Flyers 'Frontrunners' for G Jonathan Bernier, Kings Want Jake Voracek

Flyers 'Frontrunners' for G Jonathan Bernier, Kings Want Jake Voracek

Peter Laviolette set an NHL record by making seven in-game goaltender switches during the 2011 playoffs. Now it seems Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is trying to one-up his head coach with a juggling act of his own.

For a franchise that was determined to discontinue the merry-go-round in their own net, the front office doesn’t appear to have much of a plan.

During the offseason that followed Lavvy’s historic indecisiveness, club chairman Ed Snider proclaimed the Flyers would “never” go through that with goalies again – except that’s exactly what’s happening here. The only difference is instead of playing out on the ice, it’s taking place over the telephone and on paper, fantasy hockey style.

Holmgren signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine year, $51 million contract. Part of the aftermath of that deal was trading 24-year-old Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus, where he promptly won the Vezina Trophy. Since trading Bob the club has acquired and extended Steve Mason, and drafted Anthony Stolarz. This was all over the past two years, mind you.

Now the front office is reportedly chasing Jonathan Bernier, the 24-year-old backup netminder for the Los Angeles Kings, and he won’t come cheap. Bernier, who has appeared in 62 career games over five NHL seasons, will likely demand a sizable contract extension, plus the Flyers will have send one or two of the quality players that make up their young core.

And no, this is not a deal that gets done with Matt Read as a key part of the package. Per Tim Panaccio, the Kings are asking for Jakub Voracek, who is coming off a breakout season where he was named the Flyers’ most valuable player. You can bank on Sean Couturier’s name coming up as the feature piece in package at some point as well.

If you think Homer would reject either offer out of hand, it’s worth noting the Flyers (along with the Leafs) are currently considered one of the frontrunners to acquire Bernier according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. He also adds that the Kings are looking to make the exchange “sooner than later.”

The whole situation is completely ludicrous. Should they buyout Bryzgalov’s contract and land Bernier, in two years time the Flyers will have agreed to pay one goalie in excess of $20 million to play somewhere else, traded another who – at least for one season – was the best player between the pipes in the entire NHL, and blocked yet another who was brought here to compete for a job. Plus in doing so, they will have traded one, possibly two players/draft picks with future-All-Star potential.

That’s not even delving into what if anything this deal would mean long-term for Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick who is doing well in the OHL.

This for a player in Bernier who himself is not a proven commodity as a starting goaltender. Don’t get me wrong, Jonathan Quick’s understudy is an enticing option considering his career numbers – 29-20-6 record, .912 save percentage, and 2.36 goals against average. That’s 62 games during five years though. How would he hold up over a full season?

Is Bernier a sure thing? Is he the missing piece to a Stanley Cup run?

Who knows the answer to such questions, but trading an emerging star like Voracek after he posted 46 points in 48 games last season and was a perfect pairing for Claude Giroux, or Couturier who is already one of the better defensive forwards in the league seems incredibly short-sighted. The Flyers may feel like they have to move on this now because signing Bryz hasn’t worked out so far, but Bernier just looks like another costly band-aid – both in dollars and talent.

When this trade inevitably goes through, it will be the mark of an organization that's working without blueprints. They panicked in 2011 with Bobrovsky, leading directly to Bryzgalov's enormous contract, and they are panicking again with their wheeling and dealing, digging one hole to fill another somewhere else. That's the Flyers way.

>> Source: Kings contact Flyers about goalie Bernier [CSN]

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.”

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

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Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust had his first career hat trick, Sidney Crosby added his NHL-leading 17th goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins raced by the Ottawa Senators 8-5 on Monday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, and Matt Cullen and Justin Schultz also scored. The Penguins poured in six goals over the final 32 minutes after spotting the Senators a 4-2 lead. Matt Murray made 17 saves after coming in for an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period.

Pittsburgh has won three straight overall and improved to 7-0-2 in its last nine against the Senators.

Matt Stone had a goal and two assists for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Ottawa, which lost in regulation for just the second time in its last eight games (see full recap).

Capitals rally late for OT win over Sabres
WASHINGTON -- Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal late in the third period and got the winner midway through overtime to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The goals were Johansson's third and fourth in his last five games. He has 11 for the season.

Jay Beagle added the Capitals' first even-strength goal in three games, as Washington snapped a three-game losing skid. Braden Holtby made 31 saves in the victory, the Capitals second over the Sabres in an 11-day stretch.

Kyle Okposo scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season to give the Sabres the lead in the second period. Zemgus Girgensons also scored early for Buffalo, and Robin Lehner made 30 stops for the visitors (see full recap).

Blue Jackets sweep series from Coyotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sam Gagner had two goals and two assists to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes for the second time in three days, 4-1 on Monday night.

Nick Foligno and Zach Werensky also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for the fourth straight time and ninth of their last 12. Columbus picked up its 500th win in franchise history in sweeping the two-game season series with the Coyotes.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 17 shots for Columbus.

Arizona backup goaltender Louis Domingue had 30 saves, two days after the Blue Jackets hammered starter Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory in Phoenix.

Arizona struck first 9:28 into the game when Alex Goligoski fed a pass on a power play to Tobias Reider, who slammed it past Bobrovsky's glove side from between the circles (see full recap).