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Recap: Philadelphia Flyers @ Winnipeg Jets

Jan 13, 2024; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Samuel Ersson (33) stops a shot by Winnipeg Jets center Gabriel Vilardi (13) in the second period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets were going to be short-handed against the Philadelphia Flyers without first liners Kyle Connor & Mark Scheifele, but they did receive a break when Nicolaj Ehlers was able to go. Could the Jets keep up their winning ways?

Jets Forward Line Up:

Ehlers – Lowry – Vilardi
Perfetti – Namestnikov – Iafallo
Niederreiter – Kupari – Appleton
Barron – Toninato – Jonsson-Fjallby

Winnipeg controlled the flow of play early in this one, getting the early chances and not allowing Philadelphia a shot on net in the first 3 minutes. The Jets’ Vilardi had a great chance from the slot on the PP after a beautiful Lowry pass, but Philly’s Ersson flashed a glove to deny the chance. The home team had some more chances (Perfetti rebound off a post, Namestnikov look from the low slot, and a Toninato/Barron 2 on 1), but eventually the Flyers found their legs and took the play the other way. Hellebuyck did his typical thing, stopping multiple dangerous attempts but eventually a Morrissey defensive turnover ended up costing the team. The puck deflected off #44’s skate behind the net, popping right out front and forcing Bucky to make a huge save. Philadelphia kept up the pressure as Poehling gathered the puck and threw it towards the crease, only for Atkinson to deftly deflect it from near the face-off hashmarks to open up the scoring. After some more pressure from the visitors, the Jets had a couple more opportunities before the period ended (once again Lowry set up Vilardi for a chance all alone on Ersson & Appleton drove to the net, but ended up losing the puck due to a nice pokecheck). The MoneyPuck shot chart shows that both teams had their chances to put pucks by goalies in the 1st.

First Period MoneyPuck Stats: Score: 1 to 0 for the Flyers, shots 16 to 11 for the Flyers, 50.6% Deserve To Win for the Jets, Expected Goals – all situations (0.73-0.70 WPG), & 5 on 5 (0.70-0.58 WPG)

An early slashing penalty to Pionk gave Philly an early powerplay and while their PP percentage (11.9%) isn’t great, they have scored man-advantage goals in 3 straight games. Winnipeg did a fine job killing the early portion off, including a nice play by Samberg to deny a zone entry. However, a late push saw a point shot create a rebound that caught Sammie out of position, leaving Iafallo to fail in containing two Flyers in the crease and putting the Flyers up by 2. The visiting team sensed frailty in the home squad and really pressed things after this, but Hellebuyck was determined to keep the Jets in the game with outstanding play. Winnipeg did find their feet again later in the period and started to gamble for their 1st goal of the game, but that only resulted in dangerous counter attacks by the Flyers. Our squad did kill off another Philly PP when Morrissey was called for a trip, but the defender also had the best late scoring opportunity for the Peggers when he was denied on a mid-slot shot by Ersson’s glove. Bucky had to make a couple more saves on Flyer rushes before the period ended and the frame ended with the Jets on a powerplay (nice pass from Perfetti to Morrissey, but shot blocked). MoneyPuck’s chart show how Philadelphia took control in the 2nd frame.

After Two Periods MoneyPuck Stats: Score: 2 to 0 for the Flyers, shots 31 to 22 for the Flyers, 74% Deserve to Win for the Flyers, Expected Goals – all situations (2.68-1.54 PHI) & 5 on 5 (1.77-1.39 PHI)

Winnipeg tried to open things up in the 3rd period to get back into the game, resulting in scoring chances on both goaltenders. A glorious early chance for the Jets saw Dillon purposely miss the net on a a point shot, allowing Perfetti a chance to bang home a bad angle shot from the side of the net. Unfortunately, he rang the outside of the post and the continued cycle didn’t result in any further looks. Ersson continued to play fantastically, denying Morrissey with another flashed glove and shutting the pads on a Perfetti low slot shot. The Jet had their chances to solve Philadelphia’s tender (Niederreiter chance from near the blue paint, Vilardi deflection over the net, a diving shot by Iafallo sailing over the net, & another Morrissey point attempt through traffic). During all that, Philly still had their looks on counters and Bucky continued to keep the Jets within 2 goals. A late puck over glass penalty by the Flyers saw Winnipeg empty their net, but even a 6 to 4 skater advantage couldn’t help the Jets solve Ersson. They did get some good chances, with the goalie crossing the crease to stop a Morrissey 1 timer and Ehlers narrowly missing a cross-crease pass to Vilardi. The MoneyPuck shot chart ended up looking fairly even, but the uncharacteristic high volume of low slot chances by Philly certainly stands out.

After Three Periods MoneyPuck Stats: 57% Deserve to Win for the Flyers, Expected Goals – all situations (3.11-3.04 PHI) & 5 on 5 (2.57-2.20 WPG)


Game Observations:

  • The Winnipeg Jets’ winning streak comes to an abrupt halt, but they manage to keep the “3 goals or less” thing going despite playing their worst game of the season. Connor Hellebuyck was the sole reason for that, turning aside 34 of 36 shots (.944 save %), including many high danger opportunities. Bucky saved 1.11 Goals Above Expected versus Philadelphia and was the best Pegger on the ice last night.
  • Interesting fact of the day….the last time Winnipeg played a game without Mark Scheifele & Kyle Connor was in December 2016.
  • Josh Morrissey was another Jet who played well against the Flyers, getting involved offensively and defensively in his 26:21 of ice-time. He had a couple good looks in the game, though he seemed to follow Winnipeg’s trend of trying to beat Ersson glove-side (which obviously didn’t work, as the goalie flashed the leather on multiple occasions).
  • Very rough game by Mason Appleton. The winger has been struggling to score, but now has added bobbling passes and needless turnovers to his repertoire. Rasmus Kupari also appeared a bit lost at times, but that is understanding giving his lack of playing time recently. Winnipeg’s 3rd line was the only forward unit to lose the 5 on 5 battle (10.2% of xG).
  • The Jets’ 2nd forward line of Cole Perfetti, Vladislav Namestnikov, & Alex Iafallo was the team’s best on Saturday, getting 93.2% of expected goals. Winnipeg’s 1st and 4th units had 59.6% and 53.4% of xG’s respectively.
  • Nik Ehlers continues to create offense, leading the Jets in shots by testing the Flyers’ goalie 6 times.

If you consider that the Winnipeg Jets played their worst defensive game of the season and were still in the game through all three periods, you might see a silver lining in last night’s loss. The Jets had plenty of chances to solve Ersson, as three forwards had high expected goal stats (Lowry 0.754, Vilardi 0.666, and Perfetti 0.589). To give that some context, the Flyers had only one player (Atkinson’s 1.715 xG) above that level, but he actually was able to pocket a pair of goals.

NEXT GAME: New York Islanders @ Winnipeg Jets – Tuesday, January 16th @ 7:00 pm Central

Defenseman Ville Heinola ended up picking up an assist for the Manitoba Moose in his first game back from injury. Didn’t get the chance to watch the match on Saturday, so off to make some breakfast before starting up AHLTV. Have a good Sunday all.

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