NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Winnipeg Jets
Flyers (8-10-1) vs Jets (7-8-1) 1 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Despite their up and down record, the Philadelphia Flyers have been consistent in one area.
After two big road wins over the Islanders and Penguins, the Flyers seemed to be on their way. With a relatively favorable matchup against the Florida Panthers in their return home, many believed the Flyers would win their third straight contest. However, that was most certainly not the case, as the Panthers pounded Philadelphia by a score of 5-2. Whether it was fatigue, laziness, whatever, the Flyers may end up looking back on a game such as this down the road.
But they can’t look back now.
Instead, they must focus on Saturday’s opponent, a matinee game against the Winnipeg Jets. It will be the second out of three meetings between the teams this year. Philadelphia took game one by a final score of 3-2, seeing goals from Brayden Schenn, Kimmo Timonen and Tye McGinn. Winnipeg saw two goals from captain Andrew Ladd, but it just wasn’t enough.
With red hot forward Matt Read out for six weeks with a torn rib cage, the young McGinn will have to continue to play some solid two-way hockey. McGinn has been awesome for the Flyers, keeping plays alive, cycling the puck well and certainly isn’t afraid to drop the gloves (just ask Kris Newbury).
Head coach Peter Laviolette understands the importance of missing a guy like Read in the lineup.
“He’s a guy that does everything,” Laviolette said. “He can play point on the power play. He can play left wing, center, right wing. He can kill penalties. He’s a valuable piece to the puzzle.”
Speaking of solid hockey, how about Jakub Voracek lately? My goodness, he has easily been the Flyers best player as of late, posting nine points over the last four contests. It’s nice to see him actually shooting the puck as well. Fantasy owners rejoice.
Between the Pipes
With starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov having played more minutes than any other goalie in the entire league, it appears he will get a break on Saturday. Instead, it’ll likely be backup Brian Boucher in net for the Flyers. Whether he will admit it or not, Saturday will be a much needed break for Bryzgalov.
For the Jets, Ondrej Pavelec will get the nod. Pavelec has shown flashes of brilliance over the last few years, while also looking less than stellar. However, he is coming off back-to-back victories and is sporting a GAA under three.
Keys to Win
Forget the past: The Flyers seemed hungover during Thursday night’s loss against Florida. That can’t happen against an explosive, young Jets group. Focus on the now and look to make the most out of this homestand.
Keep shooting: Despite losing, Philadelphia fired 34 shots during the game against the Panthers. They certainly had the right mindset, but just could not finish. The Flyers cannot let that discourage them. If they keep up the pressure and get into the dirty areas, good things will happen.
Scott Hartnell will make his return to the Flyers lineup on Saturday after suffering a broken left foot in January.
Defenseman Andrej Meszaros is expected to miss another 7-10 days. He is still suffering from a shoulder injury.
Winnipeg’s top blue-liner Tobias Enstrom will be out for at least a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury of his own. One of the top offensive defensemen in hockey, Enstrom is a huge loss for the Jets.
Over the past 13 meetings, the Flyers are 2-10-1 against Winnipeg.