Flyers say, streak, what streak?

Posted: January 13, 2014

IT HAS BEEN 65 days since an NHL team not from Pennsylvania won inside the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

That date? Nov. 7 - when the Devils shut out the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

It was the Flyers, who are shooting for their 11th consecutive regulation win at home this afternoon against Tampa Bay, who last beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Nov. 13.

The Penguins have won 12 straight at home since their loss to the Flyers. They have lost only three times in Pittsburgh (19-3-0) all season, the best home record in the East.

In other words, it has been an impressive few months for both of Pennsylvania's hockey clubs, even though the Penguins - with a 15-point lead entering last night's game in Edmonton - have largely run away with the Metropolitan Division.

The math is daunting. The Penguins already have 65 points; the Flyers are on-pace for 93 points. If the Flyers play at their current clip (19-7-4 since Nov. 5) for the rest of the season, they will finish with 103 points. The Penguins are on pace for 118.

Catching Pittsburgh really isn't even a topic of conversation in the Flyers' dressing room for coach Craig Berube or his players.

"I don't talk about [catching the Penguins]," Berube said earlier this week. "You've got to keep winning. Win your games. It's tight. You can't look at it that way [trying to catch a team]. All these teams are right on your tail."

Strangely, that is almost the same mindset behind the Flyers' win streak at home: It isn't much talked about. And that's not for superstition purposes. The Flyers can tie for the third-longest home winning streak in franchise history today. It is their longest run of wins at home since Oct. 27-Dec. 5, 2003.

This is also their longest winning streak of regulation wins since Feb. 10 to April 14, 1985, when they won their last 14 games of the regular season at the Spectrum on their way to the Stanley Cup final that spring.

The Flyers have been home so infrequently, just finishing a stretch of 19 out of 28 on the road, that the streak really hasn't even felt like one. They had different stretches of 16, 14 and 10 days between home games at varying points during this streak.

"I don't think we're looking at the streak that we have here," Andrej Meszaros said. "I think the work ethic is the big thing that's been the difference between the start of the season and now."

Multiple players commented on the "energy" inside Wells Fargo Center that has been different since the team turned it around.

"We're just taking advantage of an intimidating building to play in," Steve Mason said. "When I came here with Columbus, it was one of the tougher rinks to play in. When we have the fans' support like we do, it makes for a tough game for the opposition."

Speaking in Calgary on Thursday, Canadian Olympic assistant coach Ken Hitchcock shed some light on the injury replacement process - which would be Claude Giroux's path to a roster spot for the Sochi Olympics.

No one is rooting for an injury to open up a spot, but 14 forwards (including Steven Stamkos, who isn't yet healthy) need to make it through to Feb. 8 unscathed. Hitchcock said Hockey Canada already has identified roughly a dozen players as possibilities.

"The 25 players [already selected], we're not even talking about," Hitchcock told the Calgary Herald. "We're losing eight guys a week to injury in the National Hockey League. To think that our roster is going to be the same is probably not likely, so we're going to be looking at players. There's 16 to 18 games that guys have to play before the Olympics, which is a hell of a lot of hockey."

Giroux will go head-to-head with another likely possibility, Marty St. Louis, when the Flyers play the Lightning today. It's possible Lightning GM and Hockey Canada shot caller Steve Yzerman will be in the building to keep track of both players.

Countries have until Feb. 11, the eve of the opening puck drop, to make roster changes because of injury or personal reasons.

Craig Berube said Matt Read (concussion) skated "longer than he was scheduled" at practice yesterday, but Read still didn't last for the entire 50-minute session. Read, listed as out indefinitely, has been ruled out through this weekend . . . With Zac Rinaldo (left high ankle sprain) out for 6 weeks, the Flyers recalled Tye McGinn from AHL Adirondack. Berube said his lineup for this afternoon will be a "game-time decision," as he could decide between McGinn and Jay Rosehill . . .

Look for defenseman Andrej Meszaros to retain his lineup spot today against the Lightning, even though Erik Gustafsson is back and healthy . . . The Flyers entered's "Power 16" rankings for the first time this season . . .

For all the heat it has taken, the Metropolitan Division (383 combined points) passed the Atlantic Division (379) for the first time through Thursday's games. Maybe it's just the name that still bugs people, besides the mediocre hockey.

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