Reintroducing the New Philadelphia Flyers

Reintroducing the New Philadelphia Flyers

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Over one half of a calendar year has passed since the NHL
entered its traditional offseason mode. Normally by now we would be familiar with
the new faces that came to Philadelphia by way of either free agency or trade.
Instead, after a lockout that lasted over 100 days, it’s understandable if you’ve
maybe forgotten a few of their names. This here is a quick refresher on the comings and goings,
most of which went down over the summer.

Ruslan Fedotenko

Fedotenko isn’t exactly a new face given that he began his
NHL career with the Flyers in 2000, but it’s been 10 years since he last suited
up in Orange & Black. Back on a one-year deal, Feds won’t replace Jaromir Jagr’s
scoring or skate on the first line, but he’s a veteran two-way player who can
man either wing. Instantly becomes the only player in the locker room to have hoisted
the Stanley Cup twice: once with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, then again
with the Pittsburgh Penguins in ’09.

Kurtis Foster

Fresh off the airplane, Foster of course just joined the
Flyers over the weekend, so no refresher needed there. No mystery why this
journeyman blueliner with nine NHL seasons under his belt was brought in,
either. Depth is an issue, especially with Andrej Meszaros still recovering
from a torn Achilles tendon, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson also banged
up at the moment. If nothing else, the 6-5, 225-lbs. Foster gives them another
able, big body who could perhaps become a fixture on the third pairing – sort of
what they were hoping for when they made a deadline deal for Pavel Kubina last
season.

Bruno Gervais

With Foster suddenly in the picture, it’s not quite as clear
where Gervais fits. Short-term, he could see some significant ice time given
all of the injuries to defensemen, but down the road one of them is likely going
to wind up giving way to Mez or Bourdon or both. He signed for two years
though, so he certainly appears to be a piece of the puzzle. He’s never
finished as a plus or even player in seven seasons, so there is that – although
the first six of those were with the New York Islanders, and last season with
the Lightning.

Michael Leighton

Technically the Leight Show never actually went anywhere.
Instead, he spent the entirety of last season and all but one game in ’10-’11
with Adirondack. With Sergei Bobrovsky traded to Columbus in the offseason,
Leighton resigned to be the backup. Bob obviously had potential, but Ilya
Bryzgalov is the type of goaltender that seems to get better the more he’s on
the ice, so rather than stunt a young player’s development, they flipped him
for draft picks and went with a low-cost solution.

Luke Schenn

The big offseason move was shipping James van Riemsdyk to
Toronto in exchange for Schenn, a swap of two promising, young players who have
yet to realize their potential. The concern is Brayden’s brother will never
live up to being the fifth-overall selection in the 2008 draft. However, he’s
only 23, and when you look at the sheer dearth of talent on the Maple Leafs
roster, it’s hard to say how much of the problem was Schenn, and how much of it
was skating with a bunch of minor leaguers. One thing is for sure, with Matt
Carle moved on to Tampa Bay for six years at $33 million, the elder Schenn will
have every opportunity to make his mark on Philly’s back end.

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La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

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La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.