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Flyers force Game 7 against Sabres, Phillies sweep Padres, but lose Contreras, and Sixers stay alive against LeFraud and the Heat

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Joe Vallee's TWO MINUTE DRILL

The good people at P2P have decided to give you our (sometimes) humorous yet accurate (at least we think so) thoughts on some local sports topics in a brief 120 seconds. It really shouldn't take any longer than that to read. And if it does, "I really need to do a better job of putting my readers in a better position to read faster."

For once, the Flyers played an overall better game than the Sabres and actually won.Brian Boucher will start Game 7 Tuesday night against the Sabres. Photo:http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2011/04/24/boucher-shines-relief-flyers/

With the team fighting for their playoff lives in Game 6, the Flyers forced a Game 7 Tuesday night with a dramatic 5-4 overtime win against Buffalo.

Ville Leino was the hero of the day as he sent the Flyers back to Philadelphia with the game-winning goal. Mike Richards has been relatively silent during this series, but made some noise as he drilled Buffalo’s Tim Connolly in the second period. In a fit of irony, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff are both whining now, saying Richards should be suspended for the hit.

Really Lindy? Now I hear a lot of whining going on. First off, Danny Briere has been the victim of cheap shots and insults at the hands of Buffalo the entire series. After a pep talk that seemed to rally the troops Sunday, Briere took out those frustruations by netting two goals in the game.

And in a role reversal of Friday night’s Game 5, Michael Leighton was replaced by Brian Boucher. This is getting a little nuts. I know Peter Laviolette is searching for consistency, but despite the strong performance of Boucher and the team, the Flyers' shaky goaltending is what could ultimately lead to their demise in this series or beyond. The Flyers and Blackhawks both proved last year that you can get to the Stanley Cup with an average goalie. In saying that, you cannot continue to spot teams two to three goals and expect to win. If they eventually play Washington and/or go even deeper in the playoffs, teams could make them pay for this. It was announced that Boucher will start Game 7, so we shall see.
 

Until then, it all comes down to Game 7 on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

And Lindy, if the Flyers win on Tuesday, do us all a favor and duck this time...

Wouldn’t it be great if the Phillies could play the Padres in the World Series?

I’m obviously joking because that could never happen, but the Phils handled them with relative ease and a title would be pretty much guaranteed. To be blunt, the Padres are brutal, perhaps even more so than the Pirates. Give the Phils credit- you have to beat up on bottom feeders which they have done. In fact, so much to the point where you still can’t properly gague this team. 11 of the Fightins’ wins have come against the Astros, Mets, Nationals, and Padres.

There might no be a team in baseball with more question marks than the team with baseball’s best winning percentage. Go figure. Moreover, the team’s offense is in a bad funk right now, with Raul Ibanez hitting just .187.  Upper echelon teams will beat the Phillies if they can score more than three runs of their starters or relief corps, and why pitchers even challenge Ryan Howard anymore is beyond me.

San Diego’s offense won’t remind anyone of the ‘27 Yankees. However, Phillies team ERA was a beyond outstanding 0.71 in the four game sweep this weekend at PETCO Park.  Roy Halladay was again a beast with a career high 14 K’s on Sunday.  Antonio Bastardo continues to impress, needing just one pitch in relief of Halladay to nail down the save.

It looks like the Phils will need to count on Bastardo even more now that Jose Contreras is on the 15-day DL with elbow problems. This is a real bummer. Contreras was rock solid until this injury, and he now joins Brad Lidge and J.C Romero on the list of wounded Phillies relievers. Contreras will be replaced by Michael Stutes, who had a solid spring for the team.

Charlie Manuel did the right thing by removing Halladay Sunday.  It’s early in the year, and Manuel can’t burn out his starters. By the time of the NLCS last year, it seemed that Halladay had started to lose steam just a little.

Something to think about: Two relievers that were impressive this weekend for the Padres were Mike Adams and Heath Bell. Adams has an ERA of 0.82 in 11 games this year, and Bell is almost automatic as a closer. Bell’s price tag would most likely be too high at the deadline if the Phillies need relief help, but Adams might be a dark horse on the trade market come July.


Sixers stay alive vs. LeFraud and the HeatSixers sink the Heat! Photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images

You have to give this entire Sixers team credit. Trailing the Heat by six and down three games to none with less than two minutes remaining, the Sixers reached back and found some extra. And after a Lou Williams three pointer and an Elton Brand blocked shot later, the Sixers faint hopes of staying alive in this series were extended to Wednesday with an 86-82 nail-biter.  

Williams, Evan Turner (17 points and minus the hockey helmet), and Jrue Holiday were the standout stars for the game. LeFraud James one again came up short with the game on the line. Elton Brand blocking his shot with time expiring was classic. Sure, Dwyane Wade missed a jumper seconds before. However, Wade is proven in those situations, James is not.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Heat will most likely win this series, but this young core of Sixers players are exciting and never give up until the final buzzer sounds. At the same time, they are gaining valuable playoff experience. There is a lot of work to be done, and financially, the team is extremely handicapped.

However, with Doug Collins improving this team’s win total by 16 this year with essentially the same roster as last year’s, you have to have hope that this is just the beginning for these guys. Yes, the Heat are better than the Sixers, but I don’t see them getting that much farther in the playoffs. The Sixers played them tough three of the four games so far. What will a team like Chicago or Boston (who wasted very little time with the Knicks) do to them?

Game 5 is in Miami Wednesday night.

What a way to end Easter. Three teams, three games, three wins. Not too shabby. Hope you all had a good one!

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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