Wings Win, Flyers' Special Teams Are Not Magnificent

Wings Win, Flyers' Special Teams Are Not Magnificent

For the second consecutive weekend, the Flyers played a packed schedule yet will head into Monday without a single point to show for it. Their effort against the Detroit Red Wings wasn't enough to keep them from tying the NHL's mark for consecutive home wins, which is now jointly held at 20 by this Detroit team, the '74-'75 Flyers, and the '29-'30 Montreal Canadiens. It wasn't enough to help us forget a seven-game losing streak to the New York Rangers. But it wasn't that bad overall, either.

The play on special teams? Yeah, that was pretty awful. Again.

After giving up three power play goals on seven opportunities to the Rangers on Saturday, the Flyers allowed another two on the man advantage Sunday night to the Red Wings. To top it off, they didn't score a power play goal of their own in either contest, and haven't in their past four games after going six straight with one.

Special team were the difference in this one. The Flyers are currently lost in their efforts to  tie up sticks, clear screens, and break passing lanes when down a man, and teams are salivating at the common site of a Philadelphia player on his way to the box. The coaches have their work cut out for them, but fortunately a few days to work on things.

Brayden Schenn led the way on the score sheet, notching his first ever two-goal game. He's been on fire lately, making the most of some loose pucks around the net.

Hard not to credit Red Wings goalie Joey MacDonald with at least one of the assists on Sunday night, and a subpar effort on the second. MacDonald flubbed a pass from behind his net, which was stolen by Danny Briere and passed to a wide open Schenn in front of a wide open net. That goal tied the game after Niklas Kronwall had opened the scoring on a first period power play, and Schenn would score again to get things started in the second. He now has eight on the season.

Similar to the Rangers though, the Red Wings would quickly answer each Flyers goal from the second period on. Three minutes after Schenn scored the go-ahead in the second, Pavel Datsyuk put home a power play equalizer. Max Talbot then scored his 14th of the season, only to have Henrik Zetterberg answer two minutes laster. Johan Franzen put the Red Wings ahead for good in the third period.

Bob took both losses on the weekend, making a few very good saves but otherwise falling under the "unremarkable" mantle. Hard to hang the losses on him with so many power play goals factoring in.

Notes:
Max Talbot's goal set a career high, 14. Wayne Simmonds also raised his career mark this week.

The Red Wings wore patches in remembrance of the Lokomotiv players and coaches who died in their team's plane crash last fall. The initials Brad McCrimmon, well known as both a Flyer and a Red Wing, Ruslan Salei, and Stefan Liv appeared on the players shoulders. Those jerseys, as well as the ones worn by the Flyers, will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the families of those three players.

The Flyers are mercifully off until Thursday, when they'll host the Buffalo Sabres and try to reverse their trend of losing at home. On Saturday, the Penguins will be in town before the Flyers go on the road for four straight. With five of the last six games ending in L's, we're grateful for a few nights off from each other, but optimistic there are points to be had in the coming week.  

Video Highlights:

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers' return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers' return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.