Flyers-killer Ovechkin won’t play tonight vs. Flyers

Flyers-killer Ovechkin won’t play tonight vs. Flyers

Last week, the Flyers caught a break when the New York Rangers came to town minus injured all-world goaltender and Flyers-tormenter Henrik Lundqvist. Just over a week later, another division rival comes to Wells Fargo Center minus its superstar.

The Capitals will be without lethal sniper Alexander Ovechkin, the league’s second-leading goal-scorer and a notorious Flyers killer, due to an upper-body injury when the teams meet tonight in South Philadelphia for their first matchup as Metropolitan Division foes.

I’m going to guess that, unlike Lundqvist’s replacement, Ovechkin’s replacement doesn’t have awesome Ghostbusters-themed gear, though.

But I digress.

Ovechkin has toyed with the Orange and Black over the course his first eight seasons in the league. Including the teams’ 2008 playoff series, Ovie has lit up the Flyers to the tune of 28 goals and 20 assists in 36 career games against them.

Translation: He usually abuses the Flyers by scoring tons of goals against them.

But Ovechkin’s absence tonight means a little more than it usually would.

So far during this young season, he’s scored 10 of the Captials’ 34 goals. That’s quite literally just about a third of Washington’s offense that will be out of the lineup. The Capitals’ next leading goal-scorer is Mikhail Grabovski with five, but three of his goals were scored in Washington’s season opener exactly a month ago.

“The Great 8’s” absence is magnified even more when you look at Washington’s power-play numbers.

The Caps own the league’s fifth-ranked power play, which has scored six goals and his hitting at 24.4 percent success rate. But four of Washington’s six power-play goals have been scored by - you guessed it - Ovechkin.

Translation: Alexander Ovechkin has been an exceptionally good hockey player this season and his absence tonight could be a huge break for the Flyers.

But the fact of the matter is none of this really matters unless the Flyers actually, you know, score some goals.

Also of note, the newly-reacquired Steve Downie, who will wear jersey No. 9, will be in the lineup tonight for Philadelphia. Don’t be surprised if he plays on the top line alongside Claude Giroux and Vinny Lecavalier.

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98. 

The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it. 

Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up. 

A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.