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FBS Should Have a 16-Team Playoff to Determine the National Championship

20 Dec
Florida State and Auburn will lock horns for the BCS National Championship next month in Pasadena.

Florida State and Auburn will lock horns for the BCS National Championship next month in Pasadena.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

PHILADELPHIA—A couple of years ago, I wrote a column for this blog about the need for the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS—aka  Division I-A) to have a 16-team playoff.

https://thechrismurrayreport.org/2009/12/24/once-and-for-all-there-needs-to-be-a-playoff-in-fbs-div-1-a/#comments

The automatic bids would go out to the winners of the 10 FBS conferences. Six at-large bids would go out to the highest ranked non-conference champions, according to the final Bowl Championship Series poll of the regular season.

The opening-round and quarterfinal games might be played at the home of the highest seeded team or at the existing bowl sites. Semifinal and championship games would be played at the major BCS bowl sites on a rotating basis.

As a disclaimer, I am probably not the only one who has come up with this idea and so I am not seeking a patent. If you got a better plan, put it out there.

To accommodate final exams for the student-athletes, I would start the first-round games a week before Christmas. Most universities are either finished or close to finishing up exams by that point in December.

The playoffs, even if there’s a two-week delay between the semifinals and the championship game would end by mid-January—when most students would be coming back from the winter break.

Meanwhile, if your team doesn’t make the playoffs and has a good season, they can still go to a postseason bowl game. It would be the football equivalent of college basketball’s National Invitation Tournament—which is kind of what we have now in college football with the plethora of bowl games.

Even with next year’s four-team playoff on the horizon for next year, I still believe there needs to be a 16-team playoff.  On one hand, I think the four-team playoff is a step in the right direction because sooner or later it’s going to expand to eight and then to 16. It may take a few years, but it will get there eventually.

If there is an expanded playoff, it will no doubt make tons of money for those institutions—some of which should go to the student athletes putting their bodies on the line to play in those games.  In other words, they should pay the athletes in the revenue producing sports just on general principle, but that’s another column.

Bracketology College Football Style

So what if he we had a 16-team playoff THIS year? As we said earlier, your automatic bids would go to the winners of the 10 FBS conferences.  The at-large teams would be the six highest ranked non-conference champions in the final regular-season BCS poll.

According to the final 2013 BCS rankings, the six highest ranked teams without a conference championship are: No. 3 Alabama; No. 7 Ohio State; No. 8 Missouri; No.9 South Carolina; No. 10 Oregon and No. 11 Oklahoma.

In the round of the 16, ACC champion and No. 1 seed Florida State would play No.16  Louisiana-LaFayette, champions of the Sun Belt (UL-L had the same record as Arkansas State but beat them head-to-head).

FSU would beat Louisiana LaFayette and in the quarterfinals they would face the winner of eight-seed Missouri versus No. 9 seed South Carolina—I would pick Missouri to win that game.

An intriguing matchup in the first round would be Big-10 title-holder and No. 4 Michigan State and the nation’s best defense versus No. 13-seed and Mountain West standard bearer Fresno State, with their high-powered offense. If you believe defense wins championships, Spartans would probably win.

That would be a dangerous matchup for Michigan State with the way the Bulldogs can put points on the board.

The 5-12 matchup would be a tough fight. Pac-12 champ Stanford as the No. 5 seed versus American Athletic Conference champion and No. 12-seed University of Central Florida would be a heck of a contest. It’s another game that could go either way. Stanford would be the more physical team, in my opinion, and  would probably win.

In the quarterfinals—Florida State would overwhelm Mizzou while No. 4 Michigan State toughs out a physical contest with Stanford to face FSU in the semifinals. The Seminoles would beat the Spartans to get to the title game.

On the other end of the bracket, SEC champion and No. 2 seed Auburn would easily defeat No. 15- seed and Mid-America Conference champion Bowling Green.  In a game that could probably go either way, No. 7 Ohio State would probably be upset by No. 10 Oregon. Since both of these teams are lacking in defense, this is a pick-‘em game.

Meanwhile, No. 3 Alabama would easily run over No. 14 seed and Conference USA champ Rice.  Big 12 champion and No. 6-seed Baylor would beat No. 11-seed Oklahoma—another one of those games that could go either way.

