And We're Back G-Line Dominates Hurricanes, Bryzgalov Nearly Perfect

And We're Back G-Line Dominates Hurricanes, Bryzgalov Nearly Perfect

We
waited the entire remainder of the Sopranos series to find out what
happened to the Russian who was lost in the woods, to no avail, as he
never resurfaced. We only had to wait one game to see the Flyers own
lost Russian re-emerge.

The home side gave their fans and themselves a huge injection of
confidence on Saturday, dominating all facets of play en route to a 5-1
win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Confidence is what Ilya Bryzgalov
emphatically said he was lacking after getting shelled in his two
previous outings, but you'd never know it watching this one. The only
goal scored on Bryz came when Scott Hartnell slid into him and plowed
him out of the crease, leaving the cage wide open for Jussi Jokinen to
put one in.

Hartnell was easily forgiven, however, as his crashing of the
opposing net resulted in the first goal of the game, and it was the
Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line that collectively did nearly all the scoring
for the Flyers.

Giroux worked his ass off all night and was on the ice for every
goal. He assisted the first three and scored the fourth, then narrowly
missed getting an assist on the fifth, though his work did help lead to
it.

The only goal that wasn't scored by this line still managed to include a
Girouxian masterpiece. Down a man due to a crappy call on Jagr in the
third, Max Talbot blocked a shot, and he and Giroux skated down the ice
to net the Flyers' first shorthanded goal. As if the Flyers needed more
of a karmic refund, Jagr scored on his next shift after leaving the box.

Bryzgalov didn't have the busiest night, but he was sharp with his
stick and his pads, making only one mistake that I can remember (poorly
playing a puck behind the net). Great to see him looking plenty
confident for 60 minutes, and he would have had a shutout had it not
been for the accidental takeout by Hartnell.

The Flyers have a clear-cut #1 line, an explosive mixture of speed,
talent, and grit. Giroux and Jagr are just unstoppable with the puck.
Hartnell had one of the best games of his career. G's two-way play
continues to be great (although he's still making a few too many risky
passes), and Jagr's patience with the puck can drop jaws.

The rest of the team didn't get their names on the sheet, but
really, it was a very good all around effort. The game wasn't fully
dominated by the Flyers until about the halfway point, and certainly in
the third, but their work early on was a great sign of a team that is
way better than it's played recently. They were sharp all night, patient
when opportunities weren't there and aggressive when they were.

Notes:
Final tallies for the G Line: Giroux (1 G, 3 A), Hartnell (1 G, 2 A), Jagr (2 G).

Two Flyers scored on their very next shifts after sitting in the box—Hartnell in the first period and Jagr in the third.

Tough night for Brian Boucher, who made some big saves but was just
overwhelmed by the pressure of the G Line and increasingly shaky defense
in front of him.

Zac Rinaldo had another HUGE hit in this one. Great to see that out of a fourth line winger.

One place the Flyers did not fare well was the face-off circle, where they lost 39 while winning just 23.

Talbot
wore one of the A's tonight, with Briere out. One game after taking a
painful shot to the foot, he scored after blocking an identical attempt
in the third. He skated the night centering the third line, with Sean
Couturier on the fourth.

US Presswire photos

Flyers fans -- even living dead ones -- are happy on Saturday night.

NBA Notes: Chris Paul to undergo surgery for torn ligament in thumb

NBA Notes: Chris Paul to undergo surgery for torn ligament in thumb

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Paul will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The Clippers said Tuesday that their All-Star guard will continue to undergo treatment and evaluation by the club's medical staff.

Paul was injured on a first-half play involving Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in Monday night's victory over the Thunder. Paul didn't return in the second half.

The Clippers are 26-9 in 36 games with Paul in the lineup this season. He is averaging 17.5 points, 9.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds, and leads the NBA with 2.25 steals per game (see full story).

Knicks: Anthony tells Jackson he wants to stay in New York
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony still believes the Knicks can win and still wants to be in New York when they do.

Another January collapse makes it easier to wonder if either will happen.

The Knicks have fallen off the playoff pace, again proving they can win headlines but not games. It seems like the same old story in New York, even though Anthony still thinks they can change the ending.

"Yeah, we will," he said. "I still believe."

He reiterated that Tuesday in a meeting with Phil Jackson, telling the Knicks president of basketball operations that he wanted to remain with the team, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion.

The question is how much Jackson still wants him.

A Fanragsports.com piece by Charley Rosen last week was heavily critical of Anthony, saying his legs are "going, going, almost gone" and that "the only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York."

Criticism of Anthony is nothing new, but this came from a longtime confidant and former assistant coach of Jackson, leading to speculation that those were the same thoughts as the Knicks executive (see full story).

Hornets: Clifford blames poor defense for Hornets' losing streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets coach Steve Clifford points to one factor when explaining his team's five-game losing streak -- a lack of defense.

Charlotte went 0-5 on its recent road trip, surrendering an uncharacteristic 109.6 points per game during that span. The Hornets return home Wednesday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers, part of a stretch of five-game home stand which Clifford hopes will help turn things around.

But Charlotte's fourth-year coach said nothing will get better until the Hornets start playing better man-to-man defense.

"It starts with our ability to guard our guy," Clifford said. "When you get blown by a lot on the perimeter where you are constantly in need of help, then you are going to give up 3s -- and that's what is happening."

The Hornets raced to a 14-9 start this season and were third-best in the league in points allowed through 23 games.

Since then, things have steadily fallen apart, culminating with Charlotte giving up at least 100 points in eight straight games. The Hornets have since dropped to 12th overall in points allowed (see full story).

Kings: F Omri Casspi out for up to 2 weeks with calf injury
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi will miss up to two weeks with an injured right calf.

The team said Tuesday that an MRI showed Casspi strained a tendon in his calf during practice on Monday.

Casspi is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season.

Another injury, another opportunity as Sixers' PG merry-go-round continues

Another injury, another opportunity as Sixers' PG merry-go-round continues

CAMDEN, N.J. — The camouflaged tape wrapped around T.J. McConnell’s right wrist couldn’t disguise the latest hit to the Sixers’ backcourt. 

McConnell suffered a sprain on Saturday in a play against John Wall and was in a splint on Tuesday. He did not participate in practice and is listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the Raptors (see story)

“[I’m] trying to keep it stable and not move it around a lot. I should be good to go very soon,” McConnell said. “I’m leaving [when I play] up to the medical staff. I’ll just tell them how I feel. It’s getting a lot better each day.”

Add McConnell to the list of point guards who have battled injuries this season. Let’s start at training camp: Jerryd Bayless suffered a left wrist ligament injury that ended up requiring season-ending surgery. His absence bumped Sergio Rodriguez into the starting lineup, until Rodriguez sprained his left ankle in late December and missed three games.

That left McConnell as the team’s only healthy true point guard at that point. McConnell played so well as a starter while Rodriguez was sidelined that he remained in the lineup when Rodriguez returned. 

“I obviously want to get back quick, but I know me and my teammates won’t lose that cohesion together,” McConnell said.  

This time around, the Sixers are better equipped to handle the injury of a point guard. They signed Chasson Randle from the Westchester Knicks (NBA Development League) to a 10-day contract on Jan. 10. The team liked Randle for his combo skills that would allow him to play shooting guard in practices and give Gerald Henderson an opportunity to rest. Turns out, they need him at the one spot the most. 

Randle played 16 minutes off the bench in Monday’s win over the Bucks. He scored 10 points (3 for 6 from the field, 2 for 4 from three, 2 for 2 from the line) with two rebounds, an assist and five fouls. Randle took his first shot just 23 seconds after checking in for Rodriguez and made his first NBA bucket, a three. 

“He did a great job,” Rodriguez said. “He stepped up in the game, he made some shots, he got the rhythm of the team going. For us, it’s amazing … he’s just here for a few days and he’s talented and he showed [Monday].”

Now Randle could be the latest point guard to maximize an opportunity created by injury. The Sixers have been impressed by what Stanford’s all-time leading scorer can do on both sides of the court. 

“When you start looking at what we have access to, the physical measurements, his wingspan is elite,” Brett Brown said. “You sit him in a stance and he spreads out, he uncoils. He really can cover some ground with his width, his length, albeit from a point guard position. Some of the deflections he got and defensive plays he made, I thought were outstanding.”