Game 4: Los Angeles Kings at Philadelphia Flyers Richie's Return

Game 4: Los Angeles Kings at Philadelphia Flyers Richie's Return

We've already talked quite a bit about Mike Richards' return to Philly tonight, both here and over at Puck Daddy this morning. Given how infrequently the Flyers play the Kings, it feels a bit odd to have the event happen so quickly. Four games into the season, the Flyers will have played the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, who bounced them last season, the rival Devils, and the Western Conference Champs, plus their former captain, who was dealt in one of the most shocking trades in franchise history this summer.

Fortunately for the front office, the early returns have been outstanding. Can you imagine what the past few days of coverage would have been like if the Flyers were winless rather than undefeated when Richards came to town?

Plus, they've had great contributions from Wayne Simmonds, whose versatility is paying dividends with speed up the flanks, size in front of the net, and nastiness all over the ice. This guy's a Flyer.

Meanwhile, Brayden Schenn got his name in the paper with a hat trick for the Phantoms last night.

Richards came on the scene in a hurry for the Kings, scoring a goal and assisting on another in his debut, a 3-2 OT win over the Rangers in Stockholm. However, Richie hasn't factored into the scoring since. The Kings come to Philly 1-1-1 after a pair of losses to Buffalo and New Jersey (shootout loss).

Flyers West features some familiar and well-liked faces beyond that of Mr. Richards. Ron Hextall. Simon Gagne. Justin Williams. Terry Murray and John Stevens. LA is hardly a rough landing place for those allowed to leave or firmly shoved out of Philly. We hope the Wells Fargo Center is though, at least after that first introduction, when we think Richards deserves a standing O. He was a hell of a Flyer, and if he had his way, he'd be wearing Orange tonight. At least, that's how he felt in the summer months in the wake of the trade. Lately, he appears happy to have moved on.

It's not hard to imagine Richie being a major factor in tonight's action. He'll be as fired up to take the ice against the team that sent him away, to show his former home crowd that they shouldn't have. Wouldn't be surprised at all to see him lay a big hit on a key forward…

Should be a great one down in South Philly tonight.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”