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Flyers face Jets looking to get back on track

If they don’t though, it’s hard to blame them much.

Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

After a no-good-very-bad game vs. Minnesota yesterday, the Flyers get no relief in facing the Winnipeg Jets this evening. They’ll likely do so without Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick — who were lost to injury last night, because you know, this team hasn’t had enough of that this season. Winnipeg might only be fourth in the Central Division, but they’re just six points behind the St. Louis Blues for the top spot.

Winnipeg has gotten off to a better start than many expected (including myself), with their lack of overall talent and depth on the blue line. However, that hasn’t stopped them from being a top 10 team in the league in goals allowed. Surprisingly enough, it’s been their goal scoring that has let them down. They’ve scored just 94 goals so far this season, good for just 22nd in the NHL.

A huge reason for their success has been the play of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who posts the sixth best save percentage in the league. Without him, who knows where the Jets sit given the quality of the shot attempts they’re allowing. They’re fifth worst in the NHL in expected goals allowed, at a 65.31 just ahead of the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers have struggled of late at getting high quality chances, so this evening would be a good place to get back on track.

However, I do think it’s important to state if this team comes out flat today, and lose, they probably deserve a pass. We’ve heard all year how tight this team is, and with everything that’s gone on lately, I’m sure a lot of them just want to get home and see Oskar. This has been the season of “no excuses” and it should be. But I think an exception can be made in the short-term.

Players to watch for

James van Riemsdyk — JVR found himself back in the goal column last night, and man would it be huge if he could get hot. All of the stars on this team are going to need to pick up the slack of the depth that’s been lost, and JVR is no exception. He hasn’t been given the greatest opportunity to break out of that slump being on the fourth line, but now with Alain Vigneault essentially forced to move him up the pecking order, hopefully JVR can take advantage of it.

The rookies — It’s a really tough thing to ask of these kids, but with all the injuries to the depth on this team, the rookies are going to need to be better. You never want 19 and 20 year olds having to pick up too much slack and be a star on the team right away, but with the hell this team is going through, it’s where we are. Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost have been solid ever since coming up to the team, and clearly have the talent to stick, but now we need to see them score consistently at least for the time being.

Two big questions

1. Can the power play, idk, do anything well?

This is more so me begging them to be better than a question, but you know how it goes. The power play was awful vs. Minnesota, and will need to be better vs. the fifth worst PK in the league. If they can’t score against these guys, not sure who they will score against.

2. Please, no one else get hurt.

My heart can’t take it, guys, just stay safe out there.

Flyers projected lineup

LOL well, about that.

Look, I’m sure Alain Vigneault couldn’t even fill this out if he was writing the preview, so I, a peasant, have absolutely no idea what they’re going to do today. Your guess is as good as ours among the remaining healthy forwards. It’s gonna be a weird one today, folks.

The Jets are a weird team. No real defense to speak of. A few offensive gems, but nothing mind blowing. And a goalie playing really, really well. Put that together and it is good for third in the Central right now. Cara Thorington of Arctic Ice Hockey joins us to fill us in on what has been happening in Winnipeg so far this season and what we can expect the Flyers to face in this game.

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