Flyers

8 reasons behind the Flyers' 8-game winning streak

8 reasons behind the Flyers' 8-game winning streak

Lose eight straight, win eight straight.

The Flyers pulled that off in a span of 18 games.

Since Jan. 10, they've passed 12 teams in the NHL standings, suddenly turning what looked like a lost season into one with playoff hopes. The Flyers entered Tuesday five points back of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.

How did they flip the switch? Let's break down eight reasons behind the eight-game winning streak:

1. Hart-stopper

At 20 years old, Carter Hart has been the Flyers' backbone.

He's won seven of the eight games, while posting a 2.40 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and an NHL-most 241 saves.

Hart is the fourth goalie to ever post a streak of seven or more wins before his 21st birthday, with Carey Price the last to do it in 2008.

Since stomaching his first NHL benching on New Year's Eve in Carolina, Hart has gone 8-2-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .933 save percentage, a response that speaks volumes about his mental makeup.

The kid has resuscitated this season.

2. Seeing is believing

The Flyers simply look like a different team. They're winning games that they would have lost in October, November, December and early last month. There's a confidence now that was nowhere to be found until about mid-January.

But interim head coach Scott Gordon mentioned on Jan. 3 how the Flyers needed a reason to be confident — results.

A goalie can infuse confidence throughout a roster.

After Hart backstopped a 2-1 win over the Stars on Jan. 10, James van Riemsdyk said it best:

When you have a goalie that's making big stops and has that coolness to him, for whatever reason, you can definitely feel that on the ice.

I would be curious to see what his heart rate gets to because he seems so cool under pressure.

3. Bench boost

Gordon has made systematic changes that are paying dividends (see story).

His team also looks markedly more comfortable — not tense — in close games. Yes, a lot of that has to do with Hart's presence in net, but Gordon's influence and message have made a difference, as well (see story).

"We're a confident team right now," Sean Couturier said Monday night. "We're making plays. We're not afraid to make plays, when we screw up or turn it over, we've got to battle hard to get it back — that's huge."

Prior to Gordon's arrival, the Flyers had three wins in one-goal games through 31 contests. In 22 games under Gordon, they have nine wins in one-goal games.

4. Core is clicking

The core's clock has been in serious question this season and that's natural when a team with a long-tenured group is in the NHL basement more than halfway through the year.

The Flyers needed more proof and production from their veteran pieces, which has created a trickle-down effect to the youngsters.

Couturier has done yeoman's work with a team-leading 10 points (five goals, five assists) and plus-8 rating during the streak.

Jakub Voracek has put up nine points, while Giroux has scored eight. 

Van Riemsdyk is pouring in goals with five (and seven in his last 10 games).

And Wayne Simmonds has provided three big goals after scoring only three in his previous 18 games.

5. Getting defensive

Flyers defensemen have been quietly terrific.

Since Jan. 14, the start of the streak, Robert Hagg leads the NHL in blocked shots with 31, followed by Travis Sanheim at No. 2 with 26. Andrew MacDonald and Ivan Provorov are tied for fifth with 22 apiece.

Overall, the Flyers are first in the league with 176 blocked shots over the streak.

Meanwhile, Provorov has played 26:02, Radko Gudas has been physical but smart (23 hits, no penalties) and Shayne Gostisbehere is finding his offense (four assists in five games).

6. Power surge

Thanks to a three-game eruption, the Flyers' power play has climbed from 31st in the NHL to 23rd. The man advantage has gone 7 for 10 over the last three games after going 6 for 44 over the previous 16 games.

"The power play hasn't won us a lot of games this year," Giroux said last Saturday.

It has won them the last three and the Flyers can build off of those results.

7. Quite the complement

When Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom are supplementing the veterans, the Flyers go to another level.

During the run, Patrick has been a point-per-game player (five goals, three assists) and all over the puck, while Lindblom has played superbly next to Couturier and Voracek, scoring three goals and handing out three assists.

Sixteen of Patrick's 19 points this season have come in victories and six of Lindblom's seven goals have been scored in wins.

8. Safety valve

Travis Konecny has jolted the second-unit power play, a much-needed element considering the prior struggles from the first unit.

The 21-year-old has three power-play points (one goal, two assists) and seven points overall in the streak, including three timely goals.

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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