Jet Set: Flyers Topped by Winnipeg in Spirited Shinny Match, 9-8

Jet Set: Flyers Topped by Winnipeg in Spirited Shinny Match, 9-8

You won't see a game with more profound shifts in momentum than the one the Flyers lost, 9-8, to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. After getting off to a good start and opening the scoring, the Flyers conceded the game's next five goals, going down 3-1 in the first period and 5-1 by the time 5 minutes had ticked off in the second. After getting one back, they let up another, and were down 6-2 at the game's halfway point.

But the Flyers stormed back, scoring two before the second period was out, heading into the second intermission down 6-4. Lavvy may have broken some faces in the dressing room, because his boys came out of the break on fire, scoring three goals in the first three minutes of the third period, marking five unanswered to go ahead by a 7-6 count.

That's right—both teams scored five unanswered goals in this game.

The Jets would score the next two before the Flyers again tied it up, but one final defensive breakdown with just over a minute left led to Andrew Ladd of the Jets scoring the game-winner.

The Flyers were once again victimized by a combination of soft defense around their net, but also a series of deflection goals. And, there was also just some plain old bad goaltending. They'd need a combination like that to lose a game in which they scored EIGHT goals. It's the first time in franchise history they've scored that much and lost.

Below, a look at what went so incredibly wrong, as well as a handful of bright spots, and some head-hanging, painfully honest quotes from Ilya Bryzgalov. Plus video highlights that'll look like a normal game's highlights set on a repeat loop.

Since it was a loss, let's take a look at the bad first.

I don't know which member of the Flyers organization pissed off the wrong witch doctor, but this team is downright cursed when it comes to bounces and deflections. Part of it is on the personnel not clearing out the lanes in front of the net to let their two capable goalies get a clean save once in a while, and their defense has been atrocious in its marking, but man… there really have been some fluky caroms finding their way to opposing stick blades and into the Flyers net. It was a big part of the loss in Montreal, and it continued loudly tonight in South Philly.

The defense can't allow opposing forward to enjoy so much real estate in and around the slot and goal area though. It's like an #occupy event in front of the goalies lately. Chris Pronger's absence has been a huge factor in the last two losses, during which the Flyers have given up a total of 14 goals.

Tonight's 9-spot came on just 25 shots.

The goaltenders were also to blame. (With 9 goals, there's plenty to go around.) Ilya Bryzgalov didn't start the game, but he put the heat on himself during his postgame media availability. If you were miffed in thinking that Bryz threw his defense under the bus after the loss to the Blues, you'll want to cozy up to the footage from tonight's rant against himself. It's early, and we fully anticipate he'll turn it around, but Bryz's comments didn't inspire much confidence.

"I have zero confidence in myself right now," Bryz began, before saying he felt like he was "lost in the woods." [More here, plus video]

Hopefully this ends better than that episode of The Sopranos that Steve Buscemi directed. That Russian lost in the woods was never seen again...

Bryzgalov did play poorly, and his bad stretch came during the Flyers' dramatic comeback, but Sergei Bobrovsky shouldered his share of the fall as well. Deflections victimized Bob early, but he was small in net, failing to cut off angles, and let up a softie or two of his own (5 goals on 15 shots in 24:39).

Ready for the good? Good! After the last two games, I think we need a few positives to look at heading into Saturday's game.

First, the Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line got on the board quickly again, with Jags setting up Hartnell in close for Harts' third tally of the season. Brilliant patience by Jagr to let his defenseman overcommit, then pass behind him to find Hartnell on the back door.

Danny Briere lit up the scoresheet, potting two and assisting on a pair of others. He and James van Riemsdyk worked well together, and both got their scoring touches back and picked up their third and fourth goals each. Riemer's brace came in the third, with his first goal putting the Flyers up for the first time since the opening period, and his last tying the game at 8. A few of the goals by this duo were pretty sweet too, especially the moves Briere put on when coming from his office (behind the net) to the crease and sliding one across to JVR.

Matt Read picked up his third of the season, a nice glove-down play that tied the game at six. Kimmo Timonen did his part in the offensive end, assisting on four of the Flyers' eight goals.

Zac Rinaldo had more hits (7) than minutes played (6:45), including probably the best check of the game, coming on a high-energy shift in the first period.

Only five Flyers skaters failed to register a point in the game (Couturier, Gustafsson, Rinaldo, Shelley, and Simmonds).

Despite the loss and some very ugly play in their own end, it was encouraging to see the Flyers come back swinging. Coming off a bad loss last night and a terrible first period and a half, it looked like the wilt would continue to set in. But the forwards kept attacking and finally broke through, chasing Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec from the crease too. They piled 19 shots on net in the second and 16 in the third.

Check out this Momentum chart at PowerScoutHockey…

The Skinny on the Shinny:

No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?


No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?

No. 16 Villanova (5-2, 3-1) vs. No. 23 Albany (4-2, 1-2)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Fresh off a rare loss, Villanova looks to get back on track during its homecoming game against another nationally ranked foe. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Villanova
The Wildcats saw their five-game winning streak snapped in resounding fashion as they were shut out for the first time since 2004 in a 23-0 loss to Richmond. Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk left the game in the second quarter with an injury, a big reason why the Wildcats finished with just 222 yards of total offense. But despite the final score, Villanova’s defense played well again with Austin Calitro and Rob Rolle each hitting double digits in tackles. The unit is ranked fifth in the FCS in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and sixth in total defense (237.9 yards per game) and has scored four defensive touchdowns.

Scouting Albany
After winning their first four games, the Great Danes lost their next two, a 36-30 triple-overtime heartbreaker to Richmond followed by a 20-16 setback to Maine. Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman led Albany with 187 passing yards and 75 rushing yards. But for the season, their offensive strength has been with sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who’s second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 105 yards per game. Albany’s defense is only behind Villanova in points allowed per game (19.3) in the CAA, but interestingly enough is last in total defense (420.2 yards per game). The Great Danes lead the league in turnover margin (plus-15), led by linebacker Michael Nicastro and safety Mason Gray with three interceptions apiece.

Series history
Villanova has only played Albany twice, beating the Great Danes, 48-31, in 2014 and steamrolling it, 37-0, last season. 

Storyline to watch
The big question going in is whether Bednarczyk will play with Villanova saying it will be a game-time decision after the QB suffered a concussion last week. If he can’t go, Adeyemi DaSilva will get the start in his place after replacing him in the second quarter vs. Richmond. DaSilva is a promising player but Bednarczyk was coming into his own this season and his absence would naturally be a difficult one. Of course, the Wildcats have been through this before with Bednarczyk taking over as the starter last season when star John Robertson went down with an injury of his own.

What’s at stake?
Villanova still has a chance to win the CAA but probably can’t afford a second loss in the league. And of course, there’s nothing better than winning in front of a homecoming crowd.

A lot depends on whether Bednarczyk can play … but even if he doesn’t, the Wildcats’ dominant defense may be enough to get the job done. 

Villanova 20, Albany 17

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."