VOORHEES, N.J. — In the moment, teams don’t always see the history behind a winning streak.
For the Flyers, they’re accomplishing quite a bit, even if they don’t know it.
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Their current nine-game win streak is the NHL’s longest of the season and matches the team’s best run since April 2-22, 1995. A win on Wednesday night over the Avalanche would give the Flyers their most consecutive victories since Oct. 19-Nov. 17, 1985, when they won 13 straight.
When asked about the significance of such a historical streak, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol — out of no disrespect — needed a briefing.
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I didn’t know that and it wouldn’t change my approach either way,” he said Tuesday after practice at Flyers Skate Zone.
“We’re trying to gain points every night, and that’s why we don’t make too much about however many number in a row, one way or another. You’re just trying to gain points every night. The first goal on the list is to be a playoff team and points every night are critical.”
The Flyers are not only the hottest team in hockey, they're also among the hottest in the city in nearly 5½ years. Among the four major Philadelphia franchises, the last team to win nine straight games was the Phillies from July 29-Aug. 6, 2011. One more triumph gives the Flyers the city’s longest streak since the Phillies won 11 in a row from Sept. 12-24, 2010.
So these are impressive times for the Flyers, who had won consecutive games just twice over the season’s first 22 contests.
The meaning of it all isn’t totally lost on the team. The players can appreciate it while maintaining their focus.
“I think it’s definitely pretty cool for us,” said Shayne Gostisbehere, who's set to return Wednesday against the Avalanche. “But I think right now, the coolest thing is to look at the standings, we’re sitting pretty good. It’s a good thing for our team and it’s a good test for us to not get complacent, as well. Just because you rattle off some wins in a row doesn’t mean you can’t lose that many, too. It’s important for us to stick with it, stick to our process and, again, take it game by game.”
Voracek knows of the streak’s buzz, but more so of its importance.
“I think now, everybody is talking about the streak, but we’ve got to focus on the game-by-game process,” he 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 [Metropolitan Division], everybody is winning. If we didn’t have this success, I don’t think we’d be in a playoff spot right now.”
Which is spot on — every win has mattered considering the success of the Flyers’ division. Entering Tuesday, the orange and black were fifth in the NHL with 39 points, but only in third place in the Metropolitan, and not by much. The Penguins (41 points) have won six straight, the Rangers (41) three straight, the Blue Jackets (38) six straight and the Capitals (37) four straight.
“When you’re winning, you’re having fun and it makes it that much more enjoyable to come to the rink every day,” Michael Del Zotto said. “It’s been a tough stretch as far as how many games, every other day, back-to-backs and whatnot. We’re enjoying the time right now, we’re enjoying the ride and we’ve got to try to keep this one as long as we can.”
Raffl maintenance day
Interestingly, winger Michael Raffl did not practice but skated beforehand with injured forwards Sean Couturier and Matt Read.
Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall said it was more maintenance reasons.
“Good maintenance for him,” Hakstol said.
Will he play Wednesday?
“I’m not going to comment on any of that,” Hakstol said. “Maintenance day for him.”
Here are the forward combinations from practice. Boyd Gordon took Raffl’s spot, while the defensive pairings were fluid throughout the session.
Boyd Gordon-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
Taylor Leier-Nick Cousins-Dale Weise
Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Roman Lyubimov
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Andrew MacDonald-Ivan Provorov
Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas