Sunday, November 23, 2014

Eagles tune up for Thanksgiving with sloppy win over Titans

Philadelphia, PA -- The Philadelphia Eagles bounced back from a blowout loss with their seventh 30-point game of the season.

And while it wasn't a classic thrashing of a lesser opponent as an appetizer to the main course this week, it will do just fine. 

LeSean McCoy led the way in Philadelphia's 10th consecutive regular-season home win, a 43-24 decision over the Tennessee Titans -- Philly's first win over the franchise since it relocated from Houston following the 1996 season.

McCoy carried the ball 21 times for 130 yards and a score for the Eagles (8-3), who rebounded from last Sunday's 53-20 defeat at Green Bay. Darren Sproles rushed for 25 yards and one touchdown on six carries.

Mark Sanchez completed 30-of-43 passes for 307 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for Philadelphia, which will play at Dallas on Thanksgiving in a highly-anticipated NFC East matchup.
Jordan Matthews caught six passes for 77 yards for the Eagles, who improved to 7-0 this season against teams .500 or worse. Cody Parkey made 5-of-6 field goals.

"I think our attention was totally on Tennessee because we only get to play one game per week, so there was nothing else to look for other than getting ready for (the Titans). I think these guys have done a great job of staying in the moment and playing a good game," said Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

Zach Mettenberger connected on 20-of-39 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Titans (2-9), who have lost five in a row.

Delanie Walker caught five passes for a career-high 155 yards for Tennessee, which lost left tackle Taylor Lewan to an ankle injury. Justin Hunter caught four passes for 64 yards and a score.

The Eagles quickly put the loss to the Packers behind them as rookie wide receiver Josh Huff returned the opening kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown. It was Huff's first career touchdown and the longest kickoff return in franchise history besting the previous record set by Timmy Brown (105 yards) in 1961 against Cleveland.

After forcing a three-and-out, Philadelphia started from its own 49. McCoy carried the ball four times for 31 yards before Sproles scored from four yards out.  Parkey added a 36-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 3:25 left in the first quarter.

"That's not the way you want to start the game off," said Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt. "It's tough. But to get down 17-0, I thought we made a good recovery in the second quarter."

The Titans used a big defensive play to take some momentum away from the Eagles. Sanchez was picked off by Brandon Ghee at the Philadelphia 30. On 2nd- and-20, Hunter caught a deflected pass and raced into the end zone for a 40- yard score.

The Eagles had to settle for another field goal on their next possession, as Parkey made a 26-yarder with 11:29 left in the second quarter. McCoy set up the field goal with a 53-yard run.

Tennessee responded with another touchdown to keep it close. Walker's 68-yard catch-and-run moved the ball to the Philadelphia 13. The drive was kept alive when Vinny Curry got a piece of Mettenberger's face mask on third down. Shonn Greene capped the march with a 2-yard TD run.

The Eagles came back with a 10-play, 69-yard drive that McCoy capped with a 2- yard TD run. Riley Cooper caught a 21-yard pass on third down prior to the score, which made it 27-14.

Ryan Succop made a 20-yard field goal on the next Tennessee possession. Parkey missed a 49-yard field goal before the half to snap his successful streak at 17.

The Eagles pulled away early in the second half. Mettenberger's pass was deflected at the line and center Brian Schwenke caught the ball and started running. But Schwenke fumbled and Philadelphia 

The home team capitalized as James Casey caught a 14-yard TD pass.

Parkey kicked field goals of 30, 35 and 50 yards in the fourth quarter. Tennessee's Dexter McCluster had a 6-yard TD catch in the final frame.

Notes: The Eagles snapped a four-game skid against the Titans after having won all six meetings with the franchise when it was located in Houston ... Bishop Sankey carried the ball 10 times for 37 yards for the Titans ... Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho left the game with a groin injury and did not return ... Andrew Gardner started at right guard, the eighth different starting offensive line combination for the Eagles in 11 games this year.

Titans prove to be the tonic for Shady

PHILADELPHIA - "I'm not gonna address that."

That was the surly response from a disgruntled LeSean McCoy to former Eagle and current WIP host Ike Reese's suggestion that the 2013 NFL rushing champ had lost a step.

The uncomfortable exchange came during McCoy's weekly appearance with Reese last Monday and highlighted the frustration Shady has been feeling a year after piling up 1,607 yards on 5.1 yards per carry with nine touchdowns for Philadelphia.

McCoy's reaction, however, shouldn't cloud the fact that the narrative was certainly something Reese should have explored.

