Game 19: Flyers at Winnipeg Jets Another Run and Gun Game?

Game 19: Flyers at Winnipeg Jets Another Run and Gun Game?

Last time the Flyers met the Winnipeg Jets (which, incidentally, was the first time since the mid '90s), the teams put on an offensive display for the ages, totaling 17 goals in a game the Jets won by a single goal with just over a minute to play.

While that game was exciting for its goal scoring and a dramatic come-from-behind performance by the Flyers, it was frustrating and more than a little alarming for a team that had lost its defensive and goaltending identities. Fortunately, the lapse seems to have been only transient, with Ilya Bryzgalov recovering somewhat quickly and the defense returning to form, aided by Chris Pronger rejoining the lineup. And, their luck seems to have improved. The stretch of bad bounces and deflections victimizing their best efforts seems to have waned for the time being.

So what will we get from these two clubs today, when the Flyers play in snowy Winnipeg for the first time since Eric Lindros was captain and Ron Hextall was in net?

First, I gotta just say, I absolutely love the fact that there is once again a hockey team in Winnipeg, and that they didn't change the name from the Jets. It's like we got a piece of the hockey of our youths back, with the added benefit of erasing the Atlanta Thrashers from the NHL map.

Since Their Last Meeting…
The Flyers' 9-8 loss to the Jets on October 27th may have been the low point of their season to date. Fortunately, it seems to have kickstarted an upswing that has them currently sitting at first place in the Eastern Conference standings. Since that loss, the Flyers have collected points in eight straight games, with their only two losses coming after the regulation horn blew.

They've won three straight heading into Saturday afternoon's matinee showdown with the Jets.

Winnipeg is coming off a pair of very impressive home wins, topping the Tampa Lightning by a 5-2 count on Monday and clipping the Washington Capitals, 4-1, on Thursday. However, the Jets had lost five straight (three in regulation) before that, displaying an inconsistency that makes them hard to quantify. We don't have to look beyond their win over the Flyers and their brace of W's this past week to see that they can skate with anyone, but their overall record (7-9-3) shows that they can and should be outclassed by more consistent teams. Still, their confidence has to be on the rise after taking out Tampa and the Caps.

Player Notes
Jaromir Jagr will miss the game for the Flyers after coming up lame in the win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. The Flyers obviously have the firepower to survive that loss, but it sucks to see one of hockey's most dangerous duos tampered with for any reason. Of course, I might score if put alongside Claude Giroux. NHL.com's Adam Kimelman lists a slew of injured defensemen for the Jets, including Ron Hainsey, Derek (Mike) Meech, Tobias "Funke" Enstrom, and Randy Jones, plus a questionable Brett Festerling.

No official announcement yet on goalies, but Ondrej Pavelec is on a roll for the Jets, and Bryz has his mojo going for the Flyers. Neither team played Friday, so both should be available unless their coaches want to get the backups some work.

Update: Peter Laviolette says Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in net. Redemption Song, Bobby.

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in a trade including goalie Peter Budaj and an exchange of draft picks.

The Kings will pair Bishop with Jonathan Quick in a remarkable veteran goaltending tandem down the stretch of the regular season. Quick returned only Saturday from a 59-game absence with a serious groin injury.

The Kings gave up Budaj, junior defenseman Erik Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and another conditional pick. Los Angeles received Bishop and Tampa Bay's 2017 fifth-round pick.

Both teams are scrapping to get into playoff position over the next six weeks. The Kings (30-27-4) are just outside the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference, while the Lightning (27-25-8) are seven points back of a playoff spot.

The deal was particularly surprising after Budaj's unlikely success with the Kings this season.

The veteran Slovak netminder filled in splendidly after Quick got hurt in the first period of Los Angeles' season opener, going 27-20-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

Budaj returned to a backup role Saturday while Quick led the Kings to a 4-1 victory over Anaheim. Los Angeles has a heavy schedule in March, and general manager Dean Lombardi might have been worried about the toll of heavy work on Quick's health.

After a slow start to his NHL career in St. Louis and Ottawa, the 6-foot-7 Bishop has been a solid NHL goalie for the past four seasons in Tampa Bay. He backstopped the Lightning to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to Chicago.

But Bishop will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Andrei Vasilevskiy -- widely thought to be the Lightning's goalie of the future -- is expected to be protected by Tampa Bay in the expansion draft.

Bishop is 16-12-3 with a 2.55 GAA and a .911 save percentage this season, while Vasilevskiy is 11-13-5 with a 2.81 GAA.

Report: Wild get C Martin Hanzal from Coyotes
A person with knowledge of the trade says the Minnesota Wild have acquired Czech center Martin Hanzal from the Arizona Coyotes.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Sunday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Details on the return to Arizona were not immediately available.

