Flyers Pick up Slack for Injured Teammates, Casually Rout Capitals

Flyers Pick up Slack for Injured Teammates, Casually Rout Capitals

From deflections to well-placed screens to a general lack of preparedness from not one, but two Capitals goalies, the Flyers proved on Tuesday night that good things do indeed happen when you put the puck on net.

Five different Flyers—Hartnell, Bourdon, Simmonds, Talbot and Voracek—found themselves on the score sheet, while goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was plenty solid when called upon, backstopping a 5-1 victory for the team's sixth-straight win.

Even without captain Chris Pronger, league point leader Claude Giroux and the rest of the their missing cast of characters, the Flyers showed, as Matt pointed out in the game thread, that they're still "every bit a team that should be expected to be in every game they play." Against the still-struggling Caps, they were far more than just "in" the game.

game summary, assorted notes and highlights below...

Game Summary:
Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun was shaky from the start, frequently scrambling and looking badly out of position. And, even when he was square to the shooter, he wasn't always attentive. Take, for example, a simple wrist shot from the top of the left hand circle that caught Vokoun totally off-guard and with his five hole wide open. The goal, the 200th of Scott Hartnell's career, put the Flyers ahead 1-0 by the end of the first.

The third period played out in largely unremarkable fashion, with both the Caps and the Flyers netting one a piece. For the Orange & Black, Jake Voracek would beat Capitals backup Michal Neurvirth on yet another deflection, just managing to keep his stick under the crossbar to prevent the goal from being called back after a review from the War Room in Toronto.

--Hartnell's career 200th makes it six straight games for the winger with a goal. Not the strongest skater, but, man, what a shot (Is that goal regulation size or what?).

--Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he before the game that he has been looking to increase Jakub Voracek's ice time, but hadn't found the right time. With Giroux out the lineup, he finally found the opportunity. Voracek led all Flyers forwards in ice time in the first period and played a total 17:18 on Tuesday night.

--While we're on the subject, Matt Carle led all skaters with a registered 25:27 TOI. He was up over ten minutes after just the first period.

--Braydon Coburn turned in a particularly strong performance, leading all skaters with four hits and assisting on Talbot's goal (as seen above). Always nice to see a strong night from Coby. He sometimes has a style where his most effective nights are when he's the least noticeable, and where his most noticeable nights are when he's the least effective. Guy gets a tough rap sometimes. Good to see him stand out in a positive manner.

--Largely held in the check for the entirety of the evening, superstar Alexander Ovechkin was given little time and even less space. Though his 2011-2012 struggles continue, it's worth noting that Ovechkin is quickly becoming one the great modern Flyer killers. In 24 games against Philadelphia, Ovechkin has a filthy 37 points on 22 goals and 15 assists. For reference, those numbers are more than just slightly ahead of the pace set by Claude Giroux's league-leading 39 points in 28 games this season.

--Jaromir Jagr was treated to litany of boos from the crowd at the Verizon Center nearly every time he touched the puck. Though his time in Washington was somewhat unremarkable despite better than a point-per-game average, the backlash was actually a little surprising and funny.

Upcoming Schedule:
The Flyers will be back at in Montreal on Thursday night. After their meeting with the Habs, they will host the Bruins on Saturday before playing their next five straight on the road. They will return home for, you guessed it, the Winter Classic on January 2nd. Speaking of which, don't forget that HBO's 24/7 Flyers-Rangers series premieres tomorrow night at 10 p.m.

Full Highlights:

Ex-Penn State TE Brent Wilkerson gets probation for indecent assault

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Ex-Penn State TE Brent Wilkerson gets probation for indecent assault

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A former Penn State football player will serve five years' probation and register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to indecent assault.

Twenty-two-year-old Brent Wilkerson was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in connection with a February outing to several bars with a young woman and others.

Police say Wilkerson was drunk but the woman was sober when he insisted on making sure she got home safe.

The woman tells police Wilkerson pushed her upstairs to her bedroom where he fell asleep. The woman says she went to bed later and woke up to find Wilkerson kissing and fondling her and fondling himself. He later apologized in a text message.

Wilkerson was kicked off the team in March. Court records say he lives in Clinton, Maryland.

Union-Toronto FC 5 things: Embracing the playoff underdog role

Union-Toronto FC 5 things: Embracing the playoff underdog role

Union vs. Toronto FC
7:30 p.m. on ESPN2

Riding a seven-game winless run entering their first playoff match since 2011, the No. 6 Union (11-14-9) will attempt to hit the reset button and unseat the third-ranked and heavily favored Toronto FC (14-9-11) on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) at BMO Field.

Here are five things to know:

1. Playing underdog
The struggling Union are happily accepting the role as underdogs against MLS Cup-hungry Toronto FC.

"It's a difficult task but it’s not impossible,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. "Not many people are giving us a chance. We've been a good team when we're considered the underdog and my guys have responded well in that situation. This is no different."

To fully embrace that underdog role, and in an attempt to wash away the stink of how they ended the regular season, the Union are treating Wednesday as a hard reset. For them, the playoffs will be a fresh chance to prove themselves.

“It’s a new season now,” said Union center back Ken Tribbett, who helped his club draw Toronto FC at BMO Field on Sept. 24. “In the playoffs, anything can happen. We go up to Toronto and it’ll be a good test. We have to stay sharp for 90 minutes and hopefully we can come back here with a win.”

And there is a reason to be slightly optimistic about the Union’s chance. Despite a 1-0-1 record against the Canadian side this season, the Union, who lost 3-1 in the first match, played much better on Sept. 24 at BMO Field. They clogged the midfield and ground the Sebastian Giovinco-less club into a 1-1 draw.

“It’s encouraging that we have gone there recently and played well,” Curtin said. “I think we have a group that has a belief, and one that is pissed a bit about how things have ended. They are motivated.”

2. Leaning on experience
While the 2016 Union will ultimately be known for their reliance on youth — a group that included Keegan Rosenberry, who has played every minute this season, Fabian Herbers, Josh Yaro and Ken Tribbett — it’s the veterans that will lead them on Wednesday.

“This is a pressure game for everybody,” Curtin said. “We have a good balance of guys who have played in big spots, like (Chris) Pontius, Tranquillo (Barnetta), (Alejandro) Bedoya. (C.J.) Sapong has played in big games, you can go through the list.”

Yet despite Curtin’s need for his veterans to lead, his reliance on youth means the younger players need to be reliable. The manager admitted that pressure can change how people play, and he is making sure the Union youth movement remains steady on Wednesday.

“We have young guys, there’s no question about it,” Curtin said. “These guys will play in their first playoff game and a lot of the guys on our roster have never been in a playoff game. You hope they rise to the occasion and I’m confident they will.”

3. Pressure on Toronto
Making their second-ever postseason appearance, high-priced Toronto FC has its sights set on bigger things than the Union in the play-in playoff round. That’s why Curtin believes the pressure is squarely on his opposition.

“I’d say the pressure is on them, they are the home team,” the manager said. “My guys should be loose, they have nothing to lose. It’s fair to say, they are the home team and they want to make a deep playoff run. We want to make some noise.”

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney knows his team will be excited, so he’s trying to instill a high intensity but controlled start for his club.

“We expect a little of the unexpected at the start,” he said. “The game settles down eventually, but at the start, there’s a lot of emotion into it and you want to play with the right kind of caution but the right kind of intensity to put the opposing team on their back foot.

“The guys are ready to go, ready to go after Philadelphia.”

4. Keep an eye on
Jozy Altidore: It would be easy to go with Giovinco here, but Altidore has a recent history of crushing the Union. He has two goals in his last three games against the Union and buried 10 in 23 games this season.

“Jozy is a guy who can stretch the field and is dangerous,” Curtin said. “He’s not a guy you can shut down, it’s not possible. He’ll have his moments, you just have to make those looks as predictable for (goalkeeper Andre Blake) as you can. You hope he’s a little off on the night.”

Tranquillo Barnetta: Without added inspiration, the Union offensive catalyst has been one of the club’s best players all season. On Wednesday, Curtin expects a little extra from Barnetta, who is not returning to the Union in 2017.

“I’ve talked a ton about how special he is, he’s been a great attribute for the Union and a guy we want to prolong the season for,” Curtin said. “He’s played in the big spots, the big games and there’s something extra there for him.” 

5. This and that
• On the injury front, Union center back Yaro sprained his MCL while returning from a concussion. “It’s a two-week injury,” Curtin said, “so it will be unfortunate he won’t be part of the Toronto game.”

Warren Creavalle is also fighting injury. The defensive midfielder left Sunday’s match with a rib injury but could be available for Wednesday. “It’s painful for him,” Curtin said. “He’s a tough kid and he wants to be a part of this game.”

• The Union and Toronto FC are deadlocked all time, with a 6-6-5 record against each other. 

• The Union are 2-4-3 at BMO Field.

• Both clubs enter Wednesday limping. Since August 27 (the Union’s last win), Toronto FC is 2-1-4, while the Union are 0-5-2.