While McCoy is only 26 years old, far from the demarcation line of 30 that signals the downside of a running back's production. He did touch the football 391 times last season when you include the playoffs, a workload that would test the mettle of anyone's legs.

Coming into Sunday's game with Tennessee, a 43-24 Philadelphia blowout that lifted McCoy's Eagles to 8-3 on the season, he had rushed for 729 yards and two touchdowns on 196 carries, a paltry 3.7 yards per carry, 38th in the NFL.

McCoy did have a four-game stretch in which he averaged more than 100 yards per game and looked like his old self but he's also failed to record 4.0 yards per carry in six different contests.

He's been so ordinary in fact that the film review-based website Pro Football Focus ranked him 56th of the 61 NFL running backs that have seen significant action this season, a far cry from his All-Pro nod in 2013.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly, meanwhile, has taken away some red-zone snaps in favor of the 5-foot-6, 190-pound Darren Sproles, hardly the traditional goal-line battering ram.

“Listen, I don't care what's out there. I'm not going to address, ‘Am I the same player?' I don't address that. For what?” an annoyed McCoy said on Wednesday before then pumping the brakes and actually addressing it.

“What are we sitting here talking about," McCoy continued. "Am I the same player? That's for ya'all to figure out. You crazy? Am I the same player? I am the same player."

McCoy then exited, stage left.

His response Sunday was less petulant and far more emphatic as the Pitt product hung his hat on production, laying a 130-yard spot on the embattled Titans. He also needed just 21 carries and three quarters to do it, compiling an impressive 6.2 yards per attempt.

Detractors will point to the fact that those same Titans allowed the explosive Le'Veon Bell to rush for 204 yards just six days ago and say McCoy ripped off one big run (a 53-yarder in the second quarter) against one of the game's worst run defenses.

The numbers weren't the important part, though. McCoy's legs looked fresh, and the vaunted cut-back ability was on display as he turned Titans safety Michael Griffin into a top on one third-quarter run.

To be fair to McCoy, he has been running behind an injury-plagued offensive line for much of the season and has been stationed behind a very inconsistent quarterback, be it Nick Foles or Mark Sanchez. Meanwhile, the absence of field-stretcher DeSean Jackson, who now calls the Beltway home, outside the numbers shouldn't be underestimated.

"I've had to earn everything I get this year," McCoy said. "I don't think anything has changed. No matter what the circumstance is or what's going on, I've learned that doesn't matter. All that matters is what you're doing lately."

And "lately" says 130 yards and a score, numbers any back will take.

The next stop for McCoy is consistency and putting together a similar performance in Dallas on the national stage that is Thanksgiving Day might halt all the questions regarding his decline.

Bagnoli goes out a winner as Penn drops Cornell

Ithaca, NY -- In a difficult season, one in which the Quakers found themselves at the bottom of the Ivy League -- an unfamiliar position for the last generation -- at least Al Bagnoli went out a winner.

In his last game for University of Pennsylvania football, his team produced a 34-26 victory over Cornell at Schoellkopf Field on Saturday afternoon.

Senior Spencer Kulcsar had three receiving touchdowns (one shy of the single-game school record), 187 receiving yards (sixth-most in a game at Penn) and added 11 receptions for a total of 83 catches this season (two shy of the school record).

Alek Torgersen threw for 331 yards, and ran for 86 and another score, in addition to his three touchdown tosses to Kulcsar.

Bagnoli concluded his illustrious 33-year coaching career with a 234-99 overall career record and a 148-80 mark in 23 seasons at Penn. He finished with the most wins in school history, the second-most Ivy League wins in Ancient Eight history (111) and an all-time record nine outright Ivy League championships.

Cornell scored on the game's opening possession. A 32-yard touchdown pass was followed by one of the more humorous storylines of the game -- Cornell's extra point attempts. The first of three straight misses was due to a bobbled snap and left the score at 6-0.

Penn got on the board after a 26-yard punt return from Kulcsar set up the Quakers at the Cornell 23. Four plays later, Kulcsar, who finished with 230 all-purpose yards, hauled in a pass from Torgersen and ran in from four yards out to give Penn a 7-6 lead at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter.

Cornell took the lead back on the second play of the second quarter. But the five-yard rush was followed by an extra point that sailed wide left and Penn's deficit was only 12-7.

Penn needed just five plays to go back ahead. A 21-yard pass to Eric Fiore was followed by a 36-yard catch and run from Justin Watson, and then a seven-yard touchdown grab from Kulcsar, who raced to the pylon and put Penn up 14-12.

