Flyers' special teams awful; Betts, Powe sidelined

    There was a lot of complaining from the Flyers that the game-winning goal was scored because of a blown call in their 3-1 loss to host Phoenix Saturday night.
    There may be some merit to their claim, but….
    The fact is, the Flyers’ special teams have been awful the last two nights and have cost them back-to-back losses for the first time since late last month.
    On Friday, the Flyers were outscored on special teams, 3-0, as they dropped a 6-3 decision in San Jose. The Sharks had two power-play goals and a shorthanded tally.
    Phoenix was 2 for 5 on the power play Saturday, while the Flyers were 0 for 5 _ and looked totally disorganized with the extra skater, managing just five shots.
    Before we get to the controversy, it should be noted that the Flyers took a major hit when Blair Betts suffered a dislocated right shoulder for the second time this season. He will miss at least four weeks.
    On Friday, Darroll Powe injured his left shoulder, and GM Paul Holmgren said the injury was “significant.”
    Funny how things can change so quickly. Two days ago, the Flyers had won seven of their last eight and were looking like Stanley Cup contenders.
    Now, they have lost two key players and their special teams are in disarray.
Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle scored a controversial power-play goal with 9 minutes, 41 seconds left to snap a 1-1 tie.
   Adrian Aucoin barely kept the puck in at the blue line _ the Flyers protested that it went out of the zone _ and fed Matthew Lombardi on the right side. Lombardi then found Yandle in the left circle and he fired a shot past Ray Emery.
    After the game, coach John Stevens was baffled by the lack of a call.
    “We thought it was offsides. One lineman had his arm staring up to call it offsides and the other guy waved it off,” Stevens said. “It’s unfortunate. If they would have just waved it off right away….but you still have to kill the penalty. It looked like the guys on the ice maybe relaxed for a second.
    “It’s unfortunate it ends up being the difference in the hockey game.”
    Notes. Phoenix was credited with a goal when it was ruled that Chris Pronger slashed at Shane Doan as he was trying to shoot into an empty net with 40 seconds left.
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     When he dresses for games, Riley Cote is the Flyers’ heavyweight. Danny Briere has apparently become their welterweight.
     In the second period Friday, Briere’s fight with San Jose’s Marc-Edouard(CQ) “Pickles” Vlasic was the third bout of his NHL career and first as a Flyer. It was actually more of a wrestling match than anything.
    “I’m not one of those guys who prepares or sets fights up before the game,” Briere said “It was a spur of the moment, and we ended up being entangled in the corner. He didn’t like it. I didn’t like it, and it just kind of happened.”
     Vlasic said the fight wasn’t spontaneous. He claimed it was triggered by hits Briere gave him in last month’s meeting.
    “It built from Philadelphia – a couple shots I got when the ref wasn’t looking,” Vlasic told the San Jose Mercury News. “So, you know, back it up.”
    In the online voting at, 72.1 percent of the voters called the Vlasic-Briere battle a draw, 14.8 percent gave the decision to Briere and 13.1 percent to Vlasic.
_ Sam Carchidi