Over their six-game win streak, the Flyers have been getting away with winning by playing portions of games. They were extremely lucky to emerge with two points in Monday's 1-0 shootout victory over Montreal, giving away the second period last night to a Montreal team that is dead in the water, falling in love again too often with the pretty play.
But hey, they're in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Who would've thunk it two months ago?
"Our guys stuck together; Nothing came out of the locker room negative; We've got a good group here,'' Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said a few hours earlier as the NHL trade deadline expired. It's usually nice talk, little more. But if you're a young team surging, there's usually some emerging too, and such has been the case with this team as it seeks a lasting identity.
The statistics tell you that Shayne Gostisbehere has become an elite player. What they don't tell you is that he is emerging as a team leader.
For the second time in eight days, Ghost dropped the gloves with a player who had delivered a hard shot on Travis Konecny. Against the Rangers two Sundays ago, it was Pavel Buchnevich.
Monday night it was Montreal's Max Pacioretty.
Neither was much of a fight. But they represented the first two fights of Gostisbehere's career. And thus, the meaning was huge.
You'd rather have somebody other than Gostisbehere, one the team's smaller finesse players, fight. But his willingness sends a message to the young players coming behind him. It's how a team builds an identity, something the 24-year-old third-year player seems quite aware of.