Every hockey team experiences adversity over the course of the season. Part of what separates top clubs from the pretenders -- almost as much as the collection of talent on the roster -- is their ability to pull things together and avoid the snowball effect that results in prolonged losing skids.
The foundation for a winning streak is often painstakingly built from gradual and subtle areas of improvement shown in the latter games of stretches in which wins are scarce. The reverse is also true. Losing streaks are often born of the compounding bad habits that teams get away with during the latter games of winning streaks before the losses start to pile up.
With so much parity in the National Hockey League, every team goes through this cycle to varying degrees. The difference is that top teams get their issues corrected sooner rather than later, so they don't spend too long lingering in the valleys.
Team confidence doesn't appear or disappear just like that. It starts with habits, results and repetition.
Winners of three straight games and four of their last five, the Philadelphia Flyers have actually played pretty good hockey overall in a span of the last nine matches. During that span, the club has gone 5-2-2.
The NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday suspended defenseman Radko Gudas for three games, after a hit to the head of Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Senators.
Zibanejad was injured on the play and left the game, which factored into the suspension. However, Gudas has never once been suspended or fined in his four NHL seasons, so the decision to suspend him for three games is a puzzling one. The hit occurred at 2:07 of the third period, and no penalty was called on the play.
It started when Mark Streit went down with an injury, but Michael Del Zotto really emerged as a workhorse in the last three games.
In the Flyers Black Friday game, which went to overtime, Del Zotto played 25:34. In Saturday's shutout win against the Rangers, Del Zotto played 29:20 as the Flyers dealt with a shorthanded defensive staff. In Tuesday's win over Ottawa, he played 26:55.
Already one of the veterans on the blue line for the Flyers, Del Zotto has become a leader. And unlike some of his partners defensively, he could have a long-term place with the Flyers.
It was a pretty tight first period, and they blew two leads, but the Philadelphia Flyers stepped up when they had to and now can claim their first three game winning streak since January of last season. The Flyers really seized this game with an 18 shot second period, and fittingly the Couturier line provided the game winning goal.
It wasn't a terribly busy night for the Flyers penalty kill unit, but they extended their streak to 21 consecutive kills as well. All in all, it goes down as a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.