Nuck Respect: Flyers Hang on for 5-4 Win, Stay Undefeated

Nuck Respect: Flyers Hang on for 5-4 Win, Stay Undefeated

The Flyers faithful came into Wednesday night's home opener with high expectations following the team's 2-0 start to the season on the road. The South Philly opener was ugly at times, but the orange and black sent the fans home happy with a 5-4 victory. The Flyers showed that while the Giroux-JVR-Jagr grouping is the star-studded line to watch, the team is well-balanced, with nine different players registering at least a point in tonight's win.

"If you work hard, you give yourself a chance to win, and in the three games we've won, we worked hard," Claude Giroux told Coatesy following the win.

Work hard they did, but they also didn't make it easy on themselves. The Canucks had some dumb penalties early while the Flyers had their share late. In the end, the Flyers were able to beat Roberto Luongo one more time than the Canucks could get it past Ilya Bryzgalov.

Things got off to a fast start when the Flyers couldn't capitalize on the first Peco Power Play of the season early in the first period, but that didn't stop Wayne Simmonds from making himself quite familiar with the opposing goal crease at the Wells Fargo Center, mucking it up in front much to the delight of his new fans in Philadelphia.

Simmonds came damn close to slamming one home, but Luongo somehow made a pretty fantastic save when it looked like Simmonds had some daylight to work with. His physical play in front of the net was one of the more positive signs on the night for the new guys.

But the Canucks played undisciplined hockey for much of the first period and found themselves shorthanded again just minutes later when Chris Pronger drilled a puck off the boards behind goal while dumping it into the zone. The Flyers got a Jedi-like bounce when the puck found its way directly in front of Luongo with Giroux skating towards him unobstructed. We knew Giroux was good, but we didn't know he could make the puck go where he wanted it to without even touching it. Giroux alone in front is pretty much an NHL goalie's worst nightmare. G went glove-side top shelf and the Flyers took an early 1-0 lead. Claude is on pace for lots and lots of goals this season.

The Flyers didn't wait long to add on. They found themselves on yet another power play with 9 minutes left in the first. Chris Pronger was working the point and passed it to Giroux on the wing who gave it right back to the Captain who one-timed their second goal of the game right past Luongo who never even saw it with Simmonds standing in front of him. It was Prong Daddy's first of the season.

Following what was an awful start for the Canucks, they got some of their mojo back thanks in part to a Scott Hartnell penalty, the first of his likely many at the Wells Fargo Center this year. Bryzgalov was getting peppered with shots on the Vancouver powerplay and Mikael Samuelsson finally slammed one past him to make it 2-1.

The Flyers regained the two goal lead shortly before the end of the first period when JVR tallied his first of the season. A poor clear by Luongo ended up in the hands of Giroux who fed Van Riemsdyk from the point. Luongo couldn't gather it up, and JVR showed some nifty hands, going top shelf on him.  

The two teams traded goals to start the second period. Bryzgalov was beaten by Henrik Sedin to bring the Canucks to within one. But Jakub Voracek added his second of the season shortly after, set up nicely from Sean Couturier to put the Flyers back up by two, 4-2. The Caucks weren't going away easily, however, and cut the Flyers lead to one on a Chris Higgins goal with five minutes left in the second.

There appeared to be a big turn of the tides to start the third period when JVR couldn't make anything happen on a great breakaway opportunity only to be called for an unsportsmanlike penalty seconds later. It lead to Daniel Sedin scoring to tie things up at 4-4. The Flyers didn't let the Canucks keep the momentum for long, however, as Danny Briere hit Andrej Meszaros heading towards the net for a quick wrister. Luongo was once again beaten top shelf to give the Flyers the 5-4 lead.

The Flyers' penalty kill was put to the test in the final minutes as Jagr was called for a hook followed by a legit boarding call on Voracek and a a questionable interference call on Pronger which generated the first full-fledged "REF YOU SUCK!" chants of the season. Despite a flurry of chances, the Canucks couldn't capitalize and the Flyers held on for the 5-4 victory.

3-0 to start the season. At least one team's fanbase is feeling good in South Philly this time of year.

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Here's a 360 panoramic shot I took with my iPhone prior to this evening's home opener. You can scroll all the way around and zoom in/out.

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel's tenure in Philadelphia wasn't characterized by a whole lot of winning, but he'll still likely be remembered fondly by Sixers fans as being one of the original members of the process.

It's always an emotional time when a fan favorite departs for another city and a new team instead of seeing the championship aspirations many had for them in Philly through to fruition.