Cornell went on top again with a 51-yard touchdown pass, but sophomore Donald Panciello blocked the extra point and the Big Red lead was 18-14 with 4:23 left until the half.

Once again, Torgersen and the Penn offense immediately responded. The Quakers went 75 yards in just 2:35. A 21-yard screen pass to sophomore Brian Schoenauer set up the Quakers in the red zone and led to Torgersen's 1-yard touchdown plunge. That late first-half score gave the Quakers a 21-18 lead at the break.

Just three minutes into the second half, Kulcsar found the end zone for a third time -- on the longest play of the season. Torgersen lofted a perfectly-placed pass down the sideline that fell into Kulcsar's arms around the Penn 45. He outmaneuvered and outraced the Big Red defenders from there for a 78-yard touchdown and 28-18 lead.

Penn added to its lead when Schoenauer capped a 94-yard drive with his first career touchdown. The Quakers took over from their own six-yard line when senior captain Evan Jackson batted down a pass in the end zone on fourth-and-goal. The Red and Blue then marched down field and Schoenauer finished off the 14-play possession for a 34-18 advantage with 7:53 to play.

Cornell made it interesting down the stretch with a touchdown and two-point conversion to close to within 34-26 with 4:07 to go. Penn used up most of the clock on the ensuing possession, but the Big Red got the ball back with 35 seconds left. They got to midfield, but a harmless pass floated incomplete as time expired.

Torgersen was 26-of-37 and finished the season with 260 completions (second-most all-time at Penn) and a school record 421 attempts. Watson matched a career-best with six catches for 77 yards and finished his rookie season with multiple receptions in every game, while Schoenauer had a career-high 58 rushing yards and caught a pair of passes for 23 yards. In all, Penn finished with a season-high 492 yards of offense.

Conner Scott caught a pass for the 28th straight game and finished his career with 151 catches (fourth-most all-time at Penn), 1,762 receiving yards (fifth-most all-time at Penn), and 11 touchdown catches (eighth-most all-time at Penn).

On Dec. 1, Ray Priore will officially take on the title as the George A. Munger Head Coach of Football at Penn -- only the 22nd head coach in program history.

Third-period comeback sends Royals past Fuel

by Rob Riches
Phanatic Hockey Writer
Twitter: @Riches61

READING, Pa. -- Despite finding themselves down by three goals, the Reading Royals on Saturday night roared back with four goals in the third period to top the Indy Fuel, 4-3.

Olivier Labelle’s fourth goal of the season with 2:42 to go in the third turned out to be one of his biggest, as it gave the Royals their first lead of the game. Labelle scored on a loose puck in front of the net from Mike Marcou and Adam Hughesman to provide the hosts a memorable game winner.

“It was a very emotional game, and I’m just happy to get the two points,” Labelle said.

The comeback started 4:28 into the final stanza, as Maxim Lamarche scored his first of the season for the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate. Pat Mullane and Adam Comrie then added two power play tallies, with Zach Davies assisting on both. 

Undisciplined, reckless play by the Fuel (3-7-2-1) set up both power-play tallies, as Garrett Bembridge took a minor for boarding and Anders Franzon sat two minutes for shooting the puck over the glass in his defensive zone.

The Fuel’s three-goal lead all came in the second period. First-year Fuel defenseman Kirill Gotovets scored his first two goals of the season, while Justin Holl -- back in the region for the first time since participating in the 2014 NCAA final with Minnesota -- scored his first of the season as well. Robert Czarnik added primary assists on both tallies.

Trailing by a goal with 10:20 on the clock, the Royals looked to inspiration from David Marshall. After former Flyers prospect Garrett Klotz threw a late, blindside hit on captain Bryant Molle, Marshall and Klotz dropped the gloves. The 6-foot-5, 234-pound Klotz had no problem getting his shots in on the 5-foot-11, 183-pound Marshall, but Marshall ultimately wrestled Klotz down.

“I like what Marshall did in the end,” Royals head coach Larry Courville said. “That was a pretty cheap hit by [Klotz]. I though Marshall stepping up went a long way on our bench and in our locker room. It doesn’t matter if you win a fight, it matters that you were there for your teammate.”

Ultimately, a third-period comeback may not have been necessary, had two Royals goals been able to stand. The goals were called back in the first and third periods, after incidental contact with Fuel goalie Cody Reichard. Unlike their partnering NHL, the ECHL doesn’t have the luxury of a centralized “command center” for video review, so the referee’s calls had to stand de facto.

