Flyers at Colorado, aiming for 10th straight win (Dec 14, 2016)
Things are going so well for the Philadelphia Flyers that even when they have a setback, it's mitigated with some good news.
The Flyers lost defenseman Mark Streit for two weeks to a left shoulder injury but fellow defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is returning to the lineup after missing a game with a hand injury.
Gostisbehere returns in time to help the Flyers try to extend their winning streak to 10 games at the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. If Philadelphia pulls it off it will be the organization's longest winning streak since 1985, before most of the roster was born.
The current nine-game winning streak has catapulted the Flyers (18-10-3) to third in the competitive Metropolitan Division, but more importantly it has dragged them out of mediocrity that plagued the first 22 games of the season.
Now they have a chance to keep building on the recent success.
"It's more about the two points," coach Dave Hakstol told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I don't think anyone in here is distracted by anything. We're trying to build. We're trying to do anything we can every night to get points with a goal in mind. That's what it's all about."
The Flyers might not find a more facilitating atmosphere to extend their streak than Denver. The Avalanche have lost five straight at Pepsi Center and are a disappointing 4-8-1 at home. It's the main reason they are last in the Central Division at 11-15-1.
"We've got to find a way to scrape up some points on home ice," captain Gabriel Landeskog told HockeyBuzz.com. "This hasn't been good enough so far and it's not going to be good enough if we keep this going. I think we showed a lot of urgency in Toronto and a lot of character from the whole group, and that's something we need on home ice."
The urgency in Toronto on Sunday came less than 24 hours after they had a total team meltdown in a 10-1 loss at Montreal. The Avalanche showed some grit in coming back and beating the Maple Leafs 3-1 and finish 2-2 on their road trip. Now they have to carry that over to Wednesday.
"We need to come out a little pissed off, and I think that's what we're going to look to do Wednesday," Landeskog said. "(It's been) a lack of urgency, really. We come out sometimes flat, and there's no excuse for that. We have to come out and have some energy and urgency, a little bit of punch-first mentality, get a little pissed off and take control of the game."
Calvin Pickard, who started and finished the blowout loss in Montreal, will be in net against the Flyers because Semyon Varlamov, who had 51 saves against Toronto, is out with a groin injury. The team called up Spencer Martin from the AHL to back up Pickard, but coach Jared Bednar said he doesn't think Varlamov's injury is serious.
"I don't think it's anything major, but he'll miss (Wednesday's) game," Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com. "I'm hopeful that it's not (serious). Apparently, he's feeling better (Tuesday) than (Monday). I'm hopeful it's going to be shorter than what he's had in the past."
Pickard will be tested against a streaking Flyers team that is 7-5-1 on the road. Gostisbehere said missing Sunday's win in Detroit was the smart move.
"It just made more sense for the team," Gostisbehere told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think a guy that is 100 percent is going to be more effective than me out there. You have to put the team first, and it worked out for us."