Flyers Need a Turnover Intervention. Intervention!

Flyers Need a Turnover Intervention. Intervention!

With the Hurricanes, Devils, Caps, and Pens on the schedule to start the season, a 3-1-0 record is perfectly acceptable. But, I'm pretty sure most of us would rather that loss be to any of those other teams. Hell, I'd rather be 2-2 and have one of the wins be against the Pens.  

After the jump, we'll dispatch with any excuse-making. (Then we'll talk about a possible biting and watch a video of Chris Pronger throttlin' him a Penguin.)

The depth we saw on the 3rd and 4th lines in the first three games was washed away without JVR and Betts in the lineup. No excuse... If everyone's healthy except two lower line forwards, even though both are big special teams contributors and more than solid at even strength, that's still fairly normal in this league. And anyway, no one's blaming Arron Asham or Riley Cote for this one. Weak penalty gripes? No excuses... The call on Briere :14 into the game was an annoying reminder of what the league loves—powerplays and more powerplays, but the ensuing goal also wasn't the reason the Flyers lost. The Penguins were whistled for more PIM in the game anyway. Overall, despite the close 5-4 final score, the Flyers just flat out blew this one. 

Although they did keep it interesting... 

Braydon Coburn will draw the fans' ire in the wake of this loss, especially those of us who have maybe had a few HopDevils. He coughed up a couple of pucks that resulted directly in Pens markers, including an autogoal.

After seeing turnovers result directly in Ovechkin goals on Tuesday, and a mess of flubs tonight, let's hope it's not an enduring trend. 

Ray Emery was left high and dry a few times, and he didn't have his best game with him tonight to match the fleury flurry. 

At the other end of the ice, Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals of his own, but overall, way too many of the Flyers' shots were benign. Good news is, his chest will probably be sore tomorrow, and his glove got a lot of action. 

A couple of positives on the night: Danny Briere picked up two more goals, both from in tight. Jeff Carter also had a good night on the score sheet, tallying two goals and two assists. The scoring depth is there again this year, but it wasn't enough tonight. Honestly, it wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Any time the Flyers seemed to pick up momentum, the Pens scored like it was a free happy hour at Bootleggers. 

Mike Richards played hard, coming up with some big hits and clearly trying to steal back the game's energy. After the Flyers had scored with the goalie pulled, they threw everything they could at MAF, including Richards, head-first. The ensuing scraps are gonna make the rounds tomorrow. Update: They already are

First, Kris Letang claims, well... he doesn't publicly claim anything specific. But, it's assumed he told the refs that Scott Hartnell bit his hand. Hartnell says he didn't. While that was going on, Chris Pronger was ripping former teammate Chris Kunitz away from the action by his gruff. Almost have to feel bad for Kunitz, who just looked scared. 

It's gonna be a crazy season series, that's for sure. That's fun and all, but at least for the first game, the off-season moves aimed at putting the Flyers ahead of the Penguins haven't achieved that goal. Chris Pronger had a solid game at both ends, and Sidney Crosby was held off the score sheet. Malkin had a goal and an assist though, and for most the game, the Flyers couldn't match the Penguins' tenacity with and without the puck. 

We'll keep you posted on any developments stemming from the last half-second of the game.

Instant Replay: Knicks 110, Sixers 109

Instant Replay: Knicks 110, Sixers 109

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- A 17-point game came down to the final possessions. 

The Knicks squeaked out a 110-109 victory, holding on to this one after suffering a buzzer-beating loss to the Sixers on Jan. 11. 

The Knicks squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth as the Sixers slowly chipped away at their lead at the line. The Sixers got within one, 106-105, when T.J. McConnell drained a three after a series of Sixers’ free throws. 

Jahlil Okafor scored a go-ahead basket during a hustling Sixers possession with nine seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 109-108 lead. 

In the end, it was Carmelo Anthony, who had been running up the scoreboard all night (37 points), that nailed the game-winning jumper over Robert Covington. Kyle O’Quinn picked off the Sixers' final inbound attempt. 

Inside the box score
Okafor finished with a season-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. He had eight rebounds in first half, including a coast-to-coast fast break.

Dario Saric continues his strong Rookie of the Year push. He finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. 

Robert Covington struggled from the field overall (7 of 19, 2 of 11 from three) but filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Anthony did what Anthony does. He scored 37 points on 15 of 25 from the field, including the game-winner.

Anderson debuts
Justin Anderson made his Sixers debut in the first quarter. Anderson is a multi-positional player and the lineup reflected that. He first played with Rodriguez, Stauskas, Covington and Holmes. Anderson played 3:47 and went 0 for 1 from three with a rebound and a foul. 