Hanzal was considered one of the top rental players available ahead of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has 16 goals and 10 assists in 51 games this season and 313 points in 608 NHL games, all with the Coyotes.

The move signals an aggressive approach from the Wild, who lead the Central Division and Western Conference by three points over the Chicago Blackhawks.

End to End: Which 1 move will Flyers most likely make at Wednesday's NHL trade deadline?

End to End: Which 1 move will Flyers most likely make at Wednesday's NHL trade deadline?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

Today’s question: Which one move is most likely at Wednesday's NHL trade deadline?
 
Dougherty
There has been a lot of chatter about why the Flyers should sell at Wednesday's trade deadline. They won't be buying. Sell is the wrong word here. The Flyers are not selling and changing course. They are not trading Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and starting over. Instead, the next logical step in the rebuild is to shed an expiring contract and open up a spot for a kid.

It just so happens the Flyers have three expiring contracts on defense, and one player comes to mind who would be attractive to contending teams and also paves the way for a defenseman at Lehigh Valley to gain some valuable NHL experience the rest of the season.

That player is Mark Streit, a 39-year-old puck-moving defenseman who can help a team's power play and provide some veteran leadership to boot. Streit has a modified no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he has a list of 10 teams he can be traded to, but that should not be a roadblock in moving him. He'll be a free agent on July 1 and a playoff run is far more attractive than wasting away the final two months of the season in mediocrity.

Streit does have a high cap hit ($5.25 million), but the Flyers could retain some of it. He comes off the books on July 1 and a rental for an acquiring team anyway. The cap hit would not be a deal-breaker here. That is an easy hurdle to clear in this situation.

There are valid arguments against trading Streit, and moving, say, Michael Del Zotto, another attractive expiring contract. Streit is a veteran voice in the Flyers' room and respected within the organization. He's still a valuable piece here. In a perfect world, general manager Ron Hextall can shed both Streit and Del Zotto and open up two spots on the blue line, clearing the way for two (2!) Phantoms defensemen to get some experience.

But, trading Streit is the one move I see as most likely to happen before Wednesday's deadline. Acquire a draft pick for Streit and call up Robert Hagg or Sam Morin. In this scenario, the bet here would be on Hagg. And remember, it's not selling, it's the next step.
 
Hall
Before the season, I was a big believer in trading one of the Flyers' goalies at the March 1 deadline.

Now, it makes even more sense in a season that appears to be headed for not much of anything.

Why hold on to two goalies set for unrestricted free agency when you'll almost certainly lose at least one for absolutely nothing this offseason? 

Michal Neuvirth turns 29 next month, as does Steve Mason in May. Both are having down seasons, but are still tradable and capable goalies -- whether it be in a starter's role or backup duty.

Is either goalie the Flyers' future when the team is ready for contention?

The orange and black are stocked with goaltending prospects in Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom. Stolarz got a small taste of the NHL earlier this season and could more than hold down the second-string fort the rest of 2016-17. When the offseason comes, then you worry about what's next between the pipes.

But right now, one of the most rational decisions for the Flyers at the trade deadline would be moving a goalie. Neuvirth currently carries a more reasonable cap hit at $1.625 million, while Mason is at $4.1 million. Make a tough decision and start prepping more for the road ahead.

I think a trade can and should be done by Wednesday.

Paone
Thanks to injury and Dave Hakstol's recent emphasis on defensive structure, Del Zotto hasn't been in the Flyers' lineup much recently. Del Zotto is now healed from the lower-body injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks, so the part about an emphasis on defensive structure is important here when talking about his status with the Flyers.

Del Zotto has never been a defense-first type player. His strength is clearly his offensive ability. But unfortunately for Del Zotto, that's just not what the Flyers need out of their defensemen these days. So it should be no surprise he has slid down Hakstol's depth chart as the need for his role has decreased dramatically. But there are plenty of teams out there, contending ones, too, that could use some offensive punch on the blue line and on the power play. Del Zotto has played in only 30 games this season with four goals and six assists and is a role player these days, but there's a role for him somewhere out there. It's just not in Philadelphia anymore.

His $3.875 million cap hit is a bit steep, but he's a UFA at season's end, so it will come off the books. That should make a team much more willing to take a chance on Del Zotto and his cap in exchange for a draft pick, which Hextall values. Plus, he's not likely to be back here next year anyway, as the Flyers will likely start infusing more of the defensive talent they have in the minors into the big club. So might as well get something for him while you can. Contending teams can never have too much depth and those teams like to build depth through the trade market at this time of year. There's a fit somewhere out there for Del Zotto before the March 1 trade deadline.