3 Stars: Flyers go toe-to-toe with Western Conference-best Blues but fall again in shootout

3 Stars: Flyers go toe-to-toe with Western Conference-best Blues but fall again in shootout

A look at the Philadelphia Flyers’ 1-0 shootout loss to the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center in St. Louis through the perspective of three players who had an impact on the game.

 

Much like this past Sunday’s contest with the visiting Boston Bruins, that was one heck of a hockey game despite the outcome. And much like this past Sunday, the Flyers deserved a better fate. But they have nothing to be ashamed of. A point is a point, especially at this time of year. The Flyers will take it.

 

3. Claude Giroux

On a night when defense and goaltending ruled the roost and no player really stood out on the offensive end beside Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, who had a game-high six shots and was buzzing around the puck all game long, it should come as no surprise that Giroux didn’t have his best game of the season.

Part of that is due to the smothering defense the Blues play. But Giroux had his chances to try and make something and was a bit too passive.

In the first period, two Blues defenders tripped over each other and allowed Giroux to carry the puck into the zone untouched with Michael Raffl alongside on the wing for a mini 2-on-0. Instead of going full speed, Giroux slowed down and telegraphed a pass to Raffl that Blues goalie Ryan Miller read and then Miller was able to slide across to stop Raffl. Giroux probably would make a move and shoot if he could have that one back.

In the second period, Giroux skated with the puck down the wing and led the Flyers on an odd-man rush. Instead of shooting, he tried a low-percentage centering pass that the Blues easily knocked away.

The opportunities weren’t plentiful but when they were there, the execution wasn’t.

He was also mauled in the faceoff circle as he won just five of 18 draws, good for 28% on the night. And that high-sticking penalty he took late in the third period could have been costly but his penalty killers picked him up.

It was just one of those nights for the captain. He’ll bounce back.

 

2. Ray Emery

Emery starting in net was a bit of a surprise from Flyers head coach Craig Berube but the Flyers’ backup goalie was superb and had every answer until the dreaded shootout.

He stopped all 28 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and only allowed shootout goals to Mr. America T.J Oshie and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Emery faced quality chances all night from the Blues but stood tall each time to get a piece of puck at the very least. He did leave a few rebounds around the crease but his teammates were there to get those out of harm’s way.

It was another solid game from Emery, whose last three starts have now come against the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and these Blues. Those are three of the best teams in the stacked Western Conference and he’s performed admirably. In fact, he’s given up just five goals in those three games. You can’t ask for much more from your backup.

Tuesday’s game will actually go down in the record books as Emery’s second shutout of the season since he didn’t allow a goal in regulation or overtime.

The shootout is so cruel.

 

1. Ryan Miller

If you thought the goaltending performance by Boston’s Tuukka Rask this past Sunday was something, go back and look at what St. Louis’ newly-acquired netminder did on Tuesday night because he was even better.

Miller stopped all 31 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and then two more in the shootout to earn the victory.

He kept the Blues in the game with impressive save after impressive save as the Flyers poured on the pressure in the first five minutes of the contest including that save on Raffl on the 2-on-0.

His most remarkable save of the night came in the second period as the teams played 4-on-4. Flyers defenseman Mark Streit hit Raffl with a nice pass while on an odd-man rush and Miller stretched across to somehow get his pad on Raffl’s one-timer from the circle. It was right after that crazy save that you started to get a feeling he was going to be unbeatable on Tuesday night.

Miller then went on to save the game in overtime when he robbed Jake Voracek twice on the doorstep with the pad as Voracek found a seam in front of the net and had two great chances.

That could well have been the best game Miller has played since the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He was sensational. There’s really no other way to put it.

 

Through the last 130 minutes of hockey they’ve played, the Flyers have taken every punch the two best teams in the NHL have thrown. Not only have they taken those punches, they’ve gotten right back up and thrown haymakers of their own and hung with the Bruins and Blues every step of the way. Despite the outcome, the Flyers once again proved they are to be taken seriously.

The Columbus Blue Jackets come to Wells Fargo Center for a big Metropolitan Division matchup on Thursday night. After Tuesday’s results, the Jackets are just four points behind the Flyers for third in the Metro. With the New York Rangers winning in Vancouver, they are now three points ahead of the Flyers for home ice in the opening round of the playoffs but the Flyers still have two really important games in hand.

