Tough Weekend of Matinee Hockey Ahead for Flyers

Tough Weekend of Matinee Hockey Ahead for Flyers

The Flyers aren't exactly coming off their best performance of the season, a 4-1 beheading at home under the axe of the division's last place team. Today they face another divisional foe up in middle Jerz at 1PM, after which they'll host the Bruins at 3PM.

We're still far enough from the finish line that the outcomes of any two games aren't likely too pendulous in their impact. But, we don't have to look too far back to remember how quickly a good season can turn to garbage. Right around this time of year too…

Two wins this weekend, on the other hand, could help to right a listing ship entering the stretch run. Below, a look at what the Devils are packing.

Charting the Atlantic
New Jersey's one of the quiet success stories of the Eastern Conference this season, just four points behind the Flyers with 54 points on a 26-18-2 record. Not bad for a team that missed the playoffs by 12 points last season. The Atlantic is a tight place, with only eight points separating the top dog Rangers (62) from the Devils in fourth (54).

The Devils are having a solid January. They lost against Boston on Thursday, but won their previous three and five of their last seven.

It's been a while since the Flyers have seen the Devils. They grabbed a 3-0 win in opening night at the Rock, spoiling the evening for dozens of New Jerseyans. Then, in early November, there was that painful shootout loss at home that happened to coincide with the Union's final playoff loss to Houston. Banner night, that.

The Killers
The Devils are a middle of the pack team in more than just the standings, ranking 17th in both goals and goals against per game, with the 21st ranked power play. But, they do boast the top penalty killing unit in the league, snuffing out just more than 90% of all opposing man advantages and ripping off 11 shorthanded goals. Adam Larsson runs the show on the blue line. Beast. For a Flyers team that struggled mightily in transition and gaining the zone on Thursday, that's something to worry about this afternoon.  

Sniper Alert
Patrick Elias leads the team in scoring with 45 points, and Ilya Kovalchuk has the top mark in goals with 19. There's been no sign of Koval-choke lately. The Russian sniper has 10 points on seven goals and three assists in his last seven games.

Their Little Pony
The team brought in winger Alexei Ponikarovsky on a Friday night trade, dealing away AHL defenseman Joe Sava and a fourth round pick. Pony will play today.

Tom Gulitti (good Devils beat follow) says it'll be Martin Brodeur between the pipes for the Devils. Not exactly the dooming sentence it once was. Still awaiting word on whether he'll face Bob or Bryz at the other end. Bob played his ass off in the loss to the Isles, but Bryz notched the team's only shutout in this building to start the Devils' season. Who you hoping for today? Tomorrow?

Update: It's Bryz.

Who Steps Up?
The top line's struggles lately have had many wondering whether Peter Laviolette would split them up in hopes of re-igniting them. At least for now, he's keeping them together, perhaps in part due to their request.

The rookies have been doing their part to keep the scoring coming, led by Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

USA Today Images

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Eagles bring back Taylor Hart after stint with Chip Kelly

Eagles bring back Taylor Hart after stint with Chip Kelly

The Eagles have brought back a familiar face to take Ron Brooks' roster spot.

On Monday, the team claimed defensive tackle Taylor Hart off waivers from San Francisco. Hart was just waived on Saturday by the 49ers, who claimed him after the Eagles waived him at final cuts.

So, Hart is coming back to Philly after a stint with Chip Kelly in San Francisco.

Hart, 25, played in one game for the 49ers this year. The Eagles are light at defensive tackle thanks to Bennie Logan's groin injury. While head coach Doug Pederson on Monday said Logan was getting better, the Eagles still brought in more depth by claiming Hart.

While still with the Eagles, Kelly had a hand in drafting Hart, an Oregon product, in the fifth round of 2014.

Hart worked hard this offseason to learn how to play in Jim Schwartz's aggressive 4-3 defense, which is very unlike the ones he had played in during college and in the NFL.

Brooks has been placed on IR after rupturing a quad tendon during Sunday's game against the Vikings. He'll have surgery this week.

In addition to adding Hart to the active roster, the Eagles also added cornerback Aaron Grymes to their practice squad.

Grymes, 25, was having an impressive training camp and preseason with the Eagles before injuring his right shoulder. He was waived shortly after that.

After coming out of the University of Idaho in 2013, Grymes didn't make an NFL team so he went to Canada. He ended up as a starter and All-Star on the Edmonton Eskimos and won a Grey Cup in 2015.

To make room for Grymes, the Eagles cut OL Matt Rotheram from the practice squad.