Bad to Worse: Flyers Dropped by Pens on Poor D and Worse Goaltending

Bad to Worse: Flyers Dropped by Pens on Poor D and Worse Goaltending

We keep waiting for the Ilya Bryzgalov who was "near-elite" enough for the Flyers to sign to a 9-year, $51 million contract to emerge from a decidedly subpar shell and at least pull his weight. The team in front of him has its warts, particularly on defense, but it is good enough to be a real threat if it can get some good if not great goaltending. Unfortunately, as we saw again in Saturday's 6-4 loss, that is increasingly unlikely to happen.

Miscues led to far too many scoring opportunities for the Penguins, but from the beginning, the Flyers were charged with winning a game in which they'd have nothing resembling acceptable NHL goaltending.

Matt Cooke of all people got the scoring started with the first of three poor goals allowed by Bryzgalov. He'd score again later and be named the player of the game, probably, disgustingly, deservedly so. The first two Pens goals were each on clean shots that Bryz saw from start to finish. The third came on a turnover and a weak defensive effort by Kimmo Timonen, again on Cooke, but Bryzgalov did little to counter the effort, sitting in his crease rather than pouncing.

Despite the Flyers ending the first period up 2-1 after a pair of gorgeous goals by Jaromir Jagr, and heading into the second intermission tied at 3, they ended the afternoon as poorly as possible.

Sergei Bobrovsky was called to action in the third, and although his three goals allowed weren't quite as bad as Bryzgalov's, they still left plenty to be desired.

Again, the defense was insufficient. Newcomer Nicklas Grossman wasn't a weakness, and that's at least a good sign. But carelessness with the puck was an issue, as were second effort opportunities.

Three third period goals put the Penguins up by a comfortable margin, although if anyone was going to tally a meaningless late goal, we're glad it was Wayne Simmonds. Simmer scored his eighth goal in nine games with 19 seconds left, again from the doorstep.

The scoring is not a problem. The defense, from the forwards to the blueliners, is. The goaltending is. Right now, the Flyers are about as good as their place in the standings. The skaters came to the defense of their goaltenders in the locker room, and they need to do a better job of that on the ice.

But they also need far better goaltending behind them, no matter how many swords they're willing to fall on with the press.

Video:

Notes:
The Flyers absolutely suck in afternoon games, now sitting at 4-10-1. That's more than half of their regulation losses this season, and they've allowed five or more goals in seven of those games.

Eric Wellwood had a fun first NHL goal, taking advantage of Dave Engelland's lost edge in front of his own net and popping one home.

One game after Erik Gustafsson became the seventh Flyer to score his first NHL goal this season, Wellwood became the eighth. 

Good god I wish this recap could focus more on Jagr's pair of goals. He looked so good early, halting his momentum to stop just fast enough to snap wristers over MAF's shoulders at will.

Nick Grossman somehow managed to be the only Flyers d-man with a plus rating, however much stock you give that stat. He also had eight hits and three blocked shots.

Kimmo missed some shifts in the third period. No word on exactly why, but it was not his best day, by far.

Another terribly reffed game by Stephane Auger, and the Pens have a right to say the same. When will the league 86 this guy?

How bad were the Flyers today? They allowed a goal while on a 5-on-3, one of two shorthanded goals they allowed in less than two minutes. Both came with Bryz in net. Humongous bad.

Midway through the game, the Flyers-Rick Nash rumors heated up again...

Bryzgalov's comments to the press should go over famously.

Sixers-Warriors 5 things: At home, can Sixers hang with NBA's best again?

Sixers-Warriors 5 things: At home, can Sixers hang with NBA's best again?

The Sixers (22-36) host the NBA-best Golden State Warriors (49-9) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Bummer at the buzzer
Apparently one good last-second shot deserves another.

The Sixers stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks on Saturday. Jahlil Okafor capped off his monster night with what appeared to be the game-winner at the time when he scored in the lane with nine seconds remaining.

That was until Carmelo Anthony drained a clutch jumper over Robert Covington with 0.3 ticks left on the clock to give the Knicks a 110-109 victory. Call it payback for T.J. McConnell's buzzer-beater against New York last month.

While the Sixers didn't get the win, they had to be pleased with some of the efforts they received on the second night of a back-to-back set. 

