Everybody's Gone to the Garden: Knicks Welcome 7-2 Sixers to the Jungle

Everybody's Gone to the Garden: Knicks Welcome 7-2 Sixers to the Jungle

Hey, remember how the Knicks were supposed to be the third best team in
the East this season? OK, it's a little early still to dance on the
grave of that prediction just yet, and the team is only two games in
back of the Sixers at 5-4, but man, things are not going as planned in
the Big Apple this season thusfar. Carmelo Anthony has been
unquestionably brilliant, averaging a 27-6-4 with the highest PER of his
career, and Amar'e Stoudemire has been a capable second fiddle with his
21 and 9, but prized big man acquisition Tyson Chandler hasn't really
gotten into the flow yet, the team's back-court situation is
catastrophic (so much so that the injured Baron Davis, who the Clippers
gave up a lottery pick to get rid of last year, is being awaited as a
potential team savior), and their bench is virtually non-existent—the
Knicks' "nightshift" scored a whopping three points in their victory
over Charlotte two nights ago.

In other words, as far as winning
teams go, the Knicks have been virtually the polar opposite of the
Sixers this year. The Sixers are incredibly balanced, the Knicks are
impossibly top-heavy. The Sixers rely on their bench for a boost, the
Knicks try to cycle through their bench as quickly and painlessly as
possible. The Sixers have been blowing out inferior teams by scores of
27, 28 and 35, the Knicks beat the Wizards by three and the Bobcats by
four (at home!!). The Sixers play solid, aggressive, team-wide defense,
the Knicks really, really hope that Tyson Chandler will make up for
their mental lapses. There's no doubt which of the two teams have been
better this season—while Philly (somewhat speciously) tops Hollinger's
first Power Rankings of the season, the Knicks are down in the 20s.

the Knicks do have the talent, and they do have the players to put a
real hurting on the Sixers should the team slip at all in the third game
of their first back-to-back-to-back of the season. 'Melo is a matchup
nightmare for any team, and Amar'e absolutely torched the Sixers at the
Garden last year, averaging 31 points and 11 rebounds in the Sixers' two
visits to NY. And speaking of the Garden, the Knicks faithful will
undoubtedly be out in full force tonight, a formidable sixth man at any
point in the season, and especially now that their team has won three
straight (against the Wizards, Pistons, and Bobcats, but still) and is
facing a suddenly much-hyped opponent in the Sixers.

7:30 tip from MSG. "It's interesting that if you're losing, you're
losing," Coach Collins said after last night's immolation of the now 3-7
Sacramento Kings. "But if you're
winning, it's, who are you beating? I don't get into all that nonsense.
These are all professional teams." Well, the Ballers are playing against
another professional team tonight, and it won't be an easy W by any
means, but given the way both teams have played through nine games...you
gotta like our chances. Go Sixers.

Flyers-Sabres 5 things: Forget about Monday's final result

Flyers-Sabres 5 things: Forget about Monday's final result

Flyers vs. Sabres
7:30 p.m. on CSN, Pregame Live starts at 6:30

After a hard-luck 3-1 loss in Montreal to the Canadiens on Monday, the Flyers (2-3-1) return home Tuesday to the Wells Fargo Center to face the Buffalo Sabres (1-2-1) for the first time this season.

The Sabres are struggling early on this year, so Tuesday night could be a prime opportunity for the Flyers to get back on the winning side of things.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

1. It’s a new day
Despite the result, the fact of the matter is the Flyers played a very good road game on Monday in Montreal against the Habs. Shots on goal were just about even (Montreal held a 33-32 advantage) and the Flyers had excellent opportunities to tie late in the game, but a fully healthy Carey Price had other ideas. Steve Mason was great with 31 saves, many of the difficult variety, and he had no chance on Brendan Gallagher’s winning deflection late in the third. It was a seesaw battle and the Habs wound up on top when the final buzzer sounded. It goes that way sometimes.

But Tuesday is a new day, and the Flyers have a chance strike right back against the Sabres. Forget Monday’s final result. If the Flyers play the way they did Monday, they’re going to win plenty of games.

