Tonight: Blackhawks Return to Scene of the Hoist; 247 Finale

Tonight: Blackhawks Return to Scene of the Hoist; 247 Finale

Two Junes ago, the Chicago Blackhawks tore us to pieces by lifting the Stanley Cup on the Flyers' home ice. As much as we don't mind their fans being denied the pleasure of watching that live, it still burns that they got to celebrate in our barn, probably treating the locker room like a frat house at a school you didn't go to.
They return tonight, ushering in the post-Winter Classic portion of the season, and with no semblance of a soft landing. The Blackhawks are currently second in the Western Conference with 52 points, and they're probably pissed off that they lost to the Oilers on Monday.

After the game, we're treated to the final installment of HBO's 24/7. And I do mean treated, because despite knowing how it ends, we also know that's only going to be a small portion of the show we've seen to be pretty great from start to finish. A closer look at the Flyers' night ahead below.

Bryz Is Back to Exorcise His Rights
Michael Leighton's five-hole may not currently be on the Flyers roster (though it's not geographically far away this weekend either), but the ghost of that goal continues to drift along with the team. It was here before Leighton, and we're not sure it's ever leaving. It was seen most recently when sniper extraordinaire Mike Rupp somehow slipped a poorly angled shot under Sergei Bobrovsky's armpit to tie the Winter Classic.

Now that the true regular season has resumed, Peter Laviolette is going back to the goalie tasked with exorcising the ghost before season's end. Hopefully sooner. Hopefully starting tonight. Ilya Bryzgalov is your Peter Venkman.

Reading Rainbow
With Jaromir Jagr shelved due to a groin strain, Matt Read took the first line reps at practice and will get a chance to be in some Claude Giroux highlights tonight. Makes perfect sense given that the rookie has found quite a few of his own already this season. Read's earned the shot while the Czech star gets a rest.

No Chico
Dan Carcillo is one Blackhawk who won't come out of the tunnel with his team tonight. Definition of a prior offender, he's been handed a seven-game suspension for his hit on Edmonton's Tom Gilbert. Honestly, the timing sucks. We were kind of hoping to see what the thrill of facing his former fans would do to his PIM tendencies...

Yes Razor!
Ray Emery wasn't here long, and was hurt while he was, with the injury feared to be career-threatening. But, surprisingly enough, he became somewhat well-liked among the fanbase. So aside from tonight, when he'll start in net for the Blackhawks, Emery probably still has quite a few fans in Philly and may even get some cheers when he's announced.

24/7
We'd have a lot more to look forward to after the game if the Flyers had won the Winter Classic, obv… But the rest of Winter Classic Weekend was a total win, and a lot of the footage will likely bring us a little closer to that. Plus, we'll have the Penguins win… But that's it for on-ice joys, as the Flyers haven't put more than one in the win column since the last airing.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”