Bryz, Flyers Remember to Spay and Neuter Their Panthers in Shutout Rout

Bryz, Flyers Remember to Spay and Neuter Their Panthers in Shutout Rout

Thursday night's game against the Florida Panthers marked the third straight game the Flyers would have to play without defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros. Shortly before the teams took the ice, the team announced that Pavel Kubina would miss the game with an injury as well, which explained the mid-day call-up of Brandon Manning.

[full photo gallery from the game here]

Already without Chris Pronger, this would seem to spell disaster for a team in the bottom third of the NHL for goals against. Or, an unlikely recipe for a pair of shutouts and three straight wins, four dating back to the last time the defense corps was intact. The Flyers makeshift blue line put in a stellar effort, as did Ilya Bryzgalov, who backstopped his fourth shutout of the season en route to a 5-0 Flyers win. A few notes and a look at the goals, below. 
As we said in the pre-game, the Panthers aren't very good, and they came to town shorthanded. But man did they get blown off the ice in this one. 
The Flyers managed to weather the dangerous seas of the early first period, where more often than not lately, they've been conceding rather than scoring goals. 
They opened the scoring on the power play, when a 1-3-1 look had its way with the Panthers' PK unit and Brayden Schenn scored on a goal that probably drew some laughs. The play was designed to find Scott Hartnell in the slot, where he's done a ton of damage this season. The Panthers were keen to him, but he was still open when Claude Giroux sent a pass through the middle. But, as if drawn up this way, Harts fanned on the shot, and the pass went straight to Schenn, who put it past Jose Theodore. 
Theodore appeared to bite on the belief that Harts' shot was coming his way, and Schenn didn't miss on his one-timer opp. Don't worry, Hartnell would get his too. 
The defense was pretty tight early despite missing some key players, and they kept the quality opportunities to a minimum. Matt Carle showed how much the D is in tune with doing their part for their goalie, attacking Jack Skille for running into Bryz. Definitely arguable that maybe Skille didn't have much choice with Carle riding him pretty hard, which almost makes it even better that Carle objected so much. 
Matt Read tagged his name on the rookie wall again, picking up his 19th of the season on a dirty rebound in tight to open up a second period the Flyers flat out dominated. They'd only score once more in the frame, but they held the edge most of the way. Hartnell tallied his 32nd of the season on a strip-steal and breakaway where he showed speed I'm not sure I've ever seen from him, then leaned on a hard wrister that flew over Theodore's glove hand.
The third period was much of the same, as the Flyers continued to pull away. Blocked shots aplenty, big saves by Bryzgalov, and two more goals. Jaromir Jagr was said to be unlikely to play in this one, and he had limited minutes early, skating with the fourth line and second power play unit while Schenn flanked on the G line. But Jags had energy in reserve, and he blazed a wrist shot past Theodore. The weight of his shots can be amazing, scoring despite hitting the goalie, and then the bare-hand salute comes out… 
Eric Wellwood continues to play well when given the opportunity, and he picked up his third goal of the season and fifth point in just seven games. This guy's just begging for some playing time. 
Notes:Not sure what Danny Briere did to piss off the hockey gods, but they're still holding a grudge. The good news is, despite staying on the snakebite, Briere played a great game, generating opportunities and picking up a pair of assists.&nb
Brandon Manning had a solid NHL debut, minimizing mistakes and cashing in with a plus-2 evening. He was even Bryz's LOL of the night, when the Russian goalie made reference to his being released by the Colts earlier today. 
The Flyers were 2/4 on the power play and perfect on four kills. 
Carle had four of the Flyers' 18 blocked shots. 
That's 10 straight starts for Bryz. Will he sit one of the two games this weekend? Timing's right...

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Eagles (3-2) return home Sunday for the first time in nearly a month and welcome a familiar face to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) will come to Philadelphia fresh off a Week 6 bye and, most notably, as the league's lone unbeaten team. Minnesota boasts one of the league's top defenses, ranking first in points allowed (12.6 per game) and second in yards allowed (287.6 per game), and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2009.

The last time these two franchises met was back in December 2013, when Matt Cassell and the Vikings put up 48 points in a win over Chip Kelly's Eagles.

To get a better handle on this year's Vikings, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 7 opponent.

Brian Robison poses yet another challenge for Big V
Making his NFL debut in a start against the Redskins last week, Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Ryan Kerrigan beat Vaitai and got to Carson Wentz for 2½ sacks, all of which came in the first half.

It won't get any easier for the rookie right tackle this week either, as he'll likely be lined up against Brian Robison for most of the afternoon. Robison has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season and, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the versatile 10-year defensive end could be difference maker on the defensive side of the ball Sunday.

"Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back," Krammer wrote. "At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate. ... And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there."

Makeshift offensive line remains a question mark
The Vikings may be undefeated, but by no means are they made up of perfect parts. As the midway point of the NFL season approaches, Minnesota's injury-battered offensive line is still a work in progress. 

Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both sidelined with season-ending injuries. Starting guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion Week 5 against the Texans, but is expected to return against the Eagles. Center is the only position on the line the Vikings haven't had to replace because of an injury at some point this season.

But despite the constant changes up front, Minnesota has been stout overall in protecting the quarterback, allowing eight sacks and 27 quarterback hits across five games. According to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, the performance of that makeshift offensive line is going to be key in the Vikings' potential success down the road. 

"What’s best for Bradford and the Vikings’ standing as the NFC’s top dog is better pass protection," Murphy wrote. "He was sacked twice when Houston defenders turnstiled Clemmings and hit hard in the pocket other times. ... Offensive line intrigue never is a sexy storyline, but how well the Vikings manage the unit week to week figures to be an underlying factor to their continued success."

Strong away from home
The Vikings are a just a few years removed from going winless on the road, finishing 0-7-1 away from home in the 2013 season. Minnesota secured wins in only two of its first 10 away games under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, but have since gone on a tear.

Minnesota has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season and, in their most recent game away from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took down the Panthers, 22-10, in Week 3. A testament of a true contender is having the ability to win consistently on the road, which holds true with the Vikings.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings' vast improvement over the past two-plus seasons has contributed to them becoming a stronger team away from home.

"Facing a tough opposing crowd once was a tall order for the Vikings, but it’s much less of one now. After being one of the worse road teams in the NFL earlier this decade, they’re now one of the best," Tomasson wrote. "Overall, the Vikings have improved, having gone from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 last season to 5-0 this year. That’s the main reason the road record has gotten so much better. Still, players say the continuity the team has had has especially helped when entering rugged road environments."

While Vegas has the Vikings as light favorites on the road, national experts have them heavily favored straight up to hand the Eagles their third straight loss.

ESPN: All nine experts picked the Vikings

CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Vikings

FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Vikings