Tonight: Blackhawks Return to Scene of the Hoist; 247 Finale

Tonight: Blackhawks Return to Scene of the Hoist; 247 Finale

Two Junes ago, the Chicago Blackhawks tore us to pieces by lifting the Stanley Cup on the Flyers' home ice. As much as we don't mind their fans being denied the pleasure of watching that live, it still burns that they got to celebrate in our barn, probably treating the locker room like a frat house at a school you didn't go to.
They return tonight, ushering in the post-Winter Classic portion of the season, and with no semblance of a soft landing. The Blackhawks are currently second in the Western Conference with 52 points, and they're probably pissed off that they lost to the Oilers on Monday.

After the game, we're treated to the final installment of HBO's 24/7. And I do mean treated, because despite knowing how it ends, we also know that's only going to be a small portion of the show we've seen to be pretty great from start to finish. A closer look at the Flyers' night ahead below.

Bryz Is Back to Exorcise His Rights
Michael Leighton's five-hole may not currently be on the Flyers roster (though it's not geographically far away this weekend either), but the ghost of that goal continues to drift along with the team. It was here before Leighton, and we're not sure it's ever leaving. It was seen most recently when sniper extraordinaire Mike Rupp somehow slipped a poorly angled shot under Sergei Bobrovsky's armpit to tie the Winter Classic.

Now that the true regular season has resumed, Peter Laviolette is going back to the goalie tasked with exorcising the ghost before season's end. Hopefully sooner. Hopefully starting tonight. Ilya Bryzgalov is your Peter Venkman.

Reading Rainbow
With Jaromir Jagr shelved due to a groin strain, Matt Read took the first line reps at practice and will get a chance to be in some Claude Giroux highlights tonight. Makes perfect sense given that the rookie has found quite a few of his own already this season. Read's earned the shot while the Czech star gets a rest.

No Chico
Dan Carcillo is one Blackhawk who won't come out of the tunnel with his team tonight. Definition of a prior offender, he's been handed a seven-game suspension for his hit on Edmonton's Tom Gilbert. Honestly, the timing sucks. We were kind of hoping to see what the thrill of facing his former fans would do to his PIM tendencies...

Yes Razor!
Ray Emery wasn't here long, and was hurt while he was, with the injury feared to be career-threatening. But, surprisingly enough, he became somewhat well-liked among the fanbase. So aside from tonight, when he'll start in net for the Blackhawks, Emery probably still has quite a few fans in Philly and may even get some cheers when he's announced.

24/7
We'd have a lot more to look forward to after the game if the Flyers had won the Winter Classic, obv… But the rest of Winter Classic Weekend was a total win, and a lot of the footage will likely bring us a little closer to that. Plus, we'll have the Penguins win… But that's it for on-ice joys, as the Flyers haven't put more than one in the win column since the last airing.

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers got some swagger back Sunday night.

But especially so on the power play, which entered Sunday's clash just 2 for 19 over the last six games.

Two markers on the man advantage helped the Flyers edge the Canucks, 3-2, at Rogers Arena in Vanvoucer (see Instant Replay).

“It all comes back to finding a way to produce – and they did that tonight,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had called for his power-play participants to rediscover that swagger.

Hakstol’s club won for the first time in its last nine games in Western Canada. More importantly, the Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference.

Thanks to the power-play success, the Flyers built a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes and then hung on, atoning for a sub-par effort in a one-sided loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night.

The Flyers converted two of three power plays while blanking the Canucks on all four of their man advantages. The loss prevented the Canucks (26-28-6) from getting closer to a Western Conference playoff berth.

“I thought we were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren't going in,” said Flyers center Brayden Schenn, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 2:38 of the second period. “Tonight, we tightened up defensively again from Edmonton's game and were able to score a few more goals. It's a huge two points going home."

Wayne Simmonds, also on the power play, and Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ other goals.

“We needed a win,” Simmonds said. “Especially after the game in Edmonton, this is good for the morale."

Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on all three goals, recording the first three-point night of his career.

Schenn’s winning goal came only a minute and 27 seconds after Voracek gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second by sending Sean Couturier’s huge rebound into a gaping net behind Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. Voracek’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

How did long sought-after goal make him feel?

"Like I scored a goal,” deadpanned Voracek. “We won the game. That’s the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. Special teams were huge tonight. I liked our power play. We were going all 60 minutes. This one kept us in the race."

The Flyers were a well-rested team thanks to a two-day break between games and a three-day break before the start of the road trip. The Canucks, on the other hand, were playing their second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip. But there was still considerable suspense over the final 30 minutes.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen tallied for the Canucks, who are known as comeback artists, at 3:43 and 12:42 of the second, respectively, before the Flyers shut Vancouver down the rest of the way. Voracek indicated the Flyers were not nervous in the final frame.

"I don't think we changed anything to be honest,” he said. We were pretty tight in the neutral zone. We didn't give them much. When we had a couple of breakdowns, [Michal Neuvirth] was on his act.”

Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 shots as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 28-20. He enjoyed a much better start Sunday, holding the Canucks scoreless in the opening period after allowing four goals on his first 12 shots on Thursday in Edmonton. One of his better saves came with just over a minute into the game as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close.

"I felt good,” said Neuvirth. “I have been practicing well and playing with confidence. The last game, it didn't work out. I put that one behind me and restarted my mind and got back to work tonight.”

“I thought he was excellent,” said Hakstol. “He was calm and settled in there. You can go back through that 60 minutes and you can pick out three or four pretty darned good saves.”

Neuvirth excelled while making his fourth consecutive start and sixth in the past seven games overall.

“It feels good,” he said of the heavy workload. “It feels better when we win.”

But he was not about to get too excited. The Flyers have a tough clash at home Wednesday against NHL-best Washington and a road game Saturday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field against the rival Penguins as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

“We have a tough schedule coming and we have to be ready,” Neuvirth said.

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

All hail the pick swap.

When word got out that the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers fans on Twitter rejoiced.

On July 10, 2015, the Sixers traded away the rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović, and, in return, received an unprotected 2019 first round pick, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and the right to swap first-round selections in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

The Cousins move appears to significantly weaken the Kings, who are 24-33 and just 2.5 games better than the Sixers, so the pick swap looks healthier than ever.

But, for now, enjoy some samplings of Sixers Twitter from after the trade.

Here are some of the best tweets.