No signs of cracks in the confident Philadelphia Flyers' machine

ByJoe McDonald ESPN logo
Thursday, December 15, 2016

What do you need to know about last night's big stories? Joe McDonald gives us his take on the biggest and best. This is where we say, "Morning, Joe."

No holding back the Flyers: The Philadelphia Flyers extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 4-3 victory over the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. It's the franchise's longest run since a 13-game streak during the 1985-86 season. Philadelphia has propelled itself into the playoff picture in the Metropolitan Division -- they are tied with the New York Rangers for second, but the Rangers have a game in hand -- with 41 points. How far can the Flyers take this? I'm not talking about the winning streak, because that could end tomorrow, but Philadelphia's chances of earning a playoff berth are looking good. It helps that goalie Steve Mason has been solid with an 8-0-0 record, along with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in his past eight starts. Forward Brayden Schenn, 25, has also become clutch, scoring the winning goal in three consecutive games. The Flyers are a confident group -- win, lose or draw. You get the sense they can sustain this type of success.

No retribution: The big game came and went and there was no retribution against Phil Kessel for his tweet about Team USA during the World Cup of Hockey. The Pittsburgh Penguins winger, who was left off the American roster, sent out a tweet after the team went 0-3 in the September tournament that the U.S. players did not like. At the time, David Backes of the Boston Bruins said those types of comments aren't forgotten. On Wednesday, the Bruins and Penguins played for the first time since the tweet, and before the game Backes said his focus was on the two points and not Kessel. Backes still acknowledged that Kessel was wrong, but nothing came of it during Pittsburgh's 4-3 overtime win. Kessel has not commented on the incident since. The two teams face off again on Jan. 22 and 26.

Burns topping the charts: San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burnsis once again in the Norris Trophy conversation. He finished third in voting last season, behind winner Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson, whom he played against Wednesday night in a 4-3 shootout win. Burns' game is on target, and he now has 13 goals and 15 assists in 30 games. His ability to influence the game at both ends of the ice is crucial to the Sharks' success; there's no way they would have reached the Stanley Cup finals last season without his services. If you were to pick the Norris winner today, the Montreal Canadiens' Shea Weber would be atop that list. His plus-18, along with 18 points in 29 games, has been impressive. But Burns, the league's leading goal-scorer among defensemen (he has six more goals than Karlsson, who also has 28 points), is right there with him.

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