“When we went over our game plan, we had a sheet that says that goalie likes to get involved in the scrums,” Courville said. “He intentionally gets involved in the scrums, looks like he’s getting in position.

“Whether those two goals could stand, I’d have to look at the video.”

The Royals (7-5-1-0) have accumulated points in nine of their past 10 games, and are riding a 4-0-1-0 unbeaten streak. They have a chance to move forward with a quick turnaround, with a second crack at the Fuel again at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.

 Both teams had never met before Saturday, and it subsequently led to a character win for the Royals.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Owls don't measure up vs. Duke

Brooklyn, NY -- As was pointed out in a article earlier in the day, Mike Krzyzewski and Fran Dunphy might have been friends for more than 40 years, but when it comes to results on the court, both men are leagues apart -- literally and figuratively.

Quinn Cook had 17 points and five rebounds to give No. 4 Duke a 74-54 victory over an outclassed Temple squad in the semifinal round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday.

Jahlil Okafor scored 16 points with eight rebounds and Justise Winslow added 15 points for the Blue Devils (4-0), who will take on Stanford in the tournament title on Saturday.

"Temple did a really good job against him (Okafor)," Krzyzewski said.

Will Cummings scored 18 points, Josh Brown gave 11, and Quenton DeCosey gave 10 for the Owls (2-1), who had opened the season with wins over American University and Louisiana Tech.

"It was a little bit of them being as good as they are defensively and a little bit of us losing focus," Temple's Dunphy noted.

Duke led this game pretty much from start to finish as Grayson Allen hit a 3- pointer six minutes in for a 13-4 lead.

Two more 7-0 runs in the half helped stake the Blue Devils to a 36-26 lead after 20 minutes.
A Cook 3-pointer with 10 1/2 minutes to play in the contest gave Duke a 57-35 advantage.

An 8-0 run from Temple, with Cummings netting the final four, cut the deficit to 62-48 with 5 1/2 minutes left, but Cook and Winslow followed with a bucket and two free throws, respectively, to put
the game out of reach.

Notes: Duke has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Temple and holds a 20-10 lead in the series ... Duke shot just 39.1 percent, but held Temple to 37.3 percent shooting in the contest ... The Blue Devils entered play averaging more than 100 points per contest with a shooting percentage north of 60 percent from the floor ... Temple sophomore Daniel Dingle hit Temple's only three-pointer of the contest with six minutes remaining in the first half, narrowly keeping alive a streak of now 574 consecutive games in which the Owls have hit at least one shot from long range.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Renberg's surprising post-hockey life; Lindros and LeClair return to rave reviews

Thanks to Getty Images
Don't cry for Mikael Renberg, Delaware Valley.

Although he was not formally honored alongside his Legion of Doom-mates Eric Lindros and John LeClair in Thursday night's 14th edition of the Flyers' Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, the 42-year-old Swede who once again resides in his native country was going to be there to aid in the celebration.

"It means a lot. I really had a tough time to come here because I have family and I have school back home and some other things," he said. "But when Eric sent me a mail and wanted me to come, I just couldn't say no then. It brings back a lot of memories."

Renberg, as you recall, was not able to attend the club's activities surrounding the Winter Classic nearly three years ago. At the time, he was contracted by Swedish television station SVT to accompany its talent to the World Junior Championship which took place in Alberta's two largest cities. Thus, thousands who showed up to Citizens Bank Park on December 31 were treated to just two-thirds of the Legion on ice.

And there was the resultant shock when the Flyers announced in the offseason that only the same two-thirds of that famous line was set to join the franchise elite this year.

You don't have to worry about television duties taking the last piece to the Legion's puzzle away from any future reunions or remembrances. It's just one small part of Renberg's plan for the rest of his life. That school he referenced earlier will prepare him for the next stage  -- which includes a career in the health care field.

"I work with Swedish TV. It's just a part-time thing. In two months. I'm going to be a phsyiotherapist.  I've been doing (that) three years in school ... up in Lulea at the technical university. I'm going to move down to Stockholm and start working."
It's not as far fetched as it seems. For a guy who spent just as much time in the infirmary than he did on the ice due to injuries such as a stomach muscle issue that sidelined him for a significant chunk of one season here to a necrotic infection which nearly cost him his right hand in his later years with Toronto, of course Renberg might want to continue his professional life easing the pain of others.

It also gave him a sense of purpose.

"One year when I was done playing, I did nothing -- and I didn't like that," Renberg added. "I didn't know if it was Tuesday or Saturday half the time. So, I decided to get an education."

