The Read-Couturier-Downie line has been pretty good for the Flyers, who play the crummy Panthers tonight

The Read-Couturier-Downie line has been pretty good for the Flyers, who play the crummy Panthers tonight

As you may have heard, the Flyers are 6-0-1 in their last seven games, have earned 13 of a possible 14 points during the successful stretch and have clawed their way out of the Metropolitan Division basement to currently sit just two points behind the New York Rangers for the division’s last playoff spot.

That’s quite an accomplishment considering the way the Orange and Black didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. You know what I’m talking about. No need to rehash the horror scenes and kill the good vibes we’ve got going here.

How have they turned things around?

There are plenty of reasons, but a particularly vital cog in the Flyers’ resurgence has been the “third” line of Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie.

Since head coach Craig Berube put the trio together on Nov. 12 when Downie returned to action from a facial injury, they have been running roughshod over opponents.

In that six-game stretch, the line has produced six goals and 12 assists. Five of those goals belong to Read, who has scored two goals in each of his last two games and is tied with Vinny Lecavalier for the team led in goals with eight. The other goal belongs to Couturier, who finally broke his 25-game goal-less drought when he scored last week against visiting Ottawa.

While Downie hasn’t scored, he’s contributed six assists to the cause. The Flyers are 6-1-1 with Downie in the lineup since he was acquired on Halloween for Max Talbot.

Part of the success is due to the line often seeing favorable matchups and taking advantage of them with their skill.

They are so good defensively that the trio usually plays against opponent’s most-skilled line. For example, they’ll see Alexander Ovechkin’s line when they play the Capitals or they’ll see John Tavares’ line when they play the Islanders.

Sometimes, those highly-skilled lines don’t feature the most defensive-minded players.  Read, Couturier and Downie take advantage of those defensive deficiencies and put points on the board.

The trio scores timely goals too.

Take for example last Thursday’s win over the Sabres. The Flyers had a lackluster first 30 minutes against a terrible team. That was until the “third” line got out there, went to work on the forecheck, forced a few turnovers, netted two goals courtesy of Read and lit a fire under both the team and the Wells Fargo Center crowd.

They did it again in Saturday’s 5-2 win over the visiting Islanders. The Flyers were sloppy in the first period but the “third” line ignited a three-goal second period when Read scored 46 ticks into the frame.

They are almost reminiscent of the Scott Hartnell-Danny Briere-Ville Leino line that was put together during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the way they gel despite different styles.

Read is the speedy scorer. Couturier is the defense-first center who is slowly starting to get his scoring talent on track. And Downie is the gritty winger who isn’t afraid to get physical and get into the dirty areas to make a play.

Call them a “third” line if you want, but they’ve been the Flyers’ top line during the team’s recent hot streak.

The softer schedule as of late certainly hasn't hurt either.

During the team’s seven-game point streak, the opponents the Flyers have faced have a combined 54-78-14 record. The only team of any relevance and that currently holds a playoff spot that the Flyers have played in this stretch was those filthy Penguins.

That trend continues tonight when the Flyers visit the Panthers to begin a quick two-game jaunt through Florida.

The Panthers are not a very good team.

With a 6-13-5 record and spared only by the mess with that is the Sabres, they currently sit in second-to-last place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

They feature solid, young talents in this past draft’s second-overall pick Aleksander Barkov and last year’s rookie-of-the-year Jonathan Huberdeau, but that’s about all there is to write home about them.

But, hey, insane politico goaltender Tim Thomas is the Panthers’ goalie, so there’s that, I guess.

Steve Mason will get the call between the pipes for the Flyers.

The Flyers beat the Panthers, 2-1 during the teams’ first meeting back in October and that was when the Flyers were in full tailspin mode coming out of the gate. In fact, that win was the Orange and Black’s only win in their first seven games.

The Flyers are 4-3-2 away from home this season and have a glorious chance to improve that record and grab two more points that are ripe for the picking.

It’s not 25 freakin’ degrees in South Florida right now like it is here so they won’t have that for an excuse.

Ed Rendell, Jim Kenney roast Chris Christie for ripping Eagles fans

Ed Rendell, Jim Kenney roast Chris Christie for ripping Eagles fans

What a week it's been for Chris Christie. 

After watching his top-seeded Cowboys be picked apart by Aaron Rodgers in the divisional round, and being passed over for a position in Donald Trump's administration, the New Jersey governer called Eagles fans "generally angry, awful people."

He can now add being torched by Former Pennsylvania governer Ed Rendell and Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney to that list. 

"You understand how his approval rating is probably the lowest of any governer in the country," Rendell said. 

(Three fire emojis).

"In retrospect, the governer's had a pretty rough couple years," Kenney said. "His presidential campaign crashed and burned, his bromance with the President-Elect didn't seem to go anywhere. I understand why he may be a little bitter or angry."

Boom. Roasted.

Watch the full video for more.

We finally found something (not great) about Joel Embiid: Manziel Buddy?

We finally found something (not great) about Joel Embiid: Manziel Buddy?

Ugh. Joel Embiid may not be perfect.

He may be buddies with Johnny Manziel, at least according to the former NFL hopeful turned party boy.

It all started when Manziel took to Twitter today to talk about doing a free autograph signing for the people of Texas.

The Twitter rant also included this strange line: "No lie.. I was a [bad word] in 2016 I'm just trying to be a good PERSON again#LostInTheSauce."

Hey, owning it is the first step to recovery, right? 

Also, he knows how to get Twitter's attention:

And:

And:

After doing one Google search, there were reports of the pair hanging over the summer in LA. From Busted Coverage:

[Manziel] was tearing up the Warick LA lounge with his Los Angeles friends at a party that included Jerome Boateng from Bayern Munich, Kendra Wilkinson and Joel Embiid among others.

More to this as we learn it...