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

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.


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Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

MIAMI — It’s a cautious optimism to be sure — there can be no other type for the Sixers right now given their history of injuries — but you can tell the team is starting to get excited about Joel Embiid.

In Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat (see game story), Embiid scored 18 points in 18 minutes before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

The 7-0 center, who missed his first two NBA seasons because of foot surgeries, made 8 of 16 shots and 2 of 2 on free throws, adding a game-high nine rebounds.

“I’ve always felt like I’m a complete player — that’s what I do,” Embiid said. “I’m starting to get easy points.

“I just got better every game [in the preseason], defensively, offensively.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said he is still learning how to best use Embiid.

Brown added that the rust is apparent in Embiid’s game. But …

“He is as self-taught as any player I’ve ever been around,” Brown said. “He grew up in Cameroon and hasn’t played a lot (because of injuries). But he studies, he looks at stuff. He pays attention. He’s instinctively curious.

“There’s a lot of stuff in his head that he thinks through. His mind is quicker than his feet. At times, his core, his balance and his decision-making are off because his mind is working faster than his body.”

Embiid scored most of his buckets on Friday at close range — a finger roll, a tip-in, a couple of put-back dunks, an alley-oop dunk and a fast-break layup. But he did make a 10-foot jumper and took — but missed — a three-point try.

“He does stuff in a game that makes you step back and say, ‘Wow,’” Brown said. “He will trail and hit a three. He will have a pound, pound drop-step, dunk.

“Like a traditional post, he will turn his face and make a bank shot. He has that up-and-under stuff.

“But he’s raw. His preseason has been highlighted by those few things that you notice, all under the umbrella of, ‘He really has a chance to be very, very good.’"

Brown was asked to summarize the Sixers' 2-5 preseason, and he called it a “completely erratic” exhibition season because of injuries.

“Jahlil [Okafor] hasn’t practiced,” Brown said. “Joel has been steady and incremental. I think we all see that Dario Saric has got a lot to offer. I think the pairing of Joel and Dario was solid.

“We’ve seen Jerami [Grant] have a really good preseason. Richaun Holmes has taken his opportunity to play big minutes. Those type of things come to my mind.”