Wake-Up Call: Another Slow Afternoon Start Costs Flyers a Point

Wake-Up Call: Another Slow Afternoon Start Costs Flyers a Point

Another early afternoon game, another poor start for the Flyers. They were able to ratchet the effort up in the second second and third periods and overcome a 2-0 first period deficit, forcing OT and a shootout, but Boston scored on each of their shootout attempts, while the Flyers converted two of three, taking the OTL point as consolation. Despite the efforts that led to the comeback, it's hard not to think the first 10 minutes set the Flyers back in their chances at grabbing a win over the Bruins.  
The loss moves the Flyers to 3-8-2 in afternoon games. As the broadcast team pointed out, the sample size is enough to be more than a coincidence. Also, unlike the shootout, day games are a part of playoff hockey. Hopefully the Flyers can use their remaining matinees to develop some new practices and patterns. 
The good news is, they were able to salvage a hard-fought point. The Bruins played some excellent hockey, and this could have been a blowout. The game was rough from the start, with big hits, fights, and plenty of stickwork, and the Flyers managed their comeback while shorthanded, losing Andreas Lilja in the first period and Max Talbot in the second. More on that here, with video. 
Already without Andrej Meszaros and Pavel Kubina, the remaining blueliners had to take on extra minutes. Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle each topped 27 minutes of ice time, as did Claude Giroux. 
Nearly 10 minutes ticked off the clock before the Flyers registered their first shot on goal. Quality opportunities were hard to come by all day, as the Bruins played tight defense, forechecking very well and marking up in their own zone. At times it seemed like the ice was 100 yards long. The Flyers had trouble clearing the zone, connecting on outlet passes, getting through the neutral zone, and putting quality shots on net. Although the Flyers didn't have their game together early, the Bruins deserve credit for taking them off the tracks for much of the game. 
The early hole came courtesy of goals by Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. Kelly scored on a rebound after Ilya Bryzgalov stopped the initial shot; Nick Grossmann was unable to tie up Kelly on a play that developed quickly and a rebound that went right to him as he approached the net. 
With three minutes left in the first, Patrice Bergeron was given plenty of room to work with behind the net, and he found Seguin waiting with an unchecked stick. The talented 20-year-old had no problem taking it from there. Neither goal was a bad one on Bryz. 
The Flyers had more life in the second, and Matt Read defibrillated their effort with his 20th of the season, tying him for the league lead in rookie goals. The goal came on the power play, with Read stationed in front of Thomas in position to deflect a Danny Briere shot. 

Jake Voracek would score a similar goal with less than five minutes to go in the game, tying it up for good. This time it was a Coburn attempt that was deflected, with a sweet between-the-legs tip by Vorch. Watch the second angle here:

After overtime went scoreless, the skaters went nuts in the shootout. The first five attempts—three by the Bruins and two by the Flyers—all scored, with Read and Giroux each netting theirs. But, Tim Thomas was able to hang in on Danny Briere's attempt, and the B's got the extra point. 
Full Highlights (definitely some good ones in here):

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."