The losses are just a result of us not coming to battle shift after shift

The losses are just a result of us not coming to battle shift after shift

Unless you managed to avoid newspapers, television, the
Internet, talk radio, or interaction with another human being in the Delaware
Valley this morning, you no doubt have already heard the Flyers lost 5-2 to the
New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

That’s nothing new of course, only this time the Bullies’
playoff chances are being pronounced dead at the scene – the proverbial final
nail driven into their coffin, and the first shovel full of dirt dumped on top
for good measure. Appropriately enough, the Wells Fargo Center sang the Orange
& Black out of the arena to a hymn of boos, while the dressing room was as
somber as a wake afterward.

Cause of death? We’ll have to wait awhile for the autopsy
results, but people closest to the victim are describing it as a lack of
effort.

That’s more or less what Wayne Simmonds had to say after the
game, claiming his mates haven’t put up a fight each and every time they’ve
stepped on to the ice this season. That echoes statements Kimmo Timonen has
been making for the last few weeks, and again after this most recent defeat,
suggesting reporters stick a microphone in each and every players’ face and ask
them why they aren’t ready to play.
Even captain Claude Giroux admitted the Flyers weren’t “ready.” [click here for
video of their post-game statements
]

But just who exactly are the offenders here?

Giroux has fallen far short of incredible expectations this
season, but who is watching him skate and thinking to themselves, “That dude
isn’t trying hard enough.”

No sane person would dare question the effort of a
consummate pro like Timonen, who enjoyed a lengthy celebration of his 1,000
games played in the NHL prior to puck drop on Tuesday.

It sure as hell wasn’t Simmonds, either, who took a puck to
the face early in the tilt only to return and score Philly’s first goal – one
that briefly felt like it might rally the troops.

Even general manager Paul Holmgren laid the blame almost
entirely at his players’ feet two weeks ago, saying he would like to see the
boys “compete better.”

Well, where are the slackers?

Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell have parroted the same
lines, so obviously not among the ranks of leadership. Briere and Hartnell,
along with Matt Read and Andrej Meszaros, have all rushed back from injuries
this year, while guys like Nicklas Grossmann and Zac Rinaldo are clearly putting
their bodies on the line every night. Long-time veterans Simon Gagne, Max
Talbot, and Ruslan Fedotenko have hoisted the Stanley Cup, so they know what it
takes to compete at the highest level. Then there are young kids who have
everything in the world to prove, from Jakub Voracek and the Schenns whose spots
are somewhat solidified, to the Tye McGinns and Harry Zolnierczyks scraping for
every last second of ice time. Oh, and lest we forget that Ilya Bryzgalov NEVER
rests.

Get out of here with that stuff. Outsiders who would cast doubt
on an athlete’s effort has always been a pet peeve of mine, not because it’s
never true, but because typically it’s completely, 100% unsubstantiated. Only in
this instance it isn’t fans or members of the media making accusations by and
large, but instead seemingly anybody and everybody associated with the
organization.

It’s nothing more than an excuse, and not even a very good
one. The Flyers aren’t winning because the opponent is usually better, it’s
that simple.

The real question is whether or not that should be the case.
The Flyers as they are currently constituted have their share of flaws, but is
there any legitimate reason why with their talent they should be ranked 14th
out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference right now? Sorry, I have some trouble
seeing that.

This isn’t tee ball. Everybody trying their hardest is not a
solution.

Yes, going forward the front office must do a better job of equipping
this team with the pieces it needs to compete for a championship, whichever
parts you armchair GMs out there think are most important. That being said,
clearly there is a much bigger issue on Broad Street. Either these guys truly
are not working hard enough, or they are keeping quiet about the real problem.

Which is fine. Nobody can blame the locker room for sticking
together, in fact it may even be a good sign. Then again, maybe they simply don’t
have the answer – and that’s the scary part.

Earlier:
>> Priced to Move? Examining Flyers' Options as Trade Deadline Approaches
>> Peter Laviolette Is One of Flyers' Few Moving Parts


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Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders are on quite a nice roll.

Anders Lee scored two power-play goals to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, giving New York its third straight win and fourth in the last five games.

