The Bruins Power Play Might Look Familiar

The Bruins Power Play Might Look Familiar

Two issues followed the Flyers throughout most of their hard-fought opening round series against the Sabres—uncertainty in net and an inffective power play. Both issues seemed to be resolved, temporarily, in their decisive game 7 victory, with Brian Boucher taking firm grasp of a goalie gig he may have deserved throughout the series, and Chris Pronger returning to give a boost to the man advantage. I wouldn't say the power play is necessarily out of the woods yet, but it looked better than it has in a while on Tuesday, and Pronger's role in that can't be discounted.

The Bruins, meanwhile, come to town having not scored a single power play goal in their seven-game series against Montreal (0/21).

The Canadiens actually scored more goals on Boston's power play than did the Bruins, tallying one shorty last night. I don't want to poke a sleeping bear here (get it?!), but with the Flyers about to face a very tough Boston squad, special teams could play a huge role in the series. At least coming into the action, the most recent trends favor the Flyers.

Who knows how long the Bruins PP woes will last though, or whether the Flyers will regress to the ineptitude that had fans screaming for them to decline penalties earlier in the series. Hell we don't even know if Pronger will hold up under increased even strength minutes and penalty killing time. 

To me, it's just interesting to take a look outside of our at times very myopic view of hockey, which focuses intently on the strengths and weaknesses of the Flyers without putting them into the larger context of the league. The NHL doesn't get quite the exposure other sports get, so we have to actively seek out what other teams are doing if we're to have any idea how the Flyers match up. That was borne out last series, when we thought the Flyers' goalie woes were something unique to this franchise and these players. While it definitely got a bit more circus-like here in those seven games, other teams were facing perhaps even more significant goaltending questions, either for a game or over the course of a series.

In the same light, it seemed almost impossible that a team could be struggling on the power play as much as the Flyers were down the stretch and into the first round. Then last night, the Bruins capped a series in which they failed to score even one goal on the man advantage.

All we can do at this point is hope that trend continues for Boston, and maybe even that our opportunistic penalty killers can capitalize on the Bruins' difficulty getting their power play started in the neutral zone. We could be in store for a bunch of one-goal games again this series, and special teams are bound to be a significant component.

For more on the Bruins struggles on the power play, check out this update from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.

Instant Replay: Warriors 119, Sixers 108

Instant Replay: Warriors 119, Sixers 108

BOX SCORE

Stephen Curry shot 0 for 11 from three and it didn't even shake the Warriors.

In spite of the star's long-range woes, the Warriors beat the Sixers, 119-108, on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers hung tight with the Western Conference powerhouse in the first half. They trailed by just one after the first quarter and three after the second following a 10-0 run. Klay Thompson led all players with 15 points in the first half while Gerald Henderson and Kevin Durant were right behind him with 12. Meanwhile, Curry went 2 for 11 (including 0 for 7 from long range and a pair of airballs) in his first 18 minutes.

The Warriors, though, opened the third with a 12-3 burst to take a 12-point lead. They scored 34 points in the quarter even as Curry's shooting woes continued (0 for 10 from three through three). Durant scored 22 points through three. The Sixers trailed by 13 heading into the fourth.

The Sixers fought until the buzzer, but were never able to overcome that third-quarter spurt. The Warriors won their 50th game of the season (50-9) while the Sixers dropped to 22-37.

Inside the box score
• Curry went scoreless from three for the third time this season and 37th game of his career. He shot 0 for 10 against the Lakers on Nov. 4 and 0 for 8 on Dec. 7 against the Clippers.

• Durant led all players with 27 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

• Draymond Green recorded a 14-point, 11-assist double-double along with six rebounds.

• Jahlil Okafor picked up his fifth foul with 9:44 to go in the third. As a result of his foul trouble, Richaun Holmes logged 28 minutes and scored 15 points with four rebounds. Okafor, meanwhile, committed seven turnovers and scored four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.

• Dario Saric led the Sixers with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

• Robert Covington pulled down a team-high eight boards.

Saric bounces back
Dario Saric hit the ground after being struck in the face by David West in the fourth. He walked off the court on his own and stayed in the game. West was issued a Flagrant 1 on the play (watch play here).

