Lately, it may seem like the Philadelphia Flyers have been on the road for an eternity. You’re not crazy if you think that way because the Flyers basically have been on the road for the last month.
The Orange and Black have played nine of their last twelve games away from Wells Fargo Center and have dropped the last four of those nine games.
But on the rare occasion the Flyers have been home recently, they’ve been damn good. Try like seven straight wins at home good.
Granted the wins have been spread out over the course of about six weeks, but the Flyers have won seven straight games on Wells Fargo Center ice. It’s the team’s longest home winning streak since they won eight in a row in South Philly from Dec. 9, 2008 to Jan. 10, 2009.
The current streak started way back on Nov. 9 with a 4-2 win over Edmonton. You may remember that Saturday afternoon matinee as the game where Claude Giroux finally scored his first goal of the season and the team responded from a demoralizing, 3-0 shutout at the hands of New Jersey in their previous game.
The comfy stretch of home cooking has included wins over Ottawa, Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Winnipeg, Montreal and Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Washington. Not the sexiest teams the NHL has to offer and only Montreal and Washington really pose a legitimate threat according to the standings, but, hey, a seven-game home winning streak is a seven-game home winning streak. Am I right?
But why have the Flyers been so good at home recently after starting the campaign 2-7 on home ice?
Steve Mason has been in net for six of the seven games. In those games, he’s allowed just 10 goals total on 171 shots faced. If my math is correct, that’s good for a 1.42 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. Not too shabby, Mr. Mason.
Ray Emery started the Nov. 21 game against Buffalo and allowed just one Sabres goal on 30 shots faced in a 4-1 Flyers win.
It’s fair to say that type of spectacular goaltending has been the backbone of the Orange and Black’s recent home success.
The much-maligned Flyers’ offense has done its part, too.
During this seven-game streak, the Flyers have scored 27 goals. That’s an average of 3.85 goals per game and quite a bump for a team that enters Thursday in the bottom third of the league with just 2.35 goals scored per game.
Starting with Jay Rosehill’s – yes, that Jay Rosehill – goal in the first period of the Edmonton game, 13 different Flyers have scored those 27 goals. Matt Read leads the way with five while Giroux is right behind him with four. Headed by Jake Voracek with five to his name, 16 different Flyers have recorded an assist. Giroux and Voracek lead the way with eight points each during the streak.
That’s what is known as an all-around offensive effort.
The Flyers will look to make it eight in a row at home tonight when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets, a new Metropolitan Division foe. Because Columbus, Ohio is so metropolitan, but I digress. It’ll be the start of another home-and-home series. The return match will take place Saturday night in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets – who sit two points behind the Flyers in the Metropolitan standings - have been able to hold their heads above water despite injuries to key players like sniper Marian Gaborik, free-agent acquisition Nathan Horton and reigning Vezina Trophy-winner - and No. 1 goaltender in your hearts – Sergei Bobrovsky.
Don’t worry, guys. Bob won’t be able to stick it to the Flyers tonight because he’s still slated to be out a few more weeks with a groin injury. Something called a Curtis McElhinney will start between the pipes for the Jackets.
Look out for the young talent the Blue Jackets feature in forwards like leading-scorer Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson and defensemen Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray.
As far as the Flyers are concerned, Mason will start for the first time against his former team. And somehow, someway Brayden Schenn will play after taking that frightening hit from the Captials’ Tom Wilson the other night. With as ugly as that was, it’s almost a small Christmas miracle he’s ready to play.
In case you were wondering, the Flyers franchise record for a home winning streak is 20 games during the 1975-76 season.
Only 13 more to go!
But that might take awhile because they leave for another six-game road trip after Monday’s game against visiting Minnesota.
Stupid Disney On Ice.