In the quarterfinals, Oregon versus Auburn would be a game of whoever has the ball last wins since neither team is really that great on defense. The Tigers would beat a Ducks team that wasn’t all that sure of itself at the end of the season.  The Crimson Tide would rough up the Bears and would beat Auburn or Oregon to get to the national title game.

In the national championship, I believe that Florida State and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston would be slightly better than Alabama. The Seminoles would take home the trophy.

I know some of the big conferences would complain about the idea of having to share the wealth with the smaller conferences. Even worse, I can almost hear the bigger conferences saying their fourth and fifth team is better than the champion of the Mountain West.

Every so often, we have teams from small conferences beating the big boys from the so-called bigger conferences. What harm is it to give those kids a fair shot at the title by including them in football’s big dance? Are big conferences afraid that a team from the MAC or the Sun Belt might upset an SEC team or an ACC squad?

I don’t know if this plan is perfect, it’s not.  Whatever plan or scheme they come up with, I hope it’s fair to the student athletes and their well-being, gives all FBS schools a chance to participate without big conference bias and gives those smaller to mid-level programs that one shot to slay Goliath on a big stage.

Flyers Rebound from Loss in Chicago

13 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Thursday Night’s game at the Wells Fargo was a homecoming in more ways than one for the Flyers.

For starters, the Flyers were trying to put an end to a three-game losing streak while getting over the shellacking they took at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks on Wednesday night to cap a long six-game road trip.

It was also the return of former Flyers and now Montreal Canadiens center Danny Briere, who got a video tribute and a standing ovation from the Flyers fans filled with memories of his 30-point performance during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

“We all loved Danny,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “We loved his time here. He’s a great guy and a very good hockey player. There’s a lot of respect from us and his teammates. He got a great welcome from the fans.”

Showing no signs of having played 24 hours earlier, the Flyers gave the 19,748 home fans something to cheer about with a 2-1 win over the Canadians. It was the Flyers sixth straight win on their home ice.

“After our performance in Chicago … we did a good job of five-on-five today,” Jakub Voracek, who had two assists. “Actually, we weren’t thinking about last night when we got our ass kicked. Every game is zero-zero and we knew it, I think we played very well tonight. It was a huge two points to bounce back after a disappointing loss in Chicago.”

Berube said he was happy with the energy and heart his team showed in their first night at home after a long road trip that ended with a horrific loss.

“I think there’s a lot of character in the room,” Berube said. “They certainly weren’t happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team. It didn’t work out they wanted it to, but it was a lot of character and it was a good win tonight. They played a good team game tonight.”

After giving up seven goals against Chicago the previous night, the Flyers clamped down on defense and kept the Canadian from getting any good shots on goalie Steve Mason, who had 20 saves against 21 shots. Montreal didn’t score until there was 56 seconds left in the game.

“It was a great overall effort,” Mason said. “Guys were really hard not to give them too many opportunities to have any rushes because they’re a fast team.”

Claude Giroux, who scored what turned about the game-winning goal in the second period, said the Flyers defensive effort also got the offense going.

“I think we really did a good job,” Giroux said. “Most of our chances offensively is because we played good defensively. When we understand that we’ll have more chances.”

The Flyers also stayed away from the penalty box. The Canadians had just one just one power-play opportunity, but did not score.

With 6:03 left in the first period, Flyers left winger Michael Rafl scored the game’s first goal on a pass from Voracek who was positioned behind the net to the left of Montreal goalie Carey Price. It was Rafl’s second goal of the season. It was really special because his dad was in the building for the Flyers Father-Son Night.

“It was just great, amazing,” Rafl said. “He never saw an NHL game live and all this stuff was just awesome.”

The Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on a goal by Giroux, who got the puck on a cross pass from Voracek, who got his second assist of the game.

The Canadians got their only goal late in the game from center Alex  Galchenyuk.

Third Line Leads Flyers to Win over Buffalo

22 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Thursday night’s game, the Flyers (9-10-2) had lost all seven games in which their opponent scored the game’s first goal.

