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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Berube likes lineup

VOORHEES, N.J. — Recovered from a concussion that had caused him to miss six games, Matt Read was reunited on a line with Vinny Lecavalier and Sean Couturier Tuesday night in Buffalo.

The Sabres might have preferred that he had one more night of rest.

“He did good,” Craig Berube said Wednesday at the Skate Zone. “He skated well. He made a nice play on the game-winning goal. But I thought his skating was really good in the game.”

Read has long had a comfort level with Couturier, with whom he has been paired on a variety of lines. But Berube believes the one with Lecavalier, which combined to concoct the game-winning goal with 14.8 seconds left Tuesday, has a chance to be special.

“Well I thought they had a good game, the whole line,” Berube said. “They had a few chances in the game. I think it is just about getting used to each other. They haven’t really played that much together, with Reader getting hurt. And Vinny was hurt. But they are going to have an opportunity here now to work together and see what is going to happen.

“You’ve got a little of everything on that line. Vinny is a shooter and a scorer. Read’s got the speed and Couturier is a good two-way hockey player, a centerman who can make plays. He is big and hangs onto the puck.

“So it can be a good combination, the whole line.”

Read said he felt comfortable Tuesday. His play did, too.

“I felt good,” he said. “I thought I would be out of shape. But I was well-rested and my legs were good and things kind of went my way a little bit. But it was just one game. We’ve got a lot more to go and I’ve got a lot more things to do to help my teammates.

“You’ve got to do a lot of stuff off the ice when you’re not playing. I took care of my body better than I have in the past, just riding the bike, doing a lot more cardio. I know when I came back, I wanted to play 20 minutes again in all situations. You’ve just got to do everything you can, so when you come back to the lineup, you can be a role player and do your job.”

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The Flyers held a light, optional workout Wednesday. That was followed by a team meeting to prepare for a Thursday visit from the Nashville Predators.

“Nashville is a very good team,” Berube said. “We had a tough game up there in their building. So we expect a tough game. We’ve got to be ready. They have a good team.”

Ray Emery tended goal for about a half-dozen Flyers, including Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson, Chris VandeVelde, Jay Rosehill and Steve Downie.

“With this many games, a rest is more important right now,” Berube said. “It’s tough that way, but guys have to stay focused. We can do some teaching through video and keep guys fresh.”

• • •
Berube gave a slight indication Wednesday that Scott Hartnell might not play against Nashville. Hartnell injured his ankle early in the Buffalo game while blocking a shot, but returned. He did not skate Wednesday.

“We’ll see tomorrow,” Berube said. “I think he’s OK. We’ll make a better decision tomorrow after the morning skate.”

Officially, the Flyers are acknowledging that Hartnell has a “lower body” injury … not that it prevented him from scoring a goal and contributing two assists to the 4-3 victory.

Said Paul Holmgren, in a statement: “Scott was examined after the game last night and again today for a lower body issue. Scott is day to day.”

If Hartnell must miss some games, it will be at the wrong time for the Flyers.

“He is playing with a lot of energy right now and he is doing a great job around the net, being physical,” Berube said. “And on the power play, obviously, he has a presence in the slot. He scored a goal last night. I think his game has been pretty consistent for a while now.”

Sunday, January 12, 2014

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Friday, January 10, 2014

A Flyers notebook

VOORHEES, N.J. --- The Flyers have won six of their last seven and their last 10 at home, and they have bobbed into second place in the NHL Metro.

Any chance that will mean anything to the Tampa Bay Lightning, which will visit the Wells Fargo Center at 1 p.m. Saturday --- or to the Rangers, who will be waiting for the Flyers to show up in the Garden Sunday night?


“I just think every game we play is just another opportunity to prove ourselves,” Steve Mason said Friday, after practice at the Skate Zone. “We have had some success recently. But at the same time, we have to keep backing that up in order to achieve what our ultimate goal is. And they are some pretty solid tests coming up this weekend, playing back-to-back, including that second game in New York, a tough building to play in. It's going to be a great test for us.”

Though the Flyers defeated the Rangers, 2-1, Oct. 24 at the Wells Fargo Center, they have been beaten by them in nine of their last 12. They lost, 4-2, in Tampa in November, and have won two of their last eight against Tampa Bay.

“It is going to be a tough game,” said Wayne Simmonds of the Tampa Bay visit. “But playing in our barn, you want to make it a tough place to play. You want to make teams fear coming into our building. And I think we've been doing a good job of that as of late. We've got to keep that up. We are fighting to the same spot. It is going to be a huge game. When it comes down to the last couple of points at the end of the year, we're going to want them. So we are going to have to play our best these next two games and get as many points as we can out of the four.”

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One reason --- the biggest? --- for the Flyers' recent success is that they have successfully killed off their last 19 penalties.

“I think there are a couple of different factors,” Braydon Coburn said. “We have been very well prepared. Lappy (assistant coach Ian Laperriere) has been very good in that role for us this year. And our best penalty killers, when things break down, have been our goaltenders. They have been superb.”

Among the keys to the penalty-killing success has been Zac Rinaldo. But after suffering a high-ankle sprain in a 3-1 victory Wednesday over visiting Montreal, Rinaldo was placed on injured reserve Friday. He is expected to take up to six weeks to recover.

“We have guys,” Laperriere said. “(Chris) VandeVelde came in and he is good at killing penalties. We do have a lot of depth in that regard. (Michael) Raffl has been killing penalties all year. And we can use 'G' (Claude Giroux) a little bit more. We took 'G' off after the faceoffs, but now he will be back full-time, probably, on the P.K. But we do have a lot of guys. And what I like is that those guys go out there and don't want to get scored on. And they take a lot of pride in that.”

