Game 15: Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning Let the Pronging Resume

Game 15: Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning Let the Pronging Resume

Most of the news in the sporting world this week has had very little to do with the actual playing of games. Unfortunately, what little we had from the field of play was a crushing Eagles defeat on Monday Night Football, wherein the only thing keeping the door from slamming shut on our hopes for meaningful football in the coming months were our now bloody fingers.

That finally changes tonight when, after a seemingly long layoff, the Flyers are back in action as they begin a road trip in Tampa. As opposed to some of the shitful teams they've played lately, the Lightning are actually pretty good despite currently sitting in the middle of the Southeast Division standings. After a terrible start to the season saw them winning just one of their first six contests, Tampa have put together a fairly impressive run of late.

Fortunately, the Flyers appear to have weathered the storm of being without their top defenseman, as Chris Pronger is expected back in the lineup tonight.

It's hard to know what to expect with Pronger. We figured he'd miss a few games to start the season, and when he was announced in the opening night lineup, the safe assumption was that his minutes would be limited. Up until taking a stick to the eye, Pronger was playing a pretty full share. His eye is said to be fine now, but it remains to be seen whether his conditioning will hold him back at all.

After returning from a broken hand—a completely age-independent injury—last season, Pronger developed troubles with his back. We can only hope that isn't the case this season, as the Flyers defense has looked lost at times without him.

They'll need to have it together tonight, facing one of the most dangerous scoring units in the league.

Months of largely baseless speculation that the Flyers might obtain the rights of Steven Stamkos this summer should be all you need to know how good he is, if you somehow haven't seen that with your own eyes. He's pocketed 10 goals in 14 games this season, sharing the Lightning points lead with distributing defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron at 15 apiece.

Of course, the Lightning attack also boasts the talents of Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, and Ryan Malone. There's quite a dropoff after Malone's 10 points in the TB production, with the next highest scorer having only 5, and Malone is currently out of the lineup with a UBI. They're still a very dangerous team with the puck though.

Through 14 games, it's been hard to find former Flyer Steve Downie's name in the box score, unless you scroll down to the penalty minutes. He's still 7 PIM behind Zac Rinaldo (49), but he may try to play catchup tonight. Of course, Rinaldo will keep his lead if the two throw down, which we're kinda hoping to see happen.

Goaltenders are expected to be Ilya Bryzgalov and Dwayne Roloson.

Photo: Marc DesRosiers-US Presswire

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).