VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers are feeling good.
Nine wins in a row will do that to a team.
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“I feel confident,” Jakub Voracek said Tuesday. “Big part of it is that we’re winning. You can’t do a lot more on the ice if you’re on a nine-game winning streak.”
And Voracek has done a ton, arguably the team’s MVP of this historic push.
No team is hotter right now, so let’s take a look at nine keys to the nine-game winning streak.
1. Voracek the man
Voracek has been scary good, with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) and a plus-7 rating over the nine games. Last week, he became the first Flyers player since Eric Lindros in 1997-98 to post back-to-back four-point games. Entering Tuesday’s action, only Connor McDavid had more points (39) than Voracek (32). The 27-year-old is a totally different player than last season, one in which was hampered by a slow start and foot injury.
“You guys talk about I have to prove something, I don’t have to prove anything,” Voracek said. “I’ve been here six seasons, five years I’ve been great. Last season was a fluke. I look at it this way. I’ve just got to make sure I keep doing my thing.”
2. Simmonds’ dirty work
Wayne Simmonds so often goes unnoticed because he isn’t flashy. But he is ultra consistent and productive. Along with his well-documented toughness, Simmonds leads the NHL in power-play goals (eight) and has provided a point per game during the Flyers’ streak. “The thing with Simmer is that he doesn’t change his game,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said last week. “He’s a guy that does the things that he does and he is very consistent, he does it every night. He doesn’t waver. I think you are seeing a very confident player right now, a very competitive player and a very focused player.”
3. Giroux’s 5-on-5 play
Claude Giroux is one of the elite man-advantage talents in the game. However, he had been quiet at even strength in the 22 games prior to the streak, with just one goal. In the nine games since, he has four such markers. Even better, the Flyers’ captain is an astounding plus-11 during the streak with 11 points (five goals, six assists). He’s been dominant in all facets.
4. Give it to Mason
With Michal Neuvirth out recovering from a left knee injury, the net has been almost solely Steve Mason's responsibility and he’s answered, similar to his run into the playoffs at the end of last season. Mason is on a career-best seven-game win streak while registering a 2.23 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. He’s stolen at least two games over the spurt. And let’s not forget, Anthony Stolarz started the whole ride with a 5-3 win over the Flames on Nov. 27 in his NHL debut and just pitched the Flyers’ first shutout of the season in the 1-0 OT victory on Sunday.
5. Provorov’s maturation
Dave Hakstol has lauded Ivan Provorov for his hockey intellect at just 19 years old. If there were a most improved award given to a player for the winning streak, it would go to Provorov, who has been terrific. He’s been everything defensively. He played an integral role in shutting down ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr. And now he’s impacting the offensive end, highlighted by two goals in 31 seconds to buoy the Flyers past the Blackhawks. In the nine games, Provorov has five points and a plus-6 rating. Big stuff for a team that was challenged defensively.
6. Trained to kill
With some improved defense, the Flyers have been drastically better on the penalty kill, thwarting 21 of their opponents’ 25 power plays. That’s resulted in the Flyers’ allowing two goals or fewer in seven of the nine games. They had done that just five times in their previous 22 games. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare understands his role and is the PK leader, ranking in the top 10 among the league in shorthanded faceoffs won.
7. Comeback kids
You have to credit the Flyers for their resiliency. They really do never quit or panic when trailing, which oftentimes makes up for not-so-hot first periods. In four of the nine wins, the Flyers were trailing at some point from the second period or later. Against the Oilers, they rallied twice from two-goal deficits to extend the streak to seven with a 6-5 thriller of a win. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in franchise history the Flyers had won a game in which they erased two separate two-goal deficits.
8. No place like home
The Flyers take pride in controlling home ice, which is what they’ve done in six of the nine wins, outscoring the opposition, 24-15.
9. Stay with the pack
Maybe not a key, but the Flyers are fully aware of the Metropolitan Division talent. Coming into Tuesday, the Flyers (nine), Penguins (six), Rangers (three), Blue Jackets (six) and Capitals (four) had combined for 28 consecutive wins. “I think now, everybody is talking about the streak, but we’ve got to focus on the game-by-game process,” Voracek said. “You try to go and win every single game that you play in. It’s nice to win nine in a row and we’ve kept ourselves in the hunt, because when you look at the Metro, everybody is winning. If we didn’t have this success, I don’t think we’d be in a playoff spot right now.”