Preseason hockey is always entertaining, because it's played at full-tilt, most of the definite members of the big club get a lot of playing time, and everyone else on the ice is going all out to try to get their names on that roster. Despite being winless before tonight's 5-2 stomp of the Red Wings, there have been some positives from the guys who are either new to the team on the bubble of making it. Tonight, James vanRiemsdyk strengthened his case for a roster spot,* scoring twice, giving him three goals on the preseason. So far, it's been a great showing for JVR, who has a lot to prove to the organization.
Ray Emery got a planned full-game start in front of the home crowd, and he was impressive in stopping 28 shots. Dan Carcillo, who has some fans to win over here after coming over in an unpopular salary-dump trade, scored a gorgeous goal on Chris Osgood, which was assisted by Chris Pronger. Danny Briere opened the scoring less than a minute into the game, and Claude Giroux generated two assists. So yeah, in short, the elements of the game that everyone came out to see went just about perfectly—about as good as it gets for a preseason game.
Winger Mika Pyorala is hearing casual praise from the media covering the team, and he could be an interesting player to watch this week. He's 28 and hasn't played in the NHL so far, but he's getting some long looks with different combinations, and he scored a first period goal and assisted on another tonight. *Interestingly, it could be JVR that he's up against for a roster spot. The #2 overall pick who is lighting up the preseason box scores may seem like the easy choice, but it all depends on what role the team needs from that roster spot. If it's a limited-minutes guy, JVR is definitely not a lock; in the AHL, he'd get a lot more minutes. Stay tuned on that one... Simon Gagne returned to play after taking some time off with a groin injury sustained at Team Canada camp. Gags had 4 shots on goal, damn near scored when jamming at one in the crease... Blair Betts had the night off, and most people seem to think he has the fourth line center role locked up. Let's hope so. The PIM-prone Flyers may need his solid penalty killing, and he's known as a good faceoff man, which was a painful weakness the team had last season.
Overall, a great start at the Wachovia Center. Just under 10 days left...
The Sixers made some roster tweaks on Wednesday night.
The team waived forward Carl Landry and center Tibor Pleiss, while officially announcing the signing of guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.
The Sixers were expected to cut Pleiss, who was acquired last Friday in a trade with the Jazz. On July 21, Barber and the Sixers reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal.
Landy, a 32-year-old veteran, played one season with the Sixers after being acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings, a deal in which he was essentially a toss-in as it revolved around bringing Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia. Landry, who was under contract for 2016-17 at $6.75 million, battled injury to start 2015-16 and ended up playing in 36 games (12 starts), averaging 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Barber, 6-foot-3, 173 pounds, will fight for a roster spot at point guard during training camp. The 22-year-old went undrafted in June after declaring following his junior season at NC State in which he averaged 23.5 points per game, seventh most in the country and best in the ACC.
Ben Simmons' fellow NBA rookies may not think too highly of him, but when the best basketball player on the planet is giving him pointers, he must be doing something right.
On Tuesday, a photo of Simmons and LeBron James dribbling side by side started making the rounds on Instagram. That's right. The Sixers' number-one overall draft pick and franchise savior is apparently training with the four-time league MVP and reigning world champion.
Those workouts continued on Wednesday, when 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade posted a photo of himself, Simmons and James, as well as Richard Jefferson and Jordan McRae. That's some good company for a first-year player to keep.
What does all of this mean for Simmons and the Sixers? Hard to say, but it can't be a bad thing that the rookie point-forward is spending time with a pair of future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Surely he must be learning something.
That's good news for the Sixers, who hope that Simmons can even come close to living up to the lofty comparisons some have drawn to James already.
Tommy Joseph is back in the starting lineup … as he's expected to be for most of the final month of the season. Joseph bats fourth behind third baseman Maikel Franco.
Joseph did not start Tuesday night in the Phillies' 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. The 25-year-old is hitting .251 with 17 home runs and 34 RBIs.
The slugger has a significantly higher average against left-handed pitching than righties, despite clubbing 12 of his 17 homers against right-handed pitchers.
Joseph has yet to faced Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.
In other lineup notes, Tyler Goeddel gets the start in left field and will hit eighth, while A.J. Ellis gets his second start as a Phillie. He'll catch Adam Morgan.
Here is the full lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Freddy Galvis, SS
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Adam Morgan, P
For more on tonight's game, read Steven Tydings' game notes.