During a lackluster first period for the home team, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, in a scrum near the Flyers net, somehow got a shot past goalie Ray Emery to give his team a 1-0 lead. A few weeks ago that goal would have been the kiss of death for a Flyers team that was struggling to score.

But the early Buffalo goal only served to wake the Flyers up as they did all the scoring the rest of the way in a 4-1 win over the Sabres in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Flyers are 5-0-1 in their last six games and have outscored their opponents 22-8.

“After that (first period) we kept at it and kept it at and we finally got a couple in the second,” Emery said.

After struggling in the first period, the Flyers seized control of the game in the second period thanks to their No. 3 scoring line which consisted of right winger Matt Read, who scored the team’s first two goals, Steve Downie and center Sean Couturier, who got assists on those two scores.

“The third line played great,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “It’s nice to get balanced scoring for sure. When you can have everybody chipping in, it goes a long way.”

Read scored the Flyers first goal with 6:53 left in the second period on a pass from Downie. A little over a minute later, Couturier stole the puck from Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder and passed it to Downie who circled around the net and found Read in front of the net who shot the puck past goalie Ryan Miller.

“As a line, we played pretty good,” Couturier said. “We kept it simple, put puck deeps and won some battles. Read finished two nice plays there.”

Read said he, Downie and Couturier often meet about getting deep in the scoring zone and getting the puck to the net and they’re doing a good job of developing chemistry with each other.

“Couturier, Downie and I are having fun out there,” Read said. “We’re doing the simple things and not turning pucks over, just making things happen. The key to our line is to get pucks deep and go to work. Things just went our way tonight, but we have three or four solid lines. Any given night, any line can score. It’s fun to play when all four lines are cooking like that.”

After the second period, the Flyers kept the pressure on the Sabres in the third period. With 10:02 left in the game, Vincent LeCavalier’s goal upped the margin to 3-1. Scott Hartnell added another on an empty-netter with 11 seconds left in the game. For the game, the Flyers outshot the Sabres (5-18-1) 46 to 30.

Meanwhile, Emery had a solid night in goal for the Flyers. He had 29 saves while upping his record to 3-3 on the season. That was something that was not lost on Berube.

“Ray was solid again. He’s done a really good job. He’s a very good goalie,” Berube said. “He wins a lot of games. He goes in there and wins games. Like I say again, he was solid.”

Flyers Score Three in the Third Period to Sink Ottawa

20 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux got the Flyers going with a power- play goal in the first period in the Flyers win over Ottawa Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux got the Flyers going with a power- play goal in the first period in the Flyers win over Ottawa Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Earlier in the season, the Flyers had a penchant for taking one or two goal leads only to have the other team come back and win the game.

When Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris scored the game-tying goal with 16:48, it was looking like one of those bad nights for the Flyers, who had jumped out to a 2-0 early in the second period.

But the Flyers (8-10-2) refused to fold and exploded for three goals in the third period for a 5-2 win over the Senators Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers have won four out of their last five games and are 5-1-2 since a fight-marred shutout loss to the Washington Capitals.

“It was a very good response by our team,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought the whole third period we played to win that game. It’s encouraging, it’s good to see. … You’re looking for your team to play and skate for 60 minutes. Sometimes, you’re going to do that and not get a break and lose, but if you do it on a consistent basis, you’re going to win more than you’re going to lose.”

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen had a big night for his team with a goal and two assists. It was his goal past Senators goalie Robin Lehner with 8:30 left that put the Flyers on top for good. Twenty-three seconds later, Wayne Simmonds added an insurance goal to make 4-2. Adam Hall’s empty-netter in the final seconds capped an impressive third period.

“The way earlier in year has been going for us it’s been a lot of bad losses or tight losses, but when we’re able to turn these games into two points for us in the third period, that’s a good sign,” Timonen said. “The team looks good right now. They’re skating, we’re working and doing the system pretty well. The boys are playing unbelievable. It’s a lot of good things going for our team. Hopefully, we can keep doing it.”

It also helped that the Flyers got a little bit of luck. With 10:30 left, Turris pushed in a shot that was headed for the back of the Flyers net. But the puck hit the left skate and bounced the right skate of defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. The official behind the net ruled that it was no goal.