While Anderson said he had learned about the Sixers by watching his first game from the bench, he will get more on-the-court experience on Sunday when he plans to spend time at the training complex on the team’s off day. 

Bigs Convene
Joel Embiid was with the Sixers in New York. After the second quarter ended, he stayed on the court to talk with Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Both Knicks big men also were sidelined on Saturday.

Trust It
T.J. McConnell isn’t the only to #trustthefriendship with Saric. Check out this no-look pass to Robert Covington. 

Up next
The Sixers have a day to bounce back from this loss. The 48-9 Warriors come to town on Monday. 

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, PA. – Jay Wright finally admitted what we could all see.

The Wildcats are gassed.

No. 2 Villanova beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, Saturday at the Pavilion to clinch the Big East Conference regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay).

The Wildcats are 27-3 and 14-3 in the conference, but the last couple weeks their lack of depth has shown.

With Omari Spellman ruled ineligible before the season by the NCAA, Phil Booth out since November with lingering knee pain and Darryl Reynolds out the last five games with a rib injury, Wright has essentially been limited to five starters, freshman Dante DiVincenzo off the bench and a few minutes a night from freshman Dylan Painter.

It's taken a significant toll on the six guys in the rotation. 

Big late leads have dwindled or, in the case of Wednesday’s game against Butler, disappeared. Three-pointers have front-rimmed. Defensive assignments have been missed.

Through it all, Wright refused to admit fatigue was an issue.

Now, with the Wildcats securely the top seed in next month’s conference tournament, Wright is being honest about his team.

They’re exhausted.

“I know you guys have asked a lot, 'Do I think we’re getting worn down with seven guys, 6 1/2 guys,' and I said I don’t think so, I think we can do it,” Wright said Saturday after the Senior Day win over Creighton.

“I gotta answer your question, but it just doesn’t do us any good saying we’re worn out. It’s not an excuse. Other teams have things to deal with. I get we weren’t pretty, we haven’t been pretty, today wasn’t pretty. But I think it just speaks to the leadership of these seniors and I think it speaks to the character of these seniors (that they got through it).

“Are they tired? Yeah. Are they worn down some? Yeah. But it doesn’t matter. Other teams got stuff too. It’s not the reason you lose. It can’t be the reason you lose. Maybe you were tired and you didn’t concentrate or we didn’t defend or we didn’t rebound. That’s what happened and that’s the way we look at it.

“I wasn’t trying to BS you, I was just saying that whether you’re tired or not doesn’t matter, you’ve got to get it done, and we got it done. I’m so proud of them and it’s senior leadership. It’s talented players and senior leadership.”

Villanova now has a week off before an essentially meaningless game next Saturday at Georgetown.

It’ll be the Wildcats’ first extended break since the season began.

“They haven’t had an off week because they played Virginia (two weeks ago in a non-conference game), and now they get it and a chance to get their legs back,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.

“It’s a long season and when you don’t really have a chance to catch your breath, especially because he’s riding six or seven guys pretty hard right now? I’m sure this week off will do them some good.”

Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall had a career day Saturday, with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. Josh Hart added 16 points and eight boards, Kris Jenkins overcame another off shooting night from three (1 for 7) to record 15 points, four boards and three assists, and Mikal Bridges had 11 points and eight rebounds. DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson each scored nine points. 

The next meaningful game Villanova plays will be March 9 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament in New York.

Now it’s time to rest. And heal.

“It’s going to be good for us,” Jenkins said. “We get a couple days off. We’ll still watch film, still learn, still get better, but physically we need a couple days to regroup and get ready for Georgetown and then the Big East tournament.

“Georgetown is first, but we really do need this break.”

On Saturday, Villanova built an 11-point lead, gave it all away, fell behind, traded off seven second-half lead changes, then went on a 16-4 run midway through the second half to finally put away the Bluejays.

With the threes not falling, the Wildcats focused on attacking the rim and scoring in the post in the second half.

Jenkins in particular had an unusual game. He stopped shooting treys and made 5 of 8 shots from inside the arc. That’s the second-most two-pointers he’s ever made and the most he’s ever attempted.

“Just playing off my teammates and adjusting to how teams play me,” said Jenkins, shooting just 30 percent from three the last 10 games.

“They really take away threes and try not to let me get any clean catches so always being aggressive and trying to make the right play.”

For a tired team, backing off the threes was huge.

Villanova outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes after Creighton took its biggest lead – two points at 43-41.

Now comes rest.

“It’s big for these guys,” Wright said. “In my mind, we just had to get to today. We just gotta get through it without getting somebody else hurt and without just being dead.

“Because we’re going to get time off. We’re going to take Sunday off, we’re going to have a light day Monday, and then we’re going to take Tuesday off, because these guys really need the rest. So this is perfect timing for us.”