Flyers - Leafs: Don't go to a shootout.

Flyers - Leafs: Don't go to a shootout.

Tonight's Flyers-Leafs guest gamer is by Flyers Goal Scored By:

All is not well in the land of Crab Fries. A team that started the season with very consistent efforts look to be mired in a 2012 slump. Ever since the new year baby slewfooted Father Time, it's been slow goings for your Flyers. Good games followed by bad games that begot good games. This week the see-saw has been stuck in the "derp" position, seeing Philly lose three games in a row for the first time all season. Tonight a familiar foe is in town to hopefully kickstart the Flyers winning ways and carry them into yet another important weekend.

Flyers Leafs games are always good drinking weather.

Two fast, young teams that'll have the action going back and forth all night. Talented scorers, brain farts and animosity are usually the 3 stars of these tilts. Play will get chippy early on, that will hopefully keep the Flyers intensity level high for the full sixty.  The last time these two teams played, Chris Pronger was lost due to an inadvertent stick to the eye by the Leafs Mikhail Grabovski. This past Wednesday, injured captain Chris Pronger met with his team for the first time since Christmas.  Coincidence or not, seeing the Prongs will hopefully pump the Flyers tires a bit.  Either way, Brian Burke should feel so sorry about what happened to Pronger, he should just send Luke Schenn to Philly for a bucket of soft pretzels from Woodhaven Road.

Toronto has a stud line that brings together the Uncle Fester of American hockey with ex-Flyer Joffrey "don't call me a Lannister" Lupul.  Kessel and Lupul rank number 4 and 6 respectively in terms of scoring this year.   Kessel is a big time threat on the rush and the Flyers will need a strong back check to neutralize Phil's skills.    

One interesting subplot to this game, and to every game against the Leafs this year, is the brothers Schenn battling each other.  Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn has struggled a bit this year, but is still a contributor to the Leaves blueline.  There have been rumors of Burke shopping Schenn around at the deadline, and if the price is right, he'd be a nice 4th or 5th defenceman for the Flyers.  Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn is one of a few bright spots so far in 2012.  Dude's playing like a man and has gelled quickly with Wayne Simmonds on the second line. He was arguably the most dominant Flyer against both the Devils and Rangers this past weekend. Schenn has been very physical on the forecheck which could pay off well tonight.  In regards to Luke Schenn, one thing is for sure: don't expect him to get any….brotherly love tonight! *drops microphone*

Your goalie matchup is Bobrovsky vs. James "Optimus Reim" Reimer. Bryz is sick, and If he can't backup The Bobcat, look for Phantoms goalie Jason Bacashascashihua(spellcheck?) to ride the pine.  Reimer is legit, but beatable.  He can make some miraculous saves, but often gets hung out to dry by his defense.  

Your marquee fight of the night is Toronto's Mike Brown vs. The Double Burrito Tito Sestito.  Brown can toss 'em, but usually sticks to smaller fighters like Zenon Konopka or Dan Carcillo. Along with Sestito, we may see some Simmonds or Hartnell man dances due to the physicality that tonight promises.

The best I've seen this Flyers club recently, and perhaps all season, was in their 6-5 OT loss to the Bruins in late January.  In that game, the Flyers were relentless on their forecheck and converted their power play opportunities. The loss didn't sting as much, because the effort was so noticeable.  For the young Flyers to play more consistently,  they have to be able to match other teams intensity.  They were able to come out against Boston and dictate the pace, something they must start doing more often.  It's time to circle the wagons and grind out two points.  First round is on FGSB, giddyup. Let's Go Flyers.

Joel Embiid: All-Star voting 'shows fans support me, that’s why I’m not even mad'

Joel Embiid: All-Star voting 'shows fans support me, that’s why I’m not even mad'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid didn’t earn enough overall votes to be named an All-Star starter, but he has no disappointment about the outpour of fan appreciation he received during the campaign.

“It shows that the fans support me, that’s why I’m not even mad,” Embiid said after shootaround on Friday. “The fans are going stick up for who they love, and I love that.”

Embiid finished third among frontcourt players in fan votes behind only LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, which counted for 50 percent of the votes this season. He made a late push after trailing Kevin Love for third place in the second return of votes last week.

“They’re behind me and they want me to succeed,” Embiid said. “That’s what I took from it.”