“I tried to get some guys out of the crease and I felt the puck coming off my left foot and after that, I just hit it with my reflexes,” Grossmann said. “I didn’t see the puck coming in, just reflex and a lot of luck.”

The play was reviewed by the replay officials and the call was upheld. Photographic evidence suggests that the puck might have snuck past the goal line, but it wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn the call.

With the ruling in their favor, the rejuvenated Flyers began their push to win game thanks to the scoring of both Timonen and Simmonds.

“We said no matter what happens if it’s a goal we were going to stay with our structure,” Simmonds said. “We were going to get opportunities all game. We’re confident in ourselves. We know what we have to do. Today was great because everybody did their job and we came up with the win.”

Meanwhile, Flyers goalie Steve Mason had another outstanding performance with 32 saves including a huge save on a penalty shot by Turris late in the third period.

“He played well,” Berube said. “He’s been playing well all year. A big save on that penalty shot. That was a huge timely save.”

The Flyers started the scoring with 3:16 left in the first period on a power-play goal by center Claude Giroux who got a pass from Timonen to the right of the Senator’s goal. In the second period, the Flyer upped the lead to 2-0 on a by center Sean Couturier who was set up on a pass by Timonen.

Later in the second period, Ottawa got its first goal of the game on a goal by left winger Clark MacArthur before Turris tied it in third period.

Flyers, Giroux End Scoring Woes in Win over Edmonton

9 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux celebrates his first goal of the season in the third period of the Flyers win over the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux celebrates his first goal of the season in the third period of the Flyers win over the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—There are several ways you can look at the Flyers 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on a Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

One way is to say it was inspiration from the players-only meeting after Thursday’s embarrassing shutout loss to the New Jersey Devils. They played 60-minutes of solid hockey, especially in the third period when they scored two goals. They outshot the Oilers 34-26.

“I think some choice words were said in that meeting and we all gotta be accountable,” said Flyers right-winger Wayne Simmonds. “I thought we came today and played a much-better game for 60 minutes. We stuck with our structure and we got two more goals in the third period which is always nice.”

Or you can be a cynic who sees the glass as half empty and say the Flyers were playing a last-place (Pacific Division) Oilers squad (4-12-2) that gives up 3.8 goals per game. This is a team the Flyers should beat. The only problem with that logic is that the Flyers (5-10-1) are at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Given the way the Flyers have struggled to score, the team is simply happy with the win and is hoping that it will give them a boost of momentum for their three-game road trip that will take them to Ottawa (Nov. 12), Pittsburgh (Nov.13) and Winnipeg (Nov15).

“I thought that we played a real good third period tonight,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought that we kept playing and doing the right things. I like the way we got the puck deep and forechecked tonight. I like getting 30-plus shots a game and putting pucks on net.”

Another bright spot for the Flyers is that team captain Claude Giroux finally ended his scoring slump and smacked a slap-shot past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk to give his team a 3-1 lead 8:34 left in the third period. It was his first goal of the season.

“It was big,” said Flyers left winger Jay Rosehill. “The bench was really happy and all pumped up. (Giroux) had a big smile on his face. A guy like him isn’t going to go scoreless very often. To get a nice goal like that we needed was big, so I expect him to start rolling now.”

It was especially huge for a visibly frustrated Giroux who had two excellent scoring chances for goals in the second period, but just could not find the net before getting that third period goal. After that second point-blank miss, he shattered his stick in frustration on the Flyers bench.

“Jake (Voracek) and (Scott Hartnell) did a good job of finding me,” Giroux said. “I think we were real aggressive today-the whole team.  The (Oilers) are really talented offensively and we had to make sure that we had a good effort.”

When Edmonton left winger Taylor Hall pushed a shot past goalie Steve Mason to cut the Flyers 3-2 with 6:35 left in the game, fans might have been wondering how the Flyers were going to blow this game given some recent history.

Vincent LeCavalier put that notion and the Oilers to rest with 5:27 left in the third when he took a pass from Braden Schenn and slid it past Dubnyk to put the game away for the Flyers.

Oddly enough, it was Rosehill, known more for his toughness, who got things going for the Flyers in the first period when he took a pass from Mark Streit about four yards in front of the Oilers goal and smacked it past Dubnyk.  He also got the best of Luke Gazdic in a fight that put him in the penalty box for five minutes.

