VOORHEES, N.J. — Mark Streit has had a different viewpoint for a while now, not by choice but by injury.
And with the view from the press box, he sees things differently.
During his month-plus long rehab from a sprained left shoulder, Streit has witnessed the Flyers’ highest point of the season, a 10-game win streak, quickly turn into their lowest.
The Flyers enter Thursday’s matchup with Vancouver losing seven of their last eight games and nine of their last 11. The 20 points they picked up during the win streak, which sent them from four points out of a playoff spot to nine points ahead of their closest rival when it ended, has gone all for naught. They’re grasping onto the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but are just two points ahead of the Panthers.
“Sometimes you’re not as good as you think and you’re not as bad as you think,” Streit said Wednesday after practice at Flyers Skate Zone. “It’s a small line. You have to work a little extra hard to get the rebounds, but the guys are working hard and it’s a fine line.
“I’m a big believer if things aren’t going that well, you have to keep it simple and go back to the basics, get pucks on net and crash the net. Eventually, it’s a numbers game. You have more attempts, you have more shots, eventually you’re going to get the goals.”
Streit participated in full practice Wednesday, partnering with Radko Gudas, a sign he is inching closer to returning to the lineup. The 39-year-old has “got a shot at playing the weekend,” according to general manager Ron Hextall. Streit said Saturday is an option.
After the Canucks game Thursday, the Flyers have back-to-back matinees in Boston on Saturday and Washington on Sunday. Streit is currently on long-term injured reserve, and when activated, the Flyers will have to make a subsequent move to fit under the cap.
Hextall said the Flyers will “wait and see what happens” Thursday before making a decision to become cap compliant when they activate Streit.
“We’ll find a way,” he said.
Late in the Flyers’ 1-0 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 11 — win No. 9 of the streak — Streit sprained his left shoulder and was initially deemed out two weeks.
“It took a little bit more time [than expected],” Streit said, “but I want to be cautious about it. I want to be smart about it, and so does the team. If I’m playing, I need to feel good out there. I don’t do any good if I’m out there like 60 percent or 70 percent.”
“[Streit] brings a real presence,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s one. From what he does inside the locker room to what he brings on the ice. When he’s going well, he’s a pretty efficient player. Very good puck-moving defenseman.”
Streit’s is one of the Flyers’ alternate captains, and his anticipated return should boost the team’s second power-play unit, which the blueliner usually quarterbacks with Ivan Provorov. He should also provide Hakstol another viable option to throw into the defensive mix.
With Streit’s return, the Flyers could have a gluttony of defensemen with eight. Hextall would not tip his hand as to what his options are to comply with the salary cap, but on paper, waiving a defenseman is an option, such as Nick Schultz or Andrew MacDonald.
But until that bridge is crossed and Streit's activated from LTIR, the veteran's angle — from the press box — is one of harping on the positives and staying on course.
“That's why I play hockey. It’s a big challenge,” Streit said. “That’s why you love the game. You win 10 games, but I knew it was not going to go the whole season like that. There’s going to be setbacks and bumps and bruises on the road. We’re not that far off.
“We realize as a team — other teams are picking up. They’re gaining points and they’re coming back. We just need to find a way and stay positive. You have to keep going and work through it. There’s a lot of games left, and we know what kind of team we have.”
The Flyers have three games left before their mandated five-day break the NHL implemented this season. Every team has a five-day bye week, and if it has a game on the sixth day — which the Flyers do — it cannot practice until 4 p.m. on the fifth day.
After Sunday’s game in Washington, the orange and black are off until Jan. 20, when they’ll fit in one practice before facing yet another set of back-to-backs, at home against New Jersey on Jan. 21 and in Brooklyn, New York, against the Islanders on Jan. 22.
“I’m not a big fan,” Hextall said. “It’s ridiculous. The most asinine thing I’ve ever seen.”
For Hakstol, the second-year head coach said he hasn’t put much thought into how the bye week will affect the Flyers, but did say it puts him in a tough spot preparation wise.
“We have to step back in and play a back-to-back against teams that have been in a rhythm,” Hakstol said. “That will be a challenge, but that’s forward on the schedule. That’s not really top of mind now. We have three games that are extremely important.”
The three-game stretch begins Thursday against the Canucks, a team that sits behind the Kings for the West’s second wild-card spot because of tiebreakers, and then it swings to Boston and the nation’s capital this weekend against two playoff teams.
“Points are valuable,” Hakstol said. “That’s the big thing. There’s six available here before the break, and we have to do everything that we can and we have to do a little bit more to make sure we get points as we go through these next three games.
“It’s not about feel good. It’s about making that push to gain points. It’s going to be competitive. It’s going to be a dogfight. Well, let’s get in that dogfight and get after it.”