Flyers Deserve to Lose, Do So

Flyers Deserve to Lose, Do So

Last spring, a couple of broads who had too much to drink decided it would be more convenient to walk through my patio screen door rather than open it--same night, isolated incidents. The resulting quick fixes performed in the dark of night never quite got the sliding door back on its tracks, and within a day or two, the entire house was infested with flies. I chased the flies around the house for a few days, swatting wildly at every one I saw, but it was a losing battle. It always seemed like there were more.

Until finally I stumbled upon their lair. When the sun was out, those nasty buggers would congregate behind a tapestry that hung in front of the glass patio doors, perhaps to keep warm from the cruel central air. Well from that point on, every morning when I woke up, or whenever I returned home from work, I would grab the nearest copy of Wine & Spirits Quarterly, carefully peel away the tapestry, and begin gleefully smashing flies. It was gruesome, but I hate flies, and eventually the entire population was eradicated.

Roughly one year later, the Bruins are exorcising some demons of their own, gleefully smashing the Flyers with their bodies and swatting pucks by their goaltenders with the same level of ease.

Trying to recap this game seriously or in any amount of detail is about as pointless as that rambling lede. If you witnessed it, you don't really want to talk about it. If you didn't... lucky you. Most likely, you can look at the 5-1 final, and the fact that the Flyers have fallen behind 3-0 in a series with Boston for the second post-season in a row, and determine things went decidedly poor on Wednesday night.

Before a minute could even tick off the clock in the first period, Philly was already behind 2-0. Well before the second frame concluded, the lead was four, and Brian Boucher was heading to the bench once again. Sergei Bobrovsky settled things down somewhat, not allowing another score until the final minutes, while Andrej Meszaros tacked on a goal in the second, but it was all so very little, so very, very late.

The story of the game wasn't just in net though, despite that being the sixth goaltender change mid-game during the post-season. Matt broke it down plain enough in the game preview.

Boosh let up a goal he should have had. There were forward lapses on coverages and bad decisions with the puck on defense. Any on their own can be accepted if all else goes well. But on Monday, in a 1-goal OT loss, the single mistakes become amplified. We should expect just as close a game tonight. If not, it isn't safe to assume we'll be on the winning end of a lopsided game.

Tonight, all three occurred once again, and the the home team wound up on the wrong side of a crooked number.

Of course, it doesn't help the Flyers appear to have run into the proverbial hot goalie. If they hope to have any shot at defying the odds with another historical run in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will first have to solve Tim Thomas. Thomas didn't put on quite the show he did in Game 2--and didn't have to--but he's made it look far more simple than it actually is thus far.

As if that weren't enough, Boston won in practically every other aspect of this contest, not just in the final score column, or netminder confidence. They were clearly the more physical of the two clubs. The Flyers are hitting, but the Bruins were flat out steamrolling them tonight. They also destroyed the orange and black in the faceoff dot by an astounding 43-12, making the B's control on the pace of the game that much tighter. Again, that's 43-12. Might as well have been 100-0.

Honestly, looking at what happened tonight, what has gone down this entire series, it's hard to imagine the Flyers can pull four consecutive wins on this club again. And that, I'm afraid, is being kind. What more can we say?

Best of NHL: Matt Murray, Penguins cruise past Habs

Best of NHL: Matt Murray, Penguins cruise past Habs

MONTREAL -- Eric Fehr and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Defensemen Ian Cole and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second game in a row after a three-game skid.

Sven Andrighetto scored for Montreal, which lost its second straight and has only two wins in its last six games. The Canadiens' offense remained in a rut coming off a 1-0 loss Monday in Detroit.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray was back in form after Monday's wild 8-7 win over Washington, making 19 saves. But Carey Price's woes continued as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 26-20. Price allowed three or more goals for the eighth time in 10 games (see full recap).

Red Wings' Vanek, Nielsen score in 6-5 SO win over Bruins
DETROIT -- Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored in a shootout, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a comeback 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits in the first period, and with 3:04 remaining in regulation, Gustav Nyquist scored to pull them into a tie.

In the shootout, Tuukka Rask and Petr Mrazek stopped the first shots they faced before Vanek scored for the Red Wings and Brad Marchand countered with a goal for the Bruins. Nielsen, who like Vanek joined the team last summer as a free agent, scored on the team's third attempt and Vatrano missed the net with a chance to extend the 1-on-1 duels.

The Bruins were dominant early before blowing a chance to keep Detroit at a distance in the Atlantic Division standings (see full recap).