Noel posted an emotional message to his Twitter account on Thursday evening thanking the city of Philadelphia and its fans for the support they showed him through the ups and downs. 

The tweet contained the hashtag #Philly with a couple of exclamation points with a screenshot of a note that read:

What an exciting journey it’s been… To have such an amazing city embrace a kid from Boston coming out of Kentucky the way y’all did, is something I’ll truly never forget. And even through the ups and downs I never doubted the love here and that won’t change. Thank you to everybody that’s believed in me and supported through #TheProcess.

Love! -NN4

He posted the same message on Instagram as well.

Noel was traded earlier in the day to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, and a conditional first round pick that will likely turn into two second round picks.

Bryan Colangelo will address the media on Friday morning to discuss his rationale behind moving Nerlens.

Related:

>>Every reason why the Nerlens Noel trade was unjustifiable 

>>Video: Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid say their goodbyes 

>>Joel Embiid reacts to Nerlens trade on Twitter: 'Trust it'

Joel Embiid: With Mavs, Nerlens Noel 'to get the chance he wanted'

Joel Embiid: With Mavs, Nerlens Noel 'to get the chance he wanted'

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Nerlens Noel emerged from the trainer’s room in a red sweatshirt and made his rounds of handshakes and hugs. It would be his last time in the Sixers' training complex as a member of the team, marking the end of the longest-tenured player’s stay in Philadelphia.

The Sixers traded Noel to the Mavericks on Thursday for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick, according to a source (see story). He went through a portion of practice and was removed from it because of the deal. 

Noel’s now former teammates had a strong reaction to his departure. 

“Nerlens, he’s my guy,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s been my best friend since I got to Philly and I’m happy for him. He wants to start. I think in Dallas he’s going to get the chance to start and they’re going to re-sign him and they’re going to pay him a lot of money. Here it was kind of hard for him to start unless they were starting us together. But I’m happy for him. He’s going to get the chance he wanted.”

Noel’s future with the Sixers had been in question for two years as he enters restricted free agency this summer. Last season, the team struggled to find a way for him and Jahlil Okafor, both true centers, to play together. This season, the logjam was magnified when Embiid made his debut and took over the starting role. 

Noel candidly spoke out about the overcrowding at the beginning of the season but that situation was sidetracked when he missed 23 games because of injury. Once he returned, he quickly was on the short end of minutes. 

“I need to be on the court playing basketball,” Noel said in mid-December. “I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s--- out.”

The Sixers did figure out his role, later making him the defensive leader of the second unit as Okafor became the odd man out. The Sixers also considered the possibility of pairing Noel and Embiid in the starting lineup, as they did with Embiid and Okafor, but that experiment played out only over a handful of minutes. 

“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Embiid said of not playing more alongside Noel. “I thought we should have tried that a little bit more. I think the few times we did, it actually looked pretty good offensively and defensively.”

Of the bigs, it seemed like Okafor would be the one moved at the deadline after being held out of two games because of trade talks. In the end, it was Noel as the one to go on Thursday. 

“He’s one of my favorite players here,” Dario Saric said. “He’s always ready for jokes, he’s always ready to enjoy every moment.” 

Noel was the only player remaining from Brown’s first season as head coach with the Sixers. Brown could not comment on the Noel trade because it was not official at the time he addressed the media. 

Ilyasova leadership missed
On Wednesday night the Sixers dealt Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks for Tiago Splitter, a 2017 second-round pick and 2017 second-round pick swap rights. Even though Ilyasova played only 53 games for the Sixers, the veteran leader left his mark.

“He was a consummate pro,” Brown said. “He helped teach our young guys about that professionalism and helped contribute to our culture. He was good. You add those things up and we’re going to miss him.” 

Ilyasova’s departure affects those who played with him and behind him. Embiid credited Ilyasova for stretching the floor when they were in the starting lineup together. 

Saric, though, is perhaps the most impacted by the trade. Saric moved to the second unit when Ilyasova took over the starting role. He learned from his fellow international power forward, who helped him adjust to the NBA on and off the court. Saric is likely to get the nod as a starter. 

“For me, it’s hard,” Saric said. “I lost in Ersan some kind of mentor.” 

Brown also plans to play Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes at power forward at times, as well. If Covington slides over from small forward, Brown eyes Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Gerald Henderson and Nik Stauskas as players who could fill in at the three spot. 

The Sixers will resume activity on Friday morning for shootaround ahead of their game against the Wizards. They will approach that contest without familiar faces on the court. 

“I lost two good friends,” Saric said. “But this is the NBA. This is part of the business, part of the job.”