Lecavalier’s Flyers debut spoiled by Bernier, Maple Leafs

Lecavalier’s Flyers debut spoiled by Bernier, Maple Leafs

It didn’t take long for new Flyer Vincent Lecavalier to make his mark in Philadelphia. As the final seconds were ticking down on the opening period of Wednesday night’s season premiere at the Wells Fargo Center, Lecavalier collected his first point in Orange & Black off of a sweet dish to Brayden Schenn to put his team ahead 1-0 going into the dressing room.

Unfortunately, a one-goal lead was not nearly enough production for the work the Flyers put in during those initial 20 minutes. Despite launching 15 shots on goal and dominating the time on attack, Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier stood tall when the horn sounded having kept his team in the contest.

You could sense the momentum changing right away in the second period, and sure enough the Maple Leafs outlasted the Bullies by a tally of 3-1.

Bernier was without question the star of the show, halting 31 of 32 shots to earn a win in his Leafs debut. The Flyers were among the teams to inquire about Bernier over the summer when he was still a backup goaltender for the Kings, but ultimately Toronto landed him, sending forward Matt Frattin, netminder Ben Scrivens, and a second-round pick to Los Angeles.

Perhaps Bernier was taking this opportunity to show the Flyers’ front office what they potentially missed out on.

Regardless, the most frustrating part of all was how many chances the Leafs—playing in their second game in as many nights—gave the home team to pile on. Philadelphia was awarded seven power plays compared to just two for Toronto, yet the Flyers were only able to convert once on Schenn’s marker.

They kept going back to this strategy where a puck carrier with a full head of steam would attempt a drop pass just before crossing into enemy territory, often to Claude Giroux. By midway through the game, Giroux or the intended recipient would be swarmed at the blue line, and by the end, the Flyers could barely mount an attack.

Bernier also turned away a penalty shot by Wayne Simmonds.

At least Lecavalier looked as advertised, his assist coming on the lone Flyers’ score off of a power play. The four-time All Star got to the puck in the corner and proceeded to make pretty below the goal line, skating behind the net until the Leafs were sufficiently dazzled, then delivering the biscuit to Schenn right in the middle of the Leafs’ defense for the home run.

I don’t know about you, but I could probably get used to seeing this No. 40 in Orange & Black.

>> Power play dooms Flyers in opening loss to Leafs [CSN]
>> Box Score [Yahoo!]

Previously: Are 2013-14 Flyers pulling in too many different directions?

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Ben Simmons is on track to return to the Sixers in January, Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. 

Previous reports indicated that Simmons, who suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in the Sixers' final training camp scrimmage on Sept. 30, would be out three months. Friday's news jives with that, but this is the first time the Sixers have given a timetable.

"It's not doom and gloom," Brown said. "Ben is coming back in January. We are still trying to find information on Jerryd (Bayless). Jahlil (Okafor) is still trying to touch the court in his first preseason game."

With long-term ramifications in mind, there had been some speculation that Simmons' camp wanted him to sit all season. 

This is rather encouraging news and it means the Sixers may avoid watching another of their top picks miss his entire first year.

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

USA Today Images

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

Playoff soccer is returning to Chester for the first time in five years, and while fans prep for the Union’s first postseason games since 2011, there is no shortage of seating options for Union tickets on the primary market.

Perhaps most importantly, fans won’t have to break the bank to be on hand as the Union compete for their first MLS Cup in franchise history. Union field level seats are available for both the team’s final home regular season game against the New York Red Bulls and the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 30 should they advance past the knockout round.

The team’s official website lists feet-on-the-pitch seating starting from $155 per ticket for this weekend’s game against the Red Bulls. The first-place Red Bulls head to Talen Energy Stadium with a first-round bye secured, but Union head coach Jim Curtin expects them to bring the pressure with them on Sunday. Fans can look on up close – and for relatively cheap - as the Union look to hand the Eastern Conference leaders their final loss of the regular season.

The Union will take on either New York City FC or Toronto FC in the knockout round either next Wednesday or Thursday. Pending a victory on the road, they’ll return to Talen Energy Stadium to host an Eastern Conference Semifinal game on October 30. Field level seating is still widely available for the team’s first home playoff game since 2011 and start from $178 per ticket.

2016 marks the franchise’s second MLS Cup Playoffs berth in its seven-year existence. They clinched a first-round bye in 2011 but fell to the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 aggregate in the Conference Semifinals. The Union bring a much different vibe into the playoffs this season, however, after a formidable stretch from September on nearly drowned their postseason hopes. The team won its last game on August 27 against Sporting Kansas City, losing four games and drawing in two others since. 

Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is a sense of renewment that will carry them into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Records are cast aside and the slate is wiped clean, beginning a new path on the long and often tumultuous road to a national championship.