Oh Hey, the Flyers Played a Preseason Game Yesterday

Oh Hey, the Flyers Played a Preseason Game Yesterday

It would be remiss if we did not point out that the Orange & Black returned to the ice on Sunday in a sanctioned NHL game. There’s no lockout this fall because 2013 is an odd-numbered year that ends on a Tuesday, as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement and commissioner Gary Bettman’s book of spells.

Anyway, the Flyers fell 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in preseason action from London, Ontario. There’s not much to talk about in the way of a recap, because I’m fairly certain nobody here at The Level saw the game, but hey hockey, good to have you back.

There was at least encouraging sign from the Flyers’ exhibition game though. Andrej Meszaros has been battling injuries for the better part of the last year and a half, not to mention has looked awfully rusty when he has managed to skate. However, according to Frank Seravalli for the Daily News, the 27-year-old defenseman was actually one of the lone bright spots on Sunday.

Last night was just the 12th game Meszaros has played since March 1, 2012 - a span of 563 days. On a night filled with defensive mishaps, as his teammates shook off the rust, Meszaros was the Flyers' one bright spot.

He looked like the Meszaros of old, active and involved in the offensive zone, skating and not playing tentative. He blasted at least four shots on Toronto's net and he quarterbacked the power play (0-for-4) with Matt Read.

"I thought he did a good job," Laviolette said. "He brought a lot of pucks to the net. Defending, I thought he did a pretty good job for us. I thought he got better as the game went on and he stayed strong for most of the game."

With most of their blueliners finally healthy heading into training camp, another season’s worth of experience for the young guys, and the offseason addition of Mark Streit, the Flyers already figured to be improved on the back end in 2013. If Meszaros can stay healthy and contribute as well, that almost seems like a bonus at this point, as it seems a lot of folks have probably written him off already.

Seravalli has much more on Meszaros and the Flyers’ return to action over the weekend.

>> Meszaros makes solid strides in preseason opener [DN]

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.”