Lulea is the flagship campus of four scattered throughout the northern portions of Sweden, boasting 16,000 students and offering almost two dozen masters programs. The school is located roughly 35 miles to the north and east of Renberg's hometown of Pitea, both fairly close to the border with Finland.

The discipline isn't just someone in an office with a massage chair, nor is it some hippie-dippie philosophy intent on healing through holistic means. According to the Chartered Society, physiotherapy "is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and well-being, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle. At the core is the patient’s involvement in their own care, through education, awareness, empowerment and participation in their treatment."

Renberg will provide professional assistance for people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. There's also elements of pain management and disease prevention.

*        *        *

Since the fortunes of the Philadelphia Flyers turned once both Eric Lindros and John LeClair were
placed on the same line by Terry Murray back in February of 1995, it was fitting that both men took to the podium at center ice together.

Honoring more than one deserving former player, coach or front office member in any given ceremony is not a novel concept: it was done the first six times from Bernie Parent and Bob Clarke's night in March of 1988 through April of 1993 when Joe Scott and Ed Van Impe took their turns, before being revived last night; but for the first time, both players chose to give their respective speeches at the same time.

When they walked out from the beneath the stands to their place at center ice, it was not surprising that LeClair received the most intense greeting while Lindros received the longest. Brief remarks followed by both, thanking numerous former teammates and people within the organization.

"Johnny Vermont, the 45-year-old resident of the Main Line and one of a mere three players in club annals to score 40 goals on five different occasions and just the second (behind Tim Kerr's four) to register three seasons of at least 50, spoke first. 

"You guys are awesome," LeClair told the packed house of standing faithful. "Win or tie you were always behind us. .You didn't accept losing. Night in and night out, you brought passion to the (Spectrum and) Wells Fargo Center. Here's to the best fans in the NHL."

He called his three children "my greatest hat trick ever," adding to the 12 he recorded with the Orange and Black, and made a specific point to tell his partner in crime that he owed a lot of success in his career to playing on a line with Lindros.  

To me it’s great. Eric has been such a big part of my career and to have him right there next to me with everything is quite immense," LeClair said. "Obviously, with what he’s done to get me to this point, to have him standing next to me is going to be a big thrill.”

“I didn’t know a whole lot about John. Obviously, we played against one another about six times prior to that trade," Lindros had said in a Monday press conference. "Certainly knew that they had a great deal of success in the (Canadiens' 1993) playoff run, which John was a huge part of. Things seemed to click within the first practice things seemed to really roll. We had a great deal of fun, we worked hard, and we really wanted to score in practices as much as we could."  

That camaraderie which was created was evident in the moment.  

Then it was Lindros' turn.  The Flyers' leader in all-time points-per-game and the youngest captain in team history was buttressed by his wife and new sons, and he spoke pointedly of relations present, past and not in attendance.

"To my parents and my family, who sacrificed countless hours helping me every step of the way – without them, it just doesn’t happen.  I now have a new team … we’re a little bit smaller and overall don’t sleep very much, but on behalf of Kina and my son Carl Pierre, a happy boy – love you guys – we’d like to thank you all for this wonderful acknowledgement."

Finally, it was time for the Legion of Doom to be reunited. There was no question this time that Renberg would be present for the ceremony. Having him present both former line mates with their respective busts and to watch as their names were added to the rafters on the list of the honored, left both fans and press box residents swimming in nostalgia and claiming sudden dust storms swirled inside the arena.

It marked the first time since the final shift of Game 4 in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals -- a 2-1 loss in Detroit which finished off the Red Wings' sweep despite Lindros' tally in the final seconds -- that Lindros, LeClair and Renberg shared the ice together.  

"Oh man ... it was great. I texted my Mom and said I wish I was 15 years younger so I could re-do my career, but I can't ... it was great playing here," Renberg said of the warm reception from nearly 20,000 fans.

Favorite Legion Moments

Every site seems to indulge in making posts out of lists, but when we're talking about a night honoring most of what is arguably the second-greatest line in franchise history, it practically begs for a countdown of great moments.

The following are my own top five, which may not have anything to do with the usual highlight-reel stuff, strictly covering the regular season and only the period where the Legion of Doom was intact.

#5. March 19, 1997 -- Flyers 6, Toronto 3 at Maple Leaf Gardens: On this night in the venerable old building, the first-place Flyers trailed the last-place Leafs by a goal early in the third period. Enter Sandman, aka Lindros, who silenced the crowd of his "hometown" team and scored three of his four goals on the night to reverse that trend. Mikael Renberg potted one of his two goals in the furious flurry.

