Nice 4-3 Win in Montreal Brings Some Holiday Cheer to Somber Flyers Nation

Nice 4-3 Win in Montreal Brings Some Holiday Cheer to Somber Flyers Nation

The mood among Flyers faithful was rather somber on Thursday night as word of Chris Pronger being out for the entire season hit Twitter and eventually the game's telecast itself. Never easy to hear such bad news. The Flyers who were on the ice did their best to try and cheer the down orange and black fans by delivering a nice road victory.

The Flyers got on the board first when Goal Scorer Max Talbot got a wrister past Carey Price. Jake Voracek and Cooter got the helpers. Voracek has really capitalized on the additional ice time given to him lately and tonight was no different. It's always fun to see a guy really work every play.

Montreal fought back all night and even things up at one apiece.  The theme of the night on defense seemed to be a ton traffic in front of the net and David Day-Are-Nay was very patient on the goal, waiting until Bob was down on the ice before drilling the tying goal up high.

It only took 46 for Harry Z to get one back, while falling to the ice, he  managed to find a way to put the puck on net and it found its way past Carey Price to put them up 2-1. A highlight reel goal to be sure.

Luis LeBlanc found a PK Subban rebound right in front of the net with plenty of room to slam it home for his first NHL goal. Not much Bob could do with that one.

Wayne Simmonds hanging around in front of the net with just about two minutes left in the second paid off off once again. With minimal space to work with, Simmonds was chopping away, which caused the puck to pop up into the air. He then gave it a little bump off his chest and it fell to Price's open stick side before Simmonds slammed it home. It pushed Wayne's goal-scoring streak to four games. He's a force down low. At this point, every opponent knows it's part of the game plan, and yet Wayne continues to have his way.

The Flyers caught a bit of a bad break to end the second period when the refs opted not to call a penalty on the Canadiens after Jaromir Jagr was upended on a potential scoring opportunity. Montreal immediately took it down the other end and the refs decided to give them a penalty on Braydon Coburn for crosschecking which led to the Canadiens third goal on a goofy deflection that popped over Bob's head.

The Flyers were the only team to score in an entertaining third period, securing the very nice road victory.

After a shaky clear by Price with about 12 minutes to play, the Flyers got the turnover and worked the puck around pretty nicely, led by Jagr's sweet patience, which eventually set up Big Mez for a huge one-timer to put the Flyers up 4-3 for good.

Bob was great for most of the night and especially so late in the third when Montreal was getting plenty of good looks with plenty of traffic in front. The refs certainly weren't helping the Flyers at all in this one, so it's extra nice to get their seventh straight win. They haven't won seven straight since January of 2002, according to JJ on the telecast.

There's a lot of crazy shit going on around the team right now, but they're playing well, and no matter what else, the history books will show the simple fact that they went to Montreal and won tonight. That's always enjoyable.

Potential Awesome HBO Moment Next Wednesday: Wayne Simmonds was yapping like crazy late in the third, with what looked like an "I'll f%&$ing kill you!" aimed at some Canadien.

Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova excited to see family in adopted hometown of Milwaukee

Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova excited to see family in adopted hometown of Milwaukee

Traveling to Milwaukee means a return to where Ersan Ilyasova began his NBA career.

Twelve years later, it also means a return to his family when the Sixers visit the Bucks on Monday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
 
Ilyasova planted roots in Milwaukee during his seven seasons with the Bucks, who drafted him in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. Though he has played for four teams since the Bucks traded him to the Pistons in the summer of 2015, Ilyasova has maintained a home base in the city he adopted after coming to the NBA from Europe.

“I kind of grew up there,” he said. “It’s a lot of time spent.”

Ilyasova’s lengthy tenure with his first team - which doesn’t always happen in the NBA - afforded him and his family the time to make Milwaukee their home.

His wife and three young children (daughters ages eight and five years old and son age three years old) have remained there while Ilyasova has moved around the league frequently. He has been a member of the Pistons, Magic, Thunder and Sixers in a matter of two seasons.

“It’s a huge thing,” Ilyasova said. “I haven’t seen the girls for two months now - a lot of Skype and FaceTime. I see my son, he flies back and forth with my wife.”

The Sixers flew to Milwaukee on Sunday from Washington, D.C. after Saturday night's loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center. Ilyasova planned to stay at his house and catch up on the time he has missed while being away from his family. This includes missed time during the holidays while the team was on a west coast road trip.
 
