Flyers pick up 10th straight at home
The record is probably safe—since the Flyers are only halfway there. But right now it doesn’t seem to matter where they play.
The Flyers just keep on winning. Last night, back home for the first time since before Christmas, the Flyers simply picked up where they left off, scoring three goals in the first 28 minutes, then letting Steve Mason do the rest in a convincing 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
That makes it three straight and nine of their last 11 overall, seven of those on the road. In the process they’ve climbed to second in the Metropolitan, fifth in the East at 23-17-4. Not too shabby considering they started off 1-7
“I think earlier in the year we were finding ways to lose games,’’ said Sean Couturier, who got it started when he cashed in on a fat rebound just 6:27 into play. “Now we’re finding ways to win games, even if we’re down a goal or two. We’re still confident we can come back and score some goals. When we’re up a goal or two, we’re confident that we can close the game.’’
That was the formula in this one, with Zac Rinaldo getting on the board for the first time in 54 games to make it 2-0 late in the first, then rookie Michael Raffl celebrating being named to the Austrian Olympic team with a backhander that slid past Peter Budaj. Andres Meszaros, who’ll play for Slovakia in Sochi next month, assisted on all three goals and helped kill off four Montreal power plays.
That gives the Flyers 19 straight kills over the last six games, with Steve Mason there to erase the few mistakes they did make. His only glitch among 20 shots was a late second period shorthanded goal by Tomas Plekanec.
“I don’t think we’re looking at the streak we have here,’’ said Meszaros, who was a healthy scratch 20 of the first 37 games, but has flourished since Erik Gustafsson’s injury opened up a spot on the defense . “I think the big thing is the work ethic and that’s the difference between the start of the season and now. The most important thing is we’re winning and keeping this thing going.’’
The team that lost seven of its first nine home games has now reeled off 10 in a row—all in regulation. The franchise record is 20, set in 1976 by the then two-time defending Cup champs in an era when there was no overtime or shootouts. They merely went 36-2-2 on Spectrum ice, before losing in the Cup finals to none other than Montreal.
And for what it’s worth the NHL record of 23 belong to the 2012 Red Wings, who did get their share of overtime and shootout wins.
These Flyers, though, would rather focus on tomorrow’s visit by Tampa Bay—where Claude Giroux will be out to show Lightning GM Steve Yzerman he made a mistake leaving him off Team Canada—than look at the big picture.
“We’re winning a lot of different ways,’’ said Craig Berube, who continues to make GM Paul Holmgren look smarter by the way for dumping Peter Laviolette. “But this one is over and we prepare for Saturday. I’m pleased with where we are but on the other hand there is a lot of games left. You’ve got to keep pushing because its tight and there are teams right on our tail.’’
Still, that’s a lot better than a few months ago when the Flyers were staring up at everybody wondering if they’d ever get it going.
“Confidence is big,’’ said Couturier, who scored for the first time in eight games. “Right now we’re confident that we can win games and find a way to win games even if sometimes we’re not in the game. Our goalie makes big saves and we’re confident, we can shift that momentum anytime.”
Ten straight times here. Twenty-two of 36 since that woeful start. Which leaves just one regret for Flyers fans wondering how long they can keep this up.
The playoffs don’t start until April.