DENVER — Life has become a lot easier for the Flyers during their nine-game win streak, which is on the line this evening against Colorado Avalanche (see game notes).
There’s a natural flow to their daily routine in which things are occurring almost without thinking, on and off the ice.
“After we got a couple under our belt, we got a little looser,” said Wayne Simmonds, who has five goals and nine points during the win streak. “You’re not harping on things. You’re not thinking so much.
“We’re playing as if everything is second nature. That’s kind where we’re at now. Now that it’s slowing down, we have a chance to take this game and the Dallas game individually, and really focus in on these two games.”
The last time the Flyers won 10 games came during the 1985-86 season. Around town right now, the Flyers are the talk of Philadelphia. They are the only team that is winning and project to win more than they lose down the road this winter.
“Knowing we can [win] games in a row is good for our confidence,” team captain Claude Giroux said. “We can come back in games, too. It’s about believing in how you play and how your systems are going. We believe we can win every game.
“It makes it a lot more fun coming to the rink every day. The city, when you go downtown and talk to people, they get real excited. Obviously, it gives you motivation to play even better.”
If you’re looking for a positive sign tonight for the streak to live on, Giroux has six goals in eight career games against the Avs.
While Giroux lives downtown, Simmonds lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and says he doesn’t get the same crowds there.
“I don’t think I’ve been outside of my house since we won the first game, to be honest with you,” Simmonds said with a laugh. “It’s pretty cool. You win nine games and everyone is on the bandwagon. I thought we were playing good hockey even before this win streak.”
The Flyers go into tonight’s game two points out of a first-place tie in the Metropolitan Division with Pittsburgh and the Rangers.
It’s been several Decembers since the Flyers could say they were that close to a division lead before Christmas.
“It’s been a while, but we’re doing good things and evolving into a good team,” Simmonds said. “We’re a year older and I think the leadership we have in the room, everyone is bringing a different aspect to the room. There’s a sense of calmness in here. It’s working well right now.”
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said even his job is a bit easier, certainly a lot more pleasant, coaching a team that is winning and not one that wins a few, loses a few and needs help to climb back into the playoff picture.
The club’s victory Sunday in Detroit represented the Flyers' 12th game in 20 nights.
“You try to keep things simple and basic,” Hakstol said. “As busy a stretch as we’ve been in, that’s a necessity, regardless of wins or losses.
“But it’s always a heck of a lot nice to come to the rink with wins under your belt. Right now, come in, prepare, address some details, then play that night. That’s the simplification.”
Goalie Steve Mason, who got some rest Sunday while rookie Anthony Stolarz played, is back in net tonight.
“It was fun to sit back in a more relax environment and enjoy things more,” Mason said. “When you’re playing every game, you’re in a focus mindset.
“You don’t enjoy things as much. To sit back and watch Stolie get a shutout, it was good to get a mental and physical break.”
Sean Couturier (left knee) and Matt Read (oblique pull) both practiced with the team for the first time since their injuries. Neither is expected to play until after Christmas. … Mark Streit (left shoulder) is here, but did not go on the ice. … Goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee) was not here to practice with the team. He is supposed to be on the trip.