Scenes From a Tough Loss

Scenes From a Tough Loss

Just a few notes on the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Capitals on Thursday night...

  • The home team did a great job staying out of the box, tallying just 4 PIM. Still, penalty calls against the team accounted for a 2-goal swing on the scoreboard, with the Caps scoring on a first period power play, and the Flyers having what would have been the game-tying goal wiped out by a penalty called on Mike Knuble.
  • Speaking of which, I don't remember the last time I heard a louder "Asshole" chant. The goal light went on, the Pennywise started up, and the place went nuts. 2-2. Then it became clear that it was nullified, and most people thought Knuble was called for goalie interference, which hadn't been called on an earlier play in which the Caps had a goal immediately called off because Marty Biron was interfered with. The Caps weren't assessed a penalty, with the ref stating it was incidental contact (replay appears to confirm this), but seeing Knuble carted off, followed by the replay showing that he lightly pushed his defender, who flopped hard on the ice as the puck passed by Jose Theodore. The chants rained down for a few minutes, first "Assssshole," then "Hey Ref, You Suck!" Simon Gagne being hauled down on a questionable play by Alex Ovechkin during a breakaway didn't help matters for the zebras.
  • Anyone else think booing Ovechkin every time he touches the puck is kinda lame? That kind of treatment should be reserved for true offenders, not just for any rival's superstar. 
  • How sweet was this?
  • Marty Biron played a great game, giving up only a power play goal and an Ovechkin rocket after a turnover behind his crease.
  • The Flyers led in most statistical categories, including shots, faceoffs, hits, and (fewer) penalty minutes. They put up 38 shots, but the key stat (which sadly we don't have) was the number of missed shots they had. So many pucks seemed to sail high or wide, or trickle just outside the goal mouth.
  • Two categories they didn't do so well in (other than goals-for): takeaways and giveaways. Lots of very poor passing on power plays and even strength.
  • Fans of every sport in any city love to hate on obviously middle-of-the-road players. Special-teamers filling in on D, middle relievers, reserve infielders, etc... The dumbass behind me screamed at Andrew Alberts all night, as if not winning the Norris Trophy this season would somehow be a breach of his contract. Alberts, by the way, was even for the night and registered three hits in a game in which the Caps scored only twice. Not surprisingly, Arron Asham and Riley Cote were hearing it from this guy too. They are members of the fourth line. Out of four.
  • Dan Carcillo is having a slow start at becoming a fan favorite, as he was held off the score sheet while Scottie Upshall netted his third goal since being traded to Phoenix. Gotta be hard for Carcillo, first being under the microscope because he's the guy the Flyers traded a popular player away for, and then Upshall starts tearing it up for the other team. One reason for Upshall's increased production is that he's averaging just under 5 minutes more ice time per game since joining the Coyotes.
  • It's a relief to see that Danny Briere is likely healthy again. He got hit a few times, but got up without any issues after every one. Hopefully it lasts, and the funk the Flyers power play was in tonight doesn't.
  • Up next is a weekend home-and-home with the Rangers, starting Saturday afternoon in Philly, and a game in Detroit on Tuesday.

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”