A week ago, the Winnipeg Jets were looking to fall into the basement of the Western Conference, while the Philadelphia Flyers were going nowhere but up in the East. Now, the Jets, winners of two straight games, visit the Flyers, who have dropped their last two decisions, in the earliest NHL game of the season on Friday.
This is the last time the Jets and Flyers meet, playing their second game in two weeks against each other. In the first game, Winnipeg rode a goal by Bryan Little to victory, escaping with two points in a 3-2 win in the shootout at the MTS Centre.
The Flyers were in Tampa Bay for a divisional match-up on Wednesday, and lost the physical affair by a score of 4-2. The Jets continue their longest road trip of the season, after winning both of their first two games on the road, in New Jersey and most recently, beating the New York Islanders on Wednesday 3-2.
The Flyers will see Steve Mason in between the pipes, after he was a huge contributor in the team’s recent success. Ondrej Pavelec will be his counterpart, starting his fourth game out of the last five, sitting out in New York in favor of Al Montoya.
Philadelphia will bring a healthy lineup in the contest, although Chris Pronger and Marc-Andre Bourdon are still on the Long-Term Injured Reserve after post-concussion symptoms dating back to over two years ago. Winnipeg won’t be missing anyone they have had on the road trip, but will still be without Jim Slater, Zach Bogosian, and Paul Postma, who are all on the Injured Reserve, and are not close to returning.
The Jets’ offense will have to get the puck past Mason, who has been outstanding as of late, to win the game. Penetrating the offensive zone shouldn’t be a problem with the Flyers’ defense, although they will need to keep their heads on a swivel; Philly’s blue-liners are some of the most physical in the league. The Flyers have an underrated offensive lineup, led by one of the league’s most talented players in Claude Giroux. If the Jets’ top pairing of Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom can take care of the Flyers’ top guns, the rest of Winnipeg’s defensive core should have no trouble following suit against the Flyers’ second, third, and fourth lines. The Jets’ big bodies will be put to the test, as games against the Flyers are traditionally physical affairs.
The Jets are back to .500% on the road, (5-5-1) thanks to their two consecutive wins. The Flyers are almost identical on their own ice, posting a 4-5-2 record so far this season. Winnipeg has dominated their Eastern Conference foes with a 6-1-1 record, and have gone 4-0-1 in the Flyers’ Metropolitan Division. The Flyers are in tough, with a 1-3-1 against Western Conference teams.
You can catch Friday morning’s game on TSN Jets, or TSN 1290 radio. If you’re a non-regional viewer, the game will be broadcast on CSN-Philadelphia. Set your alarm clocks, folks: puck drop is at 10:30 AM Central Time.
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