Video: All hell breaks loose after Flyers hang on for 2-1 victory over the Habs

Video: All hell breaks loose after Flyers hang on for 2-1 victory over the Habs

The obvious storyline heading into the Flyers’ Thursday evening tilt with the Montreal Canadiens was the return of Danny Briere to Wells Fargo Center for the first time since he was bought out by the Flyers and subsequently signed with the Canadiens this past summer.

And while Briere didn’t score despite registering three shots on goal in 14 minutes, 13 seconds of ice time, that isn’t the reason most people won’t be talking about him after Thursday’s game.

Philadelphia hung on for an important, 2-1 victory over Montreal but the water-cooler talk on Friday will be all about the scrum that ensued after the final horn between Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason and a couple of Habs.

Check it out for yourself:

Insert uncreative, unfunny line from a writer not based in Philadelphia about the Flyers and goalie fights here.

Anyway, from that video, it’s difficult to see exactly what started the melee but Mason was trying to protect his crease and get a good look at the puck as the Canadiens pressured with just a few seconds remaining. He gave Habs’ captain Brian Gionta a shot to the back. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Goalies do that all the time.

Gionta must’ve taken offense to it and said something incredibly flattering to Mason about how good his 20-save performance was because Mason responded with a crosscheck to the chest. Then it got real.

Gionta and fellow Hab Brendan Gallagher – who are 5 feet 7 inches tall and 5 feet 8 inches tall, respectively - jumped Mason. Matt Read jumped to his goalie’s aid and tried to tangle with Gallagher but the linesmen stepped in before long.  Gallagher then proceeded to mouth off to the Flyers bench on his way to the locker room. Scott Hartnell, of all people, had to hold back Steve Downie from doing something stupid with the rest of the Montreal players at the red line.

The best part was after the ruckus when Ray Emery did his best Mr. Miyagi impression and smiled and congratulated Mason like Mason just gave Gionta and Gallagher the crane kick.

All that aside, it was a big win for the Flyers.

They responded nicely with a full, 60-minute effort and gave up just 21 Montreal shots a night after allowing seven goals and taking a shellacking in Chicago.

Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux – who played on the same line for the first time after Hartnell was bumped down to the second line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn - lit the lamp for the Flyers. The goals were the players’ second and sixth on the season, respectively.

The Canadiens cut the lead to one with just under a minute remaining but the Flyers were able to hang on.

The win enabled Philadelphia to stay just two points behind Carolina for the last Metropolitan Division playoff spot and just four points behind Toronto for the last Wild Card playoff spot.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”