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Preview: Flyers host Jets in last game before the break

Can they make it two in a row?

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers will take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight in Philadelphia. It’s the last Flyers game before the All Star break; they will not hit the ice as a team again until next Wednesday against the Red Wings.

Thanks to back-to-back long breaks between games and an actual, honest-to-God win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, it has been a full week since we’ve endured a Philadelphia Flyers loss. Said win ended a streak of 13 consecutive winless games—the longest in franchise history. Tonight’s matchup with the Winnipeg Jets will provide the team with a chance to start building something different, even if the season is all but unsalvageable at this point. After all, the season’s previous double-digit losing streak was immediately followed by a seven-game point streak. A win tonight would mean we would go at least 15 days without a loss—a possible much-needed respite after it felt like they were losing every other day for the entirety of January.

This is the first matchup between the Flyers and the Jets this season, meaning its the first since February 2020, a 4-2 Flyers win that was part of a nine-game win streak and came just two weeks before the season was paused. The Jets are 18-16-7 on the year, 6th in the Central Division. They’re also coming off a losing-streak-busting win on Saturday, theirs against the Blues to stop a six-game skid.

While it feels like we’re all on board with balking at the playoffs this season and aiming for a top draft pick, it would also be nice to go into the break formerly known as the Olympic break with a little two-game win streak, you know, as a treat.

Projected Flyers lines:

Oskar ​​Lindblom—Claude Giroux—Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk—Scott Laughton—Travis Konecny
Max Willman—Morgan Frost—Gerald Mayhew
Isaac Ratcliffe—Connor Bunnaman—Zack MacEwen

Ivan Provorov—Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim—Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle—Cam York

Carter Hart
(Martin Jones)

Projected Jets lines:

Andrew Copp—Mark Scheifele—Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor—Pierre-Luc Dubois—Cole Perfetti
Paul Stastny—Adam Lowry—Austin Poganski
Jansen Harkins—Dominic Toninato—Kristian Vesalainen

Brenden Dillon—Nate Schmidt
Ville Heinola—Neal Pionk
Declan Chisholm—Johnathan Kovacevic

Connor Hellebuyck
(Eric Comrie)

Keep an eye on:

  • Cam Atkinson, who, after Saturday’s three-point performance has 15 points in the last 13 games. The 32-year-old is now tied with Claude Giroux for the team lead with 35 points and, along with Justin Braun, is one of only two Flyers in the lineup who have been on the ice for more goals than they’ve allowed.
  • Kyle Connor, who is second in the NHL in 5-on-5 shots on goal with 124, third in all strengths shots with 184, second in 5-on-5 goals with 17, and seventh in all strengths goals with 24. His 24 goals and 20 assists are both team highs for the Jets.
  • Carter Hart, whose bounce back season has mostly been overshadowed by the poor play in front of him in almost every single game he’s started. Despite an 8-14-5 record, Hart has a .913 save percentage and is averaging 2.87 goals against. When the 2021-22 Flyers lose—at least to this point—it’s unlikely that Hart is the reason. There’s been two maybe three but definitely less than five games where that could be said of his performance.
  • Connor Hellebuyk’s puck-handling, as he has had a number of gaffes in his past few games, including a brutal bank pass directly to Jeff Carter that lead to a goal against the Penguins and a failed clear that ended up on Mason Marchment’s stick and in the back of the net against the Panthers.

Stray stats:

  • The Flyers are 42-14-3-6 (W-L-T-OTL) against the Jets franchise all-time, which goes back to their days as the Atlanta Thrashers.
  • The 1998-99 Flyers team followed their 12-game winless streak with wins in their next three and points in their next six. They finished second in the Atlantic and lost the first round in six games to the Toronto Maple Leafs en route to the Conference Finals.
  • Travis Konecny is averaging a career-high 2.67 shots per game through 42 games this season. His shots per game has ranged from 1.90 to 2.22 in his previous five seasons. But his shooting percentage is at a career-low: 6.3% for a total of 7 goals. If that trend held (which I assume it won’t), it’d be his worst shooting season and first under 10% since his rookie year. Konecny is currently on pace to score 13 goals in an 82-game season.
  • Winnipeg’s bottom three defenseman (Ville Heinola, Declan Chisholm, and Johnathan Kovacevic) tonight have played a combined 7 games this season and a combined 20 games in their careers. Only Heinola has scored any career points, and none have come this season.
  • Claude Giroux will be making his seventh appearance in the NHL’s All Star Game this week, the second most appearances of any player present, one behind Alex Ovechkin. I don’t always tune into all of the events and the entirety of the games, but the writing on the wall tells us this may be his last time at the festivities donning the winged P, so I might just have to savor it while I can.