The Flyers' home win streak reaches 10 games
Wayne Simmonds congratulates goalie Steve Mason following the Flyers' 3-2 win over the Canadiens on Wednesday night. (USA Today Images)
You could make a compelling case that for so many games on home ice this season -- and even last -- the Flyers too often found ways to lose games.
These days, home or away, with the confidence flowing, with a different line scoring every game, with good defense and goaltending, the Flyers are finding ways to win.
They won their 10th straight at home on Wednesday, 3-1, over the Montreal Canadiens. Confidence abounds these cold January days.
“Earlier in the year, we were finding ways to lose games and now we’re finding way to win games,” Sean Couturier said. “Even if we’re down a goal or two, we’re still confident we can come back and score goals. When we’re up a goal or two now, we’re confident we can close a game, too.”
The Flyers’ confidence has never been higher this season. Craig Berube’s team is 9-2 in its last 11 games.
They have 50 points to maintain second place in the Metropolitan Division with a three-point lead over the New York Rangers, who have catapulted over the Washington Caps for the third spot.
Amazing what confidence can do for a hockey club.
“It’s big, confidence is big and right now we feel we can find ways to win games,” Couturier said. “Sometimes we’re not in games and our goalie makes big saves. All it takes is one little play to turn momentum around. We’re confident in games that we can shift momentum.”
It’s a fine line, too.
“Little details or turnover or chip or chip out that goes the other way and they score and now we’re doing a good job on those little details,” Couturier added.
How about goalie Steve Mason (19 saves) getting an early stop on a Danny Briere breakaway? The night before in New Jersey, it was a goal on Ray Emery and forced the Flyers to play catch-up.
This time, it’s a save that allows the Flyers to get it together for Couturier’s goal five minutes later, followed by Zac Rinaldo’s goal.
A 2-0 lead after one period. It stretched to 3-0.
The days when the opposition would make a push and steal a point or even the game from the Flyers has vanished.
“We’re winning a lot of different ways,” Berube said. “Tonight we had a good first period, had the lead and did what we had to do to win the game. I didn’t think we gave them a whole lot.
“We played pretty good defensively. Jersey game we got down 1-0 but battled back. I can go back to the Phoenix game, we got down and battled back.
“They’re confident guys right now. They believe they can win. They might not always play their best hockey, but we’re squeezing wins out.”
Contributions abounded in this game.
Three assists from Andrej Meszaros –- the most he’s had in a game since he was with Ottawa in 2006. This was his eighth straight game playing in the lineup since Erik Gustafsson got hurt.
“Obviously, if you play more games, you're going to have more confidence,” Meszaros said. “I've been playing a lot of games lately, so that's good for my confidence. Hopefully, I'm doing a good enough job that the coaches will keep me in.”
Vinny Lecavalier still doesn’t seem like the same player he was a while ago because of his back injury, but the tall forward chipped in with another assist, giving him points in two of his last three games.
Rinaldo, who is known for racking up hits by the minute –- literally -– actually scored a goal, his first of the season.
Michael Raffl, back in the lineup two straight games coming off a concussion, got a key goal in the third period to make it 3-0 and break Les Canadiens’ backs.
It wasn’t a setup, just a loose puck and pop-up shot in and out of the net on goalie Peter Budaj.
“I had some really, really good scoring chances [this season],” Raffl said. “And then to get something like that, a rebound and you just whack at it and it bounces in.
“It’s life. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. It was just bouncing there. I was trying to get through those sticks laying around.”
Best part about this game was that the Flyers didn’t have to scramble back. They got a lead and had it to the end.
“It’s always nice to have a lead,” Raffl said. “You can save a lot of energy. Just wait for them to attack and feed off their turnovers. They’re trying to create stuff. You just get it deep and grind them out.”