Preview: Winnipeg Jets face-off against Philadelphia Flyers in Black Friday matinee

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets roll into Philly for an early morning tilt.

Preview:

I love American Thanksgiving.  It is easily up there as one of my favourite days of the year.  I remember it started with my mom letting my skip out of school early to come home from school to hurry home and watch football.  It has now escalated into an event.  I now take a couple of days off and turn it into an event with some of my closest friends.  You could imagine my excitement when the NHL schedule was released and I saw this gem of a game on Black Friday.  I will be sitting at home, in my sweat pants, engulfed in a whiskey/stuffing/gravy/pumpkin pie hangover, soaking this game in while everybody else tries to find a way to sneak out of the office for an extended lunch.

The Jets are on another one of these hot streaks.  This team has got to be one of the most frustrating teams that I have ever paid attention to(and that is saying a lot considering I am a Vikings fan).  Seriously though, I am starting to think they are to blame and not genetics for my early-onset male pattern baldness.  The Jets play so terribly for stretches and drive us all to want to hate them and then all of a sudden the go on a little streak that sucks us all in.  This is one of those streaks.  They’re like that ex that dumped you .  You try and try to hate them when all of a sudden you run into her and realize that you just don’t have it in you to hate her.  That’s this team, and right now they are telling us that we should get a drink sometime.

They are heading into the 3rd game of this 6-game road trip on a 2-game winning streak and it’s safe to say that they have earned those two wins.  The have received some good games up and down the line-up and they have got that secondary scoring when they needed it.  Jacob Trouba has returned with a bang and really doesn’t look like he just missed a month.  Team defence has been good, goaltending has been solid, The Jets are continuing to improve in the face-off circle.  Things are looking rosy.  But, we all know this team.  What are these "drinks" going to entail?  Are the Jets inviting us to these "drinks" to tell us all about their new boyfriend or are they testing out the waters to see if there is still a spark?  We shall see bright and early this morning.

Keys to the Game:

Winnipeg Jets

Score first: We have all seen the stats.  The Jets are a two completely different teams depending on if they score first or if their opponents score first.  They are 8-2-1 when striking first and 4-9-3 when they allow the first goal.  The Flyers are quite similar with 9-3-1 and 1-9-1 records. The Jets seem to go into some sort of tailspin as soon as they go down in a game and they have a hard time recovering from it.  The Flyers were home with their family for Thanksgiving and their blood will be laced with tryptophan.  Strike first and stick to the plan.

All aboard the #TroubaTrain: This guy seems to be money in the bank.  Yeah there are times when he looks like a 19 year old but there are times when he looks like Chris Pronger out there.  Everything that he does looks so natural.  The way he moves the puck, the way he skates, the way he seems to know when he is able to join a rush.  The Flyers have last change and it is safe to assume that they will try to expose the youth on the back end by matching up their tough top lines against the Trouba pairing.  He will have to withstand their physical play and keep showing that 6 teams ahead of the Jets picked the wrong defencemen in the ‘12 draft.

Dictate, Dictate, Dictate: The Jets are a team that really struggle when they are not the team dictating the action.  The Flyers are a team that try to suck you into a physical, gritty, chippy game and just when you’re getting mad they strike.  We all watched that playoff series with the Penguins a couple years ago.  The Jets cannot let the Flyers dictate the play in this game.  They need to decide what kind of game that they want to play and force the Flyers to join them.

Philadelphia Flyers

Shoot the puck: The Flyers are only 18th in the league with 29.5 shots per game.  Ondrej Pavelec is presumed to be between the pipes this morning.  He struggles with rebounds and teams seem to thrive when the puck is in traffic in front of them.  Get pucks on the net, crash the net, and see what happens.

Keep out of harms way: The Jets have employed the strategy of throw everything on net no matter where you are and try to make things happen from there.  The Jets are 5th in the league in shots because of this.  The Flyers need to accept the fact that the Jets are going to attempt a lot of shots.  They need to make sure that these shots are not from dangerous areas. The Flyers also need to know that when the Jets are in dangerous shooting areas, they will shoot and the Flyers need to get bodies in those lanes.

Let’s get physical: Make the Jets mad.  The Jets are easily sucked into physical chippy games and it doesn’t always end well for them.  They need to crash the net and play physical in front of their own net.  They also need to know that being short-handed isn’t that huge of a concern due to the fact that the Jets have the 28th ranked PP in the league.  The Flyers should not be afraid to push the envelope.1

Player to boo mercilessly:

I hate the Flyers, I really hate Philadelphia sports in general so this is a tough one.  I’m going to have to go with Scott Hartnell.  This is tough because he’s the type to feed off of it, but I’m going to go there.

Prediction:

Winnipeg Jets - 5

Philadelphia Flyers - 3 F

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