“Overall we played a pretty good game,” head coach Dave Hakstol said after Monday’s loss. “Certainly we can do better, obviously not coming out with the points. We’ve got to turn the page real quick and get ready to go for a home game tomorrow night some 19 to 20 hours from now.”

Even though Monday night’s result is still fresh, sometimes it’s good to get right back out there and try and keep the momentum of strong play going.

And the Flyers will get some reinforcements on the blue line Tuesday as Radko Gudas will return from his six-game suspension and be in the lineup. No word yet on who will sit.

2. Can’t stop Jake
Move aside Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. Jake Voracek is the new hottest Flyer.

With his slick deflection on Monday, Voracek now has three goals in his last two games and is riding a four-game point streak. As matter of fact, he has a point in all but one of the Flyers’ six games this season. He’s posted three goals and five assists for eight points so far, which is tied for fourth in the NHL in the early going.

Perhaps most encouraging about Voracek’s play early is the fact that he’s shooting the puck frequently. A natural passer, the 27-year-old forward has 21 shots on goal so far this year, which ties him for 10th most in the league. He has a nice shot when he wants to use it and he’s certainly using it this year.

Considering Voracek’s struggles last season, it has to feel good for him to get off to this kind of solid start. And it has to be reassuring for Hakstol and the Flyers. The second line with Voracek, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny is playing well as a unit, too.

3. What’s up with Buffalo?
Things got off on the wrong foot, almost literally, for the Sabres the day before the regular season started when stud sophomore and franchise pivot Jack Eichel went down during practice with a high ankle sprain. He’s likely out for about another month or so.

And things haven’t gotten much better as the Sabres have scored just 11 goals in four games this season. Those 11 goals are tied for second least in the entire league and six of them came in one game in Edmonton. It’s tough to judge the Sabres based on the small sample size of games they’ve played so far, but it’s not a good sign when more than half of a team’s goals come in one game.

Starting goalie Robin Lehner is out of Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed illness. Backup Anders Nilsson will make his first start of the regular season. Nilsson has played in three games against the Flyers in his career and owns a 2-0-0 record against them with a 2.26 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

4. Keep an eye on
Flyers: Brayden Schenn has had the Sabres’ number with six goals against them in 14 career games. That said, Schenn is still trying to find his footing this season as he’s pointless in three games since returning from his three-game suspension that opened his season. Tuesday could be a perfect time for the Flyers’ 24-year-old forward to have the breakout game he’s been looking for.

Sabres: Buffalo’s offense begins and ends with Ryan O’Reilly. He leads the Sabres with three goals this season and is tied for the team lead in points with five. He’s got nine points (six goals and three assists) in 10 career meetings with the Flyers.

5. This and that
• The Flyers went 1-1-1 last season against the Sabres. The Sabres did win in Philadelphia in overtime last October.

• The Sabres enter Philadelphia on the end of a four-game road trip that saw them tour Western Canada. But the Sabres have had four days off while the Flyers played Monday night in Montreal and had to travel home.

• The Flyers haven’t lost to the Sabres at home in regulation in the regular season since March 5, 2011.

• The Flyers have been lethal in the second period this season, scoring 13 of their 20 goals.

• He hasn't found the back of the net yet this year, but Claude Giroux comes into Tuesday’s matchup on a five-game point streak with six assists over that stretch.

Watch: The Phillie Phanatic trashes ESPN, Skip Bayless

Watch: The Phillie Phanatic trashes ESPN, Skip Bayless

The Phillie Phanatic is just like you and me. He hates being stuck in an office.

ESPN posted the below video of the Phanatic being forced to wait around an office for some sort of interview and an idle Phanatic is a mischievous Phanatic.

He starts out by trashing former ESPNer Skip Bayless, finds some Mets' swag to desecrate, and finishes off by going all Office Space on a desk chair.

It's fun for the whole family.

Not sure why the ESPN people didn't just let him post for the Body Issue like the people over at Sports Illustrated.