Blogs > Jack McCaffery's blog

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.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Flyers starting to warm at right time

Not that it was the way the Flyers had it pre-arranged, but if they reach the playoffs now it will be one, and only one way: Hot.

And hot works once the win-or-perish rounds begin.

No, they are not challenging the Miami Heat for the most consistent team of the winter, nor are they anything but a last-place team (still) in the Atlantic Division. But they have collected six points over their last five games, and are on a two-game winning streak after a 5-4 overtime victory Sunday over visiting Washington.

They have the No. 1 NHL power play, a useful goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov, and a look on the face of Claude Giroux that says, well, that maybe he is in a mood to realize Peter Laviolette's projection of him as the best player in the world.

I think everybody has a good understanding of where we sit and what we are capable of,” Peter Laviolette was saying before the game Sunday. “But I don't think it changes from a week ago or two weeks ago or a month ago: We need to win hockey games. I think guys are ready to play.”
They were.
And with 13 games left, they have to remain that way.
But if so, they will roll --- not back --- into the postseason, where momentum usually helps.
Check out my column on the Flyers' sudden rejuvenation in the Daily Times Monday and, as always, on

Phillies: 90 wins

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flyers hearing the ticking

The Flyers had little room for failure as they began a five-game homestand ... and the potential for a turn in franchise history.

They were left with even less of that after an ugly, 5-2 loss to the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center,

"There is nowhere to go," Peter Laviolette said, "except to the rink tomorrow to practice."

Oh, yes there is.

And any student of Flyers history knows that there is.

There is a trade deadline coming. And there are only 16 regular-season games remaining.

The Flyers will --- not might, will --- make changes soon. It's just a matter of which ones.

A suggestion: Start with the offense, which just played 122-plus minutes against the Penguins and Rangers, and scored one (1) even-strength goal.

Start there.

Check out my column on the offensively challenged Flyers in the Daily Times Wednesday and, as always, on

Come and get it

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A great run for Chester

It was something to see. And for basketball fans, it was something that should not have been missed.

It was Chester High's three-year run of excellence that ended Saturday night in Hershey with a 63-47 loss to Lower Merion in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game.

It included two state championships, a 78-game winning streak against Pennsylvania teams, a McDonald's All-American in Rondae Jefferson, ESPN appearances, national rankings and coaching excellence.

Can it happen again?

“I don't know,” coach Larry Yarbray said. “Time will tell. We'll put the work in to get another team that could win one championship, start from there, and build.”

If you saw it, congratulations.

If you missed it, you missed something special.

Check out my column on the special era of Chester High hoop history in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on

Carroll coach 'would talk' if in-law offered promotion

Friday, March 22, 2013

What's next for Carroll coach?

Carroll had a good chance to win a state basketball championship Friday in Hershey, but shot 2-for-19 from the arc and fell, 54-45, to Imhotep.

So where does coach Paul Romanczuk go from here?

He has coached the Patriots into the state final twice since 2009. His father-in-law, Doug Collins, is a major basketball-industry influence. His brother-in-law, Chris Collins, is likely to become a head coach soon, probably at the BCS college level.

There will be opportunities.

“Sure,” Romanczuk said. “Sure. And it is something that you have in the back of your mind a little bit. But my family loves the area. I love Archbishop Carroll. And I am a CPA. I've got a practice with my father (Doug, a former player at North Catholic and Drexel), and that's something I have a lot of responsibility in. It's just me and him. So I have a young family, three kids. And they love it here.”
The Patriots should contend next season in the Catholic League and beyond. Romanczuk, a Carroll grad, is in no hurry to leave.
Still, that was the discussion in Hershey.
For more, check out my column in the Daily Times Saturday and, as always, on

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Get this: Sports thoughts

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Holiday, Turner must be more consistent

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flyers desperation arrives oddly early

The Flyers still have 21 games to play, a five-game homestand toward the end of this season, some good young players, plenty of opportunities.

Yet there they were Sunday not hinting that they were at a critical point of the season --- but saying so out loud.

