Flyers catch a break with Lundqvist out tonight

Flyers catch a break with Lundqvist out tonight

From this season’s rarely-cited Flyers-may-actually-catch-a-break file: Rangers goaltender and known Flyers-tormenter Henrik Lundqvist will not play when New York visits Philadelphia for the struggling rivals’ first matchup of the season tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lundqvist will sit out tonight’s contest with what the Rangers, who sit at 2-5 on the season and are just two points ahead the Eastern Conference-worst Flyers, are referring to as a “minor injury.”

This should come as great news for the offensively-inept Flyers because Lundqvist has tortured them over the course of his nine-year career. In 42 career games against the Flyers, “King Henrik” has posted a 25-12-3 record,  .914 save percentage, 2.52 goals-against average and four shutouts.

Not too shabby.

With the way the Flyers are struggling to produce much of anything on offense with just 11 goals through their first eight games of the young season, seeing an even-somewhat healthy Lundqvist would not have been a great proposition.

Replacing Lundqvist between the pipes for the Rangers will be 26-year-old rookie Cam Talbot.

Who?

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one to ask that question.

Talbot, who will be making his first-career NHL start and is of no relation to the Flyers’ Max, was recently called up from the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford after former Flyer and Ranger backup Marty Biron was placed on waivers and subsequently decided to retire.  In five games this season with Hartford, Talbot went 4-0-1 with a .924 save percentage and a 2.49 goals-against average.

Also of very important note, Talbot rocks this totally-awesome Ghostbusters-inspired mask, which features Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man wreaking havoc throughout the streets of New York.

Seriously, that thing rules. It gets two thumbs up even if it’s worn by a Ranger.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."