In wake of the Flyers allowing four first period goals en route to clinching the East for the Rangers, and the Sixers falling to the Heat for the fourth time this year, it is pretty apparent neither of these teams are destined for great things- but what did we really expect as Philly fans?
Let's start with the Flyers, who have been owned by the Rangers, especially after their embarrassing Winter Classic at home to the class of the East.
7 out of their last 10 games, the Flyers have spotted teams at least a two-goal lead. Somehow they have managed to pull off a 5-3-2 record in those games, because they do happen to have a bit of heart and can score goals in many different ways. What they still don't have is goal-tending. And winning in the playoffs is difficult to do when you are playing from far behind. And winning in the playoffs is hard to do when your star forward hasn't done anything all year. In case you are wondering, I'm talking about Danny Briere. Thank God for his phantom injury, maybe we won't have to watch him for a few games.
I will say this- I am excited for the opening round Pens-Flyers series. Should be a lot of testosterone, a lot of goals, and at least 6 games. Unfortunately, with the flawed playoff system in the NHL, the three best teams will be seeded 1, 4, and 5, and unless an upset occurs, which is truly possible, especially in the potential Devils- Panthers series, the Flyers would see the Rangers in Round 2, should they get by the Pens. And it would be unwarranted to suggest the Flyers would beat the Rangers in a seven-game series.
As for the Sixers. They had a great start to the season, mostly due to the weighted average age of the team based on minutes played- they are the third youngest in the league with an average of 25.14. The average age is 26.34, but based on minutes played, the drop is 1.2 years, the second-largest drop behind Atlanta.
My point with this is that while many teams were struggling to get in shape for the season, the Sixers were ready, thanks to their age, and coach Doug Collins. And while we're somehow still waiting for Andre Iguodala to emerge as half of the player he was tagged to be coming out of Arizona, the youthful Sixers are now exposed to the NBA teams who are now in shape and playing good basketball.
The bottom line is that the Sixers just aren't very good, and are touted for another high seed in the playoffs-if they make it- and a first round non-competitive exit. No real improvement has been seen in 10 years with this organization. And it's sad. They have skilled, young players who are playing for a passionate coach. They just don't have any go-to scoring and experience at winning- two factors that are needed in the NBA playoffs.
And in the wake of the two detrimental Philadelphia sports losses last night, we should all give thanks that the Phillies open tomorrow-against Pittsburgh.
Now let's not all get excited when the Phillies sweep the Pirates-who bring their 'ace' to the mound in injury-plagued, velocity leaking, can't seem to win games Erik Bedard- to match up with Roy Halladay-arguably the games most dominant active regular season pitcher.
The Marlins are for real this year. The Braves were for real last year, and have gotten better this year. I still think the Phillies take the division, due in great part to Utley and Howard missing significant time. But it won't come nearly as easily as the past five seasons.
So the Phillies open with the Pirates, which will add some relief to the Flyers and Sixers upcoming playoff expectations. As the sun sets on another titleless NHL season, as well as another titleless NBA season, there is still a glimmer of hope in an aging and soon to be split MLB season. The opening weekend should keep spirits up in the greater Philadelphia region-and for those watching around the world.