Inside the Flyers' seven-game home winning streak

Inside the Flyers' seven-game home winning streak

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?

Let’s start with the goaltending.

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.

The offensive effort has been spread throughout the team, too.

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.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

USA Today Images

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Flyers-Canadiens 5 things: Long week starts with a bang

Flyers-Canadiens 5 things: Long week starts with a bang

Flyers at Canadiens
7:30 p.m. on CSN, Pregame Live at 6:30

The Flyers’ mettle will be tested this week with a stretch of five games in seven days.

That’s a lot of pucks.

It starts Monday night when the Flyers (2-2-1) visit the hot-starting Montreal Canadiens (4-0-1) at the Bell Centre.

Let’s get you set with five things to know for the matchup:

1. Goals, goals, goals
There should be an abundance of them Monday night.

The Canadiens are scoring an NHL-most 4.00 goals per game while the Flyers, coming off a six-goal outburst, are third at 3.80.

Montreal has been scary good through five games. Not only are the Canadiens lighting the lamp at a league-best clip, but they’re also allowing the fewest goals per game at 1.60 a night. They have hockey’s No. 1 goal differential (plus-11) and No. 8 penalty kill, having thwarted 23 of 25 opponents' power plays (92.0 percent).

The Canadiens' offseason additions of defenseman Shea Weber and backup goalie Al Montoya have paid instant dividends. Weber, acquired in a blockbuster trade that sent P.K. Subban to the Predators, has one goal, four assists and leads all NHL blueliners with a plus-8 rating. Montoya, who filled in early for a flu-stricken Carey Price, is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average and .962 save percentage. Price, the 2014-15 Hart Memorial Trophy winner (NHL MVP), looks in form after playing just 12 games last season because of a knee injury.

2. A fresher Ghost
Shayne Gostisbehere went off for three points (one goal, two assists) in the Flyers’ 6-3 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday, his biggest output of the season.

It just so happened to come in a game in which Gostisbehere registered his lowest ice time of the season at 16:45, a significant drop from his previous low of 20:57. Before the defenseman’s three-point game, Gostisbehere played an average of 23:14 over the prior three games while totaling one point and a minus-3 rating.

Is it a coincidence Gostisbehere’s best game yet was in far less ice time? Maybe, but the 23-year-old is playing the Flyers’ most minutes (21:29 per game) after undergoing offseason surgery and finishing the longest year of his hockey life.

Defensemen Mark Streit (22:45), Nick Schultz (19:44) and Brandon Manning (18:41) all played season highs in minutes on Saturday, and there’s no way that was by mistake.

If head coach Dave Hakstol can manage Gostisbehere’s ice time and not rely so heavily on the second-year blueliner, it can only help the Flyers. A more rested Gostisbehere is a better Gostisbehere — and we all know how vital the 2015-16 Calder Trophy runner-up is to the Flyers’ power-play success, as well as defensive coverage.

3. Stop and start
Speaking of defensive coverage, while the Flyers are scoring quite a bit, they’re not stopping anyone. The orange and black are surrendering 3.80 goals per game — tied for fifth most in the NHL — which is exactly what they score on average.

The Flyers can’t consistently bank on winning goal-fests.

Starting fast will be critical against the Canadiens, who close games as well as anyone. Montreal is outscoring its opposition 17-6 through the second and third periods. The Flyers have just one goal in the first period.

Facing this Habs team, it’ll be problematic if the Flyers fail to get going early.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Matt Read, why not? With five goals, the 30-year-old is astoundingly tied for second in the NHL with Maple Leafs phenom Auston Matthews. Last season, it took Read 29 games to score five goals. The previous season, he needed 56 games. This year, just five. Until he comes back to Earth, Read will be worth watching as much as any other Flyer.

Canadiens: The 22-year-old Alex Galchenyuk racked up career highs last season in goals (30) and points (56). To start this season, the 2012 No. 3 overall pick has a goal and four assists in five games. Young and offensive-minded, Galchenyuk has given the Flyers trouble in the past with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 11 career games against them.

5. This and that
• Steve Mason has played in the Flyers’ last four games with three starts and one relief appearance. Michal Neuvirth has not played since last Tuesday. He is 6-4-2 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 13 lifetime games against Montreal.

• Price is 11-9-0 with a 2.61 GAA and .916 save percentage in 21 career games against the Flyers.

• Jakub Voracek leads the Flyers in points with seven but is third in the NHL in penalty minutes with 24.

• The Canadiens have won three straight games by a combined score of 13-4.

• Defenseman Michael Del Zotto (knee) and forward Scott Laughton (knee) returned to practice on Sunday.