Grab-and-go defense
What’s the key to defending the Warriors? Grab whoever is open. Brett Brown didn’t want the Sixers to get locked into one-on-one matchups when each player can be a threat.

"You have to accept switching,” Brown said. "You have to accept that it's going to be a generic-type gym in relation to matchups don’t matter a lot in our early offense. You just have to find Klay wherever he is and whoever it is. You’ve got to find Steph (Curry). You’ve got to find Kevin (Durant). Draymond (Green) is a runaway train when he rebounds and leads the break. It's really the instruction that you’re not a prisoner to have to guard your original matchup. You’re going to see a lot of people on a lot of different people."

Bogut era ends
As expected, the Sixers waived Andrew Bogut on Monday after acquiring him in the Nerlens Noel trade from the Mavericks (see story). Brown has known Bogut since the center was in high school thanks to their Australian connection. He would have liked to have coached Bogut but understands Bogut's interest to sign with a contender.

"I spoke with him at length. His goals aren't aligned with ours," Brown said. "He really feels, and I agree with him, he wants to go play on a playoff team at this stage in his career and make an impact from that sort of vision lens, more playoff-oriented than trying to build something. I respect his candidness. I would have liked to have had him."

Hart in the house
Watch Philadelphia native Kevin Hart ring the ceremonial bell before the game.

Up next
The Sixers travel to Miami to face the Heat on Wednesday. They snapped the Heat's 13-game winning streak in their last meeting. 

Bryan Colangelo on Joel Embiid setback: 'We're reacting in a way that's proactive'

Bryan Colangelo on Joel Embiid setback: 'We're reacting in a way that's proactive'

The timetable for Joel Embiid's return to the court keeps getting murkier.

Embiid was ruled out indefinitely on Monday and will now have an MRI on his injured left knee (see story). He initially suffered a bone bruise on Jan. 20 and it was revealed on Feb. 11 that he had a minor meniscal tear.

The Sixers previously had a plan of rest and rehab in place and targeted a March 4 return for the big man. 

"With respect to what's developed over the last couple of days, it's quite simple, Joel developed a little bit of swelling and soreness," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said during Monday's edition of Philly Sports Talk. "We're reacting in a way that's proactive. We wanted to be more communicative with our fans. We wanted to make sure that there's less question about whether or not he would be available. This is literally changing out for the next two games now to out indefinitely."

That's a quick change of events. As recently as Friday, Embiid was on track to be back in uniform this week.

"I was in a situation where the latest update on Friday was that he was doing well through his planned progression toward returning to play," Colangelo said. "In recent days, his training has developed a reaction with swelling and soreness, and thus we wanted to take a step back, put him on ice for a minute and make sure that we do everything possible, including getting another scan done."

Embiid initially suffered the injury against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 20. The rookie sensation missed three games before coming back vs. the Houston Rockets in a national TV matchup on Jan. 27. He has missed all 13 games since facing the Rockets.

Even with Embiid’s diagnosed tear of his meniscus and recent flaring up of the knee after rehab sessions, the Sixers are being supremely cautious when it comes to any potential procedures. The team is not in a rush to put the center back under the knife after he missed the first two seasons of his career because of a pair of foot surgeries.

"With all due respect, medical injuries are injuries that require care and attention," Colangelo said. "When I take information that comes from the medical team, including doctors and the training staff and the physiotherapists, we apply it as instructed and we do that to protect the athlete. In a case of jumping into someone's knee to operate, when the circumstances are known but the conditions and how he's reacting to certain things are still unknown, I think you go through the planned progression of steps as prescribed and evaluated by doctors."

The quick decision to label Embiid out indefinitely is a sharp contrast to prior updates on the phenom. Just last week, Embiid lamented how the Sixers never announced a true timetable for his return (see story).

Now just days later, Embiid has a prognosis that could technically keep him out for the remainder of the regular season. 

Embiid has proven his worth in 31 games this season by averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 25.4 minutes a night. But with only 23 games left on the schedule, will he suit up again this season?

"Out indefinitely means just that. It's indeterminate at this point," Colangelo said. "I think we're all hopeful to get him out there. It would be beneficial for the fans to see him again. It would be great for us as a unit to have him out there as we continue to strive toward winning as the season concludes.

"But at the end of the day, the health and performance of our athletes is first and foremost. We don't want to jeopardize the long-term health."