Game 8: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers Schenn-Off!

Game 8: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers Schenn-Off!

The Leafs come to town pretty hot, having started the season at a 5-1-1 clip. The Flyers, on the other hand, have cooled considerably after their first start, losing their last two games in rather convincing fashion.

Leafy Substance
Toronto is scoring a ton of goals, led by Phil Kessel (8 goals, 6 assists in 7 games) and our old pal Joffrey Lupul, who has 4 goals and 4 assists. Dion Phaneuf is contributing in a big way as well, with 7 assists to go with a pair of goals.

Backups In Net
Unfortunately for the Leafs, they'll be without their top goalie, last year's rookie phenom James Reimer. Reimer took an elbow to the head on Saturday night and will miss at least tonight's game. Jonas Gustavsson will start his second game of the season. In his previous outing against the Flyers, our boys hung 6 on him.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the call in net for the Flyers, who had some obvious trouble in communications between Ilya Bryzgalov and his defense on Saturday.

While they certainly weren't all his fault, Bryz has given up 9 goals in his past two starts. He hasn't been at his best, and that's not something he wears well.

Two-for-One 'Andreas' Night in the Press Box
Jody Shelley will reportedly be in the lineup tonight, with Andreas Nodl getting the scratch; Matt Walker will also be in for Andreas Lilja. Ryan Bright points out that Shelley will dress to be Colton Orr protection and Walker should add some toughness to the blue line for a game that could be pretty rough.

The Brothers Schenn
Flyers phenom Brayden Schenn rebounded from a -3 debut against the Caps to be one of the better Flyers on the ice in the loss to the Blues. Lining up with Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds, the 20-year-old found his stride once Lavvy switched him back to center to start the second period, and the kid saw his ice time increase by nearly 8 minutes. He'll get to see his older brother Luke tonight, and Tim Panotch says their family will be in from Saskatoon to see the boys square off. Brother Bowls aren't all that uncommon in the NHL, but it'd be great to see Brayden put Luke on his ass in the open ice.

Wishlist
Here's what we'd like the Flyers Genie (Ryan from FGSB) to grant tonight…

1) Jagr breaks his goalless start to the season
2) Riemer earns back the playing time he quietly surrendered on Saturday as the hardest working man on the ice
3) Winter Classic tickets…?

Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

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USA Today Images

Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

Penn State's wild comeback win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship was not enough.

The Nittany Lions were not selected to the four-team College Football Playoff, finishing fifth in the rankings.

Undefeated Alabama takes the top spot and will play No. 4 Washington. No. 2 Clemson will face No. 3 Ohio State.

Penn State earned its signature win of the season, handing felllow Big Ten member Ohio State its only loss of the season. 

However, Penn State sputtered in the beginning of the year, losing to unranked Pittsburgh and was thrashed by Michigan — who finished sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings — 49-10.

The Nittany Lions likely will play in the Rose Bowl, facing either USC or Colorado. The official announcement will be made later Sunday.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”