Burns, Pavelski lead Sharks past rival LA Kings, 3-2
LOS ANGELES -- Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels scored in the San Jose Sharks' seventh win at Staples Center in their last eight trips, 3-2 over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

Joe Thornton had two assists and Martin Jones made 22 saves for the defending Western Conference champion Sharks, who wrapped up their regular-season series against their biggest rivals with three victories in five games.

After Burns scored his 19th goal in the opening minutes, San Jose hung on through a scoreless third period to continue its recent domination in downtown Los Angeles, including three victories in last season's first-round playoff series.

Tanner Pearson and Marian Gaborik scored for the Kings, who ended a seven-game homestand with four defeats (see full recap).

McDavid scores in overtime to lead Oilers past Panthers 4-3
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Connor McDavid scored the winning goal in overtime as the Edmonton Oilers won their fourth game in a row, 4-3 over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

McDavid, who also had two assists in the game, got a breakaway late in overtime and got the puck away with 2.6 seconds left. Florida's James Reimer made the glove save, but the puck was ruled to be across the line via video review.

Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, who have their longest winning streak since December 2015.

Vincent Trocheck, Michael Sgarbossa and Greg McKegg had goals for the Panthers, who have lost two straight (see full recap).

Joel Embiid, Sixers prove plenty with benchmark win over Raptors

Joel Embiid, Sixers prove plenty with benchmark win over Raptors

BOX SCORE

The Sixers weren’t supposed to beat the Raptors, were they? This was going to be an “easy” game for the visiting team, which was coming to Philadelphia on a back-to-back that started in Brooklyn. The Raptors are a playoff team, and second in the Eastern Conference at that. Not to mention, they had defeated the Sixers in their last 14 meetings.

Maybe easy would have been the case the last time the two teams played back in mid-December. For the Sixers, though, things have changed since then and a 94-89 win over the Raptors on Wednesday proved this recent success is not fleeting (see Instant Replay).

“I don’t think it’s a fluke,” Joel Embiid said. “We’re competing. We’re winning games. We’re playing great defense. We finally found what we’ve been looking for.”

The Sixers had been missing clearly-defined roles and a defensive identity (see story). Now that Brett Brown has whittled down his roster to 10 players and laid out a starting five and second unit, the team has been gelling in those two aspects. The Sixers have won seven out of their last nine games, with the Raptors being the highest caliber of competition.

The Raptors entered the game averaging 111.5 points per game, first in the East and third in the NBA behind only the Warriors and Rockets. They had scored less than 100 points in just seven games this season. Additionally, the Raptors had been held to under 90 points by a single opponent: the Spurs. Not bad company to be in. 

Embiid led all players with 26 points (including 12 for 14 from the free throw line) to go with nine rebounds (see highlights). The Sixers staved off 25 points (11 for 21 from the field), six assists and three rebounds from DeMar DeRozan and 24 points (11 for 16 from the line), four rebounds, four assists and five steals from Kyle Lowry, who fouled out. The Raptors shot 25 percent from three and 65.2 percent at the free throw line.  

“We’re playing with a spirit, we’re playing with a defensive mindset,” Brown said. “There is a belief within each other amongst the team that is the best that it’s been since I’ve been here.”

The Sixers' winning stretch began against subpar teams, opponents who earlier in the season some would look at the schedule and say, the Sixers could probably take that one, as they tried to project a batch of victories. The Sixers turned those wins over the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Nets into momentum and carried it into a matchup against the Knicks.

Even though the Knicks are looking lost this season, they still have veteran offensive firepower that can take over a game against a struggling opponent. The Sixers made noise by beating them at the buzzer, then escalated their performance against the postseason-hungry Hornets and Bucks. 

The Raptors are different, though. There is no questioning their success and potential to make a deep playoff run … again. Nonetheless, the Sixers handled this well-seasoned opponent with composure and confidence down the stretch. 

They stayed together when DeRozan hit a jumper with 1:53 to play to give the Raptors their first lead since the second quarter. The Sixers responded to the one-point deficit with a 7-0 run to push the edge up to six points with 20.7 seconds to go.

“I think it says we’re for real. It shows our consistency that we’ve built throughout the year,” Nerlens Noel said. “We’re relentless. We have a young group of guys that know how to play the game and play it the right way and will come out there and compete against anybody in this league. I think the perception should be a whole different one now.”

The Sixers showed they can compete with top talent. Their wins aren't just coming from teams at the bottom of the standings. 

"That gives us a lot of confidence," Embiid said. "Coming into the game, we had a lot of confidence. Winning against the second-best team in the East is just amazing. We’re going to keep on working."