Okafor finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Covington had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Dario Saric added 19 points and 15 boards.

2. So much splashing
The Sixers will need those type of performances and then some if they hope to keep up with this potent Warriors team.

In case you've been lost at sea since the summer, former league MVP Kevin Durant bolted Oklahoma City for Golden State in free agency to turn the "Splash Brothers" of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson into an entire splash family.

Already dominant offensively, the Warriors have been even better this season with Durant. They rank No. 1 in a slew of offensive categories, including points per game (118.2), field goal percentage (50.0), assists per game (31.0), fastbreak points per game (23.5), offensive rating (114.1) and true shooting percentage (60.4).

If that weren't enough, Durant's length has also impacted the Warriors' defense too. They are first in the league in steals (9.6), blocks (6.7) and points off turnovers (19.2) per game.

Simply put, the Warriors are scary good. 

3. The wild card
Every family has that one person that you're just not sure about at times. They can make gatherings the best night ever or a downright miserable experience.

Enter Draymond Green. 

Green has been on the miserable side of the Warriors' gatherings lately. He shot 1 of 10 for five points and was benched for long stretches in Golden State's win over Brooklyn on Saturday. In the game prior to that against the L.A. Clippers, he picked up a technical foul, trash talked Paul Pierce and went to his preferred kick move on Blake Griffin.

Overall, Green has been his usual solid self on the court. He's averaging 10.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists a night while providing lockdown defense.

The Sixers are fully aware of Green's versatility. The veteran forward averaged a triple-double against them in the two meetings last season with 11.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists.

It will be interesting to see Green lock horns all game with the surging Saric.

4. Injuries
Joel Embiid (knee), Tiago Splitter (calf), Ben Simmons (foot) Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

The Warriors have no players listed on the injury report.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost six straight games to the Warriors.

• With their 112-95 win over the Nets on Saturday, the Warriors became the first team to clinch a playoff berth. It marked the earliest a team has clinched a postseason spot since the 1985-86 Boston Celtics.

• Covington is averaging 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in February.

• Thompson averaged 36.0 points on 54.7 percent shooting from the field and 45.8 percent from three-point range against the Sixers last season.

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was suspended two games for his illegal hit to Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during Saturday's 4-2 loss in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
 
Manning's shoulder made contact with Guentzel's head.
 
Manning wasn't surprised and even admitted to reporters that he fully expected "one or two" games because he hit a player who didn't have control of the puck yet.
 
Strangely, there was no penalty on the play for interference, yet the NHL's explanation on Monday afternoon specifically cited "interference" as the reason for the suspension.
 
This is Manning's first NHL suspension.
 
The hearing was conducted on the phone Monday with Stephane Quintal, senior vice-president of NHL Player Safety. Manning will forfeit $10,833.34 in salary.
 
"It was late," Manning said of the hit. "He didn't touch the puck after it hit his skate. Which I thought he was going to do. They do their whole breakdown by time frame."
 
Manning said he caught Guentzel's shoulder first, then his head "on the follow through" because Guentzel is shorter than him.  The 6-foot-1 Manning has two inches on Guentzel.
 
Guentzel, who had two assists in the game, was not injured.
 
"Looking at it, [the hit] is a little late," Manning admitted. "I thought he was going to touch the puck. Usually, when a puck hits your skate, you pick it up, and he kinda left it ... The hard part is, there was no penalty called on it."
 
Manning said he had to make a hit or face an odd-man rush.
 
"There were two players there and if I don't play my guy there, it’s a 3-on-1 the other way," he said. "You're giving up scoring chances. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He finished the game and that's always the good thing."
 
Mark Streit, sitting on the bench at the time, said he saw the hit and was shocked at the suspension.
 
"It was a great hit," Streit said. "You look at the replay and everything looks different. You can slow down every hit and talk about it. I guess it was a little late …"
 
Manning's suspension likely means Michael Del Zotto will play against Colorado on Tuesday.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Manning has been a "solid piece" for the club this season.
 
"He brings that physical edge, he's been reliable, and he's been a staple for our lineup," Hakstol said. "That's a hole we'll have to fill over next couple of games here."
 
Manning will also miss Thursday's game against Florida.