The Legion ended up accumulating 13 points, lost in the haze of their record-setting 16-point effort only weeks prior vs. the Habs in a 9-5 home victory.

#4. April 13, 1997 -- Flyers 5, Devils 4 at CoreStates Center: Having tied in Montreal the night prior and locked into the third seed in the East, the home team seemingly didn't have anything to play for in the season finale. Neither did the Devils, who by virtue of a win one night prior, were champions of the Atlantic Division and started little-used backup Mike Dunham in place of Martin Brodeur.

Philly fell behind 4-1 after two periods but rallied in the third. LeClair scored the tying goal with 4:07 left in regulation for his second straight season of 50 goals, while Trent Klatt potted the winner on the power play with 1:34 to go. Lindros kicked off the four-goal burst on his even-strength marker at 6:43.

#3. April 22, 1995 -- Flyers 4, Devils 3 (OT) at Meadowlands: Two days after clinching their first playoff berth since 1989 with a 2-1 decision over the Islanders, the Orange and Black had a chance to win the Atlantic Division for the first time ever if they beat New Jersey. Lindros' second-period score gave the visitors a 3-1 lead, but the hosts scored twice in the third to tie.

That set up the dramatic winner, from LeClair, who snuck a shot past Brodeur at the right post on a wraparound at 54 seconds of the extra session. Gaining one of the two top seeds in the conference enabled the Flyers to embark upon their memorable playoff run.

#2. February 25, 1995 -- Flyers 7, Canadiens 0 at Montreal Forum: Only 16 days after the three-for-one trade with the Habs saw LeClair along with Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne shipped to Philadelphia, Terry Murray's club arrived in the city on a Saturday night to finish off a two-game Quebec road trip.

Chastened by a 6-6 tie two nights prior where the visitors wasted leads of 2-0 and 6-3, it took a while for the Flyers to kick the revenge machine into gear. A scoreless game after one turned into a two-goal lead after two thanks to a pair of LeClair tallies against Patrick Roy almost six minutes apart, then LeClair finished off his trifecta with his club's fourth goal only 73 seconds into the third period on assists from Lindros and Renberg.

Kevin Dineen, Desjardins and Patrik Juhlin scored to chase Roy and finish the rout, but the line's dominance and the magnitude of the win against a team less than two seasons removed from a Stanley Cup served notice to North America who got the best of the transaction.

#1. March 19, 1996 -- Flyers 4, Islanders 1 at the Spectrum: It was an ordinary, perfunctory mid-week home victory against a cellar-dwelling opponent, but one in which the Legion of Doom proved that it could be a force not only on the scoreboard, but in the trenches and also when welcoming other players into the fold.

Murray used the tilt to see how many other potential line combinations fared in the wake of moves at the trade deadline, but no matter. In its time together, the Legion combined to accumulate 19 of the club's 41 shots against New York goaltenders Tommy Soderstrom and Eric Fichaud, with Lindros racking up a career-best 14 shots by himself. When Philly's top three players were on the ice, the Islanders simply did not gain possession of the puck, and if an opposing player did manage to find it on his stick, he was treated like a pinball meeting flippers.

The cycle game, the possession game and passing game were in complete control on this night, and an abundance of points weren't necessary to underline that largesse.

Playoff special: If I had to offer up one singular favorite memory of the impact the Legion of Doom had on Flyers hockey in the 90s, it would be the following.

Memorial Day weekend, 1997. Flyers and Rangers engaged in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden, I was engaged in partying down the Jersey shore and shuttling between houses in Margate and Avalon rented by high school friends.

The property in Margate was a back-entrance attic apartment with no TV, so I was stuck peering in a neighbor's window to take score checks back to everybody gathered. Later in the evening, I decided to head for the more spacious digs on the Seven Mile island and listened to the radio call while en route.

I had only reached the tolls at the end of the old Somers Point-Ocean City bridge, and typical for that time of night on a holiday weekend, there was a line stretching back a quarter mile. The game, a 2-2 tie, was winding down when Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom turned his stick into LeClair's face, giving the Flyers a four-minute power play to exploit.

I was five cars from the booth when Lindros shocked the world with his backhander in the game's final seven seconds which won the game and gave Philly a 3-1 series lead. When the goal was scored, along with John Weidemann's impassioned words emanating from the stereo and drifting out each window, every car in line honked their horn and people both behind and in front of me were yelling out the window in celebration. It was an unexpected, beautiful communal moment.