"We've been keeping it simple of late," said Lee, who has four goals in two games against the Kings this season. "We've been getting shots on net and being more effective. I'll do my thing down low."

John Tavares had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored and Jean-Francois Berube stopped 34 shots to earn his first win in his third start of the season (see full recap).

Hartnell snaps tie as Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets would just as soon forget the second period of Saturday's game, when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it.

Columbus didn't play much better in the third but withstood 15 shots and killed three penalties. Midway through, Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game , and the Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2.

Columbus got the win despite being outshot 37-20.

Hartnell scored in the first period and then netted the tiebreaker, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a horrendous second period - in which they managed only two shots on goal - to beat Carolina for the second time this week (see full recap).

Beagle scores in overtime, Capitals beat Stars 4-3
DALLAS -- Jay Beagle scored 19 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated behind the net and put the puck in front to Beagle. His wrist shot beat goalie Kari Lehtonen, who got tangled with a defender and lost his footing.

The Stars led 3-1 and didn't allow Washington a power play until the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored with the man advantage in the first 5:26 of the period.

Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn scored for Dallas on plays that originally were ruled no goal. Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist for the Stars (see full recap).

Bogosian scores in overtime, Sabres edge Canadiens 3-2
MONTREAL -- The Sabres couldn't score from in close on All-Star goalie Carey Price late in regulation Saturday night.

So Zach Bogosian teed it up from a ways out in overtime to lift Buffalo.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season in overtime and the Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Buffalo nearly broke through against Price near the end of the third period. Price made a pad save on Matt Moulson on a breakaway at 19:40, and then with six seconds remaining, he robbed Rasmus Ristolainen with a windmill glove save (see full recap).

 

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

CLEVELAND -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night despite missing starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol.

Leonard scored six in OT, including a game-sealing dunk with 4.9 seconds left, as the Spurs regrouped after a late collapse in regulation.

David Lee, making a rare start in place of the injured Gasol, added 14 points as San Antonio improved to 18-4 on the road.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 29 apiece for the Cavs, who had the last shot in regulation and had plenty of opportunities in the extra five minutes. Cleveland still had a chance to tie it in the final second of overtime, but Kevin Love missed a 3-pointer (see full recap).

Lillard, McCollum carry Portland to OT win over Boston
BOSTON -- Damian Lillard had a three-point play with 47 seconds left in overtime and finished with 28 points to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 127-123 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum scored 35 points to lead Portland, which lost in the closing seconds in Philadelphia on Friday night. Lillard added seven assists.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 41 points, his 14th time this season with 30 or more points. Marcus Smart and Al Horford each scored 17 for the Celtics, who have lost two straight after winning 13 of 16.

Thomas nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in OT, pushing Boston ahead by one, but Al-Farouq Aminu was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to move Portland back in front.

Lillard then drove the lane, was fouled and hit the free throw. Mason Plumlee had a short jumper in the lane and a free throw in the closing 24 seconds (see full recap).

Booker scores 26 as Suns edge Knicks 107-105
NEW YORK -- Devin Booker scored 26 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, and the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks 107-105 on Saturday night.

Carmelo Anthony's attempt at a winning 3-pointer rimmed out as Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak and handed New York its second loss in a row.

Eric Bledsoe added 23 points for the Suns, while P.J. Tucker and Marquese Chriss each had 15.

Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points, Derrick Rose had 26 and Kristaps Porzingis scored 14 (see full recap).

Dekker scores career-best 30 leading Rockets past Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sam Dekker scored a career-high 30 points, James Harden added 29 points and 10 assists and the Houston Rockets leaned on their usual 3-point offense to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-95 on Saturday night.

Eric Gordon added 21 points as the Rockets built the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before easily coasting home.

Dekker, making his first career start in place of the ill Ryan Anderson, made 12 of 19 shots, including 6 of 11 from outside the arc. Houston shot 51 percent overall and 38 percent from distance.

Marc Gasol scored 32 points and Mike Conley added 15 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the third time in the last four.

Memphis struggled shooting the entire night, finishing at 37 percent and unsuccessfully tried to follow the Rockets' long-range attack but converted only 9 of 34 from outside the arc (see full recap).