To Beat the Predators: Flyers Invite Nashville in for a Little Visit

To Beat the Predators: Flyers Invite Nashville in for a Little Visit

After a week off for the All-Star Game and a mind-numbing shutout in Tampa, the Flyers have returned home for a four-game stand hosting the Predators, Stars, Hurricanes, and Kings. All are pretty solid teams, with the Preds and Stars occupying the fourth and third seeds in the Western Conference and the Hurricanes and Kings knocking on the eighth-seed door. 

Nashville is coming off of three straight losses spanning over the break. Two of those came against the Flames, with the second being a 3-2 shootout L. In those three losses, they've scored only four total goals, which is in keeping with their overall low output for the season (2.5 GPG, 25th in the NHL). But Pekka Rinne has been a stingy bugger in net for them, second to only Tim Thomas in both GAA (2.10) and save percentage (.929). 

Just what the Flyers needed coming off a shutout to Dwayne Roloson, right? A date with Pekka Rinne? Wrong! Rinne will sit tonight... Goaltending matchup and more, including a video on Bobby Clarke's banner night, below.

Anders Lindback will start in net for the Predators, and perhaps coming as a surprise to many Flyers fans, Sergei Bobrovsky will get a chance to wipe away a forgettable three-goal first period against the Lightning. The only thing we've come to expect from Peter Laviolette's goalie carousel is that he'll usually start the guy who's "hottest." After a below-average if also somewhat unlucky 20 minutes for Bob, the Flyers got some solid play from Brian Boucher. 

Maybe Lavvy wants to see how the kid responds to getting the hook. Maybe he wants to see if one of these guys will take over the job now that the second (less than) half has started. Who knows. 

More important than who is in net is whether the Flyers will be able to generate more pressure around Lindback, something they failed to do to Roloson. They are usually very good at camping out, crossing with timely screens, and especially bearing down on the net two at a time, with a pass finding a forward's tape within a foot or two of the crease. Looking through Roloson's big saves in the NHL.com video console, most weren't really anything too special, with little in the way of chaos around his crease. 

Lindback is a 6'6 rookie out of Sweden, but he's currently 10-4-2 with two shutouts, handling his workload fairly well. Like Bob, he'll also be looking to put his last start behind him, having been shelled for six goals in Chicago two weeks ago. 

Before the game, the Flyers will give Bobby Clarke his banner from the Spectrum, which is quite literally in ruins now. If ever anyone deserved the honor of a number hanging in the rafters, it's Clarkie.

 

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid will play Monday night against the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center.

The reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month is still unable to play back-to-back games. He'll likely be out Tuesday night when the Sixers travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies.

The home crowd will get see Embiid but they may not get to see him paired with fellow big man Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is questionable on Monday with an illness. The pair played together for nearly 13 minutes in last Friday's blowout loss to the Magic. They each recorded a double-double.

Robert Covington, who sprained his left knee in the loss to Orlando and is now battling the flu, is out against Denver. Jerryd Bayless, who's missed the last four games while stilling battling a left wrist injury, is also out on Monday.

For the season, Embiid leads all rookies with averages of 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in 13 games. 

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

CINCINNATI — There’s one thing the Eagles are very consistent at, and it’s nothing to be proud of.

The Eagles continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, and with 10 more infractions in their 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, they increased their 12-game total to 100 — second-most in the NFL this year.

Five times they’ve been called for 10 or more penalties, and that’s one shy of the most games in franchise history with double-digit penalties in a season.

And there’s four games to go.

The Eagles have been cited for penalties seven or more times in all but three games. They’re on pace for the third-most penalties in franchise history.

Earlier this year, the Eagles committed seven or more penalties in four straight games for the first time in six years. The last month, they did that again.

This is not a disciplined football team. Not remotely.

“The penalties are hurting us,” said Brandon Graham, who was called for a personal foul after a low hit on Andy Dalton Sunday. “You kind of get frustrated a little bit and sometimes a lot of stuff starts happening. But we have to clean that up.”

The Eagles are on pace for 133 penalties. The franchise high is 138, set in 1994 by a Rich Kotite team that lost its last seven games. The 2005 team — torn apart by the Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens feud — committed 134.

The only team with more penalties than the Eagles this year is the Raiders with 112. They always lead the league in penalties and at least this year they’re winning anyway.

The Eagles aren’t. Their lack of discipline has contributed greatly to their current stretch of seven losses in a nine-game span.

For the Eagles, it’s been just another part of the season that’s gotten away from coach Doug Pederson and his players.

“Penalties have got to stop,” Pederson said Sunday night. “Obviously, the turnovers and things like that too. It’s just not characteristic of how we coach and how we play.”

But it’s how this team has played. Consistently.

Only against the Bears, Cowboys and Giants have the Eagles committed fewer than seven penalties. When they commit 10 or more, they’re 1-4

“Some of it is focus, and some of it is anticipating the snap count,” Pederson said. “Some of it is a little on the quarterback, because we’re using so many snap counts and cadences to get indicators from the defense to tip their hat a little bit.

“Guys are geared up. We’ve got to focus in on that, because it’s something we work on every single week. Obviously the silent count we work on every week.”

Here’s a breakdown of the Eagles’ 100 penalties:

12 — Jason Peters

8 — Jason Kelce

7 — Nolan Carroll

6 — Zach Ertz, Allen Barbre

5 — Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox

4 — Dorial Green-Beckham, Brandon Graham, Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins

3 — Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Najee Goode, Marcus Smith, Brent Celek

2 — Jaylen Watkins, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Destiny Vaeao, Trey Burton, Matt Tobin

1 — Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles, Ron Brooks, Jordan Matthews, Wendell Smallwood, Vinny Curry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Donnie Jones, Bennie Logan, Chris Maragos, Leodis McKelvin, Halapoulivaaati Vaitai.

And here’s a breakdown of the types of penalties the Eagles have been hit with:

22 — False start

16 — Offensive holding

10 — Unncessary roughness

8 — Defensive pass interference, offensive pass interference

7 — Defensive offsides

4 — Delay of game, illegal formation, defensive holding

3 — Roughing the passer, facemask, neutral zone infraction

2 — Chop block, defensive 12 men on the field, encroachment, illegal contact, running into the kicker

1 — Unsportsmanlike conduct, horse collar tackle, illegal block above the waist, illegal shift, offensive 12 men on the field, offensive offsides, illegal use of hands