friday findings

Yeah, I brought that one back.  If anyone out there feels like sending me more creative titles for my posts, please do.  Anyway, here’s what’s interesting on a Friday afternoon:

  • FLYERS 7, PENGUINS 4 – HA-HA!!  The Flyers played one hell of a game last night against Cindy Crosby and his Penguins.  I have to admit I was very impressed by the way the Flyers played last night.  Despite the fact it was their second game in back-to-back nights, our boys had lots of energy from the start and they really seem to be getting a handle on new coach Peter Laviolette’s system, having scored 13 goals in their last 2 games.  Getting early leads seems to be a renewed focus for the club and they continued that trend by jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a beautiful turaround shot from Jeff Carter.  31 seconds later rookie James van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 on a mini-breakaway off a beautiful feed from Arron Asham.  Both players would score a second time – JVR on an almost identical goal in the 2nd period and Carter off a great pass from linemate Danny Briere in the 3rd.  What struck me most about last night was the fact that every time the Penguins scored, the Flyers answered.  The only tie score was 0-0 and the Penguins never scored two goals in a row.  When the Flyers play like they did last night, they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with.  Getting production from all 4 lines (11 players had at least 1 point) as well as your defensemen (Chris Pronger & Matt Carle both were a +3), usually translates to winning hockey.  There were still too many giveaways (Carter had one that led directly to a Penguins goal), a few instances of the D not clearing rebounds (Crosby’s first goal was off a HUGE rebound), and the refs DEFINITELY SCREWED the team out of a goal (though the NHL office in Toronto said results were inconclusive, the Penguins TV feed [which thanks to the NHL network was forced down my throat] CLEARLY showed the puck in the crease) so all was not perfect.  However, it’s hard to complain much when not only did the Flyers FINALLY nail the Penguins, but they did it in PITTSBURGH and have now won 6 out of their last 8 games.  With 8 out of their next 10 games at home, the Flyers finally appear to be headed in the right direction.  Keep up the good work, boys!!
  • ALABAMA 37, TEXAS 21 – The highly anticipated BCS National Championship game turned out to be something of a dud.  Texas’ hopes (as well as the hopes ABC & all of its sponsors had for a tight game) were pretty much dashed early in the first quarter when the Longhorns’ all-world QB Colt McCoy left the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder and didn’t return.  Though the hit looked relatively innocuous, McCoy later said he had no feeling in his arm and that’s what prompted the decision not to return.  His backup, redshirt freshman Garrett Gilbert (the son of former NFL QB Gale Gilbert) came in and did what he could but the score was 24-6 at halftime in favor of Alabama.  Though Gilbert played better in the second half and helped the Longhorns get to within 24-21 with about 3 minutes to play, his fumble on the 3 yard line after getting sacked by a blitzer ultimately cost the Longhorns a shot at victory.  All in all the game was pretty one-sided and though Texas fought back, it wasn’t a particularly exciting game.  The lasting memories will be of McCoy’s injury and the fact that now Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban can probably lay claim to being the best college football coach in America (2 national titles in the last 6 years with 2 different schools is pretty incredible).  Overall, I’d say the game was a fitting end to the Bowl Season: lots of hype, lots of fanfare, but ultimately disappointing.  When will the BCS get it?  Bowl Season is still WAY too long, doesn’t have a true championship game and at this point in the year, nobody really cares about it anymore. 
  • PETE CARROLL TO THE SEAHAWKS?? – In a story that’s just beginning to percolate across the airwaves, the Seattle Seahawks fired Jim Mora earlier today and have supposedly reached out in a very BIG way to USC head football coach, Pete Carroll.  Everything I’ve read in the last couple hours points to this as almost a done deal (he might even bring along his offensive coordinator (and former Denver Broncos QB coach) Jeremy Bates with him if he takes the job).  While nothing is certain, and when it comes to head coaching vacancies in the NFL there are always a million things that could go wrong, this would be one hell of a story.  The Seahawks have a ton of money, play in maybe the toughest stadium in the entire league, and one of its weakest divisions so the job is an attractive one.  But the Seahawks also have no GM, a young Defense, and a whole lot of nothing on offense, so there are a lot of challenges ahead for the franchise.  To me, Carroll leaving USC isn’t as big a story as some people will make it.  The guy has done everything possible at that school (rebuilt it, made it a year in/year out contender, won a national championship, etc.) so for him to move on is not a huge surprise.  The bigger story and what makes it a surprise (if anything) is that he’s coming off a “down” year for USC so it’s not like he’s going out on top.  Usually when college coaches make the leap to the pros it’s because they’ve just had major success.  Carroll’s lengthy tenure at USC may qualify but it’s not like he’s won anything significant recently.  But if history tells us anything it’s that when the NFL calls, you answer.  Though there are head coaching vacancies every year, the longer a coach has been out of the game the harder it is to get back in (Bill Cowher anyone??).  Furthermore, there are even fewer opportunities to get back into the pro game once you’ve left for college.  So if Carroll ever wanted to get back, and now that someone seems to be offering him the chance, he’d be wise not to decline.  He’s not getting any younger and he’s been an NFL head coach before so it’s not as though he doesn’t know what he’s getting into.  I’m sure this story will continue to develop but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pete Carroll back in the NFL next year.
  • PLAYOFFS THIS WEEKEND – I’ll probably be taking a 2 day break so that we can all enjoy (hopefully) the first round of the NFL playoffs this weekend.  If you’re curious, I’ve posted who I think will win on the picks page like always.  On Monday I hope to post a recap of all four playoff games.  Til then, have a great weekend!!



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