Shock Therapy: Matt Carle Bolts for Tampa Bay

Shock Therapy: Matt Carle Bolts for Tampa Bay

Obviously the Flyers didn't land Ryan Suter, but it wasn't really the end of the world. After all, there are other fish in the sea... just not so many this summer.

Less than 12 hours later, it turned out the team would not retain Matt Carle, either -- and strangely enough, getting over number 25 could prove far more difficult. The Flyers were unwilling to give their free agent defenseman the commitment he desired, not at six years, $33 million. That's the size of the contract the Tampa Bay Lighting handed Carle on Wednesday night, and thin as the Orange and Black are on the back end, management simply did not feel he warranted that.

GM Paul Holmgren was said to already be hard at work replacing Carle even before the news came down. Coincidentally, it's Tampa's Bruno Gervais that is reportedly on the Flyers' radar, and from the sound of things, he might be signed as early as Thursday.

However, around the league Gervais is not seen as Carle's equal, not by a long shot. Therein lies the problem for Philadelphia. Carle probably isn't worth the $5.5 million per the Lightning forked over, but as we've been over again and again, blue-line depth isn't exactly considered a position of strength at the moment.

Of course, there is some debate as to exactly how good Matt Carle really is, but clearly good enough to command a hefty price on the open market. With respect to both ends of the discussion, Carle suffers from lapses in judgment at his own end, is not the shutdown defender the club desperately needs, and his reputation arguably benefited from his one-time pairing with Chris Pronger. Then again, Carle is excellent at moving the puck, which leads to plenty of helpers and makes the offense go in general, in addition to his role on the power play.

In other words, after four tours of duty in Philly, the soon-to-be 28 year old was imperfect, and drew the ire of some fans for qualities he was never supposed to have. The Flyers will certainly miss aspects of Carle's game though, including the 81 games and 38 points he averaged over the past three seasons.

The question is what, if anything, the Flyers will do next. With a limited free agent pool to wade into, Gervais could be the biggest name the Flyers sign. It seems more likely the front office will try to fill their hole via a trade -- either Shea Weber, Nashville's other (and possibly better) D-man who may not re-sign there, or the inevitable Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan deal that does nothing for defense, but instead places the onus on scoring even more goals.

Weber's name keeps coming up, and after Suter turned down what was apparently a competitive offer from the Predators, the assumption is the organization may stand little chance keeping the restricted free agent beyond this season. Meanwhile, Nash and Ryan continue to be shopped around, and while the Flyers are listening, the front office appears determined to hang on to valuable chips such as Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.

And if they should go into the upcoming season with their defense the way it is? You can sense the panic from those who follow the team closest. It means further reliance on youngsters Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson, as well as nondescript vets Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja.

Admittedly, I'm not the world's biggest Matt Carle fan. While I tended to stick up for him in 10-11, it seemed the mistakes outweighed the good last season, even though some statistics tell a different story. If the price were right, I would have preferred to have him back with the understanding what his skill set is, but for the money the Lightning gave, I would take my chances too as the Flyers' chief exec.

Regardless, I can't help but feel I'm missing some specific irony here. The last time the Flyers went head-to-head with Tampa Bay, Carle slipped one in his own net behind Ilya Bryzgalov. While clearly an accident, and not the first guy to make a bonehead play on the ice, it was the type of event a professional athlete could never live down. Odds are he was never a double agent, but whether it was deserved or not, you got the sense some fans almost felt that way about Matt Carle.

>> Bolts sign Carle, Flyers negotiating with Gervais [CSN]

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).