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.

NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers off to conference title games after dramatic wins

NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers off to conference title games after dramatic wins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- This time it was a catch, and another win for the Green Bay Packers.

Call it a "Half Mary" from Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw a 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline, and Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Packers to the NFC championship game with their eighth straight win while thwarting a huge Dallas rally in a 34-31 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday.

The throw on the run from Rodgers to Cook -- confirmed on review -- wasn't nearly as debatable as Dez Bryant's famous catch that wasn't in the Cowboys' divisional round loss to Green Bay two years ago.

Cook kept both feet inbounds with a knee just above the ground out of bounds.

And it came after the Cowboys tied the game twice in the final 5 minutes behind rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their playoff debut.

It was the third field goal of more than 50 yards in the final 1:38 -- two from Crosby and one from Dallas' Dan Bailey. And Crosby had to make the winner twice after Dallas coach Jason Garrett called timeout before the first attempt.

Rodgers, who sparked last week's wild-card win over the New York Giants with another Hail Mary before halftime, is headed to an MVP showdown with Atlanta's Matt Ryan next Sunday. It will be his third NFC title game -- all on the road.

Green Bay's win was the first by a road team after 12 straight home victories in the playoffs dating to last season.

The Cowboys (13-4) almost became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win in the playoffs after trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter. The first was Dallas in 1972, when "Captain Comeback", Roger Staubach, rallied the Cowboys for a 30-28 win over San Francisco.

Instead, Dallas ended up with its fifth straight loss in the divisional round and a 21-year drought in trips to the NFC championship game.

Prescott got the Dallas rally going with a 40-yard touchdown toss in the first half to Bryant, the first playoff TD for the star receiver.

Then he set the stage for the first tying score on a 6-yarder to Jason Witten, also the first postseason touchdown for the 14th-year tight end.

Rodgers led the Packers to a go-ahead 56-yard field goal from Crosby with a big boost on a pass interference penalty against rookie Anthony Brown that wiped out an interception from Jeff Heath, whose pick earlier in the game helped Dallas rally.

The Cowboys answered with a 52-yarder from Bailey (see full recap).

Steelers hold off Chiefs to set up rematch with Pats in AFC title game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Who needs to reach the end zone when you have Le'Veon Bell chewing up yards and the clock, and Chris Boswell setting an NFL playoff record with six field goals?

Throw in a stingy Pittsburgh defense for most of Sunday night, and a multitude of mistakes by Kansas City, and the Steelers' 18-16 victory sent them into the AFC championship game.

The Steelers (13-5) needed to hold off a last-ditch threat by the Chiefs (12-5) before advancing to face New England next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Patriots won at Pittsburgh 27-16, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured and didn't play.

Spencer Ware's 1-yard touchdown run took Kansas City within 18-16. The Chiefs at first converted the 2-pointer to tie it, but tackle Eric Fisher -- the first overall selection in the 2013 draft -- was penalized for holding. The next try failed.

With 2:43 remaining, Justin Gilbert misplayed the kick return and was tackled at the Pittsburgh 5. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 7 yards on third down and Pittsburgh then ran out the clock, securing a ninth straight victory for the Steelers. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row.

The scoring started furiously in the opening minutes, then the game became a kicking exhibition by Boswell, who also had six field goals in the regular season against Cincinnati. And Bell put on a virtuoso running performance, patiently finding holes and then exploding through them. He added a team-record 170 yards rushing to the 167 he had in a win over Miami last week.

The Steelers became first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore.

Using a no-huddle attack almost to perfection early on, the Steelers drove deep into Kansas City territory. But they bogged down inside the 5 and Boswell made a 22-yard field goal.

The Chiefs were just as efficient on a six-play march capped by receiver Albert Wilson lining up in the backfield, then slipping uncovered into the end zone for a 5-yard score.

Pittsburgh's answer came on a 52-yard heave to All-Pro Brown, who somehow was covered by linebacker Justin Houston. That led to Boswell's second field goal, a 38-yarder. He added a 36-yarder to cap a 14-play drive on which Pittsburgh again barely huddled.

A clean game up until then turned to, well, turnovers, on successive series. Bud Dupree pounded Alex Smith, whose pass shot high into the air and was caught by linebacker Ryan Shazier.

The Steelers got to the Kansas City 5, where Frank Zombo leaped to deflect Roethlisberger's throw, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry -- burned for 26 yards on the previously play -- picked it off in the end zone.

Boswell's fourth field goal, from 45 yards, made it 12-7 at the half. His 43-yarder, setting the franchise record for a postseason game and tying the league mark of five, came on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half. A 43-yarder midway in the fourth quarter gave Boswell the NFL record.

Kansas City's Cairo Santos got in on the kicking act with a 48-yarder to make it 15-10. At that point, 10 seconds from the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs were outgained 333 yards to 150 (see full recap).

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

NEW YORK -- James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.

Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.

Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.

Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game (see full recap).

DeRozan leads Raptors past Knicks
TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Norman Powell added 21 and the Toronto Raptors used a dominant third quarter to beat the New York Knicks 116-101 on Sunday.

DeRozan also had five rebounds and five assists before coming out late in the third quarter.

The Raptors improved to 27-13, taking the lead for good late in the first quarter. They led by 38 points in the third in winning their third straight game overall and fifth in a row against the Knicks.

DeMarre Carroll added 20 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 18 points, Justin Holiday had 17, and Derrick Rose added 16. The Knicks are 2-10 in their last 12 to drop to 18-23 (see full recap).

Hawks stay hot by beating Bucks    
ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.

Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.

Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season (see full recap)