“Rosey did a great job,” Berube said. “He scored a goal and had a big fight. Rosey has done everything we’ve asked of him.”

Later in the first period, Streit assisted on another goal when found a streaking Scott Hartnell who put the puck in the net to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Edmonton cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period on a goal by left winger David Perron.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason finally had a solid game with support from the offense. He finished the game with 24 saves.

Flyers Scoring Slump Continues in Loss to New Jersey

8 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday

Wayne Simmonds said Flyers are thinking too much during scoring slump.

Wayne Simmonds said Flyers are thinking too much during scoring slump.

PHILADELPHIA—Statistics that say that you have a probability to lose under certain circumstances are only true when your team finds itself in said situation and makes that stat true.

Coming into Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers were 0-6 when the other team scores first. Given the Flyers inability to put the puck in the net on a regular basis, there is always a high probability that they would be finding themselves on the losing end of the score again.

Now make it 0-7.

Just one-minute and 57 seconds into the game, New Jersey got on the board first when Adam Henrique deflected a shot from teammate Eric Gelinas that got past Flyers goaltender Ray Emery.  That gave the Devils what could construed as an “insurmountable” 1-0 lead given the Flyers lack of scoring punch.

New Jersey got two more goals in the third period from Cam Janssen and a late empty-netter by Jaromir Jagr to complete a 3-0 shutout of a Flyers squad that couldn’t seem to find a way to score against an aging Martin Brodeur (22 saves). The 19,604 fans gathered at the Wells Fargo Center voiced their frustration by serenading their team with boos as they walked off the ice.

“It just means we’re not doing our jobs,” said Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds. “The fans react to what they see and it’s not good enough.”

It marked the second straight home game in which the Flyers did not score a goal. They haven’t scored on their home ice since an Oct. 29 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

After the game, the Flyers had a players’ only meeting to figure out how they can break out of their scoring woes. Simmonds, who would not elaborate on what was said during the confab, said the team’s inability to put the puck in the net is more of a mental issue than anything else.

“We’re not penetrating, we’re not getting quality shots,” Simmonds said. “I think we’re thinking too much about passing instead of shooting. When things aren’t going for you tend to pull up for the extra play instead of just throwing stuff at the net. When you get bounces, you get stuff off other team’s skates and sticks. You get the dirty goals. I think that’s where we gotta start. It starts in practice (Friday). I think we gotta come to practice tomorrow. We gotta stop in front of the nets and bury every puck we can.”

Whether the players-only meeting will eventually help the Flyers remains to be seen, but they have to start somewhere.

“The only way I know is to work hard and play hard for your teammates,” said Flyers defenseman Hal Gill. “That’s what we gotta keep working on and find a way to make the puck drop and get that first goal. Things are going to come, we’re going to get guys to score goals. I think we believe that we just have to fight through the times that it’s not happening.”

The one area that really killed the Flyers was their inability to put together anything on their power-play opportunities. Not only were they 0-for-3 on the power play, they could only manage three shots. Head coach Craig Berube was not pleased with his team’s effort with the man-advantage Thursday night.

“We got outplayed and outworked,” Berube said. “That can’t happen. I think there’s some games, if you go back, the power-play looked good, but the puck didn’t go in. On a consistent night, you got to outwork the penalty kill. You go to create momentum for your team. We did not do that tonight.”

Rock Bottom: Capitals Shutout Flyers in Fight-Filled Contest

2 Nov

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Steve Mason gives up to goal to Washington's Jason Chimera as the Capitals scored five goals in the second period. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Steve Mason gives up to goal to Washington’s Jason Chimera as the Capitals scored five goals in the second period. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—With Washington’s prolific goal-scorer Alexander Ovechkin out with an upper body injury and his teammates playing the final game of a five-game road trip, you would think that this would be an opportunity for the Flyers to score a few goals and possibly steal a win.

The Flyers were also hoping that left winger Steve Downie, who was acquired by the Flyers from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade for Max Talbot, would provide some scoring punch. That didn’t work either. He left the game in the second period and was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital to be treated for concussion symptoms.

