Game 32Flyers Out to Get Past Bruins Loss, But Not Forget It

Game 32Flyers Out to Get Past Bruins Loss, But Not Forget It

There's probably not a whole lot of small details or minor lessons the Flyers or any of us fans want to remember about Saturday's absolute ass-kicking at the hands of the Boston Bruins. One thing's for sure though, while they need to move on and play as if that game didn't happen, it was a good wake-up call that they're not quite where they need to be. Right now, they're good enough to have a fun regular season ride with all the usual ups and downs. But are they good enough to make a deep playoff run, or go all the way to a Cup?

While it was only one game, that 6-0 loss to last year's champs was indeed a measuring stick, and the Flyers came up very short. Of course, they were without some key players, including their top forward and top defenseman, and it appears we'll get the former back soon. But the latter may never be, and Saturday should show the Flyers the level they need to aspire for between now and, way down the road, the playoffs.

The road continues in Denver tonight, where the Flyers begin a five-game road trip with a 9PM start against the Avalanche. A former Cup-winning goalie tandem highlights the storylines.

Ilya Bryzgalov will try to put a five-goal performance behind him and get back to his winning ways. He'll face JS Giguere, the man he once served as a backup to when both played for the Anaheim Ducks. Remember the degree to which Giggy's star was on the rise back then?

Beat Boxing
One of the many things that went wrong for the Flyers on Saturday was a woeful performance on the penalty kill (although it's not easy when you're down two men). They'll have to either stay out of the box (preferred) or improve in that regard, because despite not having much in the way of a dangerous even strength attack, the Avalanche are among the league's best on the power play.

The Flyers' PP wasn't too hot against the Bruins either, failing to score on six opportunities. It's somewhat understandable, as the roster has been shaken up without Pronger and Giroux, who each play PP, SH, and even strength.

Fortunately, it sounds like the Flyers could be closer to getting Giroux back, perhaps in time for this weekend. We just hope he's 100%, or else there's really no sense in risking it at this still-early stage of the season.

Who's Up?
Before last game, we had some thoughts as to who should step up with Giroux out. Now, Sean Couturier has joined him on the shelf for a bit, and Danny Briere is likely to skate with former lineman Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr. Considering that Briere and Hartnell got each other back on track in a big way when paired up for the 2010 playoffs and continued a good run last season, they should be pretty familiar with what each other can do. In fact, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see this line be Lavvy's first choice, swapping Ville Leino for Jagr. There could be some nice chemistry here…

Still hoping JVR steps up and dominates a game soon…

Wayne Simmonds saw a career-long goal-scoring streak snapped in the shutout, but he remained active around the crease. Maybe he starts a new one tonight.

Ben Holmstrom gets a cup of coffee tonight as well, possibly on an all-youngin fourth line with some combination of Harry Z, Tom Sestito, and Zac Rinaldo. Hard to say exactly what the lines will be after the top unit, and Lavvy could move some guys around, trying to find something that clicks with a very makeshift lineup that is missing centers Giroux, Couturier, and also Brayden Schenn.

Good read from Frank Seravalli on the current roster situation, plus Marc-Andre Bourdon's nickname: [Daily News]

Fortunately, the 'Lanche haven't been particularly noteworthy this season. They're 15-17-1, and they've lost four of their last six. Two of their four December wins came in the shootout (hopefully we'll be spared that). The Flyers have fared much better over their past handful of games, but that one loss really stands out. Time to show some resiliency, bounce back and beat an inferior team, even with a pretty Phantom'd up set of lower lines.

Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US Presswire

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.