Mad Hatter: Briere Does the Dirty Work in Flyers' Overtime Win

Mad Hatter: Briere Does the Dirty Work in Flyers' Overtime Win

Danny Briere was a busy guy on Saturday. Not only did he score all three Flyers goals to earn his fifth career hat trick, but he even mixed it up in his third career fight. Thanks to Briere's toughness and outstanding all-around effort, the Flyers were able to outlast the Ottawa Senators, picking up their two points in the final seconds of overtime.

It wasn't pretty either. Briere had to get his hands dirty in this one.

Midway into the first period, Jakub Voracek started a rush out of the Flyers zone, avoiding a huge would-be collision in the neutral zone, and carried the puck across the blue line. He dished off to Briere, who was looking to unload on Craig Anderson. Briere fanned on the shot however, sending a slow roller in on Ottawa's netminder.

The flub actually worked to Danny's advantage. A seemingly stunned Anderson blocked the shot, but wasn't decisive about covering it, laying out on the ice while the rebound kicked right back to Briere with the whole net to shoot at. 1-0.

The Sens pulled ahead 2-1 with goals in the second and third, but that meant it was Danny Briere time.

After failing to capitalize on their previous five power plays, the sixth time was the charm. Peter Laviolette called a timeout prior to an earlier PP, and as we've become accustomed, Lavy's usage of the pause proved to be brilliant. The Flyers started to have sustained pressure on the advantage, which led to the eventual score.

During the attack, the Flyers were able to move the disc out of the corner to Kimmo Timonen, who had plenty of room to operate at the point. Briere deflected the blast, which took a second bounce off the stick of Ottawa D-man Chris Phillips, and bounced into the net to knot the score.

It appeared Briere's deflection might have skittered wide were it not for the inadvertent intervention by Phillips, but those are the breaks.

Intense back-and-forth action during the overtime, but it appeared the game was headed for shootout. Then Danny Briere happened.

It was Voracek again on the set up, this time sending the puck along the back boards behind the net to Briere, who just chillin' in his office. He swung it out and shot the backhand, which was stopped but not controlled. Briere kept working, jamming the puck past Anderson on the second try with 5.3 second remaining, sending hats to ice amidst chants of "Danny."

Briere said of the hats and the ovation, "That was the best feeling. A hat trick in overtime, the game winning goal, winning the game I mean that's all at once, all at the same time. That was a really good feeling."

And don't forget the fight. Briere must've taken exception to a cheap shot by Kyle Turris earlier on, when Turris delivered an unnecessary blow while Briere lay prone on the ice. Be sure to check out the video of Briere's fisticuffs. It was a doozy.

The goals bumped Briere's total up to 12 for the season. Also of note, he now has six goals in the three games when he's fought.

Much of the talk will be about Briere's fantastic individual effort, but this was also a very nice performance from Voracek, his second strong outing in a row.

Bryzgalov also played one of his best games in awhile, stopping 35 shots on 37 attempts. The goals he allowed both came on rebounds, one of those during a five-on-three advantage for Ottawa. Otherwise Bryz was stellar, and made some genuinely outstanding saves to keep overtime and the two points on the table.

Fun, memorable win for the Flyers over a team that coming in had won four straight, three of those after regulation. They'll complete the home and home tomorrow in Ottawa at 5 p.m.

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

It appears that Carson Wentz' fanbase in North Dakota is still pretty strong. Before North Dakota State’s game against Illinois State Saturday afternoon, fans were seen walking around the parking lot in Carson Wentz Eagles’ jerseys. 

Wearing Eagles gear at the tailgate was not all, however. A large group of people begun chanting “Carson” over and over to show their love and support for the Eagles quarterback. 

This is not the first time we have seen North Dakota State fans showing how much they adore Carson Wentz. Going back to the NFL Draft, fans were seen on the red carpet wearing North Dakota State Wentz jersey’s and waving flags.

On Sept. 19, when the Eagles played the Bears, North Dakotans traveled to see Wentz play in person.

Clearly, Wentz has a lot of love from his fans back at home, but it is safe to say that Eagles fans love him just as much after he has led them to a 3-0 start.  

It doesn't hurt that Wentz' cousin, Connor, plays for North Dakota State. Connor is a redshirt junior tight end.

John Clark with Connor Wentz

A photo posted by Rob Kuestner (@rkuestner23) on

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect the Sixers to take a cautious approach when determining Ben Simmons’ return to the court.

Simmons will undergo surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot, according to a league source. No date has been set for the surgery. On Friday, Simmons rolled his ankle during the final training camp scrimmage. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Sixers believe Simmons has an acute injury that is not related to his weight, which is up to 250 pounds.

The Sixers placed a heavy emphasis on maintaining health and preventing re-injuries during camp. That focus will continue into the regular season. They implemented load management, in which they allocate the best use of a player’s designated minutes. 

The approach was applied to Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, as they entered the preseason coming off of injuries. Embiid, who is nearing his NBA debut, had been sidelined the past two years with foot injuries. Okafor underwent season-ending right knee surgery last March. Both are slated to play Oct. 4 in the preseason opener. Gerald Henderson also followed load management for rest.  

“There are more variables going on pre-practice,” Brett Brown said Friday. “Before we design our practices and figure out how we’re going to maneuver through the day, the first thing we always do is we put on a digital projector a depth chart and we have the medical staff behind us talking about the circumstances of each player and the restrictions that each player has. 

“Once you understand that world, then you go over to the practice plan and you say, ‘How do you want to spend your money?’ I don’t want to use Joel’s minutes up in a lot of small drills when I could spend it easily and more wisely playing.”

Following this plan, Embiid, Okafor and Henderson did not participate in all of the scrimmages. When they did, Brown utilized Embiid and Okafor in spurts instead of long stretches. 

“Four-minute clumps and really trying to test themselves,” Brown said. “Let’s learn a little bit before we play the Celtics. Let’s just go as hard as you possibly can, let’s see what that means.”

The mapped-out formula allows the players to gauge how they assert their energy on the court. The Celtics took a similar approach with Kevin Garnett during the 2011-12 season. Doc Rivers implemented a “5-5-5” plan in which Garnett played in three five-minute spurts. 

“You kind of know the rhythm you are going to have,” Okafor said. “I think that’ll make it easier for myself and I’m sure for Jo as well knowing that we have four minutes to go as hard as we can, to make an impact on the game, and then we have a sub.” 

The Sixers assessed the length of these segments by comparing them to real-game situations. They want the scrimmage setting to simulate the flow regular season contest. The Sixers are looking to feature an uptempo this season and ranked first in the NBA last season with a total of 1,427.4 miles run. 

“With our sports science program, we’re designing our practice on trips,” Brown said. “How many trips does a normal NBA game have before there’s a stoppage in play? You see, it’s about six, seven trips. You’ve got to go for that … We’re very calculated on how we design our practice to reflect the true pace of a game.”

While there is the eagerness of players to make a comeback as quickly as possible, following the team’s carefully constructed recovery timeline is critical to prevent the reoccurance of injuries. Embiid better understands the importance of waiting after undergoing two surgeries. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab … the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor told me you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to people have to say.”

The Sixers drafted Simmons to be a centerpiece of their team for the future, not just this season. It is worth being careful early on to help him be healthy down the road.