Instead, the only team doing the stealing was the Capitals who took what they wanted in a 7-0 shutout of the Flyers in front of 19, 702 disgruntled fans at the Well Fells Fargo Center.  The fans took their disgust out on team general manager Paul Holmgren by chanting, “Fire Holmgren.”

“I can’t blame the fans,” Holmgren said. “We’re as frustrated as they are.”

The booing and chanting came during the second period when Washington (6-7-0) scored five goals to pretty much end the competitive portion of the game. The fortunes of a team that can’t score got even more complicated by their inability to stop the other team from putting the puck in the net.

In short, the Flyers (3-9-0) got their collective rear-ends handed to them on the scoreboard. It was no doubt the low point of what has been tough season.

“It can’t get a whole lot lower, can it?”  Flyers head coach Craig Berube asked rhetorically after the game. “Everybody’s been involved in these games before. You can’t sit there and dwell upon it. You gotta play a game (Saturday against the New Jersey Devils). Compete tomorrow, work real hard. That’s what you do.”

Speaking of Holmgren, he addressed the team during the second intermission to express his own disgust at the way the Flyers were playing.

“We played pretty good for 15 minutes. Once they scored their first goal, we just stopped playing,” Holmgren said. “We were afraid to play the game. We were afraid to make plays. We were afraid to battle for pucks, afraid to skate after pucks. It was tough to watch. I’m sure the players are very embarrassed.”

Flyers goalie Ray Emery engages in a brawl with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers goalie Ray Emery engages in a brawl with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Photo by Webster Riddick.

The only thing Flyers fans had to cheer about was a third-period melee which resulted in 114 minutes of penalties. For the game, the teams had 164 minutes worth of penalties.  It started with Wayne Simmonds fighting Capitals right winger Tom Wilson and that escalated into a brawl between Vincent LeCavalier and Caps defenseman Steve Olesky.  Just as Brayden Schenn was mixing it up with Washington defenseman Alexander Urbom, Flyers goalie Ray Emery sprinted down the ice to put a beat down on Capitals net-minder Braden Holtby.

“As a group we were frustrated tonight, our fans are frustrated,” Emery said. “Things didn’t go our way. We all grew up playing hockey and sometimes that happens. We don’t take losses like that.”

Berube said the third period brawl showed that his team wasn’t going to lay down and quit.

“They care,” Berube said. “They’re frustrated. That’s what it boils down to.”

Vincent LeCavalier gets into a brawl with Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky in the third period of a 7-0 loss to Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Vincent LeCavalier gets into a brawl with Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky in the third period of a 7-0 loss to Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Added Holmgren: “They were getting slapped around. It’s a response. Do I have an issue with it? No.”

If this game was scored on a 10-point must system, the Flyers would have won hands down. It’s too bad the Flyers can’t score the way they can fight. If they shot pucks into the net the way their fists hit the faces of Capitals players, they might be Stanley Cup contenders. The video of this brawl will probably go viral on social media sites and will also go to the NHL offices for possible suspensions.

Two Washington players Nicklas Backstrum and Joel Ward had hat-tricks against the Flyers defense.

In the first period, the Flyers out shot Washington 8-4, but when the clock hit zero to end the period, it was the Capitals with a 1-0 lead.  With 2:32 left in the period, Washington was able to get on the board when Nate Schmidt took the puck that caromed off the stick of  Simmonds and passed it to Erat Martin, who found Backstrom in front of the circle to left of the goal. Backstrum shot the puck past Mason for the score.

What made things even more disheartening was that the Flyers held the Capitals without a shot on goal for the game’s first 15 minutes.

“We played pretty good (in the first period), they got the goal, we didn’t respond,” Berube said. “That’s what I saw.”

Things didn’t get any better for the Flyers in that fateful second period either as Washington exploded to score five goals-three within the first five minutes of the period. The Caps scored the first of those goals in 1:24 of the period when Ward got in a shot past Mason.  A little over a minute later, left winger Jason Chimera scored to make it a 3-0.

That goal got Mason pulled from the game, but that didn’t stop the Capitals from scoring. Backstrum got his second goal on another shot between the blue line and circle that went past Ray Emery. Just five minutes into the second period the Capitals had an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

Washington added two more goals-including Backstrum’s third and another in the third to complete the rout.