Flyers Kick Off West Coast Mini-Swing Tonight in Anaheim

Flyers Kick Off West Coast Mini-Swing Tonight in Anaheim

After having six days off to heal up and, in some cases, become even more mysteriously injured, the Philadelphia Flyers are back at it on consecutive nights, starting in Anaheim and moving quickly to Phoenix. Puck drop for the Flyers and Ducks is scheduled for 10 p.m. this evening.

Returning to the lineup for Orange & Black is one Jaromir Jagr, who missed both of last weekend's games after suffering an undisclosed LBI against the New York Islanders the night before Thanksgiving.

Also back with the team are defenseman Matt Walker and forward Brayden Schenn. Walker cleared waivers earlier today to plug the holes left by the long-term absences of Chris Pronger and Andreas Lilja, while Schenn was recalled earlier this week. Aside from the team's Winter Classic jersey unveiling last month, this will be the first Flyers fans see of Schenn since losing him to both a separated shoulder and fractured foot after only four games in October. Walker, on the other hand, will not be in uniform this evening.

Meanwhile, James van Riemsdyk remains a scratch for the third straight game with an upper body injury. GM Paul Holmgren announced last Friday that the forward will be a scratch for the next week to ten days, meaning JVR could be available when the team returns East to face the Sabres in Buffalo next Wednesday.

As for the home-standing Ducks, tonight will be their first game under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau, you may recall, was the guy fired from the head gig in Washington this past Monday only to be picked up just three days later by the struggling-to-tread-water Ducks. Though his style is a marked departure from that of former head coach Randy Carlyle, they do bear an uncanny resemblance, save for the latter's (somewhat in tact) hairline.

Individually, in spite of a whole line of young all-star talents in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, Anaheim, who sports a record of just 7-13-4 this season and has dropped 13 of its last 15, is still led by long-time right wing Teemu Selanne. With 22 points in 24 games, the 41-year-old Selanne continues to defy nature and climb further up the all-time lists. His 645 goals and 1362 career points are good for 13th and 24th all-time in league history.

In terms of big picture stuff, if you're looking for juicy storylines heading into tonight, there really isn't a whole lot of history between the Ducks and Flyers (I know, because I've seen most of it). That said, this weekend will be an interesting little homecoming for Flyer goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

On consecutive nights, he will face off against the only two other teams he has played for in his NHL career. Bryz actually spent seven years in the Duck organization, bouncing up and down for a few years between Anaheim and Cincinnati before splitting time with Jean-Sebastien Giguere for parts of the team's 2007 Stanley Cup run. He would be dealt to Phoenix the following season after generating a bit of acrimony between himself, the front office and the aforementioned Carlyle. Whatever it is, the guy seems to have something of a checkered history when it comes to leaving one team for another. He's a bad breaker-upper.

Speaking of personal history, no matter how old I get, I still get pumped up for a good Flyer-Duck matchup. As a proud product of the nineties and a big time Kariya-Selanne supporter, I attended many an Anaheim-Philadelphia game with my father while growing up, and may or may not still have an eggplant and jade jersey floating around in my closet.

Though the franchise ultimately won its first Cup in 2007 after coming up short four years prior, it always felt a little hollow as compared to what it could have been when they were still Mighty and had the classic helmet crest on their jerseys. Plus, it would mean one less frigging cup for the Devils.

Old habits die hard, I guess.

Off the floor, on the board. See you post-game.

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

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome 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 114-84
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 114-110
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 4-1
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).