Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town: Sixers Host Wolves for Friday Nighter

Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town: Sixers Host Wolves for Friday Nighter

Though it could hardly be classified as surprising, exactly, last Tuesday's loss at home to the Mavericks was still a tough pill to swallow. Yeah, the Mavs are probably a better team, but the Sixers were right there the whole game, and only came a few fourth-quarter jumpers away from pulling off a win that would have, as one of our commenters succinctly put it, put the league on notice. Now the Sixers have to be re-evaluated as a "Well they're good, but are they really all that good?" Which is fair, probably, but still disappointing.

At the very least, one thing you've got to give the Sixers--they've been beating the teams they should. The Sixers haven't lost to a team with a losing record since January, when the 22-24 Grizzlies beat them at the beginning of a hot streak that would eventually land them in the West playoff hunt. The Sixers hope to keep that streak alive as they host the Minnesota Timberwolves--a dangerous team, but one that a Really Good team should be able to handle fairly readily.

The Wolves currently sit at 15-47, good for last place in the West standings. They've been bad everywhere, but they've been particularly bad on the road, where they're an absolutely miserable 5-25. Despite yet another trip to the lottery, though, they've at least been home to one of the great breakout stories of the '10-'11 season: Power forward and rebounding machine Kevin Love, whose streak of 48 consecutive double-doubles is closing in on the 51-long stretch of Moses Malone in '78-'79. Coming off a 20-20 in a win at Detroit, Love shows no sign of slowing, and might be able to feast on the boards against the oft-undersized Sixers.

7:00 tip from the Wells Fargo Center. ""It's imperative to win those games at home," said Elton Brand in advance of tonight's game. "Coach said about a month ago, ‘We don't lose two home games in a row...It's a big deal for us [to win Friday]." Word. Let's do it.

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Cesar Hernandez returns to the Phillies' punchless lineup on Saturday afternoon against the Reds (4 p.m./TCN).

Hernandez, who missed Friday night's 5-2 loss with a groin injury, is back at second base and leading off. Hernandez has led off in all 44 games he's started this season. The fifth-year pro has struggled after getting off to a torrid start. He's hitting just .185 (10 for 54) over his last 14 games.

After bouncing around the lineup, centerfielder Odubel Herrera returns to his customary spot in the two-hole. Herrera's season is a microcosm of the Phils' woeful offense. An All-Star in 2016, Herrera is hitting just .227 this season. Manager Pete Mackanin hopes the Venezuelan will hit his way out of it soon (see story).

Here is the rest of today's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.