Flyers to Host the Suddenly Powerhouse Nashville Predators

Flyers to Host the Suddenly Powerhouse Nashville Predators

Let's face it: more than a decade after the Predators' inaugural season, the words "Nashville" and "hockey" still don't make a ton of sense. Add in those mustard yellow jerseys and it becomes increasingly difficult not to ask the, "So is this really the same league with the Red Wings and Maple Leafs and Canadiens?" question.

But yes, apparently it is, because the Nashville Predators are outplaying and outscoring just about everyone right now.

Tied with Vancouver for the second most points in the Western Conference (66), Nashville is a remarkable 13-2-0 in their last 15 games.

And according to CSNPhilly's Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baiker, things aren't going to bode well for the Flyers should they surrender the first goal this evening:

Perhaps even more daunting for the Flyers, who are notoriously s-l-o-w starters at home this season, Nashville’s record says much when it scores first – 21-2-3.

Allow the Preds the first goal tonight, and well, the Flyers will likely finish 0-2 against them this season.

The first loss to which they're referring came just 19 days ago when the Flyers were downed 4-2 in Nashville. Goaltender Pekka Rinne turned aside 28 of the Flyers 30 shots in the Predators win, a game that no doubt helped him record his brilliant 1.92 GAA and .935 SV% in the month of January. Thankfully for the Flyers, Rinne will not be in goal this evening.  Rather, the Flyers will attempt to do damage against backup netminder Anders Lindback, who will be making just his sixth start of the season. In an e-mail earlier this afternoon, our own Matt P. labeled this turn of events as "good."

As for the Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov will continue his quest to right the ship with his second straight post-All Star start this evening.

On the injury front, both Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk were held out of practice yesterday and remain sidelined indefinitely with concussions. Forward Zac Rinaldo, meanwhile, has been cleared to play, necessitating Ben Holmstrom's re-shipping to Adirondack.

Of note, after Tuesday's OT loss to Winnipeg, the Flyers are just 11-7-4 at home this year (so, functionally 11-11) as compared to 18-7-2 on the road. They have dropped their last three straight at the Wells Fargo Center. Can the Orange & Black give the people something to cheer about tonight, or is the pressure of sending the fans home happy perhaps getting to this young team?

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Video of coach Peter Laviolette discussing tonight's matchup and Danny Briere on his head injury below:

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.