Flyers look to redeem themselves as they get another crack at the Capitals tonight

Flyers look to redeem themselves as they get another crack at the Capitals tonight

Following the Eagles’ clunker of a loss in Minnesota this past Sunday, a good portion of you may have flipped over to the Flyers game – which started at 3 PM -- to try and get some of those positive Philly sports vibes back into your system.

If you did flip over to the Flyers game, you saw them blow a three-goal lead with just 8 minutes, 40 seconds left in regulation and eventually lose to the Washington Capitals, 5-4, in a shootout to cap off a titanic dud of a local sports day.

As Liz Lemon would say, blerg.

But the Orange and Black have a chance to rebound tonight when they welcome -you guessed it - the Capitals to Wells Fargo Center for the second game of a home-and-home and a shot at redemption.

This sounds very cliché and generic, but what happened to the Flyers on Sunday evening in our nation’s capital was the result of an issue that has plagued them this entire season: the failure to play a full, complete 60 minutes.

It sounds incredibly simple and obvious but that’s what it came down to.

They had a 4-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left, took their foot of the gas and let the Capitals string together shreds of momentum. With as dangerous a team the Capitals are with the offensive firepower they possess, it was only a matter of time before disaster struck.

The Flyers played with fire and ultimately got burnt.

I’m not one to take solace in moral victories, but let’s crumple all that into a giant paper ball, throw it in the trash and look at some positives that have been around the team lately.

Before the game against Montreal last Thursday, head coach Craig Berube pushed Scott Hartnell down the second line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds and bumped rookie Michael Raffl up to the top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.

It’s a move that has paid major dividends so far.

In the two games the trio has played together, they’ve accounted for four goals and seven assists. Giroux has two of those goals and Voracek and Raffl each have one. Raffl has three of those assists and Giroux and Voracek each have a pair.

I’ve read your comments. I know just how much you all love – I use that term loosely - Raffl and the way he plays. Say what you want about him but you can’t deny he’s producing on the top line.  I know it’s only been two games, but for a team like the Flyers that averages just 2.27 goals a game, that type of production is huge.

It’s going to be interesting to see if the line can continue to produce like that in the coming weeks.

Despite giving up 14 goals in regulation in his last four starts and facing his first real piece of adversity as a Flyer, Steve Mason gets the call between the pipes for the Flyers tonight. He’s played well in South Philly, winning his last five starts at home.

Overall, the Flyers are on a six-game home winning streak. Too bad that’s been almost cancelled out with a four-game road losing streak.

Braden Holtby goes in net for the Capitals. Anything interesting happen the last time he played in Philadelphia? I don’t remember seeing anything in the national sports media or any game show hosts commenting on anything that happened.

I’ll leave you with your almost-daily reminder of how this is a kind of important game because of how much the Eastern Conference sucks as a whole and how the Flyers are just three points out of the final Metropolitan Division playoff spot and just five points out of the last Wild Card playoff spot.

Sixers-Bucks 5 things: Joel Embiid back to face the 'Greek Freak'

Sixers-Bucks 5 things: Joel Embiid back to face the 'Greek Freak'

Sixers at Bucks
3:30 p.m. - CSN/CSNPhilly.com/streaming live on the NBCSports App

The Sixers (12-26) look to get back in the win column when they face the Milwaukee Bucks (20-19) at the Bradley Center in a Martin Luther King Day matinee.

Let's take a closer look at Monday afternoon's matchup:

1. Back on the Embiid express
The Sixers have started to show flashes of coming together and finally turning the corner on their massive rebuild. However, they are nowhere near the point that they can remove the biggest piece of the puzzle and still expect to win games.

The Sixers found that out again on Saturday night, as they were pummeled during the second half of a 109-93 loss to the Washington Wizards with Joel Embiid sidelined for rest.

The team didn't want to use the rookie phenom's absence as an excuse, but it was clear his presence was missed.

“We didn’t have that extra oomph,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after the loss. “Obviously, the omission of Joel Embiid clearly is impactful, but that’s the challenge. We just didn’t have it tonight.”

Embiid and his 19.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game will be back in the lineup against the Bucks.

2. Freak of nature
The Sixers won't be the only squad with a star in the making on the court Monday afternoon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown plenty of potential since he was selected by the Bucks 15th overall in the 2013 draft (Anthony Bennett, who was recently released by the Brooklyn Nets, was taken No. 1 overall that year, for those of you keeping track at home). But the man known as "The Greek Freak" has taken his game to new heights this season.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 23.4 points on 53.5 percent shooting in addition to 8.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals per game this season - all career highs. He's also coming off a 33-point, eight-rebound and six-assist performance in the Bucks' 111-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

With Antetokounmpo playing point guard full time now and the Bucks' starting five boasting players all above 6-foot-7, it's hard to determine how the Sixers will match up on defense. Whatever the plan is to slow down "The Greek Freak," it will have to be a total team effort.

3. Protect the paint
All of that size and athleticism for the Bucks is a big reason they attack the rim so much. Milwaukee is tied with Oklahoma City for the league lead in points in the paint with 50.6 per game.

The Sixers were dominated on the low block for 54 points by the Wizards on Saturday with Embiid out. For the season, they rank 14th in the league in points in the paint allowed at 42.3 a night.

One thing that might help the Sixers is their shot blocking. They swat 5.6 shots a game (sixth in the NBA), which could deter some of those romps to the rim by the Bucks.

4. Injuries
T.J. McConnell (right wrist), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Khris Middleton (hamstring) is out for the Bucks.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost 12 of their last 14 games to the Bucks.

• Ersan Ilyasova spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Bucks (see story on his return to Milwaukee). This will mark the fourth time he has faced his former team.

• Jabari Parker, selected No. 2 overall in the 2014 NBA draft right before Embiid, has emerged this season with 20.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Sixers' T.J. McConnell (sprained right wrist) out Monday vs. Bucks

Sixers' T.J. McConnell (sprained right wrist) out Monday vs. Bucks

The Sixers will get Joel Embiid back in the lineup when they meet the Bucks on Monday afternoon in Milwaukee, but they'll be without their starting point guard.

T.J. McConnell will miss Monday's game with a sprained right wrist suffered in Saturday night's loss to the Wizards in D.C., the Sixers announced Monday morning.

McConnell reportedly did not travel with the team to Milwaukee and is back home in Philadelphia.

The 24-year-old McConnell has been a presence this season for a Sixers team that desperately needed something from the point guard spot. In 38 games this season, McConnell has averaged 4.8 points, 5.8 points and 4.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night in an average of 22.3 minutes a game.

The highlight of McConnell's season, of course, came last week when he nailed the game-winning shot at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 98-97 victory over the Knicks.

Sergio Rodriguez is expected to start in McConnell's place Monday against the Bucks.