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.

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

After being in the middle of trade rumors over the last few months, Nerlens Noel appears to frustrated with his situation with the Sixers, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

The Sixers have three starting-caliber centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who's now healthy — heading into this season.

"I think it's just silly," Noel told Pompey. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court. But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense.

"And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The Sixers flirted with having two big men on the court at the same time last season, with Noel and Okafor but with no real success. 

He has a point, and the team knows it.

During the summer, reports swirled saying the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor for backcourt help.

Noel, who's in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't appear to believe the current situation will work.

"I think something needs to happen," he said.

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

When Darren Sproles caught the nifty touch pass from Carson Wentz around midfield, there was little doubt about what would happen next.

"Touchdown," running back Kenjon Barner said after the Eagles' stunning 34-3 shellacking of the Steelers (see Instant Replay)
 
Really? With that many yards to go?

"Touchdown," he said. "As soon as he caught the ball. There was nobody there. That guy in the open field — you're not going to bring him down by yourself. With that much space — touchdown."

Barner wasn't the only one.

"Man, it's Sproles! Did you think he was going to get tackled?" receiver Nelson Agholor said incredulously. 

Uhh …

"Man, listen, it's Darren Sproles, and if you second-guessed him, then I don't know what you're thinking," he said. "I'm surprised if he gets tackled."

So is center Jason Kelce. 

"I was actually celebrating before he scored the touchdown, because I watched the whole thing unfold," Kelce said. "It was just a great play. [Wentz] scrambles out and then has the common sense to when the defender comes to him to dump it over top to Sproles, and that dude, once he gets the ball in space, it's incredibly special."

It sure was. 

First, Wentz stepped away from charging defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who had gotten away from Allen Barbre. 

“I came out and saw Sproles and he just turned up the field,” Wentz said. “Anytime that you can put it in [his hands], something special can happen on any play, and he did the rest of it.” 

Wentz did a little more than that (see story). After escaping the sack, he rushed to his right and made a right turn. Then he parallelled the line of scrimmage, drawing linebacker Ryan Shazier toward him — and allowing Sproles to get wide open.

Whoops.

"I thought he crossed the line of scrimmage, so I ran up," Shazier said. "It was my fault."

Sproles caught the pass, snaked his way the remaining 50 yards, spinning Steelers rookie safety Sean Davis around a couple times and watching rookie corner Artie Burns flail at him helplessly right before crossing the goal line.

"When they do that, it kind of gets everyone off their job when he extends the play like that," Davis said. "Me being a deep player, I just tried to buy us some time once I saw that we got broken down and let the defense rally up, and it's just a good play [by] him."

An amazing play. It was a 73-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the third quarter, a 3rd-and-8, and put the Eagles up 20-3 (see 10 observations). It was the second-longest catch of Sproles' career and longest since 2009 while with the Chargers (an 81-yarder vs. Baltimore). It was easily the longest TD of Wentz’s career and a main reason he was able to become only the second rookie in team history to reach 300 passing yards in a game (Nick Foles is the other).

“It was so much fun,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Those are the kinds of plays you can’t design. It’s players making plays. … Sproles did his thing and wiggled down there, and it was fun to watch.”

That’s what Agholor should have done. Just watch.

"I was trying to chase him down and almost pulled my hamstring," Agholor said. 

"You see those moves he put on them? Pffft. And DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) ran downfield — that downfield block. Think about that. We were having a lot of fun tonight man, and I'm very happy about that."

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