Still In This Thing: Sixers Look to Stay Afloat in Atlantic Against Orlando

Still In This Thing: Sixers Look to Stay Afloat in Atlantic Against Orlando

Even though it felt like it should've counted for far more, the Sixers'
loss to the Raptors last Wednesday actually only marked one extra tally
in the loss column for the Sixers, who still rest at four games above
.500. It may feel like the race for the Atlantic (and if you wanna take
it a little further, the whole season) is over, but in actuality we're
still very much in the hunt here—the Celtics lead only by a game, having
lost their last two (admittedly tough gcontests against the Spurs and
Celtics) and playing tonight against the surging Pacers, currently on a
four-game winning streak. With the Celtics and Sixers gearing for an
Easter showdown, any scenario but a Boston win and Philly loss means
that the Ballers will have a chance to re-take the division in Boston

Of course, if the C's lose and the Sixers win tonight—it happened a lot
earlier in the season, I promise—they can capture the Atlantic lead
tonight instead. To live up to their end of the bargain, Philly will
have to defeat the Orlando Magic, who like they were when the Sixers
caught them at the beginning of the season, are currently at very low
tide, having lost five in a row (including a pair of embarrassing losses
to the Knicks) and also dealing with a feud between their coach (Stan
Van Gundy) and best player (all-everything center Dwight Howard). Still,
with the Sixers coming off a 21-point loss at home to the Raptors,
we're not really anyone to talk, are we? Neither team's gonna be doing
much chest-puffing tonight.

It'll be interesting to see how the Sixers come out to start this game.
After a final half on Wednesday where they scored a combined 22 points,
looking as tired, incoherent and spiritless as we've seen the team all
year, it'll be crucial for the team to get off to a good start tonight,
to put images of that awful 24 minutes of basketball firmly in the
rearview and jump on this bad-vibes Magic team early. In fact, this game
may very well end up a borderline-pathetic "which one of these teams is
gonna crumple first?" matchup, so let's hope the Sixers are sharp
enough after a couple days off to stick it to Orlando early and beat the
fight out of them.

8:00 tip from Wells Fargo Center. Another national game, remarkably—last
year we didn't get nearly enough of them, this year it's starting to
feel like we're getting way too many. But as bad as feelings are around
this team after blowouts at the hands of Washington and Toronto in the
space of a week, it's still far from lost—keep pace with the Celtics
here, pull ahead tomorrow, and we could still be on our way to a four
seed and a potentially very favorable first-round matchup against the
underwhelming Atlanta Hawks. The time is now, though—lose a couple more,
and we're gonna start wondering if it's not too late to start tanking
just so we don't have to meet the Heat in the playoffs.

Watch: Travis Konecny scores his 1st NHL goal, joyfully hugs Ivan Provorov

Watch: Travis Konecny scores his 1st NHL goal, joyfully hugs Ivan Provorov

The first of many for the kid.

Travis Konecny on Tuesday night scored goal No. 1 of what should be an exciting and promising career in orange and black.

Not only was it the 19-year-old's first NHL marker, but it ignited a third-period comeback from three goals down as the Flyers stunned the Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center with a 4-3 shootout win when they looked dead in the water at second intermission.

"Obviously, it makes it 3-1," Brayden Schenn said of Konecny's special moment. "It gets the crowd going a bit. It gets us going. Any time a guy scores a first goal, like I said, it gets a little more excitement through the building and through our team."

The goal wasn't of the flashy variety, but it epitomized the youngster's complete game. Teammates have routinely praised Konecny for his willingness to score ugly by finding the greasy areas — as we so love to call them — and doing work, despite his a not-so-intimidating frame.

So skillfully, Konecny deflected a power-play point drive by the other 19-year-old Ivan Provorov. Like a little kid — then again, he is a teenager — Konecny leapt into the boards in celebration, smiling ear to ear. In came Provorov for a big hug. Watching those two have fun is fun.

Flyers fans, frame this screenshot and hang it somewhere (and don't you dare cut out Matt Read). Meanwhile, for Konecny's goal and the celebration, watch the video above.

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)


A very tired Flyers squad came back with a vengeance against the well-rested Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night to win, 4-3, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.
Claude Giroux got the shootout winner.

It was an ugly affair for 40 minutes, starting with goalie Michal Neuvirth, who allowed three goals on 17 shots before being lifted in the second period for the second time in two weeks. The Flyers trailed 3-0 going into the third period.
Whatever energy the Flyers had coming back from Montreal on Monday was saved for the third period when they got three power-play goals from Travis Konecny, Brayden Schenn and Mark Streit to make it 3-3.
The Sabres had not played a game in five days while the Flyers are in the midst of six games in nine days and it showed.
The rookie Konecny scored his first NHL goal in the third period, tipping home Ivan Provorov’s point drive during a power play.
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas returned after serving a six-game suspension to begin the season.
New lines
In an effort to get Schenn going — scoreless in three games coming in — coach Dave Hakstol dropped him to the third line with Nick Cousins and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Matt Read, the club’s top goal scorer, moved into Schenn’s spot on the top line with Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.
Boyd Gordon played his 700th NHL game.
Notable goals
Konecny’s first NHL marker.
Goalie report
There was probably not much Neuvirth could do on the Sabres' first goal. Zemgus Girgensons shot from a hard angle in the corner to the net and the puck jumped, hitting Tyler Ennis for a 1-0 lead in the second period. That said, he wasn’t very good on the next two goals. Neuvirth has been pulled twice in just three starts.
Power play
The Flyers' power play awakened. Konecny's goal, plus Schenn's and Streit's. That marked a season high, too.
Penalty kill
Chris VandeVelde overskated the puck during a shorthanded two-on-one for what would have been a goal in the first period. Gordon lost a draw to Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Moulson jumped on it, went to the net with purpose for a quick backhander to make it 2-0 3:56 into the second period. Moulson had two power-play goals. The Flyers' PK units were poor.
Simmonds avoided a hearing and possible suspension for his cross check from behind to Montreal’s Andrei Markov on Monday night that jolted the Canadiens defenseman into the boards face-first. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviewed the hit and saw no cause for action.
Dale Weise (suspended), Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Del Zotto (knee), Michael Raffl (abdominal pull) and Nick Schultz (healthy). 
Up next
The Flyers will be off on Wednesday. They are in the midst of six games in nine days and will host Arizona on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.