Weary Flyers Head to Montreal on Heels of Disappointing Collapse, but Canadiens Down a Key Player

Weary Flyers Head to Montreal on Heels of Disappointing Collapse, but Canadiens Down a Key Player

Thanks to their huge letdown on Friday, not only did the
Flyers miss out on a quality opportunity to make up ground in the standings, but
it puts added pressure on the club to come away with points in the second half
of a back-to-back. That’s no simple task considering they’re on the road and the
Montreal Canadiens are up next in the gauntlet.

The Bullies find themselves back in scramble mode after blowing
a 3-1 first-period lead in New Jersey last night, a roller coaster contest not
entirely unlike the ride their season is on. The Devils got the scoring started
40 seconds into the game, but Philadelphia responded with a three-goal outburst
in a two-and-a-half minute span. Then the lead slowly, painfully slipped away.

The ill-timed pulling of Ilya Bryzgalov from goal was the
last straw, resulting in a quick empty-netter and the final nail in their 5-3 defeat.
Now it’s on to Montreal, to take on an opponent who was idle no less.

The Canadiens are in the midst of a revival after finishing
with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference for 2011-'12. Building off of a
6-3-6 finish last year, Montreal has jumped out to an early 8-4-1 record, and
are sitting just one point behind Boston for first place in the Northeast
Division.

A big reason for their success has been in net, where Carey
Price appears to be back on track after his rough '11-'12, leading all NHL
goaltenders in wins with eight. Fortunately for the Flyers, it appears they’ve
caught a break there.

TSN’s Cassie Campbell reports Price is battling the flu, and
backup Peter Budaj will make the start. Budaj is 0-1-1 with a rough 4.32 GAA
and .866 SV%. The eight-year veteran made one start against the Flyers for
Montreal last season, surrendering four goals in a loss. Danny Briere paced his
mates with two power-play tallies, while Matt Read and Kimmo Timonen also lit
the lamp.

Other than the day-night situation in net, the Canadiens have
been a solid all-around team, despite the roster lacking a lot of star power.
Veterans center Tomas Plekanic (11) and defenseman Andrei Markov (10)) lead the
team in points, but they are getting sizeable contributions from rookie
forwards Alex Galchenkyuk (8) and Brendan Gallagher (6).

This game's outcome could hinge on special teams even more than usual, as no team in
the league has drawn more whistles on average than Montreal – both ways – while
the Flyers are ninth in total power play opportunities, seventh in times
short-handed. Both teams are middle of the road-ish in all conversion rates, so
we’ll see who’s on their game or gets the calls/bounces.

In other news, Timonen did not play the third period of last
night’s loss in New Jersey due to an unknown lower-body injury. No update yet
about his availability tonight, but currently he is described as day-to-day. With
Andrej Meszaros still a week or two away, the Flyers look very thin on the back
end if Kimmo can’t go. [Update: Erik Gustafsson was called up from Adirondack and is in the lineup, but not necessarily for Timonen.]

No confirmation just yet on who will be in goal for the Flyers, either. Bryz had ordinary numbers in two appearances versus Montreal last season (1-1, 3.02, .885), and while we wouldn't lay the blame on him for last night's disaster, it wasn't his best outing of the year. We'll see if Brian Boucher gets the cal for his first start this year. [Update: it's Boosh.]

Big two points on the line here, as Philadelphia is still
hovering around the basement. When the final horn sounds, they will have
completed exactly one-third of their schedule, so very soon these playoff races
are going to get serious.

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Joel Embiid officially out for rest of season

Joel Embiid officially out for rest of season

MIAMI -- In the end, he played 31 games.

Joel Embiid's rookie season is officially over, the Sixers announced on Wednesday. Embiid has not suited up since Jan. 27 and has missed 17 of the Sixers' last 18 games because of a left knee injury. An MRI taken Monday revealed a bigger meniscus tear than initially diagnosed but significant healing in the bone bruise.

The Sixers have only 23 games remaining and are not in playoff contention, lessening the urgency of Embiid’s return this season. Embiid concludes his rookie season averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.45 blocks in just 25.4 minutes per game.

