When: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (18-19-2 – 10th in East), Philadelphia Flyers (17-17-3- 11th in East)
Television/Radio: CBC, CSN-PH/TSN 1290
The Story: It will be do-or-die time for the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon when they host the Philadelphia Flyers (2:00 p.m. CST, CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada) as time is quickly running out in the 2013 regular season.
The Jets returned home from a three game road trip on Friday empty-handed, suffering losses to the New York Rangers (4-2), New York Islanders (5-2) and Montreal Canadiens (4-1), and in the process, falling from 3rd place in the Eastern Conference to 10th place in the span of minutes.
The Jets (38 points) are now chasing the Washington Capitals (38 points) for the Southeast Division lead and the 3rd spot in the East but with just nine games remaining to be played, Washington has more regulation wins and two games in hand.
Winnipeg will face a Philadelphia team that appears to be peaking at just the right time. The Flyers have won four games in a row (most recently a 5-3 win on Thursday night over the Toronto Maple Leafs) and have climbed up to 11th place in the East after being in 14th place just one week ago (Philadelphia currently trails the New York Rangers by three points for the last playoff spot).
One thing will be certain for the Winnipeg Jets today: If they don’t score more goals than they have been lately, they probably won’t win. This may seem obvious for most hockey teams, but it is especially true for this group. The Jets have been outscored 20-6 in their last five games (all losses) and have failed to score more than two goals in any of those games. Former 30-goal scorer Evander Kane has not scored a goal in his last five games and has only one goal in his last 9 games. The Jets need Kane, as well as top scorers Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler, to step up their games offensively- and soon- as they are simply not receiving enough secondary offence from other players in order to win games on a regular basis.
Coach Claude Noel announced on Friday that the Dustin Byfuglien-on-forward experiment has ended after one and a half games. Byfuglien moved up to play forward during Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders when Nikolai Antropov went down with an injury and continued to play as a forward against the Canadiens on Thursday. Byfuglien struggled as a forward and spent part of Thursday’s game on the bench.
With Byfuglien back on defense, expect either Kyle Wellwood or James Wright to get back into the line-up this afternoon versus the Flyers. Wellwood was a healthy scratch for the Jets on Thursday while James Wright has been activated off the Injured Reserve. Wright has not played since March 21st when he left the game against the Washington Capitals with an upper body injury. Grant Clitsome or Paul Postma will probably be the odd man out on defense.
This is the third of three meetings between the Flyers and Jets this season with Philadelphia holding the season series lead with two wins. Philadelphia defeated the Jets 3-2 back on February 12th in Winnipeg and 5-3 in Philadelphia on February 23rd.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets tonight. It will be Pavelec’s 36th start of the season.
Follow @IllegalCurve on Twitter leading up to today’s game.
Projected Jets line combinations (subject to change before game time):
1st: Andrew Ladd- Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
3rd: Eric Tangradi– Alexander Burmistrov- Mike Santorelli
4th: Kyle Wellwood/James Wright– Aaron Gagnon – Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Grant Clitsome- Mark Stuart
* BOLD indicates player wasn’t in line-up for the Jets last game
Philadelphia Flyers: Jakub Voracek (16 goals, 22 assists, 38 points), Claude Giroux (11 goals, 26 assists, 37 points), Wayne Simmonds (12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 19 assists, 33 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points) Evander Kane (13 goals, 13 assists, 26 points)
Philadelphia Flyers: Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Kimmo Timonen (undisclosed), Nicklas Grossman (upper body), Maxime Talbot (leg), Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Danny Briere (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), James Wright (undisclosed), Nikolai Antropov (lower body)
Who’s Next: The Jets host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, April, 9th at 7:00 p.m. CST.