note was made on last week's ABC's primetime telecast of Lakers-Spurs that this is the first time in playoff history that all conference semi-finals were knotted at 2-2. Of course, this made for more competitive series, in stark contrast to the blowouts witnessed in round one. Also, a commentary about last week's devastating loss for the Spurs, who fell to the Lakers on a last second shot by Derek Fisher: The Spurs filed a protest, claiming the clock started late. Of course, Commissioner Stern denied the protest, claiming the clock "started appropriately", raising the question, appropriate for who? The TV raings guys? In the playoffs, the home team does not supply the clock operators, they are brought in from a neutral city. In addition, the clock is generally started by one of the three officials with a wireless device. Even this sytem, with its "accuracy" of tenths-of-seconds, appears flawed, because while all the replays focused on whether Fisher got the ball out of his hands by the time the clock read 0.0, and before the red light outlining the backboard was on, none of the focus appeared to be on the timeliness of the clock starting. I noticed it right away on the first replays: the clock appears to start a tenth of a second or two after Fisher catches the ball. Of course, none of the commentators bother to even notice this fact. Why have a rule that says you can only score by a tip-in when there's .3 seconds or less left, but if there's .4 seconds, the officials don't even stop to consider that is not nearly enough time to catch the ball, turn around, and get off a shot? It would seem fairly obvious that the clock was not started the instant Fisher got the ball. How could it? Peter May appeared to agree with me. So does Peter Vecsey. This is a system that still relies on human intervention. To me, it's a "false sense of accuracy" to have tenths of a second on the clock when the officials can't (or won't) use their judgment to deem that the clock did not start fast enough, and to disallow a shot, even if, according to a replay, the ball was seemingly released before time expired. To quote the new Miller commercial, it's a "trav-sham-mockery."
UPN 57 has Padres-Phillies at 7:05. TNT has Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals (Lakers-Wolves) at 9.