The famed Broad Street
Thanks to a three game winning streak, the visiting Flyers have crawled all the way up to 13th in the East. Struggling stars, limited depth, a well respected coach fired after three games, and the 2nd worst scoring rate in the league have combined to make Philadelphia the most obvious source of two points on the Jets’ November calendar.
Of course, with years of experience against the Panthers and Hurricanes, the Jets know better than to be counting points before the final buzzer. Even more importantly, a team that was in a tail spin just one week ago has suddenly scored 11 of their season total 33 goals in the 3 games coming into tonight’s matchup.
Suddenly, it’s the tale of two teams on hot streaks, each trying to prove they’ve left October behind.
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Kane – Scheifele – Setoguchi
- Frolik – Jokinen – Halischuk
- Tangradi – Wright – Peluso
This is a ‘best guess’ scenario. Jokinen’s success on that second line has started to slide, and certainly Scheifele has been the brightest part of the third line for a few games. Against Detroit, we saw their positions reverse again. Will it continue?
Also against Detroit, we saw James Wright’s worst game at centre. The third line faced 8 shots against in 7 minutes of ice time, and managed zero shots for. Thorburn has not been a positive addition to the group, and I suspect Peluso will draw back in.
Apart from those position battles, the Jets’ forward group is in the best shape it’s been in all year. The top line is scoring and playing tough opposition. Devin Setoguchi is creating offence, and our worst complaint is that he’s not shooting in all the chances he’s getting.
Evander Kane had an off-game against Detroit, and the team is organizing differently in offensive transition. We might see those struggles continue. Still, he was positive in scoring chance differential, and was a monster at zone entries again. Expectations are high, and even in off games, Kane remains a positive impact player.
Michael Frolik continues to be quietly effective, but not overwhelmingly so. I get the impression that the team could get a lot more from him with better linemates, but for now Halischuk is the best the team has to offer.
- Clitsome – Byfuglien
- Enstrom – Bogosian
- Pardy – Ellerby
We should be excited to see Pavelec tonight. He does his best work with two days rest. Since 2010, he’s played in 36 contests with two days rest and has a .930 save percentage in those games. Oh, what a team they’d be!
Clitsome has had an explosion of offence, but in general, this defence group is still an effective defender short of playoff quality. Last game it was Enstrom and Bogosian who struggled. In games past, Clitsome and Byfuglien has been the victimized pair. Matchups play a role, of course, and it will be interesting to see who pulls the Giroux assignment tonight.
- Hartnell – Giroux – Voracek
- Schenn – Lecavalier – Simmonds
- Read – Couturier – Downie
- Rinaldo – Hall – Rosehill
On paper, this remains a very strong group in spite of seemingly constant turnover. Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn lead the team in goals and points, now tied with Giroux after his recent awakening this past week. In other words, those top two lines are both very dangerous.
As well, the Flyers have been linked to a number of trade rumours this season already, and most of them include 8th overall 2011 selection Sean Couturier. Famous in Winnipeg for being passed over to make Mark Scheifele the first pick of the Jets 2.0, Couturier has already accumulated 2 seasons of NHL experience as a two-way forward. His ceiling is still unknown, but it seems the Flyers are growing tired of waiting to find out. He may be their Alex Burmistrov – not as much offence as anyone would like for a top-10 pick, but an effective hockey player from various forward positions. Tonight he may match up against Scheifele – the player Winnipeg believes has a higher offensive potential but is getting his first full-time taste of the NHL at 20 years of age.
- Timonen – Coburn
- Grossman – Streit
- Schenn – Gustafsson
Annnnnd this is why they’re bad.
Strangely, Steve Mason has been exceptional for the Flyers, and for the first time in years the team has a valued and trusted starting goalie. He boasts a 2.15 GAA and .930 save percentage. Apparently someone figured out how to connect his brain to his glove hand, and he stopped letting in three goals a game to a single place in the net. Congratulations, Steve. Can Ray come out and play? That guy’s been awful.
This group of defenders would need Chris Pronger to be any good. (Too soon?)
Keeping in mind that Andrej Meszaros is scratched, they really have a talent deficiency on the back end. Timonen is only a -1 on a team with a -12 goal differential, and Mark Streit has 6 points on a very low scoring team. They are the only positive corsi defenders on the team.
Eric Gustafsson has been a pleasant improvement over the highly paid Meszaros. He’s +1 with 4 points in 9 games in limited minutes against middle competition.
Former Atlanta draft pick (and the first pick by Jets Head Scout Marcel Comeau) Braydon Coburn, along with Grossman, Schenn, and Meszaros are a combined -13, however, in somewhat easy circumstances.
The Jets need to be able to take points away from struggling teams, and while the Flyers are finding their groove of late, they remain a team with weaknesses to exploit. Their defence is poor, and while Steve Mason has had an excellent season, he’s still the worst goalie to face 6,000 shots by 25 in league history. Of course, Pavelec is the second worst… but not with two days rest!