Embiid ranked fifth in media votes (25 percent), but there was a drop-off in the player votes (25 percent). Embiid was eighth among players, behind James, Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony and Love.

Embiid is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. He is under a 28-minute restriction this season and sits out one matchup of each back-to-back series. Veteran Gerald Henderson believes Embiid’s lack of games was a factor the player votes.

“I feel like since all the players vote, it’s probably important for you to play consistent and let all the players see night to night how good you are,” Henderson said. “I think that’s the difference. You’ll see Joel’s numbers are better than a lot of guys, but because some guys have been doing it year after year consistently and guys have seen how good they are, it helps them. I think if Joel continues to play like he’s been playing, he’ll earn everybody’s respect.” 

Embiid saw the competitiveness of the frontcourt race as a sign the league should revert back to the previous voting format which included centers. He has been advocating for that the entire season as he’s faced high-caliber players on the court.

“There’s a lot of talented big men in the league, especially at the center position,” Embiid said. “That’s something the NBA should think about, putting the center back on the All-Star ballot.”

Part of Embiid’s All-Star push centered around his opportunity to land a date with an unnamed celebrity if named a starter. So what happens now if he gets in as a reserve next week from the coach’s votes?

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure that out.”

In spite of battling illness, Embiid plans to play Friday in front of the home crowd that was behind him during the voting process.

"I feel pretty sick still but I’ll be fine," he said. "I've been coughing a lot, sneezing, headaches, sinuses, can’t really breathe. But I'm fine."

Jay Wright amazed by Joel Embiid's improvements since Kansas

Jay Wright amazed by Joel Embiid's improvements since Kansas

Jay Wright remembers facing Joel Embiid's Kansas team, and he's shocked by the improvements Embiid made while sitting out the last two years.

"Could you imagine not playing for two years and getting better?" Wright said Friday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad. "We played against him in college and he was not close — he was good, but not close to the player that he was at the start of this year. 

"What [the Sixers'] staff did while he was out is incredible. I don't know what other pro athlete has done that or could do that — not play and improve drastically.

"He's a unique force. We haven't seen a guy that's got this will defensively and ability defensively and then the skill level and mobility offensively. I've heard some people compare him to (Hakeem) Olajuwon. He's far more mobile than Olajuwon. Olajuwon, offensively, had his set of skills, which [Embiid] will develop. But the mobility he's got far exceeds Olajuwon. He's exciting. ... It's nice to feel this vibe with the Sixers right now."

Wright was also asked if he, as a coach, would want a player on a minutes restriction participating in the All-Star Game.

"Yeah, I would," he said. "I think that it's such an accomplishment for Joel Embiid. It would build his confidence so much to be on the floor with those guys and realize he's earned this. And to have that a part of his psyche going into the next season — 'OK, I've already been separated during the regular season with those guys, I belong with those guys.' So next year I'm thinking, 'I wanna beat these guys, I wanna be better than these guys.' 

"I think it'll be great for him. I think it's awesome ... what Brett Brown and his staff have done with this guy."

As lucky as good?
With a national championship and another No. 1 ranking this season, it would be understandable if Wright was feeling himself right about now. 'Nova is 17-1 and back atop the AP poll after a brief stint at No. 3.

National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart is leading the way for the Wildcats with 18.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. A lot of Villanova's success this season is owed to Hart's decision to return for his senior year, so Wright has no issue admitting there's been some luck involved in the Wildcats' recent success.

"It's a tremendous advantage and it's really been probably the most important factor in our success the last three, four years," Wright said of 'Nova's senior leadership Friday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad.

"A lot of it is, on Villanova's side, luck. Josh Hart could have left last year. He just looked at it and kind of said, 'I could be maybe a late first-round, early [second-round pick]. I'd rather come back and get my degree.' 

"Having people that make that choice, you're lucky. If we lose him last year, we're a lot younger team this year. Daniel Ochefu the year before was faced with that decision. He stayed. 

"So when you get those guys that decide they're gonna stay, you catch a break because they're invaluable, a senior of that level. Daniel's playing in the NBA now. So we had a guy for a year that was an NBA player. And we have that with Josh this year. Kris (Jenkins) is developing into one, Darryl (Reynolds) has a chance."

Villanova, which destroyed Seton Hall 76-46 on Monday, hosts Providence Saturday at noon.