Eagles WR Bryce Treggs has plenty to say on Trump presidency

Eagles WR Bryce Treggs has plenty to say on Trump presidency

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Bryce Treggs made a name for himself in 2016 due to his speed. He was a fan favorite for a moment, as any deep threat tends to be, but only appeared in 9 games and registered just 3 catches.

That didn't stop him from trending on Twitter in Philly on Friday after Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America.

Here were some of his tweets.

Fastbreak Friday: Villanova to face pesky Providence Friars

Fastbreak Friday: Villanova to face pesky Providence Friars

CSN anchor/reporter Amy Fadool and producer Sean Kane get you set for all of the weekend's local college basketball games with Fastbreak Friday. Look for this column every Friday during the college basketball season.

Providence (13-7, 3-4 Big East) at No. 1 Villanova (18-1, 6-1 Big East), Saturday at noon

AF: This is a first. In the three seasons that I have been privileged to co-author this column, I've never written about Villanova. Today, that drought ends. Thank you to all who made this possible, which really is just one person: Sean Kane. 

I think one of the reasons that he relinquished his iron grip, just for one week, is that a new, young fan is now on board with this Villanova team and will be attending his first Wildcats game this weekend. When I say that our 2-year-old son is a fan, that may be understating it a little bit. He knows the entire roster, from Josh Hart to Donte DiVincenzo, and every player in between. He knows the fight song, and proudly belts out V for Villanova. Of course, I'm proud of my son. I do wish he could sneak in a few bars of "On, On U of K" or know one other Kentucky player besides Malik Monk. But that's enough of the background of why I finally broke through and am writing about Villanova this week.

The Wildcats returned to the No. 1 ranking this week as they welcome Providence to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. The Friars have given Jay Wright's teams fits over the past few seasons. You don't need to look much farther than last year when you check the numbers of a Ben Bentil or Kris Dunn. In fact, in the last three seasons, Villanova has lost one home game, and almost a year ago exactly that loss came courtesy of Providence. On Jan. 24, 2016, Bentil owned the low post and poured in 31 points, while the high-low game was working to perfection because Dunn racked up 14 assists. Of course, neither Dunn nor Bentil are on this year's Providence squad and that is a good thing for 'Nova.

The Friars come into this game on a short, two-game winning streak, but that's bigger than it may seem. Before that, they dropped five of their previous six games, including a heart-breaking one-point loss to DePaul.

Nothing seems to get Providence back on track better than Georgetown, already sweeping the season series with the Hoyas. Ed Cooley's team seems to do this every year — have a lull only to explode in March. The Friars did it three years ago, when Villanova crushed them by 30 in January, only to see Providence steamroll its way through the Big East Tournament. So I'm never ready to count out a Cooley team. 

But Villanova is rolling after it's lone loss of the year, falling to Butler on the road after a spectacular performance at Creighton. Sean wrote in this very column last week that the Wildcats needed to get more from their bench, specifically DiVincenzo. No, I don't think Donte reads this (though he should; it's fun!), but it was as if he did. In the decisive victory over Seton Hall this week, DiVincenzo posted 10 points, two rebounds and a monster block in 29 minutes of work, a solid effort off the bench. 

In the game before, at St. John's last weekend, DiVincenzo had starter-like numbers in a two-man bench effort with Eric Paschall. DiVincenzo tallied a career-high 19 points in the win at the Garden. And if the Wildcats are getting numbers near that from him, they should start thinking about a return trip to the Final Four. 

March is all about depth. Hart is going to get his. But you need other players to step up (see: Phil Booth in the title game). DiVincenzo could be that guy for Wright this year. This team certainly looks primed to go far in March. 

The spotlight on the Wells Fargo Center will shine on the Wildcats and another win. 

Villanova 80, Providence 66

La Salle (11-5, 5-1 A-10) at VCU (14-5, 4-2 A-10), Sunday at 2 p.m.

