Flyers Host the Eastern Conference All-Stars Today at 1PM

Flyers Host the Eastern Conference All-Stars Today at 1PM

Dudes this wasn't even on the ticket plan when you put in for that package! The Eastern Conference All-Stars are coming to the Wells Fargo Center for a regular season game against the Flyers!

Yes, that's a bit of a joke, but so is the current rostering of the NHL All-Star Game starters, which is decided by whichever franchise's fans most get into stuff-the-ballot-box mode in a given holiday season. This year's winners? The Ottawa Senators, who are hosting the game. Four Sens were voted in as Eastern Conference Starters—Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfredsson, and Milan Michalek. At least the game doesn't decide anything that matters, unlike another North American sport.

While they don't all deserve to be starters (none of the forwards are even in the NHL's top 12 in scoring), this overall Senators team is nothing for a short-handed Flyers side to sneeze at. 
Ottawa sits three points behind the Flyers in the current Eastern Conference standings, one point ahead of the Penguins. It's way early for table watching in hockey, but this is just to say, they're hanging in there. They've also played four more games than the Flyers, so we can expect to see some adjustment to that gap, hopefully beginning today (although it obviously won't affect the GP aspect).

The Sens have been scoring at a decent clip, averaging three goals per game, but they're letting up even more and are currently near the bottom in goals against. Only the Carolina Hurricanes have allowed more goals this season.

Line Brawl Remembered, Always in Our Hearts
Matchups against the Senators are often constitute one of the more fun non-divisional rivalries. Players come and go, but these teams find a way to keep hating each other. Will the afternoon crowd at the Well get to see some fireworks? If not today, maybe tomorrow, when these same teams faceoff again in Ottawa. Love back-to-backs…

Hurts Donut
Kimmo Timonen won't play, with that wrist injury keeping him sidelined temporarily. Life isn't quite as sweet without Kimmo patrolling the back end in every type of play, so some of the other blueliners are gonna need some step-up. Ottawa can certainly attack. Jaromir Jagr is also out, but thinks he'll return soon. I think we may just have to get used to him being in and out of the lineup. He's had groin issues for years, and he's not getting any younger. 
UPDATE: CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio tweeted "Timonen is here. NO soft cast. That means he is playing."

New (Temporary) G Line
Matt Read filled in admirably for Jagr last time out, and we know who the East's real top center is. He won't be sporting a Roman war helmet today. Never understood that logo for the Sens. History buff Ilya Bryzgalov would tell you that's closer to a centurion's get-up. 

RSS Line
Can JVR stay hot as part of the Riemer-Schenner-Simmer line? Christ let's hope so, so everyone will stop acting like he's the biggest disappointment since their first sexual experience.

Rookie Goodness
Zac Rinaldo, Sean Couturier, and Harry Z were on fire Thursday night. That kind of intensity from a quote unquote fourth line is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams, especially one as leaky as the Sens. With the Flyers a bit shorthanded today and a long weekend of hockey about to start, they'll need another deep performance.

Double-Dip at the Well?
Ain't got nothin to do all day and night? Well, for the first time this season, both of our indoor teams are playing home games today. The Flyers drop the puck at 1, and the Sixers—who put on one hell of a show last night—tip-off at 8. If you already have Flyers tickets, could be a fun day if you stick around the complex for the hoops game… Weather's pretty good for some tailgating in FDR, or just camp out inside McFadden's or Chickie's.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).