Finally at .500, Flyers want to keep rolling

The Flyers, celebrating a goal during Saturday's win over the Islanders, are on a 6-0-1 run.
The Flyers, celebrating a goal during Saturday's win over the Islanders, are on a 6-0-1 run. (JESSE D. GARRABRANT / Getty)
Posted: November 26, 2013

SUNRISE, Fla. - A few weeks ago, the Flyers were a national punch line to all that was wrong with an NHL team.

Now nobody in the league is hotter.

Call them Team U-turn.

The team that had a franchise-worst 1-7 start has made a dramatic reversal in the standings and will try to increase its points streak to eight games when it faces the lowly Florida Panthers on Monday night.

Since their awful start, the Flyers have gone 9-3-2. They are on a 6-0-1 run, during which they have outscored their opponents in even-strength situations by 17-4 and climbed to .500 (10-10-2) for the first time this season.

"I really think we have a lot of things to still work on, but it's looking better," captain Claude Giroux said. "Everybody is contributing, and it's a lot more fun."

Though it's debatable, Giroux said yjsy when the Flyers were 1-7, he thought they were playing well.

"But we just couldn't put the puck in the net," he said.

That hasn't been the case lately. In their last seven games, the Flyers have outscored their opponents 27-10.

Besides the even-strength domination and the much-improved offense, there are many reasons for the Flyers' spurt. Consider:

Goalie Steve Mason has a 1.63 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in his last six appearances.

The Flyers have scored at least one power-play goal in their last six games, going 7 for 22 (31.8 percent).

All four lines are contributing. Ditto the three defensive pairs, which, not too coincidentally, have been together for the last seven games.

Remarkably, when the Islanders' John Tavares scored in the second period of the Flyers' 5-2 win Saturday, it ended their streak without allowing an even-strength tally at 345 minutes, 39 seconds. That means the Flyers went nearly six games without yielding an even-strength goal.

"Our guys are playing as a team, and that's what it takes to win hockey games," said winger Brayden Schenn, who has four goals in his last six games.

"No one out there would believe we would get a .500 record so quickly, and that's where we are now," said Jake Voracek, who has points in six of his last seven games. "We have a road trip down in Florida now, and we just have to keep playing like this."

After facing the Panthers, the Flyers will play Wednesday in Tampa Bay - Vinny Lecavalier will make an emotional return - before returning home for an 11:30 a.m. game against Winnipeg on Black Friday. They play eight of their next nine games on the road.

"We're back to .500, but that means nothing," winger Matt Read said after his second straight two-goal game Saturday. "We still have 60 games left, and we've just got to keep playing smart hockey. It doesn't matter if you're at home or on the road, it's the same simple [formula]: get pucks deep, play a good defensive mentality, and we'll keep winning games."

Read's line, which includes center Sean Couturier and Steve Downie, has been the Flyers' best unit lately. They play against opponents' top lines, and they have been supplying goals to go with their defense.

"They work hard as a line," coach Craig Berube said. "They don't get out of position very often. They play the system to a T. They check. That's how they create their offense."

Breakaways. Florida will name its press box in memory of its first coach, the late Roger Neilson, on Monday. He also coached the Flyers, among others. . . . In the last eight games, Adam Hall has won 82 percent (50 for 61) of his faceoffs. He has won 64 percent of his draws this season. . . . The Flyers are 4-3-2 on the road and 4-0-2 in their last six away games.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

www.inquirer.com/

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