The Philadelphia Flyers pay their only visit to the MTS Centre on Tuesday night to face the Winnipeg Jets. It’s always a bit of an occasion when the Broad Street Bullies are in town. There are many Flyer fans across the province and there is deep connections between the Flyers and the province of Manitoba. Expect many orange and black jerseys to invade Portage & Donald.
Chris Thorburn did not practice on Monday and his status for the game is unknown. With Shawn Matthias gone for the season, the Jets could call up Kyle Connor if they want to use a more skilled lineup. However, the feeling here is Thorburn will find his way into the lineup and nothing will change.
Both Ben Chiarot and Mark Stuart did not skate with the team on Monday and while Stuart is a go for the game tonight, Chiarot is not. The Jets did call up Nelson Nogier from the Manitoba Moose on an emergency basis and he will get the call in place of Chiarot. Nogier is a fourth round pick in the 2014 draft but has only been seeing ice time on the bottom pairing with the Moose. The former Saskatoon and Red Deer junior does have size (6-3, 210 lb) but his skating and foot speed leaves a bit to desire.
Did Michael Hutchinson finally do enough to earn a start? Hutch’s performance in the third period against Minnesota on Sunday was excellent and he may get his first start since January 16. Connor Hellebuyck may be worn out, especially since he’s made 16 consecutive starts. Might be time for Hutch to get some crease time.
Confession: I’ve always liked Wayne Simmonds. Ever since the bruising right winger began his career in Los Angeles, I’ve enjoyed watching Simmonds ply his trade. He’s been a bright spot on a disappointing Flyer team. Simmonds has a team high 29 goals this campaign and continues to deliver his physical play every night.
Last time these two teams met, I spoke very highly of Shayne Gostisbehere in the preview. Turned out the young defenceman was a healthy scratch by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. Still, the man they call Ghost Bear in Philly is having a solid season. His possession numbers are very good (53.4% CF%) and his offensive numbers are OK (6G, 25A) despite being in Hakstol’s doghouse. I can only imagine what Gostisbehere is capable of if he played for a coach that liked him.
The Flyers have seemingly had goaltending issues since Bernie Parent won back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies in the mid 1970s. Both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth have battled inconsistency this season which has been a big reason Philadelphia is on the outside of the playoff picture. That said, the last time these two teams met back on November 17, Mason was splendid stopping 32 out of 34 shots for a .938 save percentage and a Flyers win. In other words, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
Game Prediction: I always get these wrong. I’m expecting a high scoring affair with some drama to boot. Since whenever I pick the Jets to lose, they seem to play well so I’ll do it again. Flyers win 6-5 in a shootout.
Obvious Prediction: If Thorburn plays, he gets into a fight. Because Chris Thorburn.
Not S0 Obvious Prediction: Nic Petan scores because he’s way overdue. Plus, he deserves one.