SK: Which city team has the longest winning streak? It's not top-ranked Villanova. The correct answer would be the La Salle Explorers, winners of five straight games and seven of their last nine. The good times kept rolling Thursday night with a 91-83 victory over Davidson at Tom Gola Arena. 

Four different Explorers scored 12 or more points in the win, and the one starter who didn't — junior Demetrius Henry — provided three critical baskets in the closing minutes.

Henry's contributions aside, the night belonged to Jordan Price. The senior guard scored 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Price knocked down 4 of 6 three-point attempts and went 7 of 8 from the foul line. The Explorers' leader is hitting his stride, averaging 26 points in the last two games while shooting 72 percent from the field.

La Salle now sets its sights on a Sunday showdown at VCU, which has a 14-5 record under second-year head coach Will Wade. The Rams will be hungry for a win, having dropped back-to-back road games at Davidson and Fordham. Wade has done an admirable job maintaining the success of the VCU program following the departure of Shaka Smart to Texas following the 2014-15 season. The Rams advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago and have a good shot at making their way into the Field of 68 again this season.

The Explorers shouldn't be phased by VCU's raucous homecourt advantage. La Salle won in double overtime in its last trip to Richmond against VCU two years ago.

I can honestly see this game going either way, and would be surprised if things weren't decided in the final minutes. But I'm riding the hot hand with the Explorers and Price. La Salle is a confident team right now; look for them to figure out a way to win a sixth straight game on Sunday.

La Salle 81, VCU 78

Pennsylvania (6-8, 0-3 Ivy League) at Saint Joseph's (8-9, 2-4 A-10), Saturday at 7 p.m.

AF: The Quakers are in the midst of a tough stretch. They opened up Ivy League play with rival Princeton two weeks ago, and it started a three-game losing streak — first to the Tigers, then home losses to Yale and Brown. But it's not as if Penn hasn't been in these games. In the loss to Brown, the Quakers cut it to just a two-point deficit with under eight minutes to play, but a great defensive stand by the Bears led to Penn's missing its next seven shots. 

Next up for Steve Donahue, a Big Five matchup with Saint Joseph's, a team also reeling a bit. 

In it's most recent game, a five-point loss at UMass, St. Joe's shot 32 percent, including an abysmal 26 percent in the second half. 

Once again, the Hawks did get a solid effort from James Demery. The junior had a career-high 11 rebounds to go with his team-high 19 points in the loss. One would think that if Phil Martelli keeps getting efforts like that from Demery, the Hawks will break through on a win soon. They are just short-handed with injuries right now.

This game will be played at the Palestra, which contrary to a silly Duke tweet this week, is the greatest home court in college basketball. Fun fact: Penn has enjoyed more success against Saint Joseph’s than any other Big 5 opponent in recent years, with three wins over the last six meetings.

But I don't know if that fun fact continues this weekend. Both teams are playing with a little desperation, and I think that the shooters for the Hawks will step up in this one.

St. Joseph's 62, Penn 60

Drexel (7-12, 1-5 CAA) at UNC Wilmington (18-2, 7-0 CAA), Sunday at 4 p.m.

SK: To say this is a tall order for Drexel would be an understatement. The Dragons have dropped six of their last seven games, including a 20-point loss at Elon Thursday night. Meanwhile, UNC Wilmington enters Sunday's game with an 18-2 record and a perfect 7-0 mark in CAA play. The Seahawks' two losses this season came at Clemson and against a very good Middle Tennessee State team.

The UNC Wilmington program has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround under third-year head coach Kevin Keatts, who previously served as Rick Pitino's assistant at Louisville. The Seahawks won 25 games and made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, losing a tightly contested game to Duke in the first round. After establishing themselves as the class of the CAA once again this season, it would come as a major surprise if they're not back in the Big Dance this March. 

UNC Wilmington has three players averaging 15 points or more — C.J. Bryce (17.5), Chris Flemmings (15.9) and Denzel Ingram (15.5). The Seahawks simply have too much firepower for a Drexel team struggling to find its way under first-year head coach Zach Spiker. For the Dragons' sake, I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see this being much of a contest.

UNC Wilmington 77, Drexel 59

Prediction records
Sean Kane: 18-4
Amy Fadool: 13-7