Call It a Comeback: Flyers Win Three in a Row for the First Time This Season

Call It a Comeback: Flyers Win Three in a Row for the First Time This Season

As Bill Clement likes to say, “Pick the part about hockey
you like the most, and you’ll find it in this one.” That certainly was the case
at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night where the Flyers launched their
second third-period comeback in as many games to defeat the Montreal Canadiens
5-3. Best of all, the victory puts the Orange & Black on their first
three-game winning streak of the season.

The Flyers were trailing deep into the third period, but were
skating as if all the momentum in the world was on their side. The action was
constantly forcing the issue at Montreal’s end, causing Philadelphia to rack up a 14-2 shot
advantage over the final 20 minutes. They were winning the battles, and some of
the puck movement while on the attack was breathtaking

Take the go-ahead goal for instance. The score itself wasn’t
pretty, Erik Gustafsson’s pass intended for Matt Read in front banking into the
net off of Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillion as it turned out. The setup itself
was a thing of beauty though.

Jakub Voracek emerged from the corner with possession, then slipped
a cross-ice pass between Alex Galchenyuk’s legs. Claude Giroux bluffed the shot
as he was accepting the transfer, creating the extra millisecond that was necessary
to shuffle the puck softly behind his back. Gustafsson collected it off of his
skate, maneuvered past the outstretched body of David Drewiske, and fed the
disc in to Read.

Call it friendly fire, or call it “lucky” as Montreal netminder
Carey Price explained to reporters after the game. Either way, Gustafsson’s
second career NHL goal results in two huge points in the standings for the
Flyers.

Among other plays the Canadiens probably considered unlucky:
Sean Couturier snapping his lengthy goal-scoring drought with another deflection off
of one of Price’s teammates; Oliver Lauridsen’s blast from the point bouncing
off the boards and right to Simon Gagne to give the rookie defenseman his first
NHL point; and Bruno Gervais whipping a shot off the skate of a bloodied Wayne
Simmonds to tie the game. The decisive tally would occur just 90 seconds after Simmer’s 12th
of the season.

Conveniently, only Jakub Voracek’s empty-netter could not be
traced to some element of luck.

Of course we kid Mr. Price, as Ilya Bryzgalov has had a
little of that going on himself this season. Speak of the devil, Bryz didn’t
seem rattled by the impending arrival of Steve Mason, though he was only called
upon to face 17 shots, stopping 14. That said his performance was better than
the numbers might indicate – even despite one humorous reaction.

There were also plenty of fisticuffs in addition to the
scheduled hockey game. Brayden Schenn and P.K. Subban got a little mixed up as
the first period was coming to a close, which would set the tone for
back-to-back fights by Simmonds and Zac Rinaldo later, neither of which was
anything to write home about.

Giroux’s scuffle with Lars Eller early in the third period
was very noteworthy however. As you can see from the photo below, the
gloves were off and punches were thrown, yet the officials chalked this one up
to “boys will be boys” and left them both off with roughing minors. The energy
may very well have been in Philly’s favor already, but who doesn’t get fired up
when their captain decides to get his hands dirty?


Don’t look now, but that’s seven points out of the last
eight possible now for the Flyers, their lone loss during that span coming in a
shootout with the Islanders – another tilt in which they came back from a
third-period deficit. That puts them four points back of a playoff berth with
12 to go, and with this newfound resilience, clearly these guys aren't ready to be put away. It’s still an uphill battle to make the postseason, but the Bullies have
finally come to fight.

At least they're making things interesting anyway.

>> BOX SCORE [Flyers.com]

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Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”