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To replace Rinaldo on the active roster, Tye McGinn was recalled from the Phantoms. McGinn has had multiple mini-opportunities with the Flyers, this season and last. This time, though, he anticipates a full, six-week look.

“It's not always easy, but it is part of being a hockey player,” said McGinn, 23. “And you've got to accept it. It's part of getting older, stronger and mentally tougher as a professional athlete.”

In six Flyers games this season, McGinn has produced three goals.

“I was happy to get the call-up,” he said. “I just want to go to practice every day and compete and give it the best I can. If I am lucky enough to get in the games, I will try to play the best hockey I can.”

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NOTES: Of course, the Flyers' goaltending rotation for the weekend remains a secret. Asked Friday about his schedule, Mason smiled and said, “Can't tell you.” … If it matters, he kind of enjoys day games. “It's nice to get a win at 1 o'clock,” the goaltender said, “and then have the rest of the day to sit on that.” … Erik Gustafsson, who has not played since Dec. 12 due to a knee injury, has been practicing. He said he would be available to play Saturday. “Yeah, I think so,” he said. “But that's up to the coaches and the training staff.” … Matt Read, recovering from a concussion, was involved in the early-morning practice Friday, but was among the first Flyers to leave the ice. “He looked OK,” Craig Berube said. “He stayed out longer than he was supposed to. He had a good, little skate and he seemed fine. He felt better.” Read has not played since Dec. 31

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Three Hall of Famers at PSWA dinner

CHERRY HILL, N.J. --- Three Hall of Famers --- Bill Barber, Ryne Sandberg and Wayne Hardin --- will be at the head table Jan. 27 for the 110th Philadelphia Sports Writers Dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Barber will receive the PSWA's Living Legend Award and will be among several members of the Flyers' 1974 team honored on the 40th anniversary of their Stanley Cup.

Sandberg will be saluted as he enters his first full season as the Phillies manager.

Hardin, the former Temple coach, will be recognized for his recent induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Other guests include Jason Avant of the Eagles, who will receive the Good Guy Award and former Eagles general manager Jimmy Murray, who will receive a lifetime Humanitarian Award for his dedication to the Ronald McDonald House program for families of severely ill children.

Also, there will be the annual revelation of the Most Courageous Athlete --- a nationally recognized award.

The banquet is open to the public. Tickets for the banquet are priced at $95 and are available at the door and at


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Birds add three players

The Eagles have signed three players to “reserve/future” contracts — linebacker Josh Kaddu and wide receiver Will Murphy, both of whom played for Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon, along with wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah.
Reserve/future contracts are for players not on NFL rosters at the end of the season and can be signed before the free-agent season begins. The 2014 free-agency season technically starts March 11.
Kaddu was a fifth-round, 2012 draft choice of the Miami Dolphins. He has played in five NFL games, one in 2013, and does not have a career tackle.
Murphy was a walk-on at Oregon, signed last summer with the Eagles, and made three catches in the preseason before being cut. Later, he joined the Birds’ practice squad.
The 6-foot-7 Momah played at Boston College, then signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent before the 2013 season. He was cut in late in training camp.
Monday, linebacker Emmanuel Acho, defensive end Brandon Blair, tackle Michael Bamiro, tight end Emil Igwenagu, quarterback G.J. Kinne and linebacker Travis Long signed reserve/future contracts with the Birds after having served on their practice squad.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Eagles postseason goes a different kind of fast

The Eagles began their season with a 53-play first half.

They ended it Saturday with a 57-play game, a 26-24 postseason loss to the New Orleans Saints, and their championship-free streak rampaging at 54.

They tried, but they could not coax the most out of LeSean McCoy, the NFL's leading rusher. He was held to 77 yards on 21 carries.

They tried, but they could not coax the most out of DeSean Jackson, who did not have a first-half reception.

They succeeded in defending Drew Brees, both sacking and intercepting him twice. But in the end, they were just not able to do what they had been programmed do to: Outscore opponents when it mattered.

“They played a little more zone than they had coming in,” Chip Kelly said. “But I will give credit to Rob (defensive coordinator Rob Ryan). They had a really good game plan.”

That's NFL postseason football. And it's different from regular-season football.

Check out my column on the Eagles' collision with postseason reality in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, at

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

All time list of Delaware County Sports Figures of the Year

Merion Golf Club, the 2013 Daily Times Sports Figure of the Year, joins this list:

1996: Kate Fonshell … Penncrest High, Villanova … track
1997: John Mobley … Chichester High …football
1998: Bo Ryan … Chester High …basketball
1999: Pat Croce … Lansdowne-Aldan High … basketball
1999: Leroy Burrell … Penn Wood High… track, Delco Sports Figure of the Millennium
2000: Emily deRiel … Haverford High …pentathlon
2001: Brendan Hansen … Haverford High… swimming
2002: Mike Scioscia … Springfield High … baseball
2003: Harry Perretta … Monsignor Bonner High, Villanova … basketball
2004: Brendan Hansen … Haverford High… swimming
2005: Kevin Clancy … Strath Haven High … football
2006: Vince Papale … Interboro High …football
2007: Dan Connor … Strath Haven High… football
2008: Fred Pickett … Chester High …basketball
2009: Andy Talley … Haverford High, Villanova … football
2010: Matt Szczur … Villanova …football, baseball
2011: Philadelphia Union … Chester …soccer
2012: Larry Yarbray … Chester High …basketball
2013: Merion Golf Club … Haverford …golf