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.
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.