"The assessment of Monday's follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid's left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan," Sixers chief medical director Dr. Jonathan Glashow said in statement released by the team.

Embiid suffered the injury on Jan. 20 against the Trail Blazers, played one game against the Rockets, and has not suited up since then. Last week the Sixers had targeted a return date of March 3 but changed that status changed to "out indefinitely" after Embiid still was experiencing swelling. 

During an MRI taken the night of the injury, the results also revealed Embiid had a slight meniscus tear which the team did not believe was related to the contusion. 

Prior to the announcement, there was a strong reaction from the fans who were looking for transparency on the big man's status. Embiid expressed his displeasure last Thursday with the way the Sixers managed after he was informed he would miss multiple weeks. 

"I wasn’t too happy with the way it was kind of handled before," Embiid said at the time. "I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn’t happy with the way it was handled."  

The following day, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said he would have done things differently. 

"We should have just said 'out indefinitely,' even though the treatment was still day to day," Colangelo said. "But the fact that there was uncertainty, I'll own that." 

Embiid's short NBA career has been marked by injuries from the very start until now. He sat out his first two seasons with foot injuries. This year the Sixers took an ultra-cautious approach to their starred big man. He was placed under a carefully monitored minute restriction (capped at 28) and did not play on both nights of back-to-back games. Embiid reiterated throughout the season that after missing two years, he was exercising patience to benefit his long-term health.

When Embiid was on the court, though, he shined. He made NBA basketball look easy and he had his way at and away from the basket. Embiid did not appear in enough games to qualify him on the leaders' charts, but based on his raw stats he led all rookies in scoring and in rebounds. Teammate Dario Saric is second in both categories but still trailed Embiid by 8.9 points and 1.6 rebounds. 

Embid ranks second among all players in blocks behind Jazz big man Rudy Gobert. In his first 31 games, he recorded nine double-doubles, which is first among rookies even though he has not played in over a month. 

Embiid scored a career-high 33 points on Dec. 18 against the Nets and 14 rebounds on Jan. 14 against the Knicks. He dished five assists in three games and swatted five blocks in two contests. 

The announcement of Embiid's status comes less than one week after Ben Simmons was ruled out for the season. Like Embiid did, Simmons will miss his entire first year with the Sixers. He suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot during training camp. Simmons received a bone marrow injection on Monday speed up the healing. Both Embiid and Simmons are projected to be the centerpieces of the Sixers' future when they return next season. 

Embiid is with the Sixers in Miami. Expect to see him around the team for the remainder of the season as he stays involved to further their team chemistry for the 2017-18 campaign.

While he works toward his return to the court and eyes his next official game months down the road, he will embrace his mantra. 

As he's always done, Embiid will trust the process.

Flyers trade Mark Streit to Lightning for forward Valtteri Filppula, picks

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Flyers trade Mark Streit to Lightning for forward Valtteri Filppula, picks

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Everyone knew there was a good chance the Flyers would try to move Mark Streit at the trade deadline.

What no one expected, however, was that they would trade him to Tampa Bay for a player who is coming back with a salary nearly identical to the one they are losing and has another year left on  his contract.

That's what transpired late Wednesday at the deadline when Streit left to the Lightning in exchange for longtime 32-year-old versatile forward Valtteri Filppula, who will make $5 million next season. He turns 33 later this month.

Streit, whose contract ends this summer, was making $5.25 million. Because Filppula, who spent eight years in the Detroit Red Wings organization, had a no movement clause, he has to be protected this summer in the NHL expansion draft.

The Flyers also received a 4th round pick and conditional 7th round pick.

Filppula will add scoring on the wing, but he has had declining numbers since joining Tampa in 2013-14 when he posted a career-high 25 goals and career-high 58 points.

Streit had a no movement clause in his contract, but also had 10 clubs he could be traded to and this was one of them. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has had a working relationship with Tampa GM Steve Yzerman in the past with the Braydon Coburn trade that brought them Radko Gudas.

Weal to the Phantoms
In an unrelated move, the Flyers have loaned Jordan Weal to the Phantoms to make him available for the AHL playoffs.

More coming...