“It doesn't take much to understand what's going on,” Simon Gagne said, after scoring a goal in a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.“You look at the standings. I think everyone came into the locker room today and looked at where we are at and how many games we have left. I'm not good in math, but if you look at it, we have to win games right now. And this game tonight was a must-win against a team that has struggled.”
Max Talbot, who scored the second Flyers goal, said about the same thing.
"They are all must-win games for us," he said.
Even before the game, when he made his choice of goaltenders public, Peter Laviolette said that the Flyers had to begin to "dig out" of their three-game losing streak.
The season is short, and so are some nerves. But the Flyers had a nice victory over Buffalo and are about to play a manageable portion of their schedule.
They should be concerned ... but they seem desperate.
Whatever works?
Check out my column on the situation in the Daily Times Monday and, as always, on

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Flyers running out of time

In an NHL season shortened by a lockout, there would be a minimum of grace options.

That is, when a team struggling all season to remain above .500 can waste a three-goal lead at home and lose to the first-place team in its division, the patience quotient will be tested.

That's what the Flyers did Thursday in the Wells Fargo Center, losing, 5-4, to the Penguins. That's why they were booed as they left the ice, in what has become a new tradition at their games.

Peter Laviolette tried (you guessed it) a timeout and a goalie-switch, but neither worked. Not much has in a season the Flyers started at 0-3. That would not include Jake Voracek, who had two goals Thursday as he continues to bob into the discussion about the finest players in the sport.

But the Flyers could have pulled within five points of the Pens ... no, they should have pulled within five points of the Pens. Instead, their defense collapsed, Ilya Bryzgalov was victimized  ... and their lack of a killer instinct was exposed agian.

“You can't give up leads like that, if you want to keep making your way up the standings,” Brian Boucher said. “So obviously, nobody is very happy about it. It is very frustrating right now.”

Check out my column on the failing Flyers in the Daily Times Friday and, as always, on

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wildcats proved coaches wrong

With a 67-57 victory over No. 5 Georgetown Wednesday, Villanova completed a 19-12 regular season, 10-8 in the Big East.

And while that might not inspire a new banner for the Pavilion or even squeeze into the most-read chapters in the Wildcats' deep basketball history, it did do this much: It proved a lot of coaches wrong.

What were the Big East coaches thinking, anyway, when they figured Nova for 12th place in the 15-team conference, back when they were doing their preseason guessing?

“I've said this since Media Day,” said John Thompson III, Georgetown's coach. “You have to pick because the league says we have to pick. But when you take a look at who might be No. 1 and who might be last, it is such a magnification of small differences. It is very little. So you are just picking names. I don't think it's a surprise that a team that was picked 12th and is now seventh or eighth. That's not a surprise.”

Next, the Big East Tournament. The popular thinking is that the Cats --- with victories over Top 5 Louisville, Syracuse and Georgetown --- will be an NCAA Tournament team even if their bus gets a flat in the Lincoln Tunnel and they never show up.

But they'll show up. And they could win there, too.

Because anyone who thought that team was the fourth worst in any conference just wasn't paying attention.

Check out my column on the surprising Wildcats in the Daily Times Thursday and, as always, on

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On the Sixers-Celtics gap

The Sixers and Celtics played to a second-round Game 7 in the last playoffs, made some changes, and went in opposite directions.

The Sixers tried Andrew Bynum ... and had no alternative when he spent the season inactive with eight syllables worth of knee miseries.

The Celtics only had Rajon Rondo for 38 games until he was injured ... yet continued to play winning basketball.

A reach, yes.

An observation after the Celtics' 109-101 victory over the Sixers Tuesday? Why not? Especially since Doc Rivers addressed it before the game ... and the Sixers were marveling about it afterward.

"Rondo was a big piece," Royal Ivey said. "But they've got guys --- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Jeff Green ... Avery Bradley coming in for Rondo. They are a good group. They have seasoned guys. They have a lot of veterans and they know how to win. They have been to the pinnacle of basketball. So they lost a soldier, but now they are fighting."

As for the Sixers, they are fighting to remain relevant. They have lost nine of their last 10.

Check out my column on the situation in the Daily Times Wednesday and, as always, on

Monday, March 4, 2013

Voracek, Simmonds trending

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chester avoids another trap