Don't look now, but the Flyers have gone streaking

Don't look now, but the Flyers have gone streaking

Today’s Philadelphia Flyers post is brought to you by the number 10.

That’s because by virtue of their 3-1 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the Flyers have won 10 straight home games.

It’s the Orange and Black’s longest home winning streak since the 2003-2004 season when they eventually reached the Eastern Conference Final. And it’s been quite an impressive streak.

The Flyers haven’t lost in the friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center in over two months. The last time the Flyers lost in South Philly, Claude Giroux hadn’t even scored his first goal of the season yet.

But why have the Flyers been so good at home over the last 10 games? There are a few reasons.

First and foremost, they’ve scored a ton of goals in that span. As a matter of fact, the Flyers have outscored opponents 39-17 over that run. The scoring has been balanced, too. Led by Giroux with seven, goals have been scored by 17 different Flyers over that span. Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds are right behind Giroux with five goals apiece over that stretch.

During the home win streak, they’ve even gotten goals from defensemen, which something they sorely lacked at the beginning of the season. Five different Flyers defensemen have scored goals in that span. That doesn’t include Andrej Meszaros, who had three assists Wednesday night in the win over Montreal.

The goaltending has been stellar as well.

Steve Mason has started nine of the 10 games and let up just 16 goals. That’s good for a 1.60 goals-against average. That’ll win you a lot of games. In his one start against Buffalo on Nov. 21, Ray Emery gave up just one goal in a 4-1 win.

The Flyers have also won 10 of their last 13 games overall. The thing about that is only five of those 13 games have been played at home and the team had been on the road for two weeks prior to Wednesday night.

In layman’s terms, that means the Flyers have been playing just as well on the road as they have at home recently. So well, in fact, that they’ve pulled themselves out of the basement and now sit all alone in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 50 points.

Why have they been so good over the last few weeks?

It’s the same story as the home winning streak.

Starting with the Dec. 12 win over the Canadiens, the Flyers have outscored their opponents 47-34 over a span of 13 games. Again, the scoring has been balanced.  Led by Simmonds with nine, goals have been scored by 13 different Flyers in that span. Giroux is just behind Simmonds with seven goals in that span.

Again, the defense has chipped in with some offensive production. Four different Flyers defensemen have scored over the last thirteen games and Mark Streit has four goals alone in that span.

Per usual, the goaltending has been superb.

Mason has started 10 of the last 13 games and given up just 25 goals. That’s good for a 1.92 goals-against average. While Emery has given up nine goals in his three starts over that stretch, he’s won two of those three starts. Plus, that number is a bit inflated to due to overall dud the Flyers laid in Columbus when they gave up six goals in a loss on Dec. 21.

The Orange and Black will look to make it 11 in a row at home and keep the good vibes going when they welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to South Philly for an afternoon matinee on Saturday.

Though without star Steven Stamkos and starting goalie Ben Bishop due to injuries, the Tampa is still a dangerous team. Tampa currently sits in second place in the Atlantic Division and took the only previous meeting between the teams this season with a 4-2 victory in Florida on Nov. 27.

It’s a double dip for the Flyers this weekend as they’ll then head north to take on the New York Rangers at Madsion Square Garden on Sunday night.  Every Flyers/Rangers is important but with as tight as the Metropolitan Division standings are, this one will be especially important.

Plus, keep in mind that the Flyers haven’t won at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 20, 2011. Ouch.

Also, if you haven’t heard, Read is out indefinitely with what has been deemed a concussion  and Zac Rinaldo will miss about six weeks or so with a high ankle sprain. Tye McGinn has been called up to take Rinaldo’s place.

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox wasn’t at practice with the rest of his Eagles teammates on Tuesday -- well, 86 of them -- and that’s okay. It’s May, and participation in offseason training activities is strictly voluntary. Furthermore, if Cox wants to take a vacation, he is entitled to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cox really should be at OTAs. The Eagles gave him a contract potentially worth over $100 million just last year, and with that comes an obligation. Cox arguably did not live up to that contract last season, too, so he could use the practice. And if he needed a vacation, why didn’t he take one during the three months he was off from work?

As far as I’m concerned, both takes are true. Cox is free to do as he wishes, and people with careers in sports should understand better than anybody the strain it places on families, so I can’t blame most of these guys for taking a little extra time. Then again, this drama with Cox seems like it was completely avoidable, and looks especially bad in light of his contract and disappointing season, so I can’t blame people for being angry, either.

Yet, Cox’s absence almost certainly will have no bearing on the outcome of any games this season. It’s not a sign of disrespect for Eagles coach Doug Pederson or that he’s losing the locker room. It’s not going to send a message to teammates that participation is not expected or important.

Cox missing OTAs on Tuesday was of no consequence to the Eagles at all. By training camp, it will be a forgotten footnote in the story of the 2017 season, only to be mentioned in future Mays whenever somebody else exercises the option to skip a voluntary practice.

Even then, there is clearly a double standard, because the reaction isn’t the same for everybody. When Brandon Graham missed last week while he was believed to be “holding out” for a new contract -- can’t hold out when it’s voluntary -- there were equal parts rage and support for the cause. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are out this week, too, and while some displeasure has been voiced, those absences were largely met with apathy.

Marcus Smith was missing on Tuesday as well, and it’s not immediately clear why. Pederson made no mention of the former first-round draft pick, and practice was almost over before reporters bothered to notice. In theory, this is a huge mistake, because Smith is fighting for a roster spot. We also don’t know where he is -- perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation -- so it’s unreasonable to jump to conclusions or become outraged.

This is the part where once again we remind everybody that it’s May and these practices are non-contact. And while Cox going away for a week will still be indefensible to some, it never hurts to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Maybe, for whatever reason, he was literally unable to make the trip at a time that would not interfere with Eagles business. Maybe he was simply getting grief at home because he's away so much.

That undoubtedly will be impossible for some people to accept. And, hey, maybe Cox just doesn’t care. Regardless, the practices are voluntary, Cox is expected back next week, and absolutely nobody is going to be talking about this eight months from now, eight weeks from now, or even eight days from now.