Philadelphia’s greatest hero. (photo by Susan Smith)
While the majority of North Americans will be out this morning trampling each other’s faces for slightly cheaper merchandise, the Jets roll into the Wells Fargo Center with a chance to string together their second longest winning streak of the season.
Yes, consistency has not been Winnipeg’s strong suit this year – at least not in the Western Conference. However, with wins in New York and New Jersey, the Jets improved to an impressive 5-1-1 record against Eastern Conference teams. Two of the remaining four games on this Eastern road trip come against below .500 teams, and one of those teams is the Philadelphia Flyers.
The last time the Jets and the Flyers met, Winnipeg entered the contest winners of three straight. A two goal performance from Dustin Byfuglien lifted the Jets to a shootout win, but the Jets would go on to lose their next four. After a rocky start to the season, Philadelphia has started to turn it around by going 6-3-1 in their last ten games. They are now only three points out of a playoff spot in the Neapolitan Division.
Two not-so-great teams do battle at 10:30 AM. Let’s do this.
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Kane – Jokinen – Setoguchi
- Halischuk – Scheifele – Frolik
- Tangradi – Wright – Thorburn
Claude Noel will be icing the same forward line-up for the fourth straight game, and why not? In the past two games, every line has produced at least one goal. Jokinen’s line has looked particularly good, and to the relief of everyone, Evander Kane seems to be finding his game a bit more as of late.
- Byfuglien – Enstrom
- Stuart – Ellerby
- Trouba – Clitsome
Much like up front, Noel keeps the same blueline arrangement he’s had for the past two games.
The reunion of Byfuglien and Enstrom has been fun to watch. They haven’t lost any of the chemistry we saw on full display last year. Unfortunately, putting the two strongest defenders together is bound to have a trickle-down effect on your line-up. Especially when your roster is as deep as a kiddie pool.
Stuart hasn’t looked great since returning from his hip injury, often struggling to get out of his own zone and surrendering too much space on opposing zone entries. Trouba has looked decent in his own return from injury, but needs to play with a reliable veteran like Bogosian, instead of being expected to be Clitsome’s steady hand.
Though unconfirmed, Pavelec is likely to get the start. He played well in New Jersey on Monday, and should be well-rested after watching his back-up Al Montoya get a win Wednesday in New York.
- Hartnell – Giroux – Voracek
- Schenn – Lecavalier – Simmonds
- Downie – Couturier – Read
- Rinaldo – Hall – Raffl
This Flyers team hinges on the production of Claude Giroux. When Giroux struggled at the season’s start, so did the Flyers. Giroux is currently riding a six-game point streak and is creeping closer to a point per game pace. He’s getting better every game.
Giroux’s linemates Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek are both struggling to recreate previous success. Hartnell is now two years removed from his breakout 37 goal season and has only scored 12 in his last 52 games. And with 12 points in 24 games, Voracek is nowhere near the almost point per game pace he was on last year.
Lecavalier has had a good start with his new team, currently sitting third in team scoring. If Lecavalier can continute to contribute at this clip, his $4,500,000 cap hit might actually be worth it.
Since coming back to Philadelphia, Steve Downie has sparked the third line in a big way. Linemates Sean Couturier and Matt Read have scored 4 and 5 points respectively in the last five games and Downie is a big reason why.
Zac Rinaldo is awful.
- Timonen – Coburn
- Grossman – Streit
- Schenn – Gustafsson
Philadelphia’s defence has been a rare bright spot for them this season. After a slow start, aging Kimmo Timonen is starting to look more like the guy who put up 29 points in 45 games last year. Timonen often warms into production and this year appears no different.
Off-season acquisition Mark Streit has been a positive addition for the Flyers, although he hasn’t done enough to justify the $5,250,000 yet and probably won’t.
Laughing stock Steve Mason has been anything but this year, posting a .931 save percentage in 17 games. He should get the start this morning, and if he’s on his game, will be tough to beat.
The Jets have already beat the Flyers this season and should be able to do it again. Both teams have some depth issues, but the Jets will need their second and third lines to keep playing at a high level to keep up with Philadelphia’s centre depth in Lecavalier and Couturier. Byfuglien and Enstrom will likely see a lot of Claude Giroux, and will need to play an error-free game to keep him off the scoresheet.