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.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).