“It’s always really exciting,” Ilyasova said. “They’re counting the days when I will come. They’re all excited to come to the game.”
 
Another highlight of being back in Milwaukee? A home-cooked meal.
 
“They’re already preparing it,” Ilyasova said. “It’s duck with apples in it.”

Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo the next Josh Hart? Jay Wright believes so

Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo the next Josh Hart? Jay Wright believes so

NEW YORK — It’s hard to imagine higher praise from Jay Wright.

“I think he can be a Josh Hart,” Wright said. “I really do.”

Donte DiVincenzo is only two months into his redshirt freshman season at Villanova, and his coach is already comparing him to one of the heroes of last year’s NCAA championship team and a 2017 National Player of the Year candidate.

That’s pretty wild stuff, but it’s hard to argue with Wright.

The last two games have been a coming out for DiVincenzo, a Wilmington, Delaware native who played high school ball at Salesianum.

After scoring 20 points and shooting 5 for 17 in Villanova’s first four Big East games, DiVincenzo was 4 for 6 for 10 points with four rebounds and three assists Tuesday in a win over No. 15 Xavier at The Pavilion. On Saturday at Madison Square Garden — with his teammates all struggling from the field — he shot 7 for 10 from the field and 3 for 5 from three-point range for a career-high 19 points to go with three rebounds and two assists in the Wildcats’ win over St. John’s (see game recap).

Hart as a freshman? 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 21 minutes per game.

DiVincenzo so far as a freshman? 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23 minutes per game.

DiVincenzo has been so good in these last two wins that, even coming off the bench, he’s played the third most minutes on the team – 31 ½ per game.

Josh Hart-esque.

“I talked to him about that before,” Wright said. “Just what impresses us so much about Josh is that he’s just complete. He does everything. There’s nothing on the basketball court he doesn’t do, and I think Donte can be that kind of player, too.”

On Saturday at the Garden, Villanova got off to another slow start. Ten minutes into the game, the Wildcats were shooting 2 for 12 from the field and 1 for 7 from three-point range and trailed by six.

It sure seemed DiVincenzo sensed how badly the Wildcats needed an offensive lift, because he proceeded to make four baskets in a five-minute stretch, including two confident looks from 3.

Those 10 points keyed a 16-6 run that gave ‘Nova the lead for good.

But DiVincenzo, echoing dozens of Villanova players from years past, said he never thinks offensively.

“No, not at all,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure offensively at all. Just focus on defending and rebounding. If the shots are falling for me, great. But if they’re not, just get back and focus on those two things.”

DiVincenzo is a freshman but did play in eight games last year before breaking his foot and sitting out the rest of the year. He did travel with the Wildcats and was on the bench during the NCAA title run.

Now, he’s the biggest surprise on the No. 3 team in the country. Villanova takes a 17-1 record and 4-1 Big East mark into a game Monday night at The Pavilion against Seton Hall, their first meeting since the Pirates beat the Wildcats in last year’s Big East title game.

Think about it.

‘Nova is down two players who Wright expected to be huge parts of this year’s team — title game hero Phil Booth, who's hurt and not expected back this year, and Amari Spellman, whom the NCAA ruled ineligible.

“We’re trying to get to a certain level of play,” Wright said. “We’re trying to figure ourselves out here. We thought we were going to be one kind of team earlier in the season and we lost a couple guys. We like our team, but we’re still trying to figure it out. We’re not a finished product yet.”

In six Big East games, DiVincenzo is averaging 8.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

No Villanova freshman has averaged 8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in conference play since Lance Miller in 1990.

Overall, DiVincenzo is eighth among Big East freshmen in scoring, seventh in minutes, rebounding, assists and three-point shooting.

And trending upward.

“We’re really excited about him,” Wright said. “He’s doing everything for us. He’s playing point, he’s playing two-guard, he’s playing the three, he’s rebounding, defending, and that’s the kind of players you like to have.

“He’s only a freshman, and he works hard at it. Those two (DiVincenzo and Hart) compete against each other at practice, and he’s got the same competitiveness, so it’s exciting for us. We’re really fired up.

“And you’ve got to do it in games. We all know it’s going to come sometimes, but you’ve got to do it in games. Do it in the Garden? Against a tough aggressive team